We have reached the midway point of the 2017 Wimbledon championships. The two words that stand out from week one on the men’s side: Big Four!
That’s because the Big 4 dominated the opening week once again. Together at the top of Wimbledon for the first time since 2014, the quartet in sum managed to drop just one set, that by Andy Murray Friday against Fabio Fognini.
Roger Federer looked sharp, though he was fighting a cold. The 7-time champ blew through his first two matches then finally got a bit of a test yesterday against Mischa Zverev. About the only issue I have with Roger is his serving which could be better.
Rafael Nadal has been real good, though it’s been a good draw. I thought Karen Khachanov would push him and at the end he did. The big Russian showed again that if you have big power you can hurt Nadal on grass. The 21-year-old, though, was making his Wimbledon debut and after nine sets in two matches, he didn’t quite have the zip he needed to have against Rafa, and the match was never in doubt.
Murray dropped that set and nearly dropped another to Fognini. Probably should have but the Italian let him off the hook. In his second title defense at Wimbledon, Murray still looks like the wobbly Murray we’ve seen all year. Of the four, he’s been the least impressive and I think it’s going to catch up to him this week.
To me, the best performer of week one was Novak Djokovic. With Mario Ancic alongside Andre Agassi, Djokovic has looked like his former, better self. Granted, he had an easy draw, but from what I saw he was hitting his backhand again with confidence, moving well and serving decent. Those are good signs, though we saw him play well for a stretch in Paris, then lay an egg.
Outside of the Big 4, Stan Wawrinka continues to struggle on the grass. Last year he added former champion Richard Krajicek to his coaching team, this year serve-and-volley specialist Paul Annacone, and the results got worse as the French runner-up was promptly dismissed in the first round by Daniil Medvedev.
Wawrinka was going for the career Slam and unless he gets more comfortable on the grass, I don’t see him winning Wimbledon or even making the final weekend.
What I do see is one of these Russian kids doing that before Stan does. Medvedev, Khachonov and Andrey Rublev are all big, strong, young kids. Well, Medvedev and Rublev need to get in the gym to build some muscle but once they do this trio will be very dangerous in a couple of years.
The other youngsters also showed some skills. Alexader Zverev didn’t drop a set en route to his first Slam fourth round. Frances Tiafoe, who lost to Zverev, played well in his first Wimbledon. Jared Donaldson served for the first set against Dominic Thiem yesterday and Alexander Bublik got a whiff of what big-time tennis is like.
Tough losses for veterans JW Tsonga and Juan Martin Del Potro. Throw in Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils and it was a very poor first week for the French who still managed a man in week two with Adrian Mannarino.
The rain held off which was great. The courts looked in good shape and while there wasn’t much in the way of drama, at least things were on schedule unlike a year ago when rain hammered the opening the week disrupting play.
Big men did well. Still alive are Kevin Anderson, Milos Raonic, Marin Cilic, Sam Querrey, Tomas Berdych and also Zverev. A clay event this is not!
Another big story of week one was the first round retirements. That solution is simple: do away with first round prize money. There, problem solved. Your move tennis.
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