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Wimbledon 1st Week: Goodbye Mr. Agassi

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Wimbledon is known for the following things: Strawberries, lots of rain, a dead still but great crowd, a struggling Tim Henman, and Americans who basically roll their way through the first week. So how surprising is it that world's No. 62 Shenay Perry was the only American left in the draw even though the quarterfinals had not started yet?

When Andre Agassi stepped off court after his 3rd round loss to Spain's Rafael Nadal, everyone knew that this would have been the last time that the multiple Grand Slam winner set a foot on the holy grass on Wimbledon's Center Court. Prior to the tournament the American had announced the end of his career which will find its end at the US Open.

Agassi in tearsAgassi's retirement announcement caused a worldwide outcry but it was only after the first week of Wimbledon that the US is starting to feel that something big is coming up: Who is able to carry on the American dominance in tennis they once enjoyed?

Jaws dropped Saturday when title defender Venus Williams crashed out to young Serbian Jelena Jankovic in the 3rd round, losing an intense but unforced error marked match 6-7 6-4 4-6. The disappointment could not even settle in properly as the next huge American "favourite" Andy Roddick — twice a runner-up — fell to Andy Murray in straight sets. The US' new top player James Blake lost early already, Mardy Fish got ill and had to withdraw and there is no American woman who could have made an impact anyway besides Venus Williams (there is still another Williams though but no one knows where she is).

Whereas the US has a lot to worry about, there are the usual suspects who actually are able to move through the draw without much effort and furore. For once there is Roger Federer who was awarded with a terrible draw including a first round clash with Richard Gasquet who had just won a warm-up tourney on grass in Nottingham. 6-3 6-2 6-2 was the result of that opener. The Swiss is cruising so far and it does not seem like anyone can stop him.

On the other hand Federer's biggest enemy, Rafael Nadal, is playing his best grass tournament at the moment. Not only did the lefty beat Agassi but he advanced to the 4th round for the very first time in his young career with wins over two Americans and one Brit — players who are usually superior on the fast grass courts.

Will Nadal be able to continue his great fighting spirit at SW19? That is for sure one of the most interesting questions for the second week. His chances look pretty good.

Besides Venus' early loss which some journalists called a "shock exit" (hers and Roddick's losses are not shocking in my opinion), Miss Swiss Martina Hingis' and Svetlana Kuznetsova's defeats are the most impressive ones.

Both Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin-Hardenne are on cruise control as they have reached the quarterfinals without dropping a set. Much more interesting though are their respective opponents: Clijsters will meet Na Li and Henin-Hardenne plays Severine Bremond next. Now those are real surprises.

With the way the Belgians are playing so far, it's a safe bet to expect an all-Belgian semifinal.

In the upper half of the draw the quarterfinalists have been concluded on Monday: Anastasia Myskina seems to have finally found her smart game again. She has also yet to lose a set. However her next opponent will be Amelie Mauresmo, another player who has not had to play long matches yet.

It is a rematch of last year's quarterfinal but due to Myskina´s recent form, it might be a closer encounter than in 2005. Maria Sharapova, who had some trouble in her 4th round match against Italian Flavia Pennetta (whom she beat in three sets), is looking for a quarterfinal spot against fellow Russian Elena Dementieva. The cactus-loving blonde was looking on the verge of defeat in her first round matches, but improved in her recent matches.

The second week of Wimbledon might come up with a few more surprises. For sure it is going to be pretty interesting.

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  • MCH

    How about that men’s singles finals, eh!? Wow, what a treat for fans, by the best two players in the world. Fed and Raf should have quite a rivalry for at least several years to come, ala McEnroe/Connors, Becker/Edberg and Sampras/Agassi…

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