David Leggat on sport

David Leggat is a Herald sport writer

David Leggat: There's nothing like a shock in sport

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No Roger Federer, no Rafael Nadal, no scream queens called Maria and Victoria. Wimbledon finals day set to be a damp squib, right?

If you've forked out serious money for a seat at Centre Court late next week, you may well feel seriously out of sorts, short-changed even.

It may be small consolation but just occasionally having the best players bundled out of an event unusually early is no bad thing.

One of the beauties of sport is the unpredictable, the toppling of a big name, the result which leaves you scratching your head.

There's a reason players are seeded in low figures. They are the best at their business and usually they will be adjacent as final stages draw near.

They are the players people want to see. You go to top sport to see top sports performers.

But every so often it's good that they learn comeuppance is just around the corner.

Life is supposed to contain surprises, to cast the mundane aside, however temporarily.

At Wimbledon, superstars have been packing their bags several days earlier than planned, some firing barbs over their departing shoulders at the state of the courts.

Injuries accounted for exciting sixth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and second seed Victoria Azarenka. Others were beaten by better players on the day. Federer, the king of Wimbledon, is a prime example.

Nadal, just off a fabulous French Open triumph, didn't look as if he wanted to be out there.

But these are events from which we should draw some pleasure.

Some of the sports occasions which most easily lock themselves into the mind are those we never saw coming.

Remember the 17-year-old German kid winning at Wimbledon in 1985? Life was never the same for Boris Becker.

Unless you were a Leeds United or Liverpool fan, you'd have punched the air in the early hours of a Sunday morning in 1973 and 1988 respectively as the two giants were undone by Sunderland and Wimbledon.

That's FA Cup romance for you, even if Wimbledon were still an unlovely lot.

Be honest, now, who really envisaged France beating the All Blacks in 1999 and 2007?

They may both stick in New Zealand's collective craw, but a decent wager would be had that they'd barely be remembered had the expected result happened on both occasions.

Michael Campbell seeing off Tiger Woods at the US Open at Pinehurst in 2005.

Didn't see that one coming.

The upshot of all the Wimbledon upheaval is that Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, world Nos 1 and 2, are piping hot favourites to contest the men's decider. Murray was due to play No 32 Tommy Robredo early today.

Serena Williams' main obstacles, Azarenka and Maria Sharapova, are gone. Wimbledon will be quieter next week.

A final opponent? Petra Kvitova - assuming she wins early today - or Li Na, anyone?

The way things have gone so far, it might yet finish up being Wimbledon's year for a big surprise.

- NZ Herald

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