Posted in Sport, Tennis, tagged AELTC, championships, Evan Hoyt, girls, Henman Hill, Joshua Ward-Hibbert, ladies, Laura Robson, Liam Broady, LTA, Maria Sharapova, Petra Kvitova, Rafael Nadal, Sabine Lisicki, Sam Hutt, Samantha Stosur, Serena Williams, Tennis, US Open, Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Wimbledon, women, Women's Doubles, Women's Singles on July 1, 2011|
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I may be biased because I’ve actually been at Wimbledon but in my eyes this is the best women’s grand slam there has been in a long time. What with the return of the Williams sisters, the break-out of several stars who have been bubbling under for a long time and the come back of the injury stricken it has had a very diverse cast. There have been upsets (anyone remember Stosur falling in the first round?), extremely close matches and some absolutely spectacular play; all of which has combined to reawake my interest in women’s tennis.
I watched today’s semis from Henman Hill accompanied by a large picnic and a friend who was visiting The Championships for the first time (she loved it). Whilst the crowd was fairly split for Azarenka v Kvitova (I was cheering on the Czech) they were fully behind Lisicki in the second match. People do like Sharapova but I would challenge anyone not to fall in love with Lisicki, she has to be one of the cutest sports professionals out there! I caught some of her doubles earlier in the week and she did the sweetest slap of her thighs when a ball went out. Whilst watching her singles The Hill collectively cheered every Lisicki winner, groaned each time a hawkeye challenge didn’t go her way and went crazy when she had break points. Unfortunately Sharapova was just too strong, she is yet to drop a set and so far she has only dropped a maximum of nine games in a match (against Robson which puts the young Brit’s achievement into perspective). Lisicki can certainly be proud of herself though considering that a year ago she was learning to walk and even just three weeks ago it was doubtful whether the AELTC would be able to give her a wildcard. As I write this she’s still in the women’s doubles with Stosur and has made her first ever grand slam singles semi-final, an achievement not to be sniffed at. It is great to see her back and hopefully this time it will be for good.
After tipping Kvitova for the last three grand slams I’m very relieved and pleased that she’s made the final. Whilst her match versus Azarenka was a typical see-sawing affair she demonstrated the strength and accuracy that has served her well throughout the tournament. Although the Belarusian showed flashes of brilliance she lacked the consistency of her Czech counterpart and could not do enough on the key points. I’m confident that, health withstanding, Azarenka will snaffle her first grand slam final (and potentially the title) at the US Open.
I find it difficult to predict which woman will take the title because whilst my head says Sharapova my heart says Kvitova. All of the stats add up to suggest that it is the Russian who will win as she has been so dominant throughout the tournament, she has grand slam final experience and has won Wimbledon before. My fear for Sharapova is that on several occasions she has started slowly and conceded breaks as a result. Against lesser opponents this has not been too much of a problem but versus Kvitova I think she’d struggle to break back because the first-time finalist plays such a very good defensive game. I do not question that Kvitova has the game to win Wimbledon but I do have concerns over whether she has the mental strength. The Czech can be stony cool in her demeanour but I suspect that when faced with Championship points she may waver and I think it will be the psychological element, rather than the physical, control that will decide the match. I don’t want to predict Kvitova to lose but I think she will in three sets after having Championship points in the second set.
One quick final point. Yesterday I watched British junior Liam Broady move through to the quarter finals in the singles (he’s now progressed to the semis) and today I saw him reach the quarter finals in the doubles and both performances reaffirmed my belief that we do have some good British talent coming up. I know that Britain has been widely criticised in terms of investment versus returns but it does feel like there is about to be a tipping point. Robson and Watson both showed in their senior singles campaigns that they have the potential to go far and Broady is not alone in having an impact in the Juniors with Golding in the quarters of the Boys’ Doubles along with Hutt and Ward-Hibbert, and George Morgan. I know these achievements don’t justify the amount of money that has been invested by the LTA, especially as Broady works outside the LTA structure, but it seems we’re moving in the right direction.
Anyway, I need to be up early to queue for a ground pass for what should be a stunning Men’s Semis day so I’ll sign off now but let me know who you think will be lifting each of the trophies this weekend.
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Posted in Sport, Tennis, tagged AELTC, Ana Ivanovic, Andre Agassi, Andrea Petkovic, Andy Murray, Barry Cowan, Centre Court, Goran Ivanisevic, Henman Hill, Juan Martin Del Potro, Marat Safin, Martina Navratilova, Men's Final, Novak Djokovic, Pete Sampras, Petra Kvitova, Pimms, Rafael Nadal, Richard Gasquet, Roger Federer, Sabine Lisicki, Serena Williams, SW19, Tennis, Venus Williams, Wimbledon, Women's Doubles, Women's Singles on June 26, 2011|
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My rucksack’s packed (it’s far too full), I’ve got my tent at the ready (still haven’t mastered how to take it down) and I’m on the train (it’s running late) but the most important thing is on my way to the hallowed lawns of the AELTC.
This trip will be my fifth visit to Wimbledon and it’s the first time that I’ve gone for more than just one day so I cannot wait to get there and into the swing of things. I have some wonderful memories from my first four visits ranging from meeting Goran Ivanisevic just a week before he became Champion to sleeping in a portaloo when a thunderstorm struck and I was tentless – needless to say I’ve learnt my lesson and am far better prepared for the elements this time around! I’ve also been fortunate enough to watch the final set of the Sampras v Cowan match, see Marat Safin close-up in all his glory, and soak up the passion on Henman Hill whilst a Brit battles it out. I’ve been to a lot of different sporting events around the world but none come close to Wimbledon in my eyes. Despite AELTC being a large site it has a wonderfully intimate feel about it, I love that you can round a corner and stumble across the Williams bunch having a family chinwag on a practice court. I also like the fact that your ticket gets you access to so many different places meaning you can drop in and out of several brilliant matches. Most of all though, it’s the general atmosphere that makes it so special for me. Wimbledon still has a reputation of being a stuffy, staid place reserved for the upper echelons of British society but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In that special corner of SW19 you get people of all ages, backgrounds and personalities united by their love of tennis – and a desire to eat strawberries and drink Pimms! It’s such a colourful place, alive with the sound of people excitedly whispering when they spot a player, surging to their feet in celebration of a stunning point or simply laughing with new friends; you cannot fail to feel cheerful when surrounded by such unadulterated joy. My week at Wimbledon is my summer holiday this year and, whilst some people I know think I’m crazy for choosing this over a week in Greece, I cannot think of any better way to relax and have fun. So, with all that in mind, here are the top five things I’m most looking forward to:
1. Introducing my mum to Wimbledon.
Whilst my dad and I have been to Wimbledon before my mum never has (slightly surprising since she’s from Surrey). This year she got tickets for in the public ballot for Court 1 tomorrow so she and Dad are coming down. I know she’s really looking forward to it and I am very excited about sharing in the fun of it all with them. I also have a few friends who have never been to Wimbledon before and are thinking of popping in after work so it will be great to introduce them to it all as well.
2. The final.
I know I’ve been banging on about this for months but I feel exceedingly privileged to have a ticket to the Men’s Final and it’s all down to my very generous friend Helen who received two in the ballot and offered me her spare. I think most British tennis fans would agree that a ticket for the Men’s Wimbledon Final is like a Willy Wonka golden ticket, especially as the game is in such rude health at the moment. I’m hoping for Federer v Murray or Djokovic v Murray but whoever is playing I’ll just be glad to be part of it.
3. Spending time with fellow tennis fans.
However much my lovely friends and family humour me I know they must get sick of my constant tennis witterings so it will be wonderful to chat away with people who love the sport as much as I do. Nothing beats a great debate about which two players from history you’d put in your ultimate final – and it’s even better when done in the sunshine just mere metres away from some of the biggest names in the sport!
4. Watching Murray play live.
I’ve seen Sampras, Agassi, Navratilova, both Williams, Nadal, Federer, Djokovic (and many more) all play live but I have never seen Britain’s number one in person so I’m desperately hoping I get to watch him. I’ve made the decision to just get a ground pass for tomorrow so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he overcomes Gasquet so that I can unfurl my Scotland flag on Wednesday… and Friday… and Sunday!
5. Touring the outside courts.
As I mentioned above, one of my favourite things about Wimbledon is that you can catch some really big names on the outside courts. I had planned to get a Centre Court ticket for tomorrow but the line-up on the smaller courts is so excellent that I’ve decided to save my pennies and enjoy it all from the cheap seats. Particular people I can’t wait to see include Ivanovic/Petkovic in the Women’s Doubles, Kvitova in singles and Lisicki in both singles and doubles – I’ll be overdosing on the Women’s game! This decision does mean I’ll miss Nadal v DelPo which I was desperate to see but c’est la vie.
What match or element of the Championships are you most excited about?
So, all that’s left to do now is join the queue and the fun can begin! If any of you are around this week send me a comment or tweet (@abatweets) and we can share in the excitement.
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