We joined the match between Tsonga and Dimitrov midway during the first set. The end of the first set was completely serve dominated; Tsonga looked slightly off colour as he struggled to get anywhere near Dimitrov’s booming serves. The first set went into a tiebreak and it was Tsonga who was the first to crack. A double fault followed by an unforced error handed the initiative to Dimitrov. Dimitrov wasted one set point with a wild and ambitious error but at the next opportunity, he raised his game to claim the first set.
Dimitrov on set point in the first set
Grigor Dimitrov is just 20 years old and has been tipped as the new Roger Federer. He has a solid game including a huge serve and delightful one-handed backhand. He started the match showing some of this potential; however Tsonga started to impose himself more on the match and put Dimitrov under increasing pressure in the second set. Tsonga started to read the Dimitrov serve much better and managed to convert a break point at 2-1. At this point, the heavens opened and we had our first substantial rain delay of the day.
Tsonga started to impose himself more in the 2nd set
We hurried off court to shelter from the rain and decided to find a TV under Centre Court so we could watch some of the match between Sabine Lisicki against Li Na. I had my fingers and toes crossed that Sabine could pull off the shock win that I had predicted! It was difficult to be so close to the action yet to have to watch it on a TV. We also knew who had won each point before it finished on the TV because we could hear the applause from centre court! The first set was a rather uninspiring serve dominated affair and it was Sabine who blinked first dropping the first set, 6-3.
As I came to terms with the fact that Sabine was heading to an early exit, the voice of Wimbledon informed us that play was ready to start on all the other courts. We headed back to No. 1 court where Tsonga was continuing to gather momentum as he held off the resistance of the dogged Dimitrov to claim the 2nd set, 6-4. The third set was also close but it was Tsonga who got the crucial break. Dimitrov was still fighting well with Tsonga from the back of the court and never looked liked giving in.
Dimitrov was behind in the score but always remained in contention
The quality of the match was constantly improving as the skies darkened overhead. There was one fabulous rally of note where Tsonga was forced to race into the net and ended on Dimitrov’s side of the net. They shook hands following the rally, which received a rapturous applause from the crowd. After Tsonga grabbed the third set, the excitement raised by several levels. Dimitrov took advantage of a lapse in concentration from Tsonga to race into a 3-0 lead. Unfortunately, at this point we were hit by another rain delay. This officially extinguished any hopes that we would get the Robson Sharapova match 😦
The Tsonga Dimitrov match was strongly affected by the weather!
During the 2nd and 3rd sets of the Tsonga match, we got updates of Sabine’s match on the scoreboard. I was delighted to see she managed to pull through in the second set but my heart dropped when I noticed Li was serving for the match in the third set. With the rain delay, the updates had stopped and we hurried out to a scoreboard underneath Court No.1 to find out the result.
To my shock, Lisicki had managed to get back in the match and Li was serving at 6-7 down in the third set. We watched the numbers update and before we knew it, Sabine had 2 match points… but they quickly disappeared! This gave me a moment of deja vu because Lisicki had held 2 match points in the French Open 2nd round against Vera Zvonareva before being defeated. But another match point came and a tick finally appeared next to Sabine’s name!!! I was so happy that Sabine had won… cue total jubilation! I think I may have got a few strange looks as I celebrated and ran off in excitement!!!!!
We headed back to the main scoreboard just by Centre Court to check the other scores and to decide whether to go home or not! The rain had eased off but it would obviously take some time to dry the courts. As we pondered, Sabine’s dad walked past us! He looked extremely happy as he had just come from the player’s box on Centre Court and was probably heading to meet his daughter! Finally, an announcement came that the play was to resume shortly so we rushed back to No.1 court to enjoy the final set and what a set it was…
Tsonga managed to break back immediately following the resumption of play and looked to finally have broken the resistance of Dimitrov as he broke once more to serve for the match. However Tsonga couldn’t close the match out. He appeared to rush on his match points as he tried to serve and volley but Dimitrov had his head screwed on to produce a clinical passing winner. Tsonga also tried rushing into the net during another rally but his eagerness was unsuccessful. After several more wasted match points including a double fault, Tsonga succumbed to the break and Dimitrov levelled the scores in the 4th set.
Tsonga was left to ponder the wasted match points
Dimitrov held with ease at 5-5 to put the the pressure back on Tsonga. He was obviously still affected by the wasted match points and was forced to save a set point. Thankfully for Tsonga, Dimitrov’s calm deserted him as he flashed a wild error past Tsonga. Tsonga somehow managed to scrape through the game and force the fourth set into an epic tiebreak.
Dimitrov wasted a set point on Tsonga’s service game at 6-5 in the fourth set
Tsonga quickly gained the advantage in the tiebreak and earnt some more match points. However Tsonga seemed to choke once again as Dimitrov fought back with a dogged determination that earnt a huge deal of respect from the No.1 court crowd. The two players were gripped in a hugely entertaining battle that had totally enravelled in front of an engrossed audience. After Tsonga wasted two more match points, Dimitrov mistakenly came into the net as Tsonga produced a clinical pass. Tsonga finally managed to close out the match after another absorbing passage of play. The ball hit the net forcing Dimitrov to race into the net but he slipped on the wet grass and was unable to get near to Tsonga’s winning shot.
Tsonga was eager to finish the match off
Tsonga was elated but Dimitrov lay dejected on the grass. Tsonga jumped over the net and helped Dimitrov up in a superb act of sportsmanship. The two players embraced to a huge standing ovation on No.1 Court. We also got another shot of Tsonga’s celebration which was even more exciting following the epic win! It was strange at the end to see Dimitrov stay and sign autographs whilst Tsonga raced off the court to surprised murmurs from the crowd; however it did not take anything away from a superbly dramatic ending to the second round match.
A triumphant Tsonga (For some reason, it doesn’t like my pictures!)
Tsonga helped Dimitrov up in a great moment of sportsmanship
Tsonga and Dimitrov embrace
The Tsonga celebration… AGAIN!!!!
All in all, it was one of the best ever days we have had at Wimbledon. I had had four fantastic days at the tennis during the grass court season and felt thoroughly sad as we boarded the bus and waved off Wimbledon for another year. Hopefully I will get lucky next year in the ballot and get the chance to experience the magic of Wimbledon again 😉