Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

Golden moment on the grass

WIMBLEDON, England — Absolutely perfect; 24 points played, 24 points won.

Can't be any better than wild-card entry Yaroslava Shvedova was at the beginning of her third-round match at Wimbledon on Saturday, winning every single point in the 15-minute first set of what became a 6-0, 6-4 victory over French Open runnerup Sara Errani. It's the only "golden set" for a woman in the 44 years of professional tennis.

Of all the ways a point can be lost — a double fault, an opponent's ace; a ball floats wide or long or catches the net tape, or an opponent hits a winner, etc. — none happened during Shvedova's 15 minutes of fame.

"Apparently, it's the biggest news of the day: I lost a set without winning a point. Unbelievable," the 10th-seeded Errani said. "She was impossible to play against. I don't even feel like I played terribly. She just was hitting winners from every part of the court."

Shvedova, ranked 65th, didn't realize what happened until her coach pointed it out afterward.

"I had no idea. I was just playing every point and every game," said Shvedova, 24, who won two Grand Slam doubles titles in 2010 with Vania King.

According to the International Tennis Federation, only one other perfect set ever has been played since the Open era began in 1968: American Bill Scanlon won all 24 points in the second set of a victory over Marcos Hocevar at Delray Beach in 1983.

Only once before had a woman won 23 consecutive points, the ITF said: Shvedova. She took a 5-0, 40-love lead against Amy Frazier at Memphis in 2006, only to lose 1-6, 6-0, 6-0.

"She served really hard. Hard, hard. It was like playing a Williams," Errani said.

Things figure to get tougher after today's day off. In the fourth round Monday, Shvedova will face a Williams, Serena, whose 13 Grand Slams include four at Wimbledon.

"Hopefully I'll be able to win a point in the set," Williams joked. "That will be my first goal, and then I'll go from there."

She came rather close to exiting Saturday, needing every one of her tournament-record 23 aces to edge 25th seed Zheng Jie 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 9-7. Williams won all 18 of her service games and saved all six break points she faced.

Three times, while down 5-4, 6-5 and 7-6 in the final set, she served to stay in the match.

Each time, she won the pivotal game at love.

"It's good to know that I can rely on that," said the sixth-seeded Williams, who held the previous Wimbledon women's mark of 20 aces. "I definitely felt like it was a gut check."

On the men's side, Andy Roddick lost. The 29-year-old American blew a kiss to the crowd after a 2-6, 7-6 (10-8), 6-4, 6-3 defeat to No. 7 seed David Ferrer, but said he hasn't decided his future in the sport just yet.

"If I don't have a definitive answer in my own mind, it's going to be tough for me to articulate a definitive answer to you," said Roddick, seeded 30th.

Another American, Sam Querrey, also exited, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, 6-7 (2-7), 6-7 (3-7), 17-15 to No. 16 Marin Cilic. The 5 1/2-hour match is the second-longest in tournament history, behind the 11-hour, 5-minute marathon that John Isner won 70-68 in the fifth set against Nicolas Mahut in 2010.

"It was a fun match," Querrey said. "I had my chances, but (he) kind of came through at the end."

Two other U.S. men did make the fourth round: 126th-ranked qualifier Brian Baker, who was off the tour for about six years after a series of operations; and 10th-seeded Mardy Fish, in his first event since having a medical procedure on his heart in May.

No. 4 Andy Murray won in four sets over Marcos Baghdatis, and No. 27 Philipp Kohlschreiber beat the man who beat No. 2 Rafael Nadal, Lukas Rosol, in straight sets 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6).

Rosol again looked like a player ranked 100th and making his first Wimbledon appearance.

"He was playing pretty good and he didn't give me a lot of chances," Rosol said. "Sometimes … I just wake up and I play good. Sometimes I'm so tired. But two days ago was working good, everything. I knew that this can happen."

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