The first week was a thriller – but the real excitement is yet to come

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

All the big names are still in as Wimbledon reaches boiling point, writes Paul Newman

Let the tournament begin. Wimbledon 2010 has already featured enough drama to fill a West End theatre for a year, yet as the 133rd Lawn Tennis Championships enter their second week there is a sense that the initial six days may have been a mere curtain-raiser for what is to come.

On the face of it, topping the first week's headline acts could be a tall order. Consider what we have seen so far: Roger Federer opening the Centre Court by losing the first two sets against Alejandro Falla; Rafael Nadal twice taken to five sets by lowly-ranked opponents; John Isner and Nicolas Mahut creating history with their 11-hour marathon; Andy Murray blazing a trail by winning his first three matches in straight sets while his fellow Britons delivered the home nation's worst ever Wimbledon performance; Novak Djokovic and Olivier Rochus staging the latest finish in All England Club history; and Victor Hanescu fined after "tanking" in a match in which he spat at the crowd.

However, for all the cliff-hanging drama of act one, not one of the leading players will be missing from the cast list when act two opens today. In the eyes of some, "Super Monday" is the best day of the tournament: it is the only day when all the remaining players are on court, the programme featuring all eight fourth-round matches in both the men's and the women's singles.

Despite the first-week labours of some of the leading lights – most notably Federer and Nadal – only two of the top 10 men's seeds have failed to make it through to the second week: Nikolay Davydenko (the No 7 seed), who always struggles on grass and is coming back from injury, and Fernando Verdasco (No 8), who appeared to pay the price of committing to a lengthy campaign during the clay-court season.

The women's field is just as strong. The only players among the top nine seeds who have not made it past the first phase are the French Open finalists, Francesca Schiavone (No 5) and Samantha Stosur (No 6), who have always felt more comfortable on clay. Two bigger names from lower down the seedings list, Maria Sharapova and Justine Henin, also remain in contention.

Who will have survived by finals weekend in five days' time? The men's competition in particular looks wide open. Federer has looked surprisingly vulnerable in the first week, although he has improved with each match. The six-times champion could have his work cut out today against Jurgen Melzer and prepared for his fourth-round match by hitting yesterday with another left-hander, Britain's Alex Bogdanovic. Perhaps the defending champion felt the need for some encouragement against a player who has lost in the first round on all eight of his appearances here.

What of the world No 1? When Nadal won the title here two years ago he arrived as champion of Queen's and dropped just one set en route to the final. This year, having gone out in the quarter-finals at Queen's, he has dropped four sets already and needed treatment for a knee problem against Philipp Petzschner on Saturday.

Djokovic, the world No 3, is through but is never entirely convincing on grass and has potentially the toughest route of all the top four players. If he were to win the tournament he might have to beat Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick, Federer and Nadal in his next four matches. Hewitt, his opponent today, believes he still has it in him to win a Grand Slam event and after beating Federer a fortnight ago – only the second time since 2002 the Swiss has lost on grass – the 29-year-old Australian could be one to watch this week.

Of the top four, none has played better than Murray. He is the only one not to have dropped a set, his serve has been broken only once in his first three matches and he appears to have recaptured the confidence that took him to the semi-finals here 12 months ago and to the Australian Open final this year. The Scot has a good draw, the only reservation being that he might have benefited had he been given a tougher test in his first three matches.

Roddick, who has lost to Federer in three Wimbledon finals, can never be underestimated, but the American did not look at his best in the first week and may pay for having played so few matches going into the tournament. The French have been enjoying one of their best Grand Slam events – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Julien Benneteau and Paul-Henri Mathieu are all through to the last 16 – but the lone Swede, Soderling, looks better equipped to go deep into the second week. The world No 6, who could meet Nadal in the quarter-finals, has not dropped a set in his first three matches and is striking the ball with awesome power.

Today's women's programme features two outstanding matches, Serena Williams against Maria Sharapova and Justine Henin against Kim Clijsters. Williams, like her sister Venus, has quickly settled into the form that has seen the Americans dominate here for the last decade. Sharapova, the 2004 champion, is a great fighter, but has yet to return to her former heights following shoulder surgery. Assuming Serena survives, it is hard to see the defending champion failing to make the final again.

In the other half of the draw, Venus Williams, the No 2 seed, has a seemingly comfortable route to the semi-finals, but thereafter the challenges will be severe. In the last four, the five-times champion could meet Henin or Clijsters. Today's confrontation between the two Belgians promises to be a cracker. Clijsters has won both their meetings since their comebacks, via a final set tie-break on each occasion, but Henin has been a better grass-court player in the past and may just have the edge today.

With the hot weather expected to continue through this week, the All England Club's courts will be hard and quick, leaving the fittest and the fastest among the best equipped to survive. It promises to be a memorable seven days.

News
Night job: Pacha nightclub DJ, Joan Ribas, is the new kingmaker on the island
news
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family
film'I survived it, but I’ll never be the same,' says Arash Amel
Life and Style
Retailers should make good any consumer goods problems that occur within two years
tech(and what to do if you receive it)
Life and Style
healthIf one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada