‘Lucky loser’ from U.S. upsets defending champ

United States' Lauren Davis returns to Germany's Angelique Kerber in a Women's singles match during day four of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Thursday, July 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

WIMBLEDON, England — Lauren Davis wasn’t even supposed to be playing in Wimbledon’s main draw, let alone upsetting defending champion Angelique Kerber in the second round.

It’s been quite a week.

The 95th-ranked Davis lost in the last round of qualifying and figured that was that. But then another player withdrew from the tournament, opening up a spot, and the 25-year-old American got in — a “lucky loser” in tennis parlance.

On Thursday, Davis turned things around after a poor start and knocked off the No. 5-seeded Kerber 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 to get to the third round and equal her best showing at any Grand Slam tournament.

“I wouldn’t say that I was surprised, because I always believe in myself. She’s obviously an incredible champion; I have immense respect for her,” Davis said. “I definitely believe in myself and believe that I can hang with these girls and beat them.”

She seemed to move around just fine despite a heavily wrapped left knee.

“The tape is a lot worse than it looks. It’s just a little soreness with my meniscus on my left side,” Davis said. “It’s really just prevention at this point, especially on the grass where it can be slippery potentially.”

Davis was by far the more aggressive player, compiling a hard-to-believe edge of 45-13 in total winners against Kerber, whom Davis called “a human backboard.”

This continues what’s been an up-and-down season for Kerber, who won her third career major championship a year ago at the All England Club by beating Serena Williams in the final.

Kerber hasn’t won a title since.

“I’m disappointed. Of course it’s not the way I would like to finish here or to play here,” the German said. “But you sometimes have days like that. You have to accept it. You have to learn from it.”

DUMPED FOR COCO

Just a couple of other ways in which 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff is gaining attention at Wimbledon: Her third-round match Friday against another unseeded player was scheduled for Centre Court, and she was picked to play mixed doubles by someone who dumped his original partner in that event.

First, Gauff was the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon in the professional era. Then the American went out on No. 1 Court and beat Venus Williams, who is 24 years older and had won four Grand Slam titles before Gauff was born. And then she beat 2017 semifinalist Magdalena Rybarikova, again on No. 1 Court, and again in straight sets. Now she’ll face 60th-ranked Polona Hercog at the most hallowed tennis arena anywhere.

Gauff is entered in mixed doubles with Jay Clarke, who explained after losing to Roger Federer in singles on Wednesday that he switched things up after initially planning to play with fellow Brit Harriet Dart.

“I made the decision a few days ago now to play with Coco, because ... you play with a big name or a past champion,” Clarke said. “Yeah, I made the decision to play with probably the biggest name in the draw at the moment.”

Sorry, Harriet.

“Obviously, initially, she was very upset,” Clarke said. “She had every right to be; I’d be too.”

SO LONG, MARCOS

Marcos Baghdatis said goodbye to tennis with a kiss.

The 2006 Australian Open runner-up played the last match of his career Thursday at Wimbledon, a 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-3 loss in the second round to 17th-seeded Matteo Berrettini.

After it ended, the 34-year-old from Cyprus patted his heart with both hands, then knelt and leaned his forehead on the grass, before planting a kiss on No. 2 Court. He cried as the spectators regaled him with a lengthy standing ovation.

Baghdatis, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2006, said before the tournament began that it would be his last before retirement. His wife, former player Karolina Sprem, is expecting a baby in November, their third child.

“I didn’t want to leave the court,” Baghdatis said. “It was a nice farewell. It felt amazing.”

___

Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

___

Recommended for you