Wimbledon recap: Grand Slam comes alive on general election day and 4th July


Follow live coverage of Wimbledon 2024 here.

Welcome to the Wimbledon briefing, where The Athletic will explain the stories behind the stories on each day of the tournament.

On day three of Wimbledon 2024, American players made hay, the shortest shorts in tennis pulled off a comeback for the ages, and Coco Gauff set a serve target.

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Novak Djokovic’s draw looks like a cakewalk … But can he even walk on cake?

It’s becoming clearer every day that Novak Djokovic’s most important moment of Wimbledon 2024 was when Carlos Alcaraz’s name landed on the opposite side of the draw.

The No. 2 seed and seven-time singles champion struggled at times in his four-set, 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 win on Thursday. He was facing Jacob Fearnley, a Scottish wild card ranked No. 277 in the world, and Djokovic has made it into the final 32 without playing someone ranked higher than 123 — with only one fully functioning knee. He was stiff at times, slow (for him) and tentative, all understandable after meniscus surgery barely a month ago. Still, he pushed just hard enough to prevail.

“The muscles around it are contracting and getting sore more than usual because they’re compensating and protecting the knee, which is normal,” he said. “There’s more work on those muscles. Maybe because they are sore, they’re also not really giving me that kind of dynamic speed and power that I need and want to have.”

Now the question is who, if anyone, will have the game and the gumption to take advantage of Djokovic’s compromised state on his favorite surface, before he meets one of his biggest current rivals, Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner,  which can only happen in a final.

Novak Djokovic scaled


Djokovic’s movement looked more encumbered than in the first round. (Francois Nel / Getty Images)

Alexander Zverev? He’s never been past the fourth round at Wimbledon. Taylor Fritz? He’s never beaten Djokovic. Same goes for his fellow American Tommy Paul.

Holger Rune has beaten Djokovic, but not on grass and not in a while, and Rune’s tennis career has been going in the wrong direction lately.

The best bets might be two Aussies. Djokovic next faces Alexei Popyrin, a big-time server who had the Serbian in trouble in Australia in January, and Alex de Minaur, another lover of the grass who has the speed and footwork to cover the court and the newly acquired strength to hit through it, especially if Djokovic doesn’t get looser and faster in the coming days.

“It’s all part of the process on the opening days,” Djokovic said of the stickiness in the third set, when he gave Fearnley the opportunity to believe.

“As I said, first two, three matches is probably something that I have to accept as part of the process. Hopefully I can go through and then build from there.”

Matt Futterman

On day three, Wimbledon felt like a tournament of comebacks. On day four, there were even more.

It’s the developing story at Wimbledon that no one can quite make sense of. Why do comebacks from two sets to love down keep happening?

We’re only four days and two rounds into the competition, and already this year’s Championships has equalled the Wimbledon Open Era record for the most such victories (nine).

Grigor Dimitrov was the latest man to pull off the feat, beating Shang Juncheng 5-7, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 on Thursday. He was at a loss to explain why there have been so many comeback wins, unconvinced by the idea that he might have been subconsiously inspired by his colleagues.

One theory is that a number of the wins have been in rain-interrupted matches, and it’s possible that the rhythm of the player leading might have been disrupted by having to stop. Britain’s Paul Jubb, for instance, was clearly not helped by having to stop and think about the fact that he was so close to a big upset against Thiago Seyboth Wild. Then there’s the fact that for some players who can hold serve comfortably but aren’t great returners on grass, one bad game is all it takes to swing things against them.

What we do know is that no one is going to be feeling especially comfortable with a two sets lead over the next few days.

Charlie Eccleshare

Americans take over the All England Club on Independence Day?

There was a time when Americans used to win Wimbledon titles on July 4. A shift in the tennis calendar and a lull in American prowess on the grass have combined to consign that history for now, in the case of the second part.

But that doesn’t mean there weren’t some bright spots on Independence Day. Ben Shelton led the highlight reel, winning a nearly four-hour duel with Lloyd Harris of South Africa for a second-consecutive five-set win. Once again Shelton battled back from a two-sets-to-one deficit, ultimately beating Harris and his serve in a super-tiebreak, 10-7.

A little while later, Taylor Fritz took out Arthur Rinderknech in four sets, and Bernada Pera got the Yanks an upset with a three-set win over France’s Caroline Garcia.

Earlier in the day, Madison Keys said she walked across the All England club grounds to some fellow Americans wishing her a happy Fourth. It was even happier after a 6-2, 6-2 win over Wang Yafan of China.

Madison Keys scaled


Keys was one of a few American players to enjoy a happy Fourth of July. (Robert Prange / Getty Images)

Things went less well for Marcos Giron, who couldn’t keep up with Alexander Zverev of Germany, and for Robin Montgomery, who couldn’t match Ons Jabeur, a finalist here for the past two years. Jessica Pegula was the biggest American casualty, after the world No. 5 lost to China’s Wang Xinyu.

It wasn’t all bad for Pegula though. As the light faded on the Fourth, she and Coco Gauff teamed up to win their doubles match against Anhelina Kalinina and Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine.

Matt Futterman

The vibes were off in SW19 — but now the tournament is alive

Over the last day or so it feels as though this year’s Wimbledon has come alive. On Wednesday night, the Italians Jannik Sinner and Matteo Berrettini put on a late-night show that was given an extra jolt of energy by fans with ground passes being allowed in for the closing stages.

Then on Thursday, the rain stayed away for the sunniest afternoon of the tournament so far, and, on UK election day, the place came alive. A raucous Court 18 was treated to a final set tiebreak between Ben Shelton and Lloyd Harris, while on Court 2 there was drama as Hubert Hurkacz suffered a nasty injury when diving for a volley.

Before exacerbating it. By diving for another volley.

Then on Court 12, there was proper aggro at the end of Fritz’s win against France’s Arthur Rinderknech, when the American said to his opponent “have a nice flight home” having just before said some not so complimentary words to his box while pointing straight at the Frenchman.

The tension between the two started at last year’s French Open when Fritz reacted to incessant boos from the home crowd by shushing them and screaming “let me hear it” after beating Rinderknech in four sets.

Then on the eve of Thursday’s match, Rinderknech accused Fritz of “crying” about what went down in Paris that day.

After the match when Fritz was asked about what he said at the net, he said that “the match was over” when he’d heard about Rinderknech’s comments. Don’t fire him up.

Elsewhere, there was Britain’s world No 277 Jacob Fearnley giving Djokovic a scare on Centre Court and almost taking the seven-time champion to five sets. Meanwhile, Court 1 hosted two all-British affairs, the first of which, between Harriet Dart and Katie Boulter, wasn’t always high on quality, but finished with a final set tie-break that was won by the former. At 2-6 down in that tiebreak, Dart was in tears on court, but Boulter’s forehand broke down to gift Dart the victory on the back of 75 — 75 — unforced errors from the higher-ranked Brit.

A fun day, ahead of what looks like like an entertaining set of third-round matches.

Charlie Eccleshare

Shots, tributes, and tears of the day

Wimbledon men’s draw 2024

Wimbledon women’s draw 2024

Tell us what you noticed on the fourth day as things continue…

(Top photo:Ben Shelton: Henry Nicholls/Getty Images; Design: Eamonn Dalton for The Athletic)





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