Estonian Kaia Kanepi has been forced to sit out this year’s Wimbledon tennis tournament as a result of ongoing heel problems. The world no. 17 made the announcement via her personal Web site on June 13, stating that she will be sitting out tournaments for at least four weeks, with the hope of being fully recovered in time to represent Estonia at the Summer Olympics in London, starting on July 27. Kanepi has been struggling with injuries throughout this season, forcing the 27-year-old to reassess the number of tournaments that she is now participating in. In addition to the heel problems, Kanepi has also battled Achilles and shoulder injuries. However, despite the string of injuries that has been plaguing Kanepi, the right-hander is having the best season of her career to date, having won two titles, made a semi-final and two quarter-final appearances including at the French Open, and also reaching the finals of the doubles in Copenhagen, Denmark. Estonia will still be represented at the home of tennis by Jurgen Zopp, who has qualified for the men’s singles draw.
With Kanepi out of Wimbledon, the Baltic States’ chance of having a player make it as far as the second week of the tournament looked at best slim. But finally stepping into the spotlight for all the right reasons was Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis. Facing up against world no.7 Tomas Berdych on Center Court on the first day of the Championship, the ‘swan’ showed why he was once touted to appear more regularly on tennis’ most hallowed court, living up to the occasion by creating the first major upset of this year’s tournament, advancing to the second round with a 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-4) victory. Prior to Monday’s win, the 23-year-old had won just three matches on tour this year and none against a player ranked in the top 60 in the world, seeing his world ranking plummet to 92 after reaching a career-high of 21 back in February 2011. As of Monday, Gulbis’ ranking stands at 87. On account of knocking out such a highly seeded player so early in the tournament, Gulbis’ next two matches should arguably provide easier challenges for the right-hander. “I wanted to play [in the] first round against a tough opponent,” Gulbis told reporters following the win, adding, “it motivates me much more, especially the first round.”
Estonian rally driver Ott Tanak has committed another costly error, crashing out of the Brother Rally New Zealand. Contesting the complete World Rally Championship (WRC) calendar for the first time, the 24-year-old was making his maiden voyage down-under, and in what are often considered trying conditions for even the more seasoned drivers, Tanak was keeping up with the best in the business, holding on to fifth position with just three of the 22 super stages left to be navigated. However, halfway through the 20th stage, Tanak failed to navigate a relatively straightforward corner, finding himself in the loose gravel on the side of the road and sliding into a bush-laden ditch. The protegee of Estonian rally legend Markko Martin, Tanak has now only managed to complete two of the seven rounds to have taken place this year without incident, despite reassuring his M-Sport Ford Rally Team boss Malcolm Wilson that he would begin to take a more conservative approach to his driving. Failing to pick up any points in New Zealand, Tanak now slips back to 12th place in the overall driving standings with six rounds remaining in the season. Team mate Evgeny Novikov of Russia is holding on to fifth place and providing the majority of points to keep M-Sport sitting in third position in the manufacturer’s standings. The WRC now moves on to Finland for the next round beginning on Aug. 2.