The balls used at Wimbledon are changed and sold on to the public after every nine games. Whoever bought the ones used in Jerzy Janowicz’s pounding defeat of Nicolas Almagro got a bad deal.
The “Pole-veriser”, as the giant 22-year-old from Lodz was immediately christened, sent down 30 aces in three sets with a serve that reached 139mph, leaving both the balls and the No 15 seed battered. If both men keep winning, Janowicz will be the man standing on Friday between Andy Murray and a second successive Wimbledon final.
Murray will need to return serve better than Almagro, who gained an early 3-0 lead but never threatened the 6ft 8in Pole’s booming serve again. In front of swathes of empty seats – the consequence of being scheduled between Laura Robson and Andy Murray – the Spaniard seemed overwhelmed trying to return Janowicz’s howitzers.
Janowicz is now 24 in the world after defeating players such as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Richard Gasquet and Marin Čilić. And, last November, Murray in the Paris Masters.
His potency was obvious once he settled. He broke midway through the first set to force a tie-break he won at the second opportunity. Almagro put a simple forehand into the net to hand Janowicz the fatal break in game eight of the second set and the Pole went on to wrap up the match in one hour and 47 minutes. Janowicz bowed delightedly to all four sides of Centre Court. He now meets Jürgen Melzer, who put out Roger Federer’s nemesis, Sergiy Stakhovsky, in four sets.
Another eastern European getting uncommon amounts of publicity this week has been Grigor Dimitrov, the Bulgarian No 29 seed. This, though, has been less for his tennis than his position at the centre of the spat between Maria Sharapova, his current girlfriend, and his alleged ex, Serena Williams. Any chance of his tennis overshadowing his love life disappeared when his delayed five-set match with Grega Žemlja ended in defeat. Returning yesterday morning at 8-9 in the fifth, Dimitrov held serve but was then broken to lose the set 11-9.
He and Sharapova can now escape if they wish following the surprise early exit of the women’s world No 2. “I feel even more pumped and happy that she’s there for me,” said Dimitrov, finally agreeing to discuss the issue. “I think that’s what counts the most.”