hallowed grounds

Sam Querrey: Another Victim Of The Casino Curse – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Order Restored – Just a few final thoughts as the doors close on another memorable two weeks at SW19. After one of the more unpredictable Wimbledon Championships in recent memory, Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal restored some order by not only living up to their status as the heavy favorites in the finals, but doing so in emphatic fashion. For Serena, it marked her 13th major title, moving her closer to rarefied air. It may still be a big ask for her to catch Margaret Court, but Chrissie’s number of 18 is certainly looking assailable. As for Nadal, it marked his 8th major and a successful return to the hallowed grounds of the All England Club where he missed the opportunity to defend his title through injury in 2009. But the bigger payoff for Nadal in winning the title may be that between his clay and grass court seasons, he’s reestablished some of his invincible aura. He’s also coming in with a better plan for the hard court season, and he’s never been in a better position to start his campaign to take the US Open title, the lone major he has yet to add to his résumé.

More to Come? Credit also needs to be given to the losing singles finalists at the 2010 Wimbledon Championships. Both Vera Zvonareva and Tomas Berdych are talented players who have struggled to put it together between the ears, so to see them both realize their talents and make the final stage of a Grand Slam was satisfying. And while neither played at their best in their first major final, much of that must be attributed to the fact that they took on champion opponents who never allowed them to get any kind of foothold in the match. What will be interesting to see is how both follow it up during the summer hard court season, particularly the US Open. Zvonareva, though talented, is still prone to emotional meltdowns. Berdych on the other hand, who very nearly made the finals of the French a month ago, seems to have achieved a tighter grip on his emotions, much of that probably coming courtesy of his new coach. For me, Zvonareva is still a question mark, but expect to see Berdych contesting more Grand Slam finals down the road.

Back on Track? – The Wimbledon fortnight also saw Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray put together a couple of nice runs to the semifinals. Murray’s run almost came out of nowhere and should provide some much needed confidence for the young Scot whose form since the Australian Open has been particularly dismal. Given the way both men meekly folded in their semifinal matches – each losing in straight sets – it’s difficult to determine just how much they may have righted the ship. But I prefer to put a positive spin on their lengthy Wimbledon campaigns in the hopes that they’ll be a factor in what could potentially be a highly competitive US Open Series.

Curse Continues – Despite his success in Queen’s earlier this year, American Sam Querrey was no match for the “Casino Curse,” as he fell in his second round match to Jamaican Dustin Brown in straight sets. Querrey’s loss continues the 35-year streak in which the top seed has failed to emerge as the victor on the fabled green lawns of the historic Newport Casino. Other notable early losses this week include American Taylor Dent and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, but at least Mahut was able to get one win under his belt after his devastating 68-70 loss to Isner in “The Match” at Wimbledon.

In the Hall – This coming Saturday, seven new inductees will take their place in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. But earlier in the week, Nicolas Mahut made his own way into the Hall of Fame, generously donating a shirt and racquet worn and used during his famous battle with John Isner in the first week of Wimbledon. Mahut stated he was honored to have something of his placed alongside memorabilia from some of the game’s greatest legends. While he’s no doubt mentally still smarting from the loss to Isner, the experience of seeing his shirt and racquet placed in the galleries of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum had to help slightly soften the blow.

IS ANDY MURRAY BACK WITH HIS GIRLFRIEND?

British fans can all breathe a collective sigh of relief if reports are to be believed, that British No. 1, Andy Murray, is back with his ex-girlfriend of four years, Kim Sears.

The couple, who split last November after four years, are understood to have met up a number of times in recent weeks. This includes a sighting of the loved-up pair smooching over a couple of sausage sandwiches in Wimbledon Common, a stone’s throw from the hallowed grounds of the world’s greatest grass tournament where Sears had become as much a part of the furniture as Sir Cliff Richard, as she cheered on Murray year after year sat next to his animated mother Judy.

In the last few weeks, there have been other unconfirmed sightings of the couple, including a woman closely resembling Sears going into Murray’s mansion holding on to the other love of his life – his precious pooch, Maggie. The couple have also been seen together in Murray’s Mini Cooper, but when asked if he wished to discuss the rekindled romance, Murray smiled and said ‘No, no, but thank you’ while Kim’s mother refused to comment. Friends of the couple are reported to have been a little more revealing, with one admitting it was ‘early days,’ while a neighbor went so far as to confirm, ‘Yes, they are back together.’

Since Roger Federer’s comprehensive lecture on how to win a Grand Slam way back in January in the Australian Open final, Murray’s form has dipped considerably with a string of disappointing results. Although the months in the run up to the first Grand Slam of the year where Murray’s ‘alone time’ as a bachelor allowed him the time to focus solely on his career and the results followed, since his loss to Federer, the lack of a significant other seems to have affected him mentally. Perhaps old Muzza had to learn the hard way that the computer game ‘Call of Duty’ (which was apparently one of the factors in the break up to begin with) cannot provide anywhere near the sort of emotional support a girlfriend can – especially a beautiful, stylish, intelligent one (she is studying for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English at Brighton University). It cannot go unnoticed that Andy Roddick seems to be doing a little better with stunner Brooklyn Decker on his arm, while the Fed’s career seems to have been enhanced by the emotional stability his wife provides. And really, let’s be honest, where would Barack be without Michelle?

Interestingly, Murray admitted after his recent loss to Mardy Fish in Miami that ‘I’ve been very happy off the court, just not on it’, perhaps a reference to time spent with Kim and has previously admitted he played better when in a relationship. We can only hope that with her support and encouragement he will fall as much back in love with the beautiful game as with her,  a game which is so often described as a love affair of sorts by players throughout history. For the moment their relationship appears to be pivoting at 40-love and I reckon all it needs is one more grand romantic gesture, and it’ll be game, set and match for our main man and hopefully British tennis, which needs a positive boost in the run up to Wimbledon. Here’s a little hint Andy, diamonds are a girl’s best friend!

Melina Harris is a freelance sports writer, book editor, English tutor and PTR qualified tennis coach. For more information and contact details please visit and subscribe to her website and blog at http://www.thetenniswriter.wordpress.com and follow her twitter updates via http://www.twitter.com/thetenniswriter.   She is available for freelance writing, editing and one to one private teaching and coaching.