The Top 10: Wimbledon (Part 2)

28 Jun

This is a continuation of The Top 10: Wimbledon (Part 1) which you can find here if you have yet to read it.

Comebacks

At number five is the stellar comeback of the Williams’ sisters. While their fourth round losses were seen as somewhat of a surprise, both ladies came into the tournament greatly lacking in match fitness. Their respective performances – particularly Serena’s – have been far better than the tennis world would expect from any other player attempting a comeback. Serena’s teary return to Centre Court has also captured the imaginations of the British press which have granted her comeback from a life threatening illness considerable attention. Unfortunately for the hard-hitting pair their losses have provided some credit to the capabilities and rankings of the other WTA players, and while the sisters certainly don’t value this, it is a much needed boost for the much maligned WTA.

Level surface

Ranking at number four is the Wimbledon grass. Particularly on the women’s side of the draw several players have reached the quarter-finals largely by virtue of their ability on the specific surface. Marion Bartoli, Sabine Lisicki and Tsvetana Pironkova have all been in great form over the grass court season and deservedly progressed further in the tournament than their rankings would perhaps indicate them of being capable. In the men’s draw, Feliciano Lopez and to a lesser degree Mardy Fish have both progressed to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, while they are unlikely to go so deep into a grand slam tournament on any other surface.

The grass has however been the subject of some criticism this year, with among others, Ivan Ljubicic commenting on the speed of the grass, which is thought to have slowed down considerably in the last decade. Statements indicating the Roland Garros’ clay to be faster this year than Wimbledon’s grass have also been made. I view this as being quite unfortunate and think there is great value in having the surfaces differ to a greater degree. Certainly Bjorn Borg’s French Open and Wimbledon double’s must qualify as being a greater feat than any achieved in recent years in which the courts have played in a more similar manner to each other.

Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray

At number three is the dominance of the top four men’s players. While all four have dropped sets in the tournament thus far, not a single one has ever looked like they might lose. According to several reports this has made the tennis somewhat boring over the first week and a half. While this might be true, the entertainment factor of the men’s matches should in all likelihood take a steep rise should all four of them reach the semis as they are touted to. With a Wimbledon title on the line, and Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray all being capable of getting a win over any of the other three, the matches contested between the big four are sure to be excellent high quality encounters.

No Monday blues

Ranking at number two on the list of the Wimbledon Top 10 is what has been dubbed as Manic Monday. The second Monday of the Championships is traditionally reserved for the fourth round of play, with eight matches between some of the top players in the world being contested in both the men’s and women’s draws. While the results in the men’s draw went largely according to seedings with Mardy Fish providing the lone upset with a win over former finalist Tomas Berdych, audiences were provided with a few sets of tennis of a brilliant level. None more so than those played between Juan Martin Del Potro and Rafael Nadal. Both played some of their best tennis of the Championships despite battling injuries. (Nadal with his foot and Del Potro struggling with a hip injury.) Mikhail Youzhny played some tremendous tennis against Roger Federer in the first few sets of their match, while the Lukas Kubot and Feliciano Lopez match in which Lopez came back to win after being down two-sets-to-love was a great battle.

The matches on the women’s side were a cut above the men’s in the drama and excellence stakes with Caroline Wozniacki and Venus and Serena Williams upset by opponents playing inspired tennis. Dominika Cibulkova came back to beat the world number one after she lost the first set 6-1. Serena went out to a great display by the temperamental Marion Bartoli, while sister Venus lost for the second consecutive year to the Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova.

Seeded players making good

 At number one on this list is the performance of the three players seeded to reach the quarter-finals who have done so successfully in the women’s draw. Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova have all made steady progress through their respective draws gaining the WTA rankings some much needed credibility.  Kvitova who has received very little recognition for her run at the Championships, playing on outside courts for the most part, has been in particularly devastating form with her losing no more than six games in any of her matches thus far. Azarenka seems to be living up to her talent, with the single set she lost coming during a topsy-turvy match against the always dangerous Daniela Hantuchova in the third round. Sharapova has also kept up the great form which she showcased on the clay of Roland Garros. It seems likely that the winner of the Championships will come from this trio. For the sake of women’s tennis – I sincerely hope so.

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