Wimbledon Teachings
by Sean Randall | July 12th, 2006, 6:27 pm

So what did Wimbledon Championship teach us, if anything? Let’s see…

It taught us that the Australian Open champion is better than the French Open champion on grass court. That is both Aussie champs, Roger Federer and Amelie Mauresmo, defeated the French winners, Rafael Nadal and Justine Henin, in their respective Wimbledon finals.

Actually, Wimbledon showed just how good Roger Federer really is. The guy and his hipster jacket just blew through with great ease what was supposed to be a very tough draw. And then in the final he “fed” Rafa a bagel in the opening set – ultra impressive when you consider the Spaniard had held 80 straight service games and had only been broken twice in the tourney leading in.

We also learned that Nadal is going to be a factor on grass going forward. Really, a factor on any surface. As I said before if he gets a cozy draw, like he did this year, and Federer slips en route to the final, Rafael could very well become a Wimbledon champion someday. Scary, but true.

Wimbledon also showed that there are very very few players that can play on the lawn these days with any skill. I mean really, Jonas Bjorkman was playing in like his 13th Championships and NOW he makes it to the semifinals. Congrats to Jonas but one has to wonder if he’s that good or is everyone else that bad. Ivan Ljubicic is in the Top 5, need I say more?

And with the lack of quality grass players guys like Irakli Labaze, Severine Bremond and even Bjorkman took full advantage in putting together their best runs of the season.

It was also interesting to learn just how far Andy Roddick has fallen. After a shaky opener against Janko Tipsarevic, Roddick was full throttle and back in bash mode in a convincing win over Florian Mayer in the second round – I watched it! But then against Andy Murray Roddick again looked like a player badly in need of a new game. The volleys are no good, the backhand is still subpar and the forehand and serve seem to have lost a bit of pop. Can Jimmy Connors help? Doubt it, but we’ll see. Roddick has a bunch of points to defend this summer so odds are he may not even be in the Top 15 come the US Open. Simply amazing…

As for the rest of American tennis – OUCH! For the first time since 1911 no Americans were in the quarterfinals. That’s incredible. And even more incredible was that Shenay Perry was the only U.S. player to reach the fourth round. Unreal. Aside from James Blake, who continues to have trouble in big Grand Slam matches (i.e. five setters), and the retiring Andre Agassi, the rest of the crew is slipping. Roddick is in a funk, Robby Ginepri is off the radar, Taylor Dent is battling a bad back and Mardy Fish is…well Mardy Fish. And the future doesn’t look much brighter. Donald Young? Scoville “MIA” Jenkins? Brendon “We Hardly Knew Ya” Evans? Yikes. Sam Querrey from what I’ve heard is the best of the bunch, the lone Top 20-type prospect.

The U.S. women are not much better. Venus/Serena/Lindsay are at the end of their careers. Jenny/Monica are all but done. And who’s to follow? Perry, Vania King, Ashley Harkleroad, Jamea Jackson are all nice players but one doesn’t get the feeling they are Top 10 material. Speaking of which, check the WTA ranks, Lindsay is on the verge of getting bumped to No. 11 meaning no U.S. women among the Top 10 for the first time since…probably ever!

Of course every time this happens someone always emerges. We shall see…(Maybe the Bryans boys will play singles, on the same court!)

While American tennis is going into the dumper, look at French, China and Britain, who all boast bona fide stars to lead them the next few years. France of course has a trio in Gael Monfils and Richard Gasquet along with Jeremy Chardy, the 2005 Wimbledon junior champ. Britain could be a force even with Tim Henman likely on the way out. Andy Murray’s steps up in big matches (sort of) and if they do get the Djokovic boys to come over, watch out. And China has about half the Top 100 seemingly from their country.

Wimbledon also showed us that long doubles matches get more pub than the short set one on the ATP Tour. Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor set a record for the longest match in Wimbledon history going something like 6-hours, 10-minutes. The boys saved five match points in their 23-21 victory over Simon Aspelin and Todd Perry. Quite the effort, and publicity well deserved.

We also learned that the WTA equal play request is a bit of a joke. Does anyone actually remember any really good early round women’s matches? Very few I must say. Either that or I simply wasn’t watching at the right time. My opinion, please.

And of course we learned that Wimbledon really does need a roof. Nothing sucks more than coming home from work hoping to catch tennis only to find rain, rain and more rain on the opening day of Wimbledon. 2009 cannot come quicker!

Until then, I guess I’m stuck with Wimbledon 2007 and 2008.

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6 Comments for Wimbledon Teachings

Jake Fegan Says:

I agree with you, except for one caveat about Nadal.

Rafa was supposedly mentally tough, especially for a 20 year old. However, when he was serving at 5-4 for the second set against Fed, he clearly choked and the match, for all intents and purposes, was over.

If both men make it to the US Open final, it will be another significant match. If they do meet and Federer happens to serve up a straight set thumping of Nadal, then I think that it will really affect Nadal and Federer will be in his head, and I would then expect Federer to win most, if not all, of their remaining non-clay Slam meetings.

At this point, I do not think Nadal’s ground strokes (except on clay, of course) are good enough to out-maneuver Federer.

Nadal is likely going to have to wait until Federer is past his peak to be able to see much Grand Slam success outside of Roland Garros. Then, who knows? The sky could be the limit.

JCF Says:

You don’t think Nadal’s strokes can outmaneuver Fed off the clay? Why is it Nadal leads 2-1 on hard courts? Almost 3-0 actually. Just because he won a match and broke the 5 straight losing streak does not make him favorite against Nadal for the rest of their careers. He still trails 2-6.

He got outplayed at Wimby. That doesn’t mean he isnt mentally tough. Fed got broken serving for the match himself. If Nadal didn’t have it mentally, he would not have bothered trying to win that third set.

Fed will never get inside his head. Nadal can lose to him, but he fears no one. Many don’t believe they can beat Fed, and have lost the mental battle before the match even starts, because Fed is that intimidating. Nadal is unaffected by that.

XC Says:

“Why is it Nadal leads 2-1 on hard courts? Almost 3-0 actually.”

I just hate this kind of arguement. In Miama 2005, Nadal was three points away from beating Federer in straight set, but he didn’t win. Fed won the remaining three sets. And how about Rome this year? Can I argue Federer could’ve won? Actually Fed won more points than Nadal in that match. A win is a win, a lost is a lost. No coulda, woulda, shoulda. No almost, No what if. And please rememeber, both hard court matches Nadal won were best of three, while Federer won the best of five. And GS is best of five.

You are not in Nadal’s head, so you can’t say whether or not you see Federer there.

Sunny Says:

XC, well said. I totally agree with your point about “almost 3-0″ part.

JCF, you said “Fed will never get inside his head. Nadal can lose to him, but he fears no one. Many don’t believe they can beat Fed, and have lost the mental battle before the match even starts, because Fed is that intimidating. Nadal is unaffected by that” — Don’t you think you used too strong words, like NEVER, NO ONE, UNaffected? Never say never. Then what do you think about the fact that Rafa lost the 1st set at 1-6 in Paris having making lots of errors, which is unusal for him. And what about the fact that he lost his serve when serving for the match/set in Monte Carlo and Wimbldon. Was that all because of Fed’s tennis?

Sunny Says:

I agree on most parts of this article but “Wimbledon also showed that there are very very few players that can play on the lawn these days with any skill.”

In a way I agree, but do you think why? IMO, it’s because;

1. There are no more tounaments on grass court and season is too short.
2. The court is so slow that is very much like hart court. In other words, players cannot play lawn tennis on the court of Wimbledon. Did you see the court in the final? It was almost asphalt!
3. Most, if not all, of the “players that can play on the lawn these days with any skill” were in the Federer’s quarter of the draw and all beaten by him. Gasquet, Henman, Berdych(I don’t categorize him as a grass court player. But he actually reached the final in Halle. Having a huge serve and groundstrokes his game’d be good on grass), Ancic(actually Bjorkman, too, he is a good grass court player with S/V game. Don’t downgrade him),… they were just not able to go deep into the tournament, thanks(?) to Federer, which leads a false impression like above, IMO.

Matt Says:

What we also learned at WImbledon was that the women can in fact serve and volley on the first serve and be very successful. Mauresmo and Henin were quite successfull with that play, probably serving and volleying 90% of the time on first serves. It was rather refreshing. For Mauresmo, she needs to try the same tactics ont he hard courts as well.

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