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The Top 10: Wimbledon (Part 1)

28 Jun

The first week of Wimbledon has come and gone, as have 120 tennis players from both the men’s and women’s draws. With the completion of the “best day of tennis”, the fourth round matches which are traditionally all played on the second Monday of the tournament, Wimbledon is officially more than half way with the remaining eight players each having won four matches, and with the eventual champion only requiring three more match wins. It seems fairly apt to evaluate all the highs and lows and drama which only Wimbledon and the British can bring to tennis. While the commentary at Wimbledon has been the source of innumerable complaints, it does not quite make the top 10 despite the best or is it worst efforts of particularly Boris Becker, Andrew Castle and Dick Enberg – who with his by now infamous Freudian slip during the championships – are bearing the brunt of criticism from tennis fans.

Everything you can do…

 The revival of the so-called hot dog shot is another which has been quite prominent but is not quite worthy of making the list. Andy Murray seems to have been practising the shot and intentionally making use of it during matches. While it has the ability to make a player’s talent seem exceptional, I quote Andy Murray when I say missing this shot, has the ability to make a full-grown man seem like a bit of a “plonker”. Intentionally playing the hot dog shot is however somewhat of a questionable deed which, while amusing to the crowd, perhaps primarily serves to embarrass an opponent. Not a very honourable play at all. In addition to Murray who according to reports has played the shot twice in the last week, Roger Federer has also contributed to the fame and popularity of the shot this week – hitting it against his 4th round opponent Mikhail Youzhny.

All grown up

The final mention prior to the start of the top 10 is the doubles pairing of Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis in the Ladies Invitational event. They played together at the French Open too. It is quite interesting to view the evolution of their rivalry. While theirs was never famed for being particularly abrasive, they were two of the top players in the world during periods in which the rivalry and unfriendliness in women’s tennis likely peaked. Incidents such as Hingis and Anna Kournikova throwing vases and trophies at each other were well chronicled in publications of the late 90’s and early in the millennium. I remember reading Jon L. Wertheim’s Venus Envy and thinking that the tennis world is completely bizarrely. It is quite strange to associate that tumultuous era in women’s tennis with the Hingis-smile of recent years, and Davenport (whose commentary I by the way like) who always seems quite stiff and beyond reproach. The idea that these two women are playing doubles is not only somewhat frightening (Hingis’ touch and Davenport’s everything else – I’d take tickets for the outside court on which they’re playing…) but quite a contrast to the relationships which were rumoured to be the norm among the players of their now bygone era. The friendship and camaraderie – real or not – among the younger women’s players is quite a welcome respite too.

#Deliciano, #Wimbledon and #TeamWhoever

 On to the official list, at number ten is the presence of Twitter in tennis. Several of the top players use the social media as a platform to directly communicate to fans of the sport. In addition, several former players with unique perspectives on professional tennis, and some of the top coaches in the world, regularly share their thoughts with anyone interested to enough to read. To more dedicated tennis fans, Twitter has become a go-to for solid information and conversation about tennis. Finally Twitter was the forum in which Judy Murray publically called Feliciano Lopez Deliciano. Like him or not – saying Deliciano is a lot of fun.

 The opportunity which Twitter gives to players with great personalities to connect with fans is a great thing too. Andrea Petkovic’s meteoric rise in the rankings has been closely followed by a rise in her online presence. Petko makes use of video, photos and regular Twitter updates to engage the audience in a manner which will yet become invaluable to the sport.

The Royal Box

 Ranking at number nine is the celebrity haunt which Wimbledon has become. While Manic Monday has seen a number of prolific spectators including Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge and his wife, Kate Middleton, the Duchess, in addition to Jay-Z and Beyoncé, the entire tournament is a bit of a show ground for A-and D-listers alike. Essentially every era of tennis is represented en masse at Wimbledon by the presence of virtually every major winner of the last 30 years at the Championships. No doubt the photos of the glamorous and famous visiting Wimbledon in the daily newspapers serve the tournament’s image of exclusivity well.

Holding court

 Following the renovations to Centre Court, which includes a retractable roof, barely a drop of rain fell during Wimbledon 2010. 2011 has been quite a different tournament in that regard with the roof getting plenty of use in the first week. The result: Uninterrupted tennis broadcasts. A definite thumbs-up for the alterations to the main show court at Wimbledon and thus ranking at number eight on the list of the Wimbledon Top 10.


Only four out of the 56 matches played in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th round of play in the men’s draw, went to five sets. The Championships’ men’s draw has thus far have been quite devoid of any major drama, or really even particularly competitive matches. I suddenly find myself far more eager to watch women’s tennis. The women’s draw has had several match-ups which rank as being not only competitive but also entertaining. This gem of a statistic ranks at number seven and unfortunately proves that men’s tennis is not consistently brilliant and exciting. Fortunately we can look forward to the semis and the finals which should markedly improve from the not-much-happening men’s tennis of the last few rounds.

Rage vs. Laughter

 At number six is the amusement which ill-tempered players have provided in the first week at Wimbledon. Possibly the incident capable of inducing the most laughter was the insistence of Marion Bartoli that her parents leave the court following her loss of the first set against the Italian player, Flavia Pennetta. She went so far as to gesture to the security officials that she would like them removed. According to what I hear, they left the court without an escort and she apologized shortly after the match. Another player to unintentionally entertain through anger is the young German, Julia Goerges; she had an altercation with an umpire, and proceeded to not only lament the umpire’s involvement in overruling a linesman on set point, but also finished her rant off by scolding the official for the incorrect pronouncing of her surname. The umpire called her “Gorgeous” whenever she called the score, as opposed to Gur-ges.

 The final rage turned funny, is the incident involving Alex Bogomolov Jr., a US player. In anger he slammed his racket into the ground with such force that it bounced right back up and over the fence which encloses the court, with the racquet irretrievably disappearing.

Part 2 will be online soon, in the meanwhile – who is your pick to win Wimbledon?


To Blog or Not To Blog.

17 May

Well here I am, and the blog title that sounded very “I’m-well-versed-in-literature” 30 seconds ago is redundant, since clearly the decision To Blog has already been made. Since this is my first time, (Do bloggers refer to it as losing your blog virginity?) I figured I might tell the world out there a little bit about myself, and this eponymous blog.

I am a 3rd year student at the University of Stellenbosch. It is probably not the best university in the world, not even in the country, but as a student, this is the most magnificent town to live in. Not only is the town and surrounding areas beautiful, there are also vineyards, and wine estates in every direction out-of-town. The central part of Stellenbosch consists of campus, student housing and businesses that cater almost exclusively to students. I have loved every moment here in the sheltered bubble that Stellenbosch is. It is likely that I will write about being a student quite a bit, I will also touch on some of the campus politics, and the challenges facing Stellenbosch students.

While here, I have been studying towards a degree in science. Whether I want to enter the industry that my degree is preparing for, is a question I am not yet ready to answer. This blog is also about investigating the career options which some of my other interests and hobbies provide. I will attempt to stay true to these interest in the blog, so expect world news, politics, the world of journalism and professional sports to feature.

I will not try to provide a play-by-play of what is happening in each of these sectors – CNN is sure to continually 1 up me – but rather to write relevant discussion pieces. I hope you will keep reading.


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