WIMBLEDON, England — If it's hard to imagine how this wildest of Wimbledons could top itself in Week 2, consider all the characters still strutting on tennis' biggest stage.
Roger Federer, bidding for a record-tying seventh title at the All England Club. Rafael Nadal, seeking a second after declining to defend his 2008 title because of injury. Andy Roddick, yearning for one Wimbledon trophy after three runnerup finishes. Andy Murray, well aware that all of Britain is counting on him to end its 74-year wait for a homegrown men's champion.
A pair of sisters named Serena and Venus, aiming for a fifth all-Williams final, and third in a row, at the grasscourt Grand Slam tournament; one or the other has won eight of the past 10 women's championships. Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, back at Wimbledon after years away and hoping to finally win it. Another former No. 1, Maria Sharapova, striving to return to relevance late in big events.
All 32 men and women left in the singles draws are featured on the fourth-round schedule when action resumes today, after Wimbledon's traditional day of rest on the middle Sunday.
"Well, I'd rather be here doing an interview than being at home on the couch and watching Wimbledon from home, that's for sure," said top-seeded Federer, who plays No. 16 Jurgen Melzer. "So I feel very lucky, of course. … I'm excited I'm still in the tournament. I hope I can go further."
Before looking ahead, though, reflect on the past week.
In the opening Centre Court match, 16-time Grand Slam champion Federer dropped the first two sets against a guy with a sub.-500 career record before turning things around. Nadal gutted out consecutive come-from-behind, five-set victories and needed a trainer to help with a balky right knee, although he said it felt "good, good; not bad" after practicing 40 minutes Sunday.
Both women's finalists from this month's French Open lost in the first round. Queen Elizabeth II attended the tournament for the first time since 1977, applauding after watching Murray's second-round victory.
Nothing, of course, tops what John Isner, a Wesley Chapel resident, and Nicolas Mahut endured in the first round: It was the longest match in tennis history, a 183-game test of will that encompassed 11 hours, 5 minutes of action over three days. The fifth set, which Isner won by that score no one will soon forget, 70-68, dragged on for 8 hours, 11 minutes, more than 1½ hours longer than any previous entire match on record.
"When you look at it on paper, it just looks funny, like some sort of joke," Isner said. "It did shine a positive light on the sport. It kind of shows what tennis players are capable of — that we're pretty good athletes."
Isner then lasted all of 74 minutes in his second-round loss.
"From the first match out of the gate, with Roger being up against it, you know, to the Isner-Mahut trilogy, to the queen coming, to Rafa in five — if you guys are struggling for story lines, you need to get a different job, fast," Roddick said.