Rafa Nadal, Janko Tipsarevic, and Tomas Berdych were all sent packing today, as the grass action in London and Halle continued to deliver surprises in a week fraught with upsets. Although the homogenization of surfaces has become an issue among devoted fans of the ATP tour, this week's tournaments have proven that grass courts still provide an opportunity for aggressive players to score wins over their more passive opponents.
Nadal's 3-6, 4-6 loss to Kohlschreiber comes as a surprise, as the German prevailed for the first time in their ninth head-to-head meeting. However, the two players have contested tight matches in the past, as Kohlschreiber had managed to take 5 sets off Nadal in their eight previous clashes. The quarterfinal exit leaves Nadal with only two singles matches of grass court preparation for Wimbledon, which could be a cause for concern leading into a tournament where Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are considered strong contenders for the title.
Fortunately for Nadal, many of his potential Wimbledon adversaries also received early exits this week. Defending Queen's Club champion Andy Murray was ousted in his first match, falling to skilled grass-courter Nicolas Mahut in an exciting match decided in a third-set tiebreak. Murray, who has struggled to gain traction since narrowly missing the Australian Open final, is in a much tougher spot than Nadal. Although he's beloved by the Wimbledon crowds, the mounting expectations have demonized him in the past, and he's far from his top form so far this year. Few consider him a top contender for Wimbledon, and he has plenty of work to do to prove that he belongs in the same group as tennis' top three players.
World #5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was later upset in three sets by Ivan Dodig in the Queen's quarterfinals. The tournament also saw seeded players Andy Roddick, Gilles Simon, Ivo Karlovic, and Janko Tipsarevic upset in the second round or sooner. The only seeded player remaining in Queen's is sixth-seeded Marin Cilic, who could look to make a big statement after flying under the radar for the past two seasons. American Sam Querrey has also regained his form in London, reaching the semifinals for his first truly impressive result since the 2010 season.
Back in Halle, hometown veteran Tommy Haas scored a big win against Tomas Berdych, as the third-seeded Czech double faulted twice in the final game to give Haas the two match points he needed to secure the win. Tommy's playing very well, and could be prepared for another resurgence at the age of 34. His comeback began very slowly last summer, but he's really picked up his game this year, compiling a 12-6 tour record. He stands a chance to advance further his success against Kohlschreiber in the semifinals, and will be a dangerous floater in the Wimbledon draw. Haas achieved his best result in a major there in 2009, when he reached the semifinals.
This weekend should be a good one, filled with new faces, trusty veterans, and resurgent talents. We'll have more updates tomorrow after the semifinals unfold.