Commentary

This is where Alex Bogomolov belongs

Updated: June 22, 2011, 6:43 PM ET
By Greg Garber | ESPN.com

WIMBLEDON, England -- Thirteen years ago, 15-year-old Alex Bogomolov won the USTA under-18 national championship.

Beat a guy named Roddick.

But though Andy Roddick would go on to become America's No. 1 player, Bogomolov embarked on a very different path. Nearly a decade after turning professional and struggling in the minor leagues of tennis, he managed to win only one Grand Slam singles match.

Now, in the span of three days at the All England Club, he has won two.

On Wednesday, he thrashed Juan Ignacio Chela 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the third round. Bogomolov, who was born in Moscow and lives as a U.S. citizen in Miami, won the first nine games of the match. He credited a pregame discussion with Andy Murray, who gave him some welcome insight into beating Chela.

"It feels amazing," said Bogomolov, 28. "After all this time playing Challengers and wondering if I belonged in the game of tennis -- now I know I belong."

When Bogomolov tore a ligament in his left wrist in 2008, he wasn't sure if he'd ever play tennis again. His wrist was still sore eight months later, but when his then-girlfriend Luana told him she was pregnant, everything changed.

The birth of his son, Maddox, 18 months ago, brought a new sense of urgency to his game.

"When I come back from a long trip, he's there and I can play with him" Bogomolov said. "He smiles and you forget about tennis. I want to play tennis so he'll have memories of me in the sport."

Now he's ranked in the top 100 and can play many of the best ATP events. He's already made more than $55,000 for winning those two matches, but he'll have his hands full if he wants to advance into the second week here.

Next up is Tomas Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon finalist, in a match likely to be played Friday.

Here are four more things I know I think:

Rafa finally caught a break: A delicious third-round match evaporated on the new Court No. 3 when rising Canadian Milos Raonic slipped and fell early in his match against Gilles Muller. Raonic was serving the first point at 2-1 and fell awkwardly. Clearly laboring, he served for a 3-1 lead before retiring after the fifth game. That means No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal dodges what might have been a difficult third-rounder. His difficult draw, however, could still include Juan Martin del Potro, Berdych and Murray -- even before he would see Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic.

On this day, at least, Bethanie Mattek-Sands' outfit was better than her tennis: She came out wearing a space-age Alex Noble warm-up jacket made of white tennis ball felt. Noble, who does designs for Lady Gaga, also crafted a similar yellow dress for the pre-tournament gala. It was all downhill after that. Mattek-Sands -- seeded for the first time in a Grand Slam event -- lost to Misaki Doi 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in the first round. After playing doubles here, she'll take a month off, which should give her plenty of time to plan her U.S. Open outfit. "This one kind of came last minute," she said. "I procrastinate a little bit. It'll be something colorful."

Murray has some company (for a change): Naturally, the No. 4-ranked Scotsman has reached the third round. He beat Tobias Kamke in straight sets but felt he didn't play all that well. Usually, Murray is the last British player in the draw after a few days. This time, he's one of three Brits still alive. Elena Baltacha won her first-round match 6-2, 6-4 over Mona Barthel, and on Wednesday 17-year-old Laura Robson won her first-ever match at Wimbledon, besting Angelique Kerber in three sets.

The press power rankings: The British tabloids are notorious for focusing on everything except tennis, but there is some outstanding coverage of the sport at Wimbledon. Here's our ranking: 1. The Telegraph (quality and quantity), 2. Times of London (Neil Harman is among the best in the business), 3. The Daily Mail (solid, less long-winded).

Greg Garber is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Greg Garber

Writer, Reporter
Greg Garber joined ESPN in 1991 and provides reports for NFL Countdown and SportsCenter. He is also a regular contributor to Outside the Lines and a senior writer for ESPN.com.