Wimbledon has always been a tournament steeped in history and tradition. Every year, a little more history is added to the legend and charm to the greatest tournament in the world. This year was no different, with the top players fighting off challenges and establishing their positions as the greatest in the world.
Manic Monday: One of the Best Days of the Tennis Year. The middle Sunday of Wimbledon is almost a bit of a downer, with no action and an extra day when we are forced to anticipate and wait for the upcoming fourth round matches. But the crazy, non-stop action of eight men’s and eight women’s matches all crammed into one day makes for one of the most exciting and exhausting days in tennis. On the men’s side, No. 1 seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic almost got an early vacation when Kevin Anderson took the first two sets, but after winning the next two sets to tie it up, thanks to the English curfew, the last set was played on Tuesday, and Djokovic quickly finished the match to move on. Thomas Berdych, however, fell a round early before his anticipated match with Roger Federer. On the women’s side, the marquee match was between the two players who have won eleven of the last sixteen Wimbledon titles. Venus Williams was playing extremely well this tournament and there were some experts saying that she just might be the one to beat Serena Williams and end her sister’s chance for a Grand Slam. But after that close encounter with Heather Watson, Serena was in no mood to fool around. Serena defeated Venus for the 15th time in 26 matches to advance. The biggest surprise was French Open finalist and No. 6 seed Lucie Safarova being upset by American Coco Vandeweghe. That left three American women (Serena, Vandeweghe, and Madison Keys) in the quarterfinals.
Nick Kyrgios and Vasek Pospisil: The Good and the Ugly. After Milos Raonic went down in the 3rd round, fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil took up the banner and surprised everyone, probably even himself. The 2014 Wimbledon doubles champion came back from two sets down to shock No. 22 Viktor Troicki in the fourth round and advance to his first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal. With his doubles matches going the distance as well, he didn’t have much left against Andy Murray but it was an encouraging result for Pospisil and Canada’s future Davis Cup hopes. Meanwhile, a player who went the extra mile to make a fool out of himself was Nick Kyrgios. In his 4th round match against No. 21 Richard Gasquet, Kyrgios clearly tanked during the second set; sat down during a game to change his socks, and got into an argument with the umpire; was almost disqualified when the racket he flung bounced into the stands, narrowly missing hitting someone; and finally hugged a ball boy in a desperate attempt to grab a laugh. His post-match interview was just as embarrassing. After kicking Bernard Tomic off the Davis Cup team, now Tennis Australia is going to have to figure out how to teach their young players on- and off-court manners. It’s a shame, because they have a group of young men who could bring Australia back to the top. But right now an implosion seems just as likely.
Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka: The Invisible Champions. They are both Grand Slam champions. They have both been ranked No. 1. And they are a combined five wins and thirty-five losses against Serena. In Grand Slam tournaments alone, they are a combined one win and sixteen losses. Watching their matches, you get the impression that Maria Sharapova no longer has any chance against Serena, but with Victoria Azarenka, there is some hope that someday she will finally beat Serena on the big stage and a true rivalry will be born. But as it stands, their failure to beat Serena — or, depending on your point of view, Serena’s brilliance against these two — are big reasons for Serena’s march through the tour during the last few years.
Andy Murray: A Whole Lot of Questions Are Answered. It looked so good for Andy Murray. His successful clay court season and his fourth Queen’s Club title had everyone thinking that Wimbledon would be the place where he would finally find the success he was enjoying before his back surgery. He even got lucky in avoiding his nemesis Djokovic until the final. But then he ran into Federer. The level of tennis between Federer and Murray was not bad, but Federer had a answer for everything Murray threw at him. He played the big points better, and shut down Murray in a rather shocking straight-set match. At this point, it’s obvious that while Murray is a great player, he is nowhere near the level of Djokovic or Federer. Several things would have to work in his favor if he is going to have a chance to beat them and win another Slam. Murray may have another major or two left in him before his career is over, but luck will have to play a part. He may prove that assumption wrong in the upcoming U.S. Open, but after this Wimbledon match, he is starting to look more and more like the ATP version of Sharapova.
Doubles: Twice the Stories, Twice the Fun! The doubles draws had a lot of interesting stories this year as well. Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova had won the first two Slams of the year, and were going for a calendar Slam of their own, but they were defeated in the quarterfinals. The title was won by none other than 34-year-old Martina Hingis and India’s Sania Mirza. They teamed up earlier this year and after taking several titles, they finally won their first slam together. This was Hingis’s 18th overall Slam title (5 singles, 10 doubles, 3 mixed) but perhaps the even bigger story was Mirza. She became the first female Slam winner from India. On the men’s side, Andy Murray’s older brother, Jamie, made it to the men’s doubles final with teammate John Peers. Murray was going for his second Wimbledon title after winning the mixed doubles with Jelena Jankovic back in 2007. With Andy watching from the stands, Jamie and Peers went down in straight sets to Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau.
Garbine Muguruza: Gutsy Garbi’s Grand Slam Breakthrough. When Garbine Muguruza defeated Serena and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2014 French Open, it looked like she was getting ready to bust out of the lower ranks of young players and come right up to the Top 10. She stalled a bit after that and struggled the first half of the year, but thanks to the bottom half of the draw opening up, she took advantage of the opportunity and defeated a revitalized Agnieszka Radwanska in the semifinals to reach her first Grand Slam final. She had a lead in the first but let Serena pull away. However, after falling behind 4-6, 1-5, she pulled out all the stops and broke Serena twice to pull within 4-5 before Serena was finally able to finish the match. If Garbi had won that game to get to 5-5, who knows what could have happened? But tennis fans everywhere were impressed with her big game and mental strength on the biggest stage in the world of tennis. She will be ranked in the Top 10 when the new rankings are released Monday. Instead of Simona Halep or Eugenie Bouchard, Muguruza could be the one who challenges Serena in the next few years.
Roger Federer: Denied No. 8 and No. 18 — Once Again. Like Murray, Roger Federer had a perfect grass court season. He won his eighth Halle title in Germany and then went through the early rounds of Wimbledon without much fuss. His serve wasn’t broken until Giles Simon managed to do it once in the quarterfinals. Before the semifinals, six out of 10 experts were predicting a Murray win, but Federer once again went on to show us how far Murray has to go before he can start winning Slams again. It was a well-contested match and Murray did everything he could, but Federer stepped up when he had to and broke Murray at the end of each set to grab his fourth straight win over the Scot. In the final, Federer did not have the same level he brought to the Murray match. But that could also be blamed on the fact that Djokovic was a much better opponent. Federer had two set points on Djokovic’s serve in the first set, but ended up losing a tiebreak badly to fall behind. In the second, Federer fought off an amazing seven set points to take the second set tiebreak. But that was all he had left in him. A short rain delay wasn’t long enough for Federer to find a second wind and Djokovic seemed to have no fuss in grabbing the final two sets. At the age of 33, what Federer has accomplished is amazing, but you get the feeling that his chances of winning Grand Slams are beyond him now. Nevertheless, he is still No. 2 in the world, and if Djokovic trips up somewhere, Roger could definitely take a surprise Slam in the way Pete Sampras took the U.S. Open in 2002.
Serena Williams: Wins Second “Serena Slam” Twelve Years After the First. Twenty-first Grand Slam. Sixth Wimbledon. Thirty-nine wins and one loss for the year. Twenty-eight straight Grand Slam wins. The list goes on and on. What Serena is doing at the age of 33 boggles the mind. She has gone up against long-time rivals, new rivals, her sister, and anyone else tennis can throw at her — and she just keeps finding ways to win. If her win over Timea Bacsinszky in last month’s French Open wasn’t proof enough, Serena’s third round win over Heather Watson was a true showcase of just how tough she is when the chips are down. Serena is very aware of what is at stake and she now has New York squarely in her sights. This is a player we will be telling our grandkids about someday, and it is a privilege to watch her go for the first calendar Grand Slam since 1988. She may make it; she may not — but every tennis player on the planet will be watching to see if history will be made at the U.S. Open.
Novak Djokovic: Supremacy Reestablished. After being shocked at the French Open by Stan Wawrinka, and being denied again his first title at Roland Garros, everyone wondered what sort of state Djokovic would be in when he came to London. He skipped the pre-Wimbledon tournaments and only took part in an exhibition where he was beaten by youngster Alexander Zverev. He came into Wimbledon and after three easy matches was almost ousted by Kevin Anderson but somehow he was able to come back after dropping the first two sets. After that close call, he took care of Marin Cilic and surprise semifinalist Gasquet in straight sets. Against Federer, he seemed to be in control the entire match, even after dropping the second set tiebreak. Djokovic now has nine Grand Slams, good for sixth place on the all-time list. With Rafael Nadal struggling to regain his form, Federer showing his age, and Murray failing to find another level, Djokovic could very well be ruling the tour for the next couple of years and adding to his Grand Slam trophies until the next generation of players such as Thanasi Kokkinakis and Borna Coric come up to take his place.
Wimbledon: The Grandest of Grand Slams. While each Grand Slam tournament has its own history, traditions, and charms, every year Wimbledon comes around to prove once again that there is no tournament like it. With the strengthened grass court season this year, it made its position even stronger. Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams solidified their positions as the No. 1 players in the world, and Wimbledon did the same, reminding everyone that it truly is the greatest tournament, of the greatest sport, in the world.
Cover Photo (Creative Commons License): Si:robi / Marianne Bevis / Si:robi / Carine06