Serena Williams has vowed to work harder as she hopes to bounce back from yet another early defeat at a grand slam this season.
The American world No1 suffered a second consecutive defeat to French No25 seed Alize Cornet to make her earliest Wimbledon exit in nine years.
The loss comes close on the heels of a second round upset at the French Open last month and Williams admits she needs to make some changes.
“I worked really, really hard coming into this event. I’m going to have to keep working hard,” said the 32-year-old.
“Just because you lose a match doesn’t mean you stop. So I’ll just keep fighting, that’s all I can do really.
“The changes I need to make I think are mostly within. Just try to see why I am making some errors.“
Williams explained she draws motivation from the belief that she still has the game to remain at the summit of the rankings and that claiming an 18th grand slam to tie the tally of legends Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert (second most on all-time list) remains a target.
“I know that I can do better. I know that I have potential to continue to be on top. So hopefully that’s what keeps me motivated,” said Williams.
“I think (winning an 18th major) is definitely pretty significant. It’s something I’m obviously going to keep going for and it’s definitely something in my mind.”
Williams will join her sister Venus in doubles today but the world No1 admits she’s not really up for it.
“I suck right now at doubles. I told Venus the other day, I don’t even want to play because I’m so bad right now. She should get a new partner,” said Serena.
Three years ago, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was doing his famous victory dance after he came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.
He then went on to lose the semi-finals to Novak Djokovic in four tight sets, the same opponent he faces in the fourth round today.
Tsonga hopes to draw inspiration from that epic five-setter against Federer as he looks to end a 10-match losing streak to Djokovic.
“Of course for me the goal will be to make my dance at the end anyway but before that there are many steps. First I will use that match (against Federer) to recall in which mindset I was and try to do the same,” said the French world No17.
The Le Mans native has made the semi-finals here in two of the past three years and was made to fight hard for a spot in the last 16, battling through two five-setters and playing for five consecutive days as rain and bad light kept pushing his matches overnight.
He could only muster six games against Djokovic a few weeks ago at Roland Garros and has lost his last two meetings to the Serb on grass – most recently the quarter-finals at the London Olympics.
“I don’t really know how many chances I have (against Djokovic). The only thing I know is I’m in good form, I’m playing well, and I want to give my best on the court,” said Tsonga, who is one of just two Frenchmen remaining in the draw out of 14 who started the event.
Djokovic had a brief injury scare when he fell on his left shoulder in his last match but the top seed insists it is not a real concern.
The Serb has had a strong first week, getting tested by Radek Stepanek but cruising past Gilles Simon and Andrey Golubev and has been quite clinical at the net – something he may have picked up from his coach of seven months, Boris Becker.
Djokovic ventured to the net 93 times in his first three matches and was successful on 70 of those points, giving him a 75 per cent success rate up front.
He assures he will never be a serve-and-volleyer though and that his strength will always come from his baseline supremacy.
“I will not start serving and volleying because this is not the way I’ve been brought up or I’ve learned to play,” said Djokovic.
“I’m a different player than what Boris was in terms of play. But in terms of mental approach and a couple of other things, I find that we have a lot of things in common.”
Looking ahead to his match against Tsonga, whom he leads 12-5 head-to-head, Djokovic was asked what he fears most about the Frenchman’s game.
“I don’t fear anything. I expect him to serve well. I think that’s his advantage. If he feels good on the certain day, he can beat anybody really,” said the world No2.
Also in action today is the reigning champion Andy Murray, who will be facing 6’8” South African Kevin Anderson for the first time since he lost to him in Montreal three years ago.
It’s been said that the current era in men’s tennis lacks personality which makes the likes of Fabio Fognini and Gael Monfils stand out amidst the scores of proper, tightlipped, and ultra-professional players on tour.
But when does personality become too much and what is the line players should not cross when it comes to on-court antics and outbursts?
Fognini should know. The Italian was fined a record $27,500 after his opening round at Wimbledon against Alex Kuznetsov.
The No16 seed was docked $20,000 for damaging the court with his racquet, $5,000 for telling Australian official Wayne McKewen he would “smash a racquet in your head” and $2,500 for making an obscene gesture at Kuznetsov.
Those are multiple lines crossed right there.
Fognini’s tirades meant that the ITF Supervisor was out on court for his next match before it even started – anticipating trouble – and his third round against No20 seed Kevin Anderson was purposefully scheduled on Court 17, despite the players’ high seeding which would normally warrant a show court.
“You’re not sure what you’re going to get,” Anderson said about playing Fognini. “I guess that’s the reason we were out on Court 17 today. It sort of lived up to what I thought it was going to be like. A lot of talking. I personally think that’s the way he copes with some of the stress of being on the tour.”
Fognini, who has a long history of disastrous incidents on court, was asked if he was repentant for his antics at Wimbledon. “I will always be the same. Sorry guys,” were his final words in press this week.
When it comes to Fognini, it’s quite easy to see that a majority of his antics are simply unacceptable.
But with other players, temper is not the problem – it’s them being too vocal on court which could be distracting for their opponents.
Monfils spent his entire first round at Wimbledon against Malek Jaziri talking and whining to his friends and appeared to be tanking the opening set – something he’s been accused of doing at the French Open as well. It prompted umpire Mohamed Lahyani to urge the Frenchman to try harder.
“At 3-1 Gael was clearly tanking, talking after each point to the French team,” says ex-WTA player Selima Sfar, who was sitting courtside during the match.
“He was like ‘I don’t want to be playing here on grass, it’s not a surface for me’.
“He’s a very nice guy so I don’t think he would do it to disturb his opponent, but if you see it black and white, it’s not appropriate.
“Professionally, yes he definitely crossed the line. Where you draw the line is, is this an example you want to give to kids? That’s a line for me.”
Lahyani says he doesn’t consider it gamesmanship from Monfils but he confirmed that he had to warn him about tanking early on.
But Monfils was heard on court responding to the Swede saying: “It’s 3-2. This way, when you’re not playing full sometimes, the guy gets down. You know, I’m sneaky.”
Asked whether Monfils crossed the line during the Jaziri match, retired Frenchman and beIN Sports commentator Fabrice Santoro said: “That was I think the limit. You can’t go over this limit because he was already talking too much. If you pass this limit you have to get a warning.
“Gael is like this, I want to say unfortunately. Because sometimes I like to see him more focused on the court. It was the same against (Jiri) Vesely in the second round and that’s probably the main reason why he lost the match, he was talking, he wasn’t very focused.
“Fognini or Gael, they don’t do this on purpose to disturb the opponent. That’s part of their character. I said I don’t want Gael to go over this because it’s not good but also he’s a very charismatic player on tour.
“The same goes for Fognini. Because they are talking, because they are sometimes throwing their racquet and that’s why so many people come to see them on the court.”
Former world No1 Jim Courier agrees with Santoro. The American concedes such players are walking a fine line but that personality doesn’t hurt.
“Gael’s not doing anything outside of the rules when he does that… He was talking to his friends. If it’s not his coach, I guess it’s fine.
“It’s personality, right? You’re talking about it, you’re going to write about it, so that can’t be bad for the sport if he’s doing it.
“For me the fine line is crossed when it looks like a player is not trying – so if they’re tanking a match, that’s a fineable offence and that’s also discretionary for the umpire to decide or the tournament referee.
“Of course if they’re doing things that are interfering with their opposition and taunting the opposition, talking to them directly – that’s out of bounds.”
Monfils had said after his first match that he feels uncomfortable on grass, that he was just being funny and could only play “just some part of the match”.
Asked whether he’d be distracted if he faced a player who was talking all the time, he said: “Every coach will tell you that you should focus on your game, not on the opponent.
“I don't care. If the guy is talking to anyone, it's fine. If he can talk to me, it's even better.”
World No2, Novak Djokovic, who has faced and beaten Monfils nine times throughout his career, says it’s often tough to judge but that he generally welcomes the idea of players showing some charisma on court.
“Gael likes to entertain, to get interaction with the crowd, with his team, which is absolutely fine,” said Djokovic. “I think that tennis is lacking a little bit of personalities to be honest.
“Of course there is importance in the value of each match, you put your game face on when you're on the court. You want to win.
“On the other hand, it's sport. People come to support the tennis, you as a player, but also they would like to see a little bit of your personality. I think that's absolutely fine by me. It's not something that I think has a negative impact on tennis.”