sw19

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.

Don’t Sell Your Federer Stock Just Yet – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

The Tumble Continues – One of the big headlines at the All England Club this past Wednesday was the dismissal of six-time champion Roger Federer at the hands of Tomas Berdych.  Despite Federer’s history at SW19 and the difference in seeding between the two, I have trouble calling this a big upset. Berdych possesses a big game, he clipped Federer earlier this year, and over the past few months, Berdych has been the better player. There’s no doubt this was probably the most painful loss Federer has suffered since his 2008 defeat to Nadal, and the early loss also means that Federer will slip to No. 3 in the rankings, the first time he’s been out of the top two since 2003. It will take time for him to bounce back from this one, but I’m not ready to sell my Federer stock just yet. The fact is, any year you win a major is a good year. Plenty of players would still gladly trade places with Federer. It’s the nature of the beast that he has set the bar so high that any loss such as this is that much more monumental because it happened to one of the greatest players to have ever picked up a racquet. Fans of the man from Switzerland are going to have to get used to these losses coming with more frequency, but don’t stick a fork in him. He’s not done yet.

Roddick Rocked – Wimbledon has continued to see a few more shockers this week, and one of the biggest was Roddick’s exit to Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei. Lu played an incredible match beginning to end and most amazing is the fact that he found a way to cross the finish line even as he admitted that he never believed he was going to win the match. But as happy as one might have felt for Lu, there had to be some sympathy spared for Roddick. Had he been told prior to the match that he was going to hit more aces, less unforced errors, more winners, have more break chances, and win more total points, I’m sure he would have liked his odds at advancing.   But just as with last year’s final, it came down to a handful of big points and one crucial break in the final set. The loss isn’t as gut-wrenching as his 2009 final loss to Federer, but he’ll want to look to get something going fast on the hard courts, or he’s apt to start slipping into a slump.

Venus Vanquished – The women’s quarters also provided a surprise when Tsvetana Pironkova routinely upended Venus Williams 2 and 3. It was a lackluster display from Williams, who despite hitting 10 more winners than her younger opponent also hit 23 more unforced errors. The fact that the elder Williams never found a way to win the match wasn’t an entire surprise, as neither Williams sister is known for having game plan B when the wheels come off. The good news for her is that an early loss, irrespective of the tournament, rarely tends to have any hangover effect. She’ll still be considered a strong contender during the US Open Series and the final major of the year.

Double Trouble – I’d be remiss not to mention a couple of upsets in the doubles competition. The Williams sisters, on what seemed an inevitable path to becoming just the third team in history to accomplish the Grand Slam, lost to the hard-hitting combo of Vera Zvonareva and Elena Vesnina. On the men’s side, Wesley Moodie and Dick Norman also denied seeing history made, at least for the time being, with their defeat over the American team of Bob and Mike Bryan. The Bryans were aiming to break their tie with the Woodies for most titles won as a team just a week prior to the induction of the Australian pair into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. As disappointing as the losses must have been for each of these losing teams, they will be back with a vengeance in New York, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Bryans standing atop the mountain alone for most titles won before the final major of the year.

Fine Time – Earlier this week, Rafael Nadal was slapped with a $2,000 fine for illegal coaching. Chair umpire Cedric Mourier could hardly be blamed for giving Nadal the warning, having given him an unofficial warning to stop the chatter with his box earlier in the match. The case was made even stronger given that in his defense of this particular incident, Nadal basically admitted to having received illegal coaching at other times.  But Nadal is not the only player guilty of this offense. Justine Henin is notorious for this, as is Maria Sharapova, and many more could be added to the list. I’m not naïve enough to think that illegal coaching will ever be completely eradicated, but it was refreshing to see someone have the backbone to try and enforce the rule and reduce it. Coaches are paid to scout the competition, and it’s up to the player and coach to devise a game plan prior to a match. Once a match starts, it should be one-on-one out there and up to the players to make the necessary adjustments to come out with a W. That’s one of the unique aspects of tennis. So I hope that the officials continue to do their best and enforce the rules at all levels of the competition and preserve the integrity of the game.

WIMBLEDON UPON US AGAIN

Wow, doesn’t the year go quickly. Wimbledon is now upon us again

Around this time of the year popularity in tennis increases in Britain about ten-fold before it falls in to obscurity again in three weeks time until next year’s Championships. For years the country ground together all its emotional resources to back golden boy Tim Henman before shedding a tear or two at another close call in the semis.

Henman Hill (or Rusedski Ridge to some) has now become Murray Mound and last year in particular it was a similar story. I guess the patriots in this country just want a Brit to do well.

Of course the media will do their best. They will build him up to make him sound like he is the Fed Express itself and if (when) he tastes defeat he will be destroyed by those same pen-pushers. There will be accusations about his private life, he didn’t try hard enough, and he’s just another British failure. Nobody is more scathing of British sports stars than the British press.

This year we have some great stories before we even enter the courtside action. Federer has lost his No. 1 ranking to Rafa Nadal and will want that back. He will also, I’m sure, have one eye on a possible ten titles before he retires or at least surpassing Pete Sampras’ dominating seven.

We also have a few welcome returns too. Richard Gasquet is set to compete and try to get his career moving in the right direction again following the doping scandal and his recent play suggests he is ready to do so. Anna Kournikova and Martina Hingis will compete in the legends doubles tournament too this year. It will be Hingis’ first appearance at SW19 since her own cocaine scandal a few years back.

With the Australian and French Opens throwing us a few surprises this year here’s hoping Wimby can continue the trend and give us something special. Sam Querrey to win his first Grand Slam?

As a build-up to the greatest grass tournament of them all, we have compiled a list of great Wimby facts you may or may not already know. Enjoy:

* The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club was founded in 1868.

* In 1875 it began hosting lawn tennis, a game recently developed by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield.

* In 1877 a men’s singles Championship was held which culminated in Spencer Gore winning a final watched by over 200 spectators paying one shilling each for the pleasure.

* 1884 saw the women’s singles incorporated with Maud Watson victorious.

* From 1897 the legendary Doherty brothers, Laurie and Reggie; began a ten-year dominance of the grass courts which helped reignite a waning public interest in tennis.

* In 1905, May Sutton of the USA became the first foreign player to win at Wimbledon in the ladies singles.

* The current site opened for business in 1922 after the Championships outgrew its former Worple Road base. King George V opened the festivities and the new home saw the abolition of the Challenge Round in favour of the holder participating in the whole tournament.

* Every year during the 1920s the French produced at least one singles champion.

* 1934-37 was a Golden Era for the Brits at Wimbledon as 11 titles were captured. This included three consecutive singles titles for Fred Perry, two for Dorothy Round and three successful Davis Cup defenses on Centre Court.

* During the Second World War, the facility was used for a host of activities including a variety of civil defense and military functions, Home Guard and a decontamination unit. A small farmyard including pigs and chickens was stationed on-site and in 1940, Centre Court was bombed with a loss of 1,200 seats.

* From 1956 to 1970 Wimbledon became a home away from home for Australian players as Lew Hoad, Neale Fraser, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and John Newcombe dominated the Championships.

* 1973 was the famous ‘Boycott Year’ as 81 members of the Association of Tennis Professionals refused to play after the suspension of Nikki Pilic by the Yugoslavian Lawn Tennis Association. Despite this, attendances still topped 300,000 as Jan Kodes won the men’s singles title.

* The tournament celebrated its centenary in 1977.

* Following recent work on Centre Court it can now hold 15,000 fans and has a retractable roof to counter the often-long rain delays.

* The USA are the most successful country at Wimbledon. They have won 33 of the 123 men’s singles championships and 53 of the 116 women’s championships.

* Pete Sampras and W.C. Renshaw are tied with the most Championships wins with seven each. Martina Navratilova leads the ladies’ field with nine.

* Laurie Doherty is the most successful overall male competitor at Wimbledon with five singles titles and eight doubles between 1897 and 1906. Martina Navratilova is tied on 20 (nine singles, seven doubles, four mixed 1976-2003) with Billie Jean King (six singles, 10 doubles, four mixed 1961-1979).

* Boris Becker became the youngest men’s champion in 1985 at 17 years, 227 days old. Miss C. Dod has been the youngest female champion since 1887 when she won just 15 years, 285 days old.

* In 1990, Jennifer Capriati became the youngest ever competitor at Wimbledon at the tender age of 14 years, 90 days old.

* The record daily attendance was achieved on the Wednesday of week one at the 2002 Championships when 42,457 attended the All England Club.

* The total prize money handed out this year will be £13,725,000, a 9.4% increase on 2009.

*The two singles champions will receive a cool £1,000,000 each, a 17.6% increase on 2009. This compares to £2000 being given to the male champion at the beginning of the Open Era in 1968 and £750 handed to the women’s champion.