Rash of injuries force numerous withdrawals on Day 3 at WimbledonA "black Wednesday" at All-England Club sees six notables withdraw or retire
On the men’s side, sixth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 10th-seeded Marin Cilic, 18th-seeded American John Isner, 2006 quarterfinalist Radek Stepanek, and Belgian Steve Darcis, who defeated Rafael Nadal in round one, all exited the tournament on Wednesday.
Tsonga, who was on course to face second-seeded Briton Andy Murray in the quarterfinals, retired with a knee injury while trailing Latvian Ernests Gulbis 6-3, 3-6, 3-6; the Frenchman had called a trainer to get treatment at the end of the second set, and was forced to quit after losing the third.
Left knee injuries also felled Cilic, who withdrew prior to his second-round match with Kenny De Scheppers, and Isner, who retired after just two games of his second-round tilt with France’s Adrian Mannarino.
The top-seeded American in the draw, Isner, who came to Wimbledon fame thanks to his 2010 match with Frenchman Nicolas Mahut that spanned three days and 138 games in the fifth set, said he felt something in his knee after serving the third point of the match with Mannarino; he took a medical timeout during the second game, and had to quit minutes later.
''I always serve and land on my left leg, like I have done 20 million times playing this game, and this is the first time I just felt this sharp pain,'' Isner said. ''It didn't pop. It just grabbed like really badly, and I knew I was in serious trouble then. I knew at that point it was not likely I was going to be able to play.''
Stepanek, meanwhile, retired with a left thigh/hamstring injury while down a set and 3-5 in the second to Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz, and Darcis withdrew prior to his match with Pole Lukasz Kubot with a shoulder injury he said he suffered while diving for a shot in the first set against Nadal on Monday.
On the women’s side, second-seeded Russian Victoria Azarenka, who reached the semifinals in London each of the last two years, withdrew prior to her second-round match against Italy’s Flavia Pennetta, citing a knee injury suffered in her first-round win over Maria Joao Koehler. Azarenka’s withdrawal marks only the second time in the Open era that a women's player seeded first or second has conceded a match by walkover at any Grand Slam – the first coming courtesy of second-seeded Nancy Richey at the 1974 French Open – but she was unable to recover from what was diagnosed as a bone bruise in her knee.
The women’s side lost three other top players from the draw Wednesday: third-seeded Maria Sharapova lost 6-3, 6-4 to 131st-ranked Michelle Larcher de Brito, ninth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki lost to 196th-ranked qualifier Petra Cetkivska 6-2, 6-2, and 12th-seeded Ana Ivanovic dropped a 6-3, 6-3 decision to Canadian teenager Eugenie Bouchard.
The men’s draw also lost 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt, who lost his second-round match with 189th-ranked German qualifier Dustin Brown in four sets just days after himself eliminating 11th-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka in the first round.
After his withdrawal, Cilic would almost perfectly sum up the events of Day 3 of Wimbledon 2013.
''I would say (it's a) very black day,'' Cilic said. ''The other days, other weeks, there were no pullouts. Everything just happened today.''