This is becoming a habit. For the second year in succession career journeyman Sergiy Stakhovsky is into the second round. And we know what that meant last year, don’t we? The 28-year-old from Kiev became a quiz question staple after ending the noble Roger’s epic grand slam run to 36 consecutive quarter-finals.
Federer left us early for the first time in a decade, sent packing by the waspish racket of Stakhovsky, who came into this year’s tournament ranked just as he was last year at 166 in the world. He credited his subjugation of Federer to the magical properties of chocolate spread, donated by the owners of the house he was renting.
Were he to repeat the triumph this year Stakhovsky would be going home as Ukraine’s first Wimbledon champion since he is in the other side of the draw to Federer. Discounting the miraculous idea that confectionary might strike twice, better to focus on what is possible. The goal is to progress for the first time beyond the third round, where his run ended last year against Jurgen Melzer.
The flamboyant Ernests Gulbis awaits. Should his racket arm function as free of doubt as it did against Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq, he has half a chance of catching Gulbis cold. Berlocq had no answer to Stakhovsky’s powerful ground strokes and was gone in straight sets, 6-3 recurring.
Gulbis is the great unquantifiable, a bundle of Latvian caprice who oscillates between tennis player and playboy. His eccentricity poured forth after his victory Jurgen Zopp when he confused a question about ridding the game of umpires, as suggested by John McEnroe, with vampires. His answer was that the game should be rid of vampires.
“I thought, let's say, in a way that people are surrounded a lot with the people who are there to help. Let's say you have now a team of six people. Some of the players, they have press guy, they have physio, they have coach, they have massage therapist, fitness. All these guys, especially let's say, I don't know what the press guy's job is, but they give advices to players.”