Amid an invasion of flying ants at the All England Club - a kind of lawn tennis horror movie - Caroline Wozniacki had the insects in her hair, in her ears, on her sun visor, on her racket hand, and in her mouth.
She must have also felt as though they were crawling all over her brain, on an afternoon when the No.2 seed lost her second round match to Russian Ekaterina Makarova.
"I want to focus on playing tennis and not eating bugs," the Dane said to the umpire at her moment of greatest exasperation, which is not a sentence you hear too often from someone with the elevated status of playing Wimbledon for the first time as a Grand Slam champion. And flying ants weren't the Australian Open winner's only problem on No.1 Court.
While someone found Wozniacki a spray to help her fend off the insects, what she really needed was what no one could give her: a giant can of Makarova repellent.
If the story here was Wozniacki's demise - which meant that the ladies' draw had lost three of top five seeds by teatime on the first Wednesday, after the departure of Sloane Stephens and Elina Svitolina - it was also about Makarova's astonishing resilience.
Twice Makarova had failed to serve out the match, the first time at 5-1 and then again at 5-3, when she had played an excruciating game from 40-0 up, including double-faulting on one of the four match points she had in that game.
Makarova could very easily have folded from there. But she didn't, and in the end completed her win with a break of serve rather than a hold. She took her sixth match point for a 6-4, 1-6, 7-5 victory.
Day 3 at Wimbledon 2018 brought auspicious tidings for qualifier Viktoriya Tomova – the world no.135’s second round opponent was not only ranked considerably lower than she, but also lower-ranked than Tereza Smitkova, the wild card whom Tomova beat in the first round to notch up her first-ever win in the main draw of a Slam. A promising scenario for further progress then? Alas, the second round opponent in question dismissed Tomova 6-1, 6-4 in 66 minutes. Step forward, Serena Williams, for it was she. Ah well.
It isn’t too often that a contest between players ranked 135 and 181 is granted Centre Court status, but funnily enough that’s what 23 Grand Slam titles including seven Wimbledon crowns can do for you. This was a considerably more straightforward outing for Williams than her opening foray at the 2018 Championships against the left-handed Arantxa Ruson a blustery No.1 Court, where she struggled for rhythm. This time there was no wind; instead, it was a breeze – competitively, at least. Opting to play without the compression tights she sported in the first round, Williams moved better and was altogether more at one with herself.
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Photo: Rémy Gros
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