Kudla, Keys, Williams sisters leading U.S. charge at Wimbledon

There has been some heartbreak (John Isner lost to Marin Cilic 12-10 in the fifth set) but also plenty of hope for Americans as Wimbledon heads into its second week. Parsa recaps the first six days for the U.S. contingent while also taking a look ahead.

The Special Ks

Kudla. Grass. Fight—three words that all relate very well with each other. Denis Kudla, 22, has enjoyed a fantastic grass-court season as he reached the final of a Challenger, won his fifth career Challenger title the following week, and is now into the fourth round at Wimbledon.

Kudla, the last American man left in the draw, had never advanced past the second round of any previous major, but he now finds himself as one of the two unseeded men into the second week at the All-England Club. The wild card came back from a two-set deficit in his opening match to beat 28th seed Pablo Cuevas before getting the best of Alexander Zverev in four sets to reach the third round. Kudla had been on course to face No 5 seed Kei Nishikori at that point before encountering some good luck as Nishikori withdrew and gave Santiago Giraldo a free pass into the last 32. Another five-set thriller ensured, with Kudla again coming out on top. The Ukrainian-turned-American will now battle Marin Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion, as he looks to pull off another upset.

It should be noted that Kudla made a coaching change right before the grass-court season and started working with Billy Heiser, who also coaches fellow Americans Tim Smyczek and Rhyne Williams. The move has paid immediate dividends, as Kudla will re-enter the top 100 once the new rankings come out next week.

On the women’s side, 20-year-old Madison Keys is continuing her breakout 2015 campaign. When Keys reached the semifinals of the Australian Open, it was the first major in which she had advanced past the third round. Now she is into the second week of Wimbledon for the first time. The No. 21 seed came back in her opener after dropping the first set then won both of her next two matches in straights.

Keys has a great opportunity to reach the quarterfinals…and beyond. On Monday she is taking on unseeded Olga Govortsova, who knocked out 25th seed Alize Cornet in the second round.

Williams sisters

World No. 1 Serena Williams has been forced to battle in her effort to capture a sixth Wimbledon singles in addition to the proverbial “Serena Slam.” She won her first two matches comfortably, with identical 6-4 6-1 scorelines. Serena then had to come back from the brink of defeat in her third-round match against Brit Heather Watson, who had the whole Centre Court crowd behind her. The top seed trailed by a double-break at 3-0 in the third set and also saw Watson serve for the match at 5-4. Once again, however, Serena showed why she is so good and seized three straight games to beat Watson 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams has been mostly dominant thus far in the tournament, reaching the fourth round without dropping a set. She posted a double-bagel at the expense of fellow American Madison Brengle before winning a relatively tight second-round match against Yutin Putintseva. Venus then disposed of Aleksandra Krunic.

We now have a fourth-round blockbuster on our hands between the Williams sisters, a showdown worthy of being contested much later in the tournament—like the final. Younger sister Serena leads the head-to-head series 13-11, but Venus won the most recent meeting last year in Montreal. This will be Venus and Serena’s sixth meeting at Wimbledon (second prior to the final), with Serena leading that head-to-head 3-2.

Cuckoo for Coco

Coco Vandeweghe is into her first fourth round at a major with three solid straight-set victories. After a tough one against No. 11 seed Karolina Pliskova, Vandeweghe absolutely destroyed Samantha Stosur 6-2, 6-0. The 23-year-old will now face sixth seed Lucie Safarova, who needed three sets to advance past two Americans, Alison Riske (R1) and Sloane Stephens (R3).

Doubles players still alive

Men’s: Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan, Jack Sock (with Vasek Pospisil)

Women’s: Abigail Spears and Racquel Kops-Jones, Bethanie Mattek-Sands (with Lucie Safarova), Lisa Raymond (with Cara Black), Coco Vandeweghe (with Anna-Lena Groenefeld)

Mixed: Mike Bryan and Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Madison Keys (with Nick Kyrgios), Racquel Kops-Jones (with Raven Klassen)

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