Published July 02, 2013
WARSAW, Poland – The last time Poland was a factor on the men's side of a Grand Slam draw, Wojtek Fibak was the country's top player and Lech Walesa was its top politician.
That was back in 1980. Now, 33 years later, the country that loves soccer is talking about tennis.
On Tuesday, Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Li Na of China to move a win away from her second straight Wimbledon final.
The bigger buzz, however, was about the men. On Wednesday, Jerzy Janowicz and Lukasz Kubot will be the first Polish men to play a Grand Slam quarterfinal since Fibak made the round of 8 three times in 1980. The winner will be the first Polish man to make a Grand Slam semifinal.
One of the country's newspapers, Gazeta Wyborcza, called it "A white-and-red Wimbledon," referring to the colors of the Polish flag. The Rzeczpospolita daily declared: "We will have a Polish quarterfinal."
"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.
It was Kubot who brought his own special flair to his victory, celebrating by doing a version of the can-can after match point. That could be catching. John McEnroe, teaming with his brother in a senior's doubles match Tuesday, did a version, as well, after their win, but he couldn't get his knees quite as high.
Last year, Radwanska became the first Polish woman since 1939 to reach a Grand Slam final before she fell to Serena Williams.
"I kind of started it," Radwanska said. "You know, it's great to have now guys doing very, very well."
After his win Monday, Kubot said the sport was already on the rise in Poland.
"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."
The Polish network TVN24 interviewed some of Kubot's family.
"This is so hard to go through," said Kubot's mother, Zofia Szymanska. "He is working physically, I emotionally."
The 22-year-old Janowicz has one of the hardest serves on tour. In Poland, many believe he has a slight edge over the 31-year-old Kubot.
But in Poland, the match is widely seen as a win-win situation.
"We support them both and let the better one win," actor and tennis fan Marcin Daniec said. "And then maybe (Andy) Murray can be knocked off."