Apologies for not having blogged sooner but I’ve been stuck in a terrible vortex of decorating where every spare waking moment has been spent decorating my spare room – thank God for Radio Wimbledon and BBC Tennis’s online coverage, it’s been the only thing keeping me sane! Anyway, here are a few thoughts on the first four days of play:
– The Men’s draw is still looking like a four horse race but I’ll happily settle for the predictable. There has been a lot of talk around which guy is most likely to infiltrate the top four and spoil the MuRaFeDjoko party. The main names being bandied around have been Soderling, Roddick and Del Potro but none of them have done anything to indicate that they could break the main quartet’s stranglehold. Soderling stayed in by the skin of his teeth against Hewitt today, Roddick has been serving well but other aspects of his game are lacking and Del Potro is in uncharted territory as this is the first time he’s got passed the second round at Wimbledon. To compound matters whilst the pack have floundered the top four have thrived. It took 34 minutes and over a set of tennis before Federer lost a point on his serve today, Murray reeled off 15 straight games in his match against Gimeno-Traver and both Djokovic and Nadal are strolling through with ease. It’s looking more and more like the French Open semi-final line-up will be repeated.
– The Women’s on the other hand is still wide open with no one player stamping her mark on the tournament. Both of the Williams sisters have dropped sets (Serena’s dropped two), Stosur and Li are out and Zvonareva has wobbled. Wozniacki is looking OK but with her dislike for grass I question whether she’ll make the last 16. Most of the pundits are tipping Sharapova for the title but I have niggling doubts over whether she can maintain her consistency for the whole fortnight. The players who have looked the most comfortable in my opinion have been Kvitova, Bartoli (although she’s only played one match so far) and much to my joy Ivanovic who has only dropped four games. I’m also feeling very excited about Lisicki in the wake of her extremely close victory over Li. I can’t see her being a Goran-esque wildcard Champion but I hope she can at least make the quarter-finals, she deserves it after today’s match. Lisicki and Ivanovic could well meet in the last 16 which would be a brilliant match between two very likeable players.
– Hoorah for the Golden Oldies and the Comeback kids. My top three matches of the tournament so far without a shadow of a doubt have been V. Williams v Kimiko Date-Krumm (combined age of 71 and at times they played like it was 1971 with KDK offering up some wonderfully nostalgic chip and charges), Hewitt very nearly defeating Soderling in five sets despite having been in plaster just eight weeks ago, and the dramatic match between Lisicki (back after her career plummeted due to injury) and Li (aged 29). In the space of two days we’ve had three brilliant battles and that’s the best thing about the first week of a grand slam, the unlikely match-ups that spark phenomenal passion and play.
– I have mixed feelings about the roof. On the one hand it means that play can go on so there is always live tennis to watch (rather than Cliff Richard singing, thank God) but I also feel it gives some players an unfair advantage. The big names, who are often the competition favourites, get to play on Centre Court quite frequently so when you put the roof on they get two distinct advantages.
1.) Their match is not interrupted by rain, stays on schedule and they get home and have a rest day whilst their lower ranked, lesser known next round opponent has to hang around hoping the rain stops and may well not get on court until the next day therefore losing their rest day which impacts on their chances in the next round.
2.) Those who play on Centre Court often have the chance to get used to the different playing conditions it creates which again gives them an advantage when they play under the roof against someone who has not had that experience.
Now I know that tennis players should be able to recover from matches quickly and adapt to the conditions etc but I do feel it puts any underdogs at a disadvantage. Maybe I’ll feel differently next week if it rains when I have a Centre Court ticket!
– The scheduling this year seems very odd. I don’t understand why matches are being cancelled at 6.30pm when the weather is fine and there is the prospect of rain the next day; surely it’s best to get as much of a match played as possible. Laura Robson has had both her first and second round match cancelled late in the day which cannot be ideal, especially when you have the prospect of facing Sharapova looming over you! Also, why was Isner / Mahut stuck on Court 3 in the evening? By all accounts there was very little atmosphere becauce a lot of the ticketed seats were empty due to people leaving early and not returning their tickets. In my opinion it should have been on a free-for-all court like 18 or on Court One.
– Roll on next week. In exactly seven days time I will no doubt be lying awake too excited to sleep because of the prospect of seeing the Men’s semi-finals live, I will have already attended at least three days of the tournament and I’ll have a Men’s Final ticket in my possession. I have been so envious of all the people who have crowded into the AELTC over the last four days and my only comfort has been knowing that I’ll be there very soon too – watch out SW19, I’m on my way!
P.S. Following on from last Friday’s discussion around the odds of Isner / Mahut here’s an excellent Kevin Mitchell article from the Guardian that’s worth a read.