Archive | June, 2011

Wimbledon: Men’s semi-finals

30 Jun

(Just a quick side note: This quickly written piece about the men’s semis will be my last entry for a few days – I’m off on a weekend away to celebrate my best friend’s birthday. Check back on Sunday evening for a Wimbledon Top 10 entry or a review of the tournament. In the meanwhile – enjoy the awesome weekend of tennis!)

The second Friday of the Wimbledon fortnight is the day on which the men’s semi-finals are contested. After 128 men started the tournament 12 days ago, only four remain. The semi-finals to be contested are Novak Djokovic vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Rafael Nadal vs. Andy Murray.

Semi-final 1: Novak Djokovic vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

The biggest upset of the tournament came in the men’s quarter-finals on Wednesday with the loss of title favourite Roger Federer. The six-time former champion looked set to win when he went two-sets to love up. His opponent Jo-Wilfried Tsonga did not however accept defeat and went on to win the match in five sets. He became the first man to come back from a two set deficit against Federer in a grand slam match.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia will be Tsonga’s semi-final opponent. Djokovic had a far tougher quarter-final match against Bernard Tomic than most expected. Tomic, an 18-year old Australian, won the second set to make it a best of three set match. He then went up a break in the third set and it seemed like more than one upset could be on the cards. Tomic was however reeled in by Djokovic who took the third and fourth sets to win the match despite his inability to consistently play at a high level.

 Tsonga – who was on fire against Federer particularly in the final two sets – will be hoping his serve remains in good shape. If he does serve at a level consistent with his performance in the previous match it is it is likely that he will give the world number 2 a serious challenge. Djokovic will be fancying his chances against the Frenchman to whom he has lost more often than not in the past. Tsonga might lead their head-to-head record 5-2, but Djokovic is the grand slam winner of the two and possesses a 41-1 record for the year to date. While Djokovic has undoubtedly been the best player in the world for much of the year, his form during Wimbledon has been sub par, and certainly not at a standard with which he will be satisfied. If his form fails to improve it is likely the match result will be on Tsonga’s racket. It is however doubtful that the flamboyant Frenchman will be able to maintain the level of play required to beat Djokovic for more than a couple of sets. As such, Djokovic ought to win. If his form improves to anything like it was prior to and during the French Open, he ought to win with relative ease.

My pick: Djokovic in five.

Semi-final 2: Rafael Nadal vs. Andy Murray

Much of the focus on Rafael Nadal has revolved around his injury problems – or if you prefer, the lack thereof. Regardless of the validity of his injury claims, he doesn’t seem to be suffering much and moved about as well as ever in his previous match against Mardy Fish. His injury problems are thus unlikely to have an effect on his performance during the final weekend of Wimbledon. Despite Fish managing to take a set off the defending champion, Nadal was very much the dominant player throughout the match. In addition to his brilliant form at the Championships, he is still enjoying the momentum provided by his win at the French Open.

His semi-final opponent is British hope Andy Murray. This is Murray’s third consecutive appearance in the final four at Wimbledon. He is due an appearance in the finals. The Brit’s form has been at a high level for the duration of the grass court season with a title win at the Queen’s Club tournament to his credit.

While Murray’s record against Nadal leaves much to be desired with Nadal leading 11 to 4, the British man has been playing some inspired tennis in the last few rounds of the tournament and is certainly capable of beating the Spaniard for a fifth time. This will still however be a tough assignment for Murray. Left-handed Nadal has developed a taste for grass since his first appearance at Wimbledon and will be the favourite to win the match. Nadal will be playing great tennis; whether or not he wins will be determined by the attitude and play Murray brings to the court. His best could send the defending champion packing.

My pick: Incredibly difficult to call, I’m hoping for a dramatic five-setter with the home favourite leaving the victor. As such I’m going with Murray in five, but I also know that Nadal could win in straights should Murray fail to show up with his absolute best.

Wimbledon: The tennis grunt

30 Jun

This article can now be found at http://wp.me/p2yoGs-e1.

Wimbledon: Strawberries and cream cupcakes

29 Jun

(I no longer blog on this platform and suggest you check out my new site at Shrewd Tennis.)

The tradition of consuming strawberries and cream at Wimbledon is often attributed to King George V. He was an avid tennis fan and started the tradition of royal patronage at Wimbledon as early as the 1910’s. His son who became King George VI participated in the doubles event in the 1926 and was as frequent a visitor as his father. Queen Elizabeth II, the current head of the monarchy paid her most recent visit to the Championships in 2010, while Prince William and his wife Kate’s Monday visit to the tournament garnered intense interest.

Nevertheless according to a 2006 New York Times article, the royals can take no credit for the use of strawberries and cream as a snack between matches, with strawberries being a Wimbledon staple since the inception of the tournament in 1877. Wimbledon takes place at the height of the UK summer, which is typically the period during which strawberries are briefly available. Summer, strawberries and tennis have been a match made in heaven for more than a century now.

It is estimated that that in excess of 28 000 kilograms of strawberries and 7000 litres of cream will be consumed during the Wimbledon fortnight at £2.50 for a punnet consisting of a minimum of ten strawberries and a dollop cream.

If you aren’t lucky enough to be at Wimbledon, perhaps you can attempt to bake your own strawberry cupcakes. The ones pictured below are topped by cream infused with fresh strawberries. For the recipe or if you need some help with cooking dinner, check out the Pink Polka Dot Food Blog, online home to the creator of these stunning cupcakes. She is a recent Twitter convert, follow her here.

Strawberries and cream cupcakes

Strawberries and cream cupcakes

Strawberries and cream cupcakes

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