Outstanding sporting achievements can be a little bit like buses, you wait ages for one and then two come along at once. Last weekend the tennis world was not only rewarded with a World Number One that wasn’t Federer or Nadal for the first time in 387 weeks, but also with a new Wimbledon Champion (the last time someone other than Federer or Nadal lifted the pineapple-topped cup aloft was in 2002). On Sunday, after 47 tour wins, eight ATP titles and six months of phenomenal tennis, Novak Djokovic was finally able to legitimately say what everyone already knew – that he is the best player in the world right now.
Djokovic had been within touching distance of World Number One for several weeks but, due to Nadal retaining his French Open title, it was only after his highly entertaining victory against Tsonga on Friday that the Serb managed to claim the top spot as his own. Despite his new found status Djokovic went into his first Wimbledon Final as the underdog with most tennis fans, including me, believing that whilst it would be a close-fought match Nadal would prevail. How wrong we were!
From the very start of the match Djokovic showed why he has only lost once this year. He was serving consistently, keeping his unforced error count low and most significantly of all outlasting Nadal in the longer rallies. Very few players on the Tour want to get involved in lengthy exchanges with the Spaniard but Djokovic seemed happy to match his opponent stroke for stroke and ended up winning 69 per cent of the points that went over eight shots – and you know that when Nadal is losing these rallies something is up. And there clearly was something up with the defending champion, perhaps it was the same nerves he suffered in the first set of his match against Murray or maybe he was stunned by Djokovic’s outstanding play; whatever it was he did not seem his usual self. On several occasions he left balls that he would normally hunt down voraciously and gone were the constant fist clenches and cries of ‘Vamos’ that usually characterise his play. In contrast, Djokovic was brimming with confidence, fuelled by his comprehensive 6-1 disassembly of his opponent’s game in the second set. It was only when Nadal broke in the third set that we truly saw some of his trademark passion and at that point my belief that he would win in five sets was reignited. The vast majority of the crowd had been fully behind the Spaniard from the start but at that point the weight of support for him would have lifted the roof off centre court had it been shut; I was not alone in my desire to see the match go the distance. Early in the fourth set it looked as if those craving a classic match would be satisfied as Nadal looked to build on his momentum gaining a break point in the first game of the fourth set. But whilst Djokovic seized almost every opportunity he had in the match, converting five of his six break points, he did not allow his opponent to do the same. With the Serb’s defensive game proving just too good, Nadal was only able to make the most of 50% of his opportunities to break. Would the match have panned out differently if the Spaniard had broken at the start of the fourth set? I doubt it. Whilst I would normally fear for any player who gave Nadal the slightest sniff at getting into a match, Djokovic was just playing far too well.
After the match, the new Wimbledon Champion credited Federer and Nadal with forcing him to raise his game and with him raising it in spectacular style you have to wonder how many titles they have deprived themselves of. Federer may have managed to beat Djokovic once this year but it seems to have only spurred him on and if he maintains this level of play it will take a monumental effort to beat him again.
My time at Wimbledon as a whole
As ou will no doubt have realised from all my blogs over the course of the Championships I had the most phenomenal week.
The main highlight of my time there obviously has to be the final; it was an event like no other. It may sound like an over-exaggeration but going into Centre Court on that day I felt how I imagine many brides feel on their wedding day. Here was a moment that I had dreamed of for many years about to come true; I was jittery with the heady combination of nerves and excitement. When Nadal and Djokovic walked onto court I started to cry, I felt so privileged to be at a high profile match that was packed full of promise. Whilst I loved the whole match the pinnacle for me was when Djokovic raised the cup for the first time, to be part of such a special day in someone’s was a real honour. The contrast of the new World Number One’s team dancing in their box whilst the defeated champion sat with his head in his hands was a moving sight. It was one of the most emotionally charged moments I’ve witnessed.
My other abiding memory of the day is of the Serbian celebrations – it was as if Wimbledon’s media alley had been turned into Belgrade’s main street. A large group of Djokovic fans clad in red, white and blue were dancing, singing, chanting around Centre Court as the crowds spilled out. When Djokovic’s parents came down to join them they lifted his father aloft and clamoured to shake the hand of his mother, all the while maintaining the festival spirit. The often reserved and respectful AELTC became a blaze of colour and joyful noise making everyone there feel as if they had an invitation to the greatest party in town.
Whilst nothing will beat that final Sunday for memories here are my other favourite bits of the Championships:
- Lisicki’s success – whether it be a routine match on an outside court, her hard-fought defeat of Li Na on Centre or her storming run to the semis of the singles and finals of the doubles, the charismatic German played every match with grace, good-humour and a smile. Her performances exuded joy and she reminded everyone that just to be on the court and in good health is a privilege.
- Watching Nadal practice – if you are ever at a tournament where Nadal is playing I would urge you to try and watch a practice session. It is only when you are close to the Spaniard that you can truly appreciate the pace, power and accuracy of his shots. Watching his whipped forehand in the flesh is to be in the presence of greatness.
- The birth of a new era – after months of me harping on about it, the new talent in the Women’s game finally came to fruition in the form of Kvitova. It was so exciting to see a non-Williams Wimbledon Champion and it was even better that it was in the shape of the humble yet determined Czech. I hope that Kvitova’s victory will be the catalyst for more of the younger players reaching their potential as I think the likes of Azarenka are just a few points away from joining her in the grand slam club. Kvitova’s victory was just one win in a weekend of Czech female success with Peschke and Benesova experiencing success in the Ladies Doubles and Mixed respectively.
- My match of the tournament had to be Tsonga’s stunning comeback against Federer, I feel so lucky to have seen it in the flesh. The Frenchman has to be one of the most entertaining players on tour and it was brilliant to see his level of skill match his performance talents, especially against one of the greatest artists in sport.
Wimbledon is a tournament like no other; from the beautifully preened purple planters to the military precision of the ball kids it is the model of perfect organisation. With it’s thoroughly English undertones and truly global audience it offers something for everyone. I will definitely be there again next year and I think you should all join me there.
The best of my photos from Wimbledon can be found on my flickr page.
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When Rafael Nadal stepped onto Centre Court for his semi-final against Andy Murray he did so in the knowledge that come Monday he would no-longer be World Number One, having just seen Djokovic secure a victory that took him to the top spot. It is hard to know whether it was this news or Murray’s sensational start to the match that caused the Spaniard to drop the first set but one thing’s for sure, he was not willing to lose both his ranking and Wimbledon title in the same day.
Right from the start of Murray v Nadal the defending champion looked strangely nervous and ill-at-ease whilst the Brit was comfortably going for his shots and absorbing whatever was thrown at him; an approach that quickly brought success as he notched up the first set after 54 minutes. Up on The Hill the atmosphere was an odd mix of electric excitement and nervous restraint, as people who had raced for prime viewing spots earlier in the day started to contemplate the prospect of having a hometown hero in the final. Wedged between two picnic tables but feeling utter elation at the thought of potentially seeing a Brit in the Wimbledon final, I urged, cheered and bellowed support at the big screen along with thousand of fellow fans. If the sheer weight of collective wanting could carry someone to success Murray would have reached the final the moment he stepped on court. Unfortunately it was not enough, in the same way that Murray’s game was not enough, because in the fifth game of the second set Nadal broke which sparked the turnaround that led to a four-set victory for the Spaniard. Whilst one break cannot gain you a victory this one seemed to change the entire momentum of the match; Nadal’s confidence rose and he began to play his trademark destructive tennis, Murray’s first serve percentage dropped below 50 per cent and it quickly became clear he was going to stick to his original risky strategy – even though it wasn’t working. In reports afterwards people kept citing a few key points that lost Murray the match, and yes, there were some crucial moments which signalled defeat, but even if he had won those I still think he would have lost. Whereas it was Nadal looked uncomfortable in the first set, the Scot now seemed far from his usual self. Although Murray is widely criticised for his mid-match moans and groans they are part of his game and they do seem to aid him but in the semi he was strangely quiet, in the final three sets he was missing returns that are usually his bread and butter, and most of all he lacked variety. I like to watch Murray because he builds points very cunningly, steadily luring in his opponent before trapping them with a sensationally pacey down the line or a sneaky drop-shot but in this match he repeatedly played cross-court to Nadal’s backhand, waiting for him to make a mistake that unsurprisingly did not come.
I’ll be entirely truthful; Murray’s defeat hit me hard. I was disappointed that I wasn’t going to get to attend a Wimbledon final that featured a Brit, I was sad because I honestly believed he was playing well
enough to win it and I was upset to see him so disheartened. Most of all though I was angry because I knew that all of the doubters, who watch tennis once or twice a year, would use his defeat as yet more evidence for their claims that he’s a choker and an underachiever. I had desperately wanted Murray to succeed to prove them all wrong and show that he is a superbly gifted player who on his day can overcome Federer, Nadal or Djokovic. Please, if you are an occasional tennis fan and you read this blog, believe me when I say Murray is a phenomenal player and he has achieved some stunning victories in his career and is achingly close to a major success.
One other thing I wanted to mention in this entry is that if you didn’t see any of the Tsonga v Djokovic semi-final I urge you to try and catch some of the highlights because it is one of the most entertaining matches I’ve watched in a long time; two superb athletes giving it their acrobatic all!
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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, Uncategorized, tagged Centre Court, Djokovic, federer, Lopez, murray, Nadal, Tsonga, Wimbledon on June 30, 2011|
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Ahead of yesterday’s Men’s Quarter Finals everyone was asking ‘Which of the top four is most likely to fall?’ and whilst the tennis blogosphere appeared to have a variety of views there appeared to be a general consensus that it wouldn’t be Federer. How wrong we were.
I was fortunate to have secured a Centre Court ticket for yesterday and as I made my way up to my seat I was thinking ‘Mmmm, maybe at a push Tsonga will manage to get a set… it’ll probably be Murray v Lopez that will be a closer run thing’. Maybe it was short-sighted of people not to predict Tsonga to cause an upset, he has been playing extremely well recently culminating in him reaching the final of Queens. My decision to tip Federer to make it to the semis was not meant as a slight on Tsonga’s abilities though, it was purely driven by the brilliant tennis that Federer has been playing – I would even have doubted whether Nadal or Murray could beat him. If you combined Federer’s swift procession through the French Open draw with his clinical displays at Wimbledon thus far you were left with an extremely experienced and skillful master who had Champion written all over him. But, having watched the quarter-final in the flesh, I can now say for certain that I completely underestimated Tsonga and the sheer power that he had at his disposal. For the first set and a half of the match it looked as if it would be a fairly routine Federer rout; the Frenchman was struggling to find his feet, he was putting a high percentage of his volleys into the net and if anything he looked a little lethagic. It was only as we entered the second set tiebreak that we started to see shots that reflected Tsonga’s true ability and even then I texted a fellow tennis lover (who was on Court One) stating that the match wasn’t very exciting as Federer was dominating it. At the start of the third set someone from the crowd shouted ‘Come on Jo, it’s a grand slam quarter-final’ and, whilst I’m sure he was already aware of that, it was as if it suddenly struck him that he really had nothing to lose. He suddenly rose to the occasion firing shots of unbelievable depth and strength at his opponent, reining in his powerful serve to ensure it was also precise and throwing everything into the match, and he was greatly rewarded with a single break in each of the three remaining sets. At the start of the match the atmosphere had been a little stilted with only the occasional ‘Come on Roger’ or ‘Allez Jo’ at key points but as Tsonga upped his game the crowd matched him, steadily becoming more vocal as the excitement grew and giving him a standing ovation in return for his victory dance. I had gone in wanting a four set Federer victory (as I’ve said before I was desperate for a Federer v Murray final) but the way that Tsonga played I could not begrudge him the win, he fought back from two sets down through sheer determination and clever play. What was most noticeable for me during the whole match was that Federer’s level did not drop, he was still playing very well, it was just that Tsonga surpassed him and the World Number Three was not able to handle his opponent’s power as he was consistently pushed off the court. I am very intrigued to see how Djokovic handles Tsonga because whilst I think he is better equipped to see off the brute-force of the Frenchman I think he will also struggle to surpress him. I predict that in the semis Tsonga will avenge the Australian Open Final defeat to Djokovic in 2008 and make it through to his second grand slam final.
My whole reason for buying a Centre Court ticket yesterday was to see Murray play but I’ll be honest and say that after the Tsonga v Federer match it was a little bit of a let down. It was still a good game to watch but from the start it was clear that Murray was the stronger player on the key points and that he was going to be able to get the job done fairly routinely. Towards the end there were some exciting moments when Lopez had some break points but aside from that it was a fairly routine victory. Hopefully the Scot will be able to raise his game when he needs to against Nadal. Because he didn’t need to pull out all the stops yesterday, I didn’t see anything from Murray to entirely convince me he can win Wimbledon but I remain confident he will at least make the final.
Today and tomorrow I am going to get ground passes, tour the outside courts for doubles and juniors and watch the semi-finals on Henman Hill / Murray Mount. I was tempted to try and buy another Centre Court ticket for Murray tomorrow but it’s pretty pricey and I know that I’ll have just as much fun watching it on the big screen – I’ll report back on it all as soon as I can.
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Posted in Sport, Tennis, Wimbledon, tagged AELTC, Ana Ivanovic, Andrea Petkovic, Andy Murray, ATP, BBC, Centre Court, championships, Colin Fleming, David Law, Feliciano Lopez, French Open, injury, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Lisicki, Marion Bartoli, Mikhail Youzhny, Murray Mount, Neil Harman, Petra Kvitova, Roger Federer, Ross Hutchins, Tennis, Wimbledon, WTA, Yanina Wickmayer on June 27, 2011|
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I never imagined that my Wimbledon would start with me sitting in a disability tent almost in tears each time I breathed in but that was my entry into the Championships yesterday. You know how I joked about my bag being overpacked? Well that overpacked bag led to me straining my back and then when I bent sharply to pitch my tent that strain turned into a suspected muscle tear. But, like the queuing version of Andy Murray at the French Open, I’m battling on and forever the optimist I’m going to focus on the bonuses this misfortune brought:
– Two American men packed away my tent for me.
– A steward carried my massive bag to the lost luggage.
– I got treated like a celeb as I was ferried from the queue to the AELTC in a buggy and was allowed to rest in the shade whilst the rest of the queue caught up with us.
– Whilst in the shade I met a sweet woman and her kind husband who happened to work for the BBC. Her husband not only gave me lots of media guides for free but also offered to show me around the media centre which was brilliant. In the hour long tour I discovered so many technical tricks of the trade which when combined create the world leading coverage that the Beeb produce; it’s phenomenal how much goes on behind the scenes. Whilst in the press room I also spotted two of my journalistic idols, David Law and Neil Harman which was exciting!
Anyway, on to the important stuff, the tennis. I had a truly wonderful day, I doubt there can be any ticket in sport that offers better value for money than a ground pass to Wimbledon on second Monday. The sheer quality of the players on show was phenomenal, for just £20 I was able to watch Lisicki win convincingly, Kvitova crush Wickmayer, Hutchins/Fleming stage an impressive comeback, Ivanovic/Petkovic lose a close fought three-setter and drop in on some junior matches, plus there was so much more I could have seen. I also completed the obligatory act of sitting on Murray Mount and watching the Centre Court action – something which I think any sports loving Brit should have on their bucket list. Whilst I was fortunate enough to have access to a Court 1 ticket, I could have easily filled my day twice over with the great level of action on the outside courts. It seemed that every time I looked at the multiple scoreboards there was a new comeback or shock emerging on one court or another. I think the best part of the day was the fact that this year’s tournament remains extremely competitive, for both the men and the women; doubles and singles; juniors and seniors. I cannot call it either way.
Some general observations:
– Both Kvitova and Bartoli continue to look exceptionally convincingly; the strength and depth of their shots prevent any of their opponents playing their own game.
– The WTA really need to take a leaf out of the ATP’s book when it comes to marketing their players. Men’s tennis has always attracted more spectators than women’s but it still staggers me how few people could name more than two of the top 10. There were some of female tennis’ biggest stars playing yesterday but the majority of people still do not know them from Eve and therefore struggle to get behind them. Now would be the ideal time to promote the up and coming players because, as yesterday’s performances illustrated, life must go on without the Williams sisters.
– Doubles offers a brilliant opportunity to see some thrilling tennis up close and personal. I watched most of Ivanovic/Petkovic and a little bit of Fleming/Hutchins and I was so close to the court that I was almost in their laps on the changeovers!
– Despite our stiff upper-lip reputation, Brits love nothing more than coming together, having a drink and shouting at a fellow national as if our lives depended on it. The mood on Murray Mount was very jovial and whilst the patriotism dial wasn’t quite at full notch I imagine it will be on Wednesday.
– The match of the day for me had to be Federer v Youzhny. Both of the players dished up some sublime shots and in the second and third sets it could have truly swung either way. Youzhny could have won if it were not for a few key points going against him and Federer’s frequent ‘Come ons’ indicated that he knew he was under pressure. I really felt for the Russian on several occasions when net cords went against him or shots were out by a matter of millimetres. The six time Champion’s artistry showed through in the end though with his grace and unshakeable shot selection making the difference. The World Number 3 also played one of his infamous tweeners which made me very happy too!
Due to my back injury I’m not queuing today (slightly relieved due to all the rain) but fortunately I have managed to get a Centre Court ticket for tomorrow where I’ll get to watch Federer v Tsonga and Murray v Lopez – I’m predicting Federer and Murray will come through but I think both could face stern tests. I’ll report back on all that happens tomorrow evening.
Until then, I hope you are enjoying Wimbledon as much I am.
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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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Posted in Tennis, Uncategorized, tagged Djokovic, federer, Ivanovic, Li Na, Lisicki, murray, Nadal, Williams, Wimbledon on June 23, 2011|
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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.
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