SW 19.. the holy grail of tennis
To us minions, a number; to residents an address; to a certain breed of athletes, the holy grail, the Mecca of tennis, the pinnacle of sport.
Two weeks of elation and emotions unseen all laid out on a green carpet, watched over by royalty. The setting couldn’t get any better…
The English summer plays host to the best tennis players, typical British crowds, platters of strawberry and as always the wonderful rain.
On the back of wins at Roland Garros, both Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal were hoping to reach week two and maybe go all the way. Unfortunately, converting the French and Wimbledon is the toughest feat on tour and not many people have been able to overcome the stress on the body. Could they beat the odds?
But sport as we know, doesn’t always allow for fairytales and choses to throw up surprises. Rafael Nadal, strong favourite for the tournament, was bundled in 5 against Czech debutant at Wimbledon, Lucas Rosol in what was the most baffling performance I had seen since Fernando Gonzalez’s blitzkrieg at the Australian Open a few years ago. Nadal evidently bothered by the ‘roof’ break of 40 minutes and tired from his French exploits couldn’t disrupt the Czechs rythm. Was the Czech a surprise package of the tournament? Sadly, No. Rosol lost in straight sets in the next round.
Maria Sharapova, champion in 2004, suffered at the hands of ‘big serving’ Sabine Lisicki (who had won the crowd over at the Open last year, before losing not to an opponent but to severe stomach cramps where she had to get stretchered off).
This years event has caused more upsets than usual. Women’s seeds fell hot cakes. The experienced – Li Na, Kim Clijsters, Samantha Stosur all fell early. It was rather calming to know that men’s tennis was still slightly more solid with Nole, Federer and Andy Murray have, not safely, but surely made it to week two at SW19.
Djokovic came through a tough 4 setter against Radek Stepanek, Federer pulled through in 5 against lesser known Frenchman Julian Bennataeu and Andy Murray was pushed to 4 by big serving Ivo Karlovic (who has launched an official complain for match fixing at Wimbledon, to investigate his ‘foot faults’ against the Brit)
The womens draw was focused on the progress of young guns like Radwanksa, Azarenka and reigning champion Petra Kvitova, but not so quietly, the experience, athleticism and strength of Serena Williams pulled through the early rounds.
Miss Williams after a slug match with the petit Zheng Jie, came through in 3 sets, winning the 3rd 9-7, beat Kvitova in straight sets. Will Serena grace centre court again next saturday?
Serena will bank on her experience to pull her through to the final versus the fearlessness of her younger competitors?
17, 6 & 1.
The numbers above are significant to the men’s game at the Open.
The greatest of all time, Roger Federer has had to work through two gruelling rounds. A five set with Bennaeteu and a 4 set with the forgotten Xavier Malisse. For the first time, for as long as i could remember Fedex showed signs of fatigue. A back injury, restricted the maestro’s movements. Would a bad back prevent his progress at the holy ground he calls home? or would this be the all-conquering 17th Grand Slam title?
Nole has been an abolute revelation. The once talented Serb has now matured into a dominating force in men’s tennis. Last years champion is eager to taste the sacred centre court grass yet again. Novak, has not been in dominating form, but still boasts the most stable and solid game on the tour.The best return of serve accompanied by superior athletic ability is Novaks game. The safest bet would be on Novak winning his second wimbledon and reaching a total of 6 grand slams.
The biggest beneficiary of Nadals exit is Britains hope Andy Murray. Ivan Lendl lead Andy Murray has reverted to a very 80’s style technic or using the slice backhand. Lendl’s steeliness and grit is wearing off on the Scot. Murray has probably been the most convincing of the three high seeds in the tournament.He would have to play as well as he did against Djokovic at the US Open last year to cause any damage to the Serb, or banish any demons and scar tissue from previous losses to Federer.A true ask of the 4th seeds ability and grit. Could Andy Murray end a 43 year hoodoo of British tennis and win his first ever Grand Slam? Or will he be the greatest to never win a Grand Slam?
The draw slightly favours the 4th seed, but will have to overcome to persistent David Ferrer and the mercurial Jo Tsonga.
Personally, how much ever i know that Djok and Federer will probably win Wimbledon, i wouldn’t shy away from punting Andy Murray to banish his Grand slams ghosts.
Will there be a surprise winner in the women’s draw? Or would Serena Williams win yet another Grand Slam? Will Federer finally win his 17th Slam and assert himself as the games greatest ever? Will Britain celebrate the weekend or can the Serb eat his way into Grand Slam history books?
In all, the business end of Wimbledon brings out the true champions. The world is watching, SW19, the holy grail of tennis will have another champion this year. Who will you be supporting?