wimbledon crown

Djokovic is the new sherrif in town, Kvitova surprise Wimbledon winner, ESPN to broadcast Wimbledon starting 2012 – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

There’s a New Sheriff in Town

And his name is Novak Djokovic. When Djokovic had his winning streak snapped in spectacular fashion by Federer a month ago in Paris, many wondered how the Serb would respond. He ultimately responded in spectacular fashion of his own, fighting his way to his first Wimbledon crown and claiming the No. 1 singles ranking in the process (his win also ended the monopoly Federer and Nadal have enjoyed at Wimbledon since Federer’s first title run in 2003). But this Wimbledon was about more than just reaching the apex of the rankings or earning his first championship at SW19. He also got a few monkeys off his back, as he not only beat Nadal for the fifth consecutive time in 2011, but for the first time he also garnered a victory over the Spaniard in a Grand Slam best-of-five-set match, and a final to boot. He couldn’t have scripted a more emphatic way to solidify his status as the player of 2011, and assuming we don’t see a total collapse from the Serb in the second half of the season, he stands in an excellent position to finish the year as No. 1.

Czech Her Out

With the exception of Brad Gilbert and perhaps a handful of others, you would have been hard pressed to find many people tipping Petra Kvitova to finish the fortnight as Wimbledon champion. Yet that’s exactly what she did, and she did so by playing breathtaking power tennis coupled with some timely changes of pace to earn a routine victory over former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova. But the way she kept Sharapova on her heels was not the most impressive aspect of her victory. Rather, it was the way she handled the stumbling blocks throughout the course of the match. She dropped her serve in the opening game and failed on multiple occasions to sustain any momentum in the second set. But she never let these minor pitfalls get to her, as she powered her way to the title. Perhaps all were a little stunned at how quickly it came, judging by the initial silence in the crowd when she struck her only ace of the match on championship point, but she took everything in stride. She looked like she belonged out there before, during, and after the match, so she seems a safe bet to repeat this experience on multiple occasions in the future.

Mixed Bag

For this year’s Wimbledon finalists, it was a mixed bag of pros and cons. For Sharapova, just reaching the final after a few injury-hampered years and mediocre results was an achievement in and of itself. But instead of looking the seasoned veteran, she was the one who appeared to be playing in her first major final. The serve continues to be a huge liability, and most troubling of all is her continued lack of a game plan B when A isn’t getting it done (and based on her press conference, she hasn’t grasped the need for this change yet, either). She will have to improve in those departments if she wants to hold the winner’s trophy aloft again. As for Nadal, he gave his fans plenty to cheer about as he made the final for the fifth straight time, but on the same day he lost the final, reports were circulating that he was suffering from a hairline fracture in his left foot. Nadal’s camp has since come out to deny those reports, so how bad that foot is or isn’t, not surprisingly, is shrouded in mystery. But injury aside, the bigger worry for Nadal is the mental block he’s developed against Djokovic. Nadal has admitted as much, chalking his losses up at Indian Wells, Miami, and even Wimbledon to some extent as more mental lapses than anything else. There’s little doubt that Djokovic has gotten inside Nadal’s head (somewhere Roger Federer is smiling), and it was undoubtedly hard for Nadal to lose both the No. 1 ranking and his Wimbledon crown in the space of a single weekend. He should benefit from his extended post-Wimbledon break, and while there will still be question marks surrounding his health for the time being, fans should expect him to be ready for the US Open having hopefully added some tweaks to the game for when he next plays Djokovic.

Double the Delight

Doubles often falls by the wayside, but it’s worth noting that Americans Bob and Mike Bryan had an excellent stay in London. Despite nearly losing in the Round of 16 and semis, the two barely broke a sweat in the final, cruising to the title to claim their eleventh doubles major. Every major win is special, but this one was particularly so, as they tied the Open Era record set by the legendary tandem of the “Woodies.” Don’t expect them to stop there either. They’re almost for certain to shatter the record and may do so as early as the last major of 2011 in Flushing Meadows.

Dream Deal

With the possible exception of NBC, many American fans were ecstatic when the All England Club announced that ESPN has signed a 12-year contract to televise the whole of the Wimbledon Championships, starting in 2012. NBC has had the finals of Wimbledon for the last 43 years, and as traditional as their “Breakfast at Wimbledon” broadcast had become, there were many complaints about the tape-delayed coverage that came into play when NBC shared in broadcasting rights. With ESPN now covering the whole fortnight, all of the tennis will be live, with much more of it available on various platforms, which can ultimately only help the sport. The announcement came as the perfect ending to another enthralling year at Wimbledon.

Roger Federer Makes Shocking Wimbledon Exit

Roger Federer has failed to advance past the quarter-finals for a second consecutive Grand Slam tournament. The defending champion and top-seeded Federer was beaten by Tomas Berdych 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Wednesday.

The shocking upset improves Berdych to 3-8 against Federer all-time, including a recent victory in Miami in March.
The growing trend of Roger losing to players he had previously dominated is continuing and the fact that it is happening on the grass of Wimbledon must be particularly alarming.

Talk of Federer’s decline has been present since 2008 when he failed to win a Grand Slam until late in the year at the U.S. Open. Then in 2009 after losing the Aussie Open final to Nadal, people really started to wonder if his dominance was wavering. Just when it seemed like that might be the case, Federer rebounded by winning his first French Open and then regaining his Wimbledon crown a year ago. He then lost the U.S. Open final to Del Potro but again bounced back in Australia earlier this year. It seemed liked Federer still had a lot of gas left in the tank.

With back-to-back quarter-final exits from the last two Slams however, the situation is starting to look dire for the world number-two player. He has not won a tournament since his lone Slam down-under and continues to get beat by players like Berdych, Lleyton Hewitt and others that he had owned until the past year.

In his post-match press conference, Federer spoke respectfully towards his opponent but revealed there were some injury issues that affected his play today.

“I think he was a bit more consistent than in the past. I lost to him in Miami this year, where it was a really tight match as well. But from my end, obviously, you know, I’m unhappy with the way I’m playing. I couldn’t play the way I wanted to play. You know, I am struggling with a little bit of a back and a leg issue. That just doesn’t quite allow me to play the way I would like to play. So it’s frustrating, to say the least. Looking forward to some rest anyway.”

Whether the injury aspect was real or imagined we’ll never know for sure. It could be Federer’s way of avoiding questions of his declining stranglehold on the men’s game.

Either way, Wimbledon will have a different champion this year and for the first time since 2002 the finals will not include Roger Federer.

A DREAMER OF MARIA SHARAPOVA PICTURES I RUN IN THE NIGHT

As the title says: I am a dreamer of Sharapova pictures I run in the night. I actually find the Neil Young song (Cinnamon girl) way better but it makes a good title.

Maria Sharapova has arrived in Melbourne to prepare for the Australian Open that will start this Monday on January 18.  I am hoping that she’ll win the Aussie Open with a great three set match. I don’t want any of the dull finales we have had in some of the previous years. I want battle on the courts. Blood, sweat and tears. Genuine emotion and, again, most of all I want Sharapova to win.

Ofcourse there are more potential winners for this year’s Aussie Open crown and as a small preview, I will name some of the women who, I think, have a great shot at the title.

1. Maria Sharapova – Injury has sidelined her much of last year but let’s hope that she has recovered enough and that she is fit and in form enough to take home the title.

2. Kim Clijsters – The tennis mom. Retired and came back. Pretty much a veni, vidi, vici last year when she entered US Open on a wildcard and took home the title. She brushed off adversaries as if they weren’t there. A force to be reckoned with.

3. Justine Henin – Another player who decided to unretire herself.  Though it may look like she is going to make a serious run for the Wimbledon crown. The Australian Open could be hers.

4. Dinara Safina – Yes, her. Why? It’s about time that she added a GS title to her impressive collection and she is hungry for it.  The Australian Open could be just it!

5. Jelena Jankovic – Pretty much the same story as Dinara Safina.

6. Serena Williams – You never know with this black beauty. Was laughed at when she entered in 2007 but baffled every criticaster when she took home the title with relative ease.

7. Venus Williams – Wherever Serena goes, Venus goes. Venus was upset by Maria Sharapova earlier this year in Hong Kong but that was just the first match of the year.

8. Caroline Wozniacki – She took the world by storm last year and deservedly got a place in the finals at the US Open. That proved that she is doing very well on hardcourt.  Let’s hope that the hardcourts in Australia and her are a match.

9. Yanina Wickmayer – She is eager and  hungry for success after a desastrous year end.

10. Elena Dementieva – If she can control her nerves she can finally win that Grand Slam title.

Let me know who YOU think will win the Australian Open 2010 crown by using our comment box. Enjoy the photos!

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