The Week In Sports: Wimbledon

Jul 2, 2016
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon - real news now from the world of sports.

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SIMON: The tennis championships at Wimbledon are underway, and there's been a major upset today. Howard Bryant of espn.com joins us now from London. Howard, thanks very much for being with us.

HOWARD BRYANT: Oh, thanks for having me, Scott. What a day.

SIMON: What happened?

BRYANT: (Laughter) Well, what happened was the man who could not be beaten, it was supposed to be a cake walk on the men's side, but world number one Novak Djokovic loses in the third round American Sam Querrey. It was Jocavich's earliest exit from a tournament since 2000 and more than that, easily one of the biggest upsets in Wimbledon history.

SIMON: How did Sam Querrey do it?

BRYANT: Well, he served big. I mean, one of the things that's happening in tennis these days is they like to call it big man tennis. I remember back in the 1980s you could be an every man and play tennis. But nowadays, you've got to be a big guy and Sam Querrey is 6'6," 210 pounds, serves about 135 miles an hour. And as Novak Djokovic said, he just overpowered me. And that's really saying something considering that Novak Djokovic is one of the greatest returners, if not the greatest, returner who ever played the game.

SIMON: Six-six and he's not playing basketball.

BRYANT: (Laughter) Exactly. A lot of these guys are big and the amazing thing about this is that the significance of this victory can't be underestimated. We're looking at - Novak Djokovic had won 30 straight Grand Slam victories. He was holding all four Grand Slam championships, the Novak slam. He had already won the career Grand Slam last month when he won the French Open and now is going for the calendar Grand Slam, you know, winning all four majors, something that hadn't been done in tennis since Rod Laver did it in 1969.

He was the two-time defending champion here at Wimbledon one of the last two years over Roger Federer. And he had played in six straight Grand Slam finals, so he is a towering, towering presence in this sport. And for him to lose right now when he was on the verge of making this kind of history is one the biggest stunners that we've had in a long time.

SIMON: Who is Sam Querrey and why haven't we heard of him before?

BRYANT: Well, the biggest reason you haven't heard from Sam Querrey is because we love how these knocks kind of stay with you. And the knock on Sam Querrey had been he's not the toughest guy in the world. He's got all the tools, all the power that you need in this game - 28 years old, ranked 41st in the world. He'd gotten down to the midteens a couple of years ago, but really Sam Querrey is not known as a guy who had the guts, the fire - the guts, the fire in the belly, the desire to win these big matches.

And here he is now winning his first top 10 - not first top 10 match but the first - the first victory ever over a world number one. He had never really beaten too many top 10 guys either. He's a very, very sort of lackadaisical, easy-going guy. And even before the match started, people just assumed even though he was up two sets to love starting the day that he simply was not going to have the toughness to do it. And Novak has done this before. Last year at Wimbledon he was up two - he was down rather two sets to love against Kevin Anderson. And then the match got called for darkness and then Novak woke up the next day, found himself...

SIMON: He rallies, yeah.

SIMON: And rallied, exactly. And everyone was expecting the same thing to happen here and it didn't happen.

SIMON: Yeah. Quickly, on the women's side, with Sharapova out, the Williams sisters are the top contenders?

BRYANT: Well, the Williams sisters - well, Serena's the top contender with or without Sharapova. And I think one of the great things about this tournament now is that people had wondered whether or not Djokovic was the unbeatable one and whether Serena was the vulnerable one. Now it looks like Serena is the one who's got the best chance to defend her title.

SIMON: Howard Bryant of espn.com, thanks so much.

BRYANT: My pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.