Poland relishes unprecedented Wimbledon success
WARSAW, Poland (AP)
Poland's unprecedented success at Wimbledon is drumming up new levels of interest in tennis in the country.
In a nation where football is the dominant sport, images of Jerzy Janowicz, Lukasz Kubot and Agnieszka Radwanska graced the front pages of newspapers Tuesday, a day after all three reached the quarterfinals at the All England Club.
''A white-and-red Wimbledon,'' Gazeta Wyborcza declared, referring to the colors of the Polish flag. The Rzeczpospolita daily proudly declared: ''We will have a Polish quarterfinal.''
Poland had not had man in a Grand Slam quarterfinal since 1980 before Janowicz and Kubot both made it on the same day. They will play each other on Wednesday, guaranteeing Poland its first ever men's Grand Slam semifinalist, while last year's runner-up Radwanska beat Li Na on Tuesday to reach the semis.
''I am extremely happy, not only because Lukasz is in the quarterfinal, but because for sure we will have a Pole in the Wimbledon semifinals,'' said Kubot's former coach Pawel Jaroch.
Radwanska last year became the first Polish woman since 1939 to reach a Grand Slam final before she fell to Serena Williams, and Kubot said after his fourth-round win that the sport was already on the rise in Poland even before this year's tournament.
''You should go to Poland and see what's going to happen,'' Kubot said. ''I think that tennis is getting very popular in Poland, and I'm happy and proud we can represent our country in these kinds of tournaments.''
Not many people would have tipped either Kubot or Janowicz to make it this far, especially since Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were in their side of the draw and had been set for a quarterfinal matchup before both were eliminated in the first three days.
''Federer or Nadal was to advance from that quarter, but it will be Janowicz or Kubot,'' Jaroch said.
On TVN24, the Wimbledon success was the top story of the day, alongside its coverage of Poland saying it would turn down a request for asylum from NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
The channel interviewed some of the players' family members as well, to see how they're dealing with the excitement.
''This is so hard to go through,'' said Kubot's mother Zofia Szymanska. ''He is working physically, I emotionally.''
Polish pundits said they think the 22-year-old Janowicz, who has one of the hardest serves on tour, has a slight edge over 31-year-old Kubot.
''Janowicz has a missile serve and plays very well from deep in the court,'' TVN24 commentator Adam Romer said. ''But Kubot runs to the net very well.''
As far as some fans go, they'll be happy no matter who wins.
''We support them both and let the better one win,'' said actor and tennis fan Marcin Daniec. ''And then maybe (Andy) Murray can be knocked off.''