Another Wimbledon is now in the history books, especially this year’s edition that saw several players achieve more significant chapters to their already legendary careers. Plus, we saw a few young players take the next step in their careers while others took quite a noticeable stumble Here’s some final thoughts on the memorable fortnight.
It seems we’ve been waiting for years for Serena Williams to close in on the elusive calendar Grand Slam. With her 6th Wimbledon title, the World No.1 not only earned yet another “Serena Slam” (holding all four majors within a 12 month span), but put herself one US Open title away from adding her name that very exclusive and short list of players to do so. While her title runs in Melbourne and Paris had a lot to do with her physical health, Wimbledon was mostly about what was going on inside Serena’s head as she tried to win her first title there in three years. Her match against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza (who played better than expected in her first major final appearance) was all about Serena holding her nerve and her thoughts together, not without a lot of success. Had Muguruza been able to pull even with Williams in that second set after trailing 1-5, who knows what might have happened. Still, Serena proved that once again she is a much more complete player simply because she figured out a way to win even when her trademark serve didn’t show up when she needed it.
Now as she approaches New York, Serena is already talking about her focus on defending her title there and not the historic goal in front of her. Proof that Serena will probably play mind tricks on herself (as she did in the final game versus Muguruza) throughout the summer to get her through perhaps the most intense scrutiny and pressure she will face in her career.
After surviving a scare from Kevin Anderson in the fourth round, Novak Djokovic went on to defend his Wimbledon title. Djokovic’s serve, while facing break points against Roger Federer in the final, proved key for his victory. Now with his ninth Grand Slam title, Djokovic looks primed to add even more major titles to his shelf over the next few years. Especially with the fact that he remains the man to beat every time he enters a tournament. For the man who so often played “the third wheel” several years ago during Federer and Rafael Nadal’s reign over the sport, Djokovic is certainly not ready to relinquish his place on top of the men’s game anytime soon.
Federer, despite overwhelming public sentiment for him, ended up second best to Djokovic once again. Federer is certainly still a huge favorite against the majority of players he faces, yet Djokovic remains as his chief rival and a player he must contend with for the rest of his career. What’s troubling for Federer is that even on his best surface, Djokovic’s overall game (even when not at its best) was still more than enough to beat Federer. Federer may be resigned to yet another finalist plate at SW19, but he should be encouraged that at least he is still very much in the running for perhaps one more major title.
The same perhaps could not be said for Nadal who again ending up losing early again at Wimbledon thanks to a bravura performance from Dustin Brown. While the summer hard court season may not be Nadal’s most favorite time of the season, it may yet provide him an opportunity to finally start playing like he did not that long ago. Unless he can’t, which means his North American summer might be a hot and possibly short one.
What to do with Australia’s Nick Kyrgios? The talented and tempestuous talent delighted and dismayed fans. While some view him as a much needed change in personalities on the tour, others viewed him as something of a threat to how they think a player should act on court. Never mind that worst behavior from players was on view during the “anything goes” 1970s from the likes of John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors. Still, the biggest issue facing Kyrgios isn’t his behavior but his tennis. While he has loads of talent, he still has yet to prove he could be a sustainable force week in and week out aside from his recent deep runs at majors. If that all changes, then perhaps the debates over how he “should” (emphasis on quotes) behave on court will finally become relevant.
It was a miserable fortnight for several well-known players who now enter the late summer trying to figure out what’s next for them. Petra Kvitova appeared en route to at least reaching the final before Jelena Jankovic turned a routine win into an error-filled three set match for Kvitova that ended up seeing the defending champion exit early. That loss may haunt Kvitova during the hard-court season.
Grigor Dimitrov, a semifinalist last year, exited rather meekly at the hands of Richard Gasquet who himself ended up going to the semis. For all his talent, Dimitrov this year has been running in place results wise for the most part with no clue yet as to how to take the next step he needs.
Eugenie Bouchard, who reached the finals last year, suffered yet another early loss. Many have called for the young Canadian to take a break. She certainly could, but her recent woes may need a longer stretch of time before they finally, if ever, sort themselves out.
Congratulations to Martina Hingis who claimed two more major titles in her now very successful comeback as a doubles specialist. She won the ladies’ doubles title with Sania Mirza and the mixed doubles title with Leander Paes. Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau won the men’s doubles title.
Still, the fortnight belonged to Djokovic and Williams who with their winning performances proved that they most likely will find themselves dancing into the winner’s circle of many more majors to come.