Wrapping up Wimbledon, we sure learned a lot. So let’s get to it.
1. Novak Djokovic Will Be Among The All-Time Greats
Novak Djokovic absolutely could not afford to lose that final. Not after losses in his last three Grand Slam title bouts, five of his recent six.
I always talk about “want” when these type of matches come around, and Djokovic simply wanted it more. But it wasn’t easy. In fact it almost didn’t happen.
Djokovic of course was up 5-2 in the fourth when – talk about bad timing – he hit one of those bad “patches” we’ve seen from him all year. Stunningly Federer ran off five straight games to take the set and with the crowd firmly rooting for the Swiss, it looked dodgy at best for Djokovic.
But credit to Novak, he overcame that mental letdown and outgunned an in-form Federer to take the set and the match to win his seventh Slam in one of the best played matches of the season.
And seven, that’s more than Boris Becker. More than Stefan Edberg. And at just 27 he’ll probably accumulate 2-3 more at least and end up as one of the all-time greats, passing the likes of Andre Agassi, Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl. Let’s be honest, there’s a better chance of that happening (him winning a few more Majors) than not.
That said, Novak is getting married this week and he is expecting a baby after the US Open, so perhaps with new priorities he won’t be the same player he is today. But if he “wants” it he’s still young enough and he has the game to win much more. And he’ll likely be the favorite in every match for the remainder of the season.
2. Roger Federer Isn’t Dead
Almost 33 and Roger Federer very nearly ripped the Wimbledon title from Novak Djokovic clutches on Sunday. Wasn’t Federer washed up? Nope.
Against Djokovic, Federer did what he had been doing all fortnight: playing marvelous tennis. Clearly the bigger racquet is helping his serve and his movement was exceptional, and that’s the key because his mind and logic remain intact despite all the outside interferences like having four kids at home!
Based on what I saw, if he can keep his health, keep serving well there’s no reason he can’t contend at Wimbledon next year. And if upsets happen maybe he can sneak a Slam out before then.
Fact is, the old man can still play ball. And what a joy it is to watch.
3. What Is Wrong With Serena
She’s almost 33, that’s what’s wrong. Maybe she wants to have children. Maybe get married. I don’t know but I’m guessing she’s having “normal” issues most single (she’s no longer dating the coach?) 33-year-old women have: Life. And she’s already been through a lot.
So maybe she gets back on track. Maybe she doesn’t. Clearly she still has the game, but can she mentally pull herself back together to win Slams again I don’t know.
It’s just tougher for women than it is for men.
4. Commanding Kvitova
Czech Petra Kvitova followed up her 2011 Wimbledon title with an even more impressive run this year, edging Venus Williams in a terrific third round and then absolutely destroying the upstart Genie Bouchard in a 55-minute final on Saturday.
Kvitova is a young (just 24), powerful, lefty and with Serena, Li Na, Venus and Victoria Azarenka all a bit wobbly and Maria Sharapova closer to the end than the beginning, she’s certainly someone who could and maybe should be the next new No. 1 player.
I just don’t know if she has the desire like say another lefty from her country had long ago. We’ll find out this summer to see what her intentions are.
5. Dirty Grass
As we all saw by the end of the Championships the baseline resembled a desert more than a grass lawn. Worn away, dry and barren, players like Djokovic and Grigor Dimitrov were left slipping and sliding all over Center Court.
As the shift to baseline tennis continues, a 2-week tournament like Wimbledon will have figure out how to manage the turf better. You simply can’t have one of the most important matches of the season – the men’s final – played on a totally different surface than when the tournament began.
6. The Kyrgios Case Of The Young Guns!
We’ve long known about first-time semifinalists Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov, but…
Who would have believed a year ago Simona Halep would have made a French final and then a Wimbledon semi.
Or young Canadian Genie Bouchard would a Wimbledon finalist.
Or even 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios would stun Rafael Nadal and reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals.
As Serena and Federer succumb to Father Time. As Nadal continues to fight his body. As Djokovic looks ahead to becoming a family man and as Andy Murray wrestles with himself, guys and gals like Bouchard, Kyrgios, Raonic, Dimitrov, Jiri Vesely, etc., are going to have more and more opportunities. They are the future.
This is how it happens. They make a breakthrough – like Federer did years ago beating Sampras at Wimbledon, or John McEnroe making the semifinals a qualifier – then they start winning titles, really big titles. And it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.
I think the “Big Four” has maybe through next Wimbledon before their dynasty gets swallowed up by the next generation. These guys are coming and they are good…
7. No Mo For Murray
Is there any word if Murray has extended Amelie Mauresmo’s trial period? I’ll be interested to see how he handles it.
After racing through the first week at Wimbledon, the defending champion Murray laid an absolute egg in his match against Grigor Dimitrov in the quarters.
I know he had back surgery last year but since his Wimbledon title he hasn’t even made it back to a final! And as we enter the summer hardcourts Murray is still searching for his first Top 10 win of the season. Now ranked No. 10, if things don’t improve quickly you can forget Mauresmo, his 2014 season and quite possibly start think we’ve seen the best from the Scot.
8. Rafa Redux
Here’s where we are with Rafael Nadal: Rafa began the year strong but injured his back in Australian Open final. Had a so-so U.S. Masters March, then a sub-par clay season but still managed to win the French thanks in some part to a mentally frail Djokovic. And then the grass was again a disappointment for a third straight year.
So now at 28 Nadal stares down another four long months of nothing but hardcourt tennis. And in the immediate future he has a US Open title defense not to mention the same at Canada and Cincinnati. Of course the odds are astronomical that he can repeat such a feat. The reality is, he might not even win another title the rest of the year. Perhaps one in the fall somewhere, maybe two?
I just get the feeling he hasn’t been the same player since Australia. He still has time to prove me wrong. Though time won’t do him any favors either.
9. American Absence
Statistically, with no Americans period in the fourth round for the first time since 1911, this was the worst Wimbledon ever for us yanks. But there’s some hope on the horizon, at least for the women who have Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens, Alison Riske, Taylor Townsend and others. They won’t dominate the sport but at least they’ll content in the years to come. The same, however, cannot be said for the men, who have run dry for the moment.
Big men John Isner and Sam Querrey won’t be winning majors. And it doesn’t look like Jack Sock or Ryan Harrison are going to either – hell, Harrison’s now ranked No. 144 he might not even be able to play in majors! Veteran Michael Russell is around as is Donald Young and Steve Johnson, but they’re wishful week two Grand Slam participants.
Things could finally change down the road in 4-5 years when youngsters like Francis Tiafoe, Stefan Kozlov or Wimbledon junior champion Noah Rubin mature to make some noise. But until then things are going to continue to be rather quiet for a few more years at least.
And that ends Wimbledon…And now the tour shifts to America.
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