WIMBLEDON, England — It was a day that had occurred only three times the previous 138 years of the Championships, a day so special there was an imprint on the program cover, “Middle Sunday.” A day that left Coco Vandeweghe enthralled, Serena Williams noncommittal and weary John Isner understandably disenchanted.
Frequent rain had forced Wimbledon to go against its best plans, and the wishes of the town that makes up one of many in greater London. Wimbledon, Borough of Merton, chooses for players, grass courts and the thousands of fans who overwhelm to have a break the end of opening week. But when the weather messes up the schedule, then there’s Middle Sunday, or because tickets are available to anyone who moves fast, “People’s Sunday.”
It certainly was Vandeweghe’s Sunday. The 24-year-old who was born in New York, granddaughter of Knicks legend Ernie and daughter of former Olympics swimmer Tauna, and now lives north of San Diego, defeated Roberta Vinci, 6-3, 6-4. She is the neice of former Knick Kiki Vandeweghe.
“It was exciting,” Vandeweghe, into her second straight Wimbledon quarterfinal, said of the atmosphere. “When I walked out the roar of the crowd was like crazy. It was super loud.”
Vinci, of course, was the one who in last year’s U.S. Open semifinals stopped Serena’s bid for a true Grand Slam — as Saturday at Wimbledon, Sam Querrey halted Novak Djokovic’s.
No one was stopping Serena on Sunday in her fourth-round match. It took her only 51 minutes to defeat Annika Beck of Germany, 6-3, 6-0, and record her 300th Slam tournament victory (one more than Chris Evert, six fewer than Martina Navratilova). But when asked if she found anything much different from a usual day at Wimbledon, Williams, trying for a second straight All-England title and seventh overall, answered, ”No. I thought it would be, but it wasn’t.”
Nor in the fifth set did the situation seem different for Isner. In 2010, over three days, in the longest Wimbledon match ever, Isner, of North Carolina, outlasted Nicolas Mahut of France, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68. It took 11 hours.
So Sunday when Isner and another Frenchman, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga went to an extended fifth set, there were visions of the past. To those besides Isner, who won the first two sets on Saturday and then returned to lose the three on Sunday.
The final score was 6-7, 3-6, 7-6, 6-2, 19-17. The last two sets took two hours, eight minutes, the match, 4:24. “No,” insisted Isner, “I wasn’t thinking about what happened six years ago.”
Another American, Sloane Stephens started well against two-time Slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, but Kuznetsova won, 6-7, 6-2, 8-6, and then spoke about how her country always takes the blows from officials in international sport, alluding to the Olympic ban.
The fourth round of the tournament, which is back on schedule, begins Monday. Of the remaining 32 players, six are American — Vandeweghe, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Madison Keys, Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson.