They're not even finished with the second round of tennis, but there's been enough bizarro goings-on in London for several years. To recap:
- After seemingly returning to his old form by cruising to the French Open title, Rafael Nadal loses in straight sets on the first day of the tournament to the 130th-ranked player in the world, Steve Darcis of Belgium. The men's draw had Nadal on track to face Roger Federer in the quarterfinals.
- This would seem to be a good break for Federer's Swiss compatriot, Stan Wawrinka, to make his first quarters appearance at Wimbledon, but he also loses in the first round, to 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt.
- An opportunity for hard-serving American John Isner, then, to make his deepest run at a Grand Slam? No - Isner injures his knee minutes into his second-round match and retires.
- With the carnage going on in his quarter of the bracket, it can be assured that Federer will reach the semifinals for the ninth time, right? Wrong! Federer loses in the second round to the 116th-ranked player in the world, Serhiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine.
- Perhaps, then, this will be a crazy year like 2001 when a long-past-his-prime Goran Ivanisevic came out of nowhere to win the title. Circumstances may play into the hands of crafty veteran like Hewitt...if only he didn't lose his second-round match to Jamaican-German qualifier Dustin Brown.
- If not Hewitt, then 34-year-old Radek Stepanek, who looked sharp in the first round...but also who, like Isner, retired due to injury shortly into his second-round match.
- So let's look again at the man-who-beat-Nadal-and-would-also-be-Cinderella, Darcis: he didn't even take the court for his second-round match because of a shoulder injury.
All of this means that, instead of Federer or Nadal emerging from their quarter of the bracket, one semifinalist will come from a group of eight men, the highest-ranked of the group being 15-seed Nicolas Almagro, of whom only two (Almagro and Jurgen Melzer) have ever made a major quarterfinal.
Meanwhile, with 6-seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and 10-seed Marin Cilic both retiring with knee injuries in the second round, and the quarter above him blown apart, the tournament is wide open for Andy Murray to make the Wimbledon final for the second year in a row. After winning Olympic gold and the US Open title in the late summer of 2012, the British public expects nothing less than victory from Murray, and this may be his best chance to deliver it. As for Novak Djokovic's half of the bracket, who play their second-round matches tomorrow? Watch out.
The carnage tore through the women's tournament today as well, as 2-seed Victoria Azarenka became yet another top-ranked player to retire with a knee injury, and 3-seed Maria Sharapova lost to qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal. While the loss of established players only adds to the intrigue of the men's draw, for the women, this only makes the rest of the fortnight a foregone conclusion, as a Serena Williams walkover of the field to the title is likely inevitable at this point. Then again, stranger things have already happened this week at Wimbledon.