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Belgian bunfight

It's a shame Klijsters and Henin must clash so early, says Gerry

Gerry Williams Posted 26th June 2010 view comments

Good morning on this Murray (and we hope merry) day. Today, our Andy plays the Frenchman Gilles Simon, who has got the better of him only once in four matches - none of them on grass.

The well-organised French Federation though, are buoyant. This, they think, is the strongest contingent they have sent to Wimbledon in modern times, and they still have five men left in the singles.

Clijsters: will face her compatriot next

Clijsters: will face her compatriot next

Overall though, attendances here have been down. The absence of Court Three for rebuilding has something to do with this, but it has still been an excellent first week.

It was only spoiled briefly yesterday out on Court 18 (the Marathon Court as we will now call it), where the Romanian Victor Hanescu was bothered by the behaviour of four specatators and eventually walked off court. He was doubtless also bothered by the fact that he his German opponent, Daniel Brands, was leading 3-0 in the fifth set! Police thankfully took away the youths, but let's get back to the tennis instead.

In some ways Justine Henin is Billy-Jean King revisited, the way she plays. Need I say more?

Gerry Williams
Quotes of the week

As I have previously noted, the women's events are much-improved this year. It's just a pity that the top Belgians, whose returned from premature retirement has so uplifted the quality of the women's field, will now have to face each other in the last 16. I guess it's the luck - or bad luck - of the draw.

On Friday, first Kim Klijsters beat Russian Maria Kirilenko 6-3 6-3. Then Justin Henin beat another Russian, Nadia Petrova 6-1 6-4. Klijsters' inherited athleticism - she's the daughter of a Belgian World Cup footballer - made it possible to mark her return in New York last summer by actually winning the US Open.

Henin, that will'o the wisp, is sure to achieve much again as well and I would like to see it happen here. In some ways she's Billy-Jean King revisited, the way she plays. Need I say more?

Wearily

Returning to the men, one of my favourite moments yesterday was in the post-match interview room. There were no banalities when John Isner walked in, having wearily lost to the Dutchman, Thiemo de Bakker 6-0 6-3 6-2.

Come on, you know Isner; he's the tall young American who had over the previous two days had played in (and won) the world's longest professional tennis match. Don't say you've forgotten that one already!

So we asked him how he felt. "Obviously a bit drained, a bit low on fuel," was the quiet reply, making him not just the master of marathon matches, but also understatement.

And what would he do when he gets back to America, someone asked. "I might go fishing or watch a bit of the World Cup," he replied thoughtfully.

I can't wait to see what becomes of John Isner. He may well mature into a very good Wimbledon player indeed, with that service and attitude.

Elsewhere among this year's serious contenders, Lleyton Hewitt (where would the Australians be without him these days?) was too competitive for the carless Gael Monfils of France.

Finally and happily, a tale to get your day started well. How do you think 16-year-old Liam Broady from Manchester felt when Rafael Nadal's representatives phones to invite him to practice with the world's number one player?

They worked out together for almost two hours and whatever happens over the next eight days I promise you this: he will never, ever forget it!

See Gerry Williams' Wimbledon latest every day on Sky Sports News. Click on the video to see his look ahead to Day Six...

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