Chaotic Wednesday at Wimbledon

Wednesday has been a brutal day at Wimbledon.

Two more Slam-winning superstars are out as No. 3 seeds Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova both lost to unseeded players on a day marred by injuries, walkovers and retirements that have completely changed the landscape of the Grand Slam tournament in a matter of hours. Among the other damage:

  • No. 2 women’s seed Victoria Azarenka, who injured herself in her first-round win, pulled out before stepping on court against unseed Flavia Pennetta.

  • No. 6 men’s seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga abruptly quit while trailing Ernests Gulbis two sets to one after getting injured during the match.

  • Steve Darcis, the man who stunned Rafael Nadal in straight sets in the first round, withdrew before his match against Lukasz Kubot.

  • No. 9 seed Caroline Wozniacki and No. 12 seed Ana Ivanovic were obliterated in their second-round matches on the women’s side.

  • No. 10 seed Marin Cilic also withdrew before his match.

  • No. 18 seed John Isner retired after two games of his match against Adrian Mannarino.

  • Radek Stepanek retired in the middle of his match against No. 24 seed Jerzy Janowicz.

  • Yaroslava Shvedova — who reached the fourth round last year before losing to Serena Williams in a tight three-setter — quit before she got on court against No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova.

Federer ran into unheralded Sergiy Stakhovsky, who served solidly and kept Federer at bay throughout the match. Stakhovsky won in four tense sets — 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5).

Injuries did not appear to factor into Federer’s downfall, though Stakhovsky did slip and fall at one point late in the fourth set, needing a minute before getting back on his feet. Maybe it was the shoes’ fault.

Sharapova made it through her 6-3, 6-4 loss against Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal, but she was beset by problems on the slick courts, at one point heading into the locker room for treatment:

What was the cause for the rash of injuries? The finger-pointing has begun, with commentators and reports suggesting that the courts are too slick. Wimbledon got a new groundskeeper before this year. The players, too, were attributing their difficulties to the courts:

Eddie Seaward was the head groundskeeper at Wimbledon for 22 years before retiring after last year.

So much for the possibility of a Serena-Sharapova final. The seas certainly have parted for Serena on the women’s side with the other two of the top three seeds bowing out.

This is also great news for men’s No. 2 seed Andy Murray. The talk before the tournament was the difficult draw in the lower half of the men’s draw. But with No. 5 seed Nadal also out in stunning fashion, the path is clear for Murray, who won in straight sets Wednesday. No. 15 Nicolas Almagro is the highest-seeded player besides Murray left in that half.

Stakhovsky was 0-20 against top-10 players before beating Federer, who saw his incredible streak of 36 straight Grand Slam quarterfinals reached come to an end. Is this the end of the line for the Federer era? Our guy thinks so: