The Reuters global sports blog
“What a Wimbledon” – Rusedski
This year’s Wimbledon Championships had a lot of interesting stories. On the men’s side it was all about the top 4 players in the world. On the ladies it was about Sharapova, the Williams sisters, and whether or not any of the young pretenders could win the Championships.
All of the top 4 cruised into the men’s quarter-finals. Only Rafael Nadal was a bit of a worry hurting his foot against Juan Del Potro in the first set. After the match he said he would have to take painkillers for the rest of the tournament and possibly miss the next 6 weeks after Wimbledon finished. This brought hope that possibly Andy Murray could beat Nadal if they both reached the semi-finals which they both did easily. Expectations were reaching fever pitch now with a real belief Murray could make the finals.
In the other quarter-finals Djokovic was playing the 18-year-old qualifier Bernard Tomic. Tomic was the third youngest player in the history of Wimbledon to make the quarter-finals with only Becker and McEnroe being younger. Djokovic won in 4 tight sets, but Tomic proved he was world class and will be one to look out for in the future.
The match of the quarter-finals everyone was looking forward to was Roger Federer versus Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the Queens Club finalist. Federer played a sublime first two sets and had never ever lost a grand slam match from two sets to love up, but on this occasion Tsonga lifted his game and won the next 3 sets to win in 5.
Federer never managed to lift his game and never seemed like he could draw that little extra that he needed to win. For all Federer fans, these are very worrying times. It will be very difficult to see him winning another slam. Nadal and Djokovic have really pulled away and with the courts and balls being slower it will be a big ask for him to win majors – also the other players believe they can beat him now. This year he has lost to Jurgen Melzer, Richard Gasquet and Tsonga; players in the past he would never have lost to. This will have hurt him tremendously to have now lost two years in a row in the quarter-finals, when a lot of experts were picking him to win. My pick for the tournament was Nadal.
So this set up interesting semi-finals with the highlight being Murray versus Nadal. Murray had to be aggressive, serve well and hit his forehand well if he was going to win. He played like a dream winning the first set 7-5. Then in the second set at 2-1 up and 15-30 he missed a sitter on the forehand to try and get two break points. This is where the whole match changed. Nadal held and then broke on his very first break point in the second set when Murray missed an easy smash. Mentally Murray was gone after this and Nadal just stepped up his game to crush Murray 6-2 6-2 6-4 and reach the Wimbledon finals again.
In the other semi-final Tsonga came out like a house on fire and Djokovic was very nervous for 2 reasons: If Djokovic won he would be the new world number 1 and would also make his first Wimbledon finals. Tsonga broke Djokovic in the first game and served for the first set at 5-4. Djokovic broke, then went on to win the first set tie break and the next set easily 6-2. In the 3rd set Djokovic served for the match, Tsonga broke; another tie break ensued with Tsonga saving two match points and take it to a fourth set. But in the fourth Djokovic stepped it up while Tsonga dipped and Djokovic made his first Wimbledon final and became world number 1, what an achievement! This was the first time Djokovic looked really comfortable moving on a grass court and it was the best grass court match I have ever seen Djokovic play.
What a final, the new number 1 versus the old number 1. This final became more interesting because Djokovic has won all four previous encounters this year. Could he make it a fifth? In the finals Djokovic and Nadal played as well as they could and at 4-5 in the first set Djokovic created set point and the first break point of the match. Djokovic took it to win, 6-4. Nadal could not have played better and was second best in that set. Djokovic steamrolled the second 6-1 and then dipped in the third and Nadal took it 6-1. In the fourth Djokovic came through and deserved to win because he took it on more and fortune favors the brave. He is the only player on the planet who enjoys the challenge of Nadal and can bully Nadal around the court. This is his third major and he fulfilled a childhood dream of winning Wimbledon. It is a changing of the guard and Djokovic looks like he could be number 1 for quite a while.
On the women’s side the first real upset occurred when Serena Williams, the defending champion, lost to Marion Bartoli in the fourth round. But was it really an upset? Serena had only one tournament to prepare and to get to the fourth round after missing a whole year was a tremendous effort. If Serena can stay healthy, expect her to possibly win the US Open.
Bartoli was ecstatic but lost her next match to the German player Sabine Lisicki.
Maria Sharapova on the other hand was cruising through and got to the final without dropping a set. She was many people’s favorite to win the tournament. In the final Sharapova played the big serving left-handed Czech player Petra Kvitova. Kvitova has been the talk of the tennis world for some time but had yet to fulfill her immense talent. Could this be the year? Yes it is and she dismantled Sharapova 6-3 6-4 to win her first Wimbledon and first major. This has been a great year for the women’s game with Li Na winning the French Open and now Petra Kvitova winning Wimbledon. The women’s tour really needed new faces winning the majors and this will only bring more interest to the women’s game. Petra Kvitova has everything in her game to be a future world number 1.
What a Wimbledon….