My first foray into tennis blogging (see my pieces on the recent French Open to jog your memory) was both enjoyable and therapeutic…………what better way to take out some sport-induced rage than to write about it? So here’s foray number 2: Wimbledon. Yes, tennis fans, its that time again! The long anticipated, much awaited and incredibly short grass court season, culminating in one of the most iconic sporting events on the calendar. That little tennis tournament down in SW19, where sometimes the rain comes and makes life miserable but also where spectacles happen- I’m thinking the longest tennis match in history where Nicolas Mahut and John Isner battled it out for three days in a mtach that lasted somewhere over 7 hours and the fifth set was won by a scored of 70-68. The fortnight of Wimbledon is quintessentially British (as are the vast quantities of strawberries and cream, Pimms and afternoon tea, naturally) and is the highlight of the tennis calendar for fans and players alike.
Many people will have a defining moment of Wimbledon and in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll have you know that mine is the 2008 Federer-Nadal final which went 5 sets over 5 hours through 3 rain delays (because the roof on Centre Court hadn’t been finished yet) until Nadal won his first Wimbledon title essentially in the dark at 9 pm GMT. Widely considered the greatest tennis match in the history of the game, and certainly the greatest Wimbledon final ever played, it has stayed with me over the last 9 years. Thanks to YouTube, I can watch highlights whenever I want. I’ve included a link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1yfWb0-jqQ
While indulging in a bit of reverie is allowed, I’ll spare you readers a lengthy spiel about this match- one day I may devote a whole article about it. Moving swiftly on to this year’s edition!
SEEDS (top 15 only)
- Andy Murray
- Novak Djokovic
- Roger Federer
- Rafael Nadal
- Stan Wawrinka
- Milos Raonic
- Marin Cilic
- Dominic Thiem
- Kei Nishikori
- Alexander Zverev
- Tomas Berdych
- Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
- Grigor Dimitrov
- Lucas Pouille
- Gael Monfils
- Angelique Kerber
- Simona Halep
- Karolina Pliskova
- Elina Svitolina
- Caroline Wozniacki
- Johanna Konta
- Svetlana Kuznetsova
- Domenika Cibulkova
- Agnieszka Radwanska
- Venus Williams
- Petra Kvitova
- Kristina Mladenovic
- Jelena Ostapenko
- Garbiñe Muguruza
- Elena Vesnina
Surprising absolutely no-one, the top 4 men’s seeds are the Big Four: Murray, Djokovic, Nadal and Federer. Its almost like its 2010 again. Federer and Nadal’s comeback tour continues, Djokovic will be hoping to maintain his form and Murray will cling on to his number one ranking. The rest of the field will hope that they have an outside chance, but my money has these guys in the semis. And I’m not sure many people would complain about that. On the women’s side, once again, its anyone’s tournament, although if anyone stands out in this tournament its Venus Williams, but who knows. After her maiden Grand Slam victory in Paris, Jelena Ostapenko could surprise us all and make the final and win, but her rawness might be the only thing that prevents that. Maybe Angelique Kerber will win and maintain that no. 1 ranking or perhaps Simona Halep will finally live up to all that potential and win her first Slam after her heartbreaking defeat on the clay. As always, we will have to wait a fortnight to find out……….so brollies at the ready!
DAY 1- 3/7/17
Let’s be honest, the first day of Wimbledon can, on occasion, be tremendously boring and reasonably straightforward with all those at the top of the draw making it through and those at the bottom, well, not. But every now and then high drama occurs on the expertly tended lawns of SW19. This year was one of those days: the first major upset. The victim? Stan Wawrinka. Several weeks removed from his straight-sets defeat at the hands of Rafa Nadal in Paris. a four-set loss to Russian Daniil Medvedev. Rumour has it that Stan the Man is nursing an injury. Here’s hoping he’s recovered for the US Open next month.
Meanwhile, Andy Murray and Rafa Nadal’s matches were straightforward. Murray defeated Alexander Bublik in straight sets whilst Nadal sent Australian John Millman packing in the same way. Millman’s countryman, Nick Kyrgios retired with a nagging injury, ending his Wimbledon campaign early. Again.
On the women’s side of the draw, it was very much business as usual. Victoria Azarenka, returning to competition after the birth of her son, scored a straight-set win over young American CiCi Bellis. Venus Williams, Johanna Konta, Petra Kvitova and Jelena Ostapenko also made it through to the second round with no disasters. Also making it through to round 2: Aljaz Bedene and Heather Watson.
Andy Murray (1) def. Alexander Bublik
Rafael Nadal (4) def. John Millman
Marin Cilic (7) def. Philip Kohlschreiber
Jerzy Janowicz def. Denis Shapovalov
Kei Nishikori def. Marco Cecchinato
Carla Suarez Navarro (25) def. Eugenie Bouchard
Venus Williams (10) def. Elise Mertens
Johnanna Konta (6) def. Su-Wei Hsieh
Jelena Ostapenko (13) def. Aliaksandra Sasnovich
Daniil Medvedev def. Stan Wawrinnka (5)
Aljaz Bedene def. Ivo Karlovic (21)
Kevin Anderson def. Fernando Verdasco (31)
P.H, Herbert def. Nick Kyrgios (20) retired
Carina Witthoft def. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (26)
Krystyna Pliskova def. Roberta Vinci (31)
DAY 2- 4/7/2017
Day was another easy day at the office for the top seeds. Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer didn’t really have to play as both their opponents, Martin Klizan and Alexandr Dolgopolov respectively, both retired due to injury. How very convenient. To be fair, it was very hot and humid in London on Day 2. Dominic Thiem and Milos Raonic made quick work of their opponents. On the women’s side, both Angelique Kerber and Karolina Pliskova made it to round two. There were, however, several upsets as usual.
Dominic Thiem (8) def. Vasek Pospisil
Tomas Berdych (11) def. Jeremy Chardy
Roger Federer (3) def. Alexandr Dolgopolov retired
Novak Djokovic (2) def. Martin Klizan retired
Milos Raonic (6) def. Jan-Lennard Struff
Caroline Wozniacki (5) def. Timea Babos
Timea Bacszinsky (19) def. Monica Puig
Karolina Pliskova (3) def. Elena Rodina
Agnieszka Radwanska (9) def. Jelena Jankovic
Garbine Muguruza (14) def. Ekaterina Alexandrova
David Ferrer def. Richard Gasquet (22)
Adrian Mannarino def. Feliciano Lopez (19) retired
Petra Martic def. Daria Gavrilova (20)
Sorana Cirstea def. Kiki Bertens (23)
DAY 3- 5/7/2017
The men took a ‘business as usual’ approach to proceedings on Day 3, while the women’s side was upset central. A total of 6 seeded players were ousted compared to one men’s seed. The most disappointing upset on the day was Petra Kvitova’s loss to unseeded Madison Brengle. It was clear that she was nursing an injury, other than her hand, obviously, and she was having difficulties gripping the racket. You may recall that she was upset in the second round at Roland Garros as well. Rafa Nadal made everything look easy against Donald Young (again without dropping a set) while Andy Murray and Dustin Brown played an entertaining match on Centre Court, with Murray coming out on top. Johanna Konta and Donna Vekic played a three set thriller, which in the end, went to Konta, in a form of payback for her loss to Vekic a few weeks ago.
Rafael Nadal (4) def. Donald Young
Andy Murray (1) def. Dustin Brown
Aljaz Bedene def. Damir Dzumhur
Jelena Ostapenko (13) def. Françoise Abanda
Venus Williams (10) def. Wang Qiang
Johanna Kontta (6) def. Donna Vekic
Jerzy Janowicz def. Lucas Pouille (14)
Shuai Peng def. Carla Suarez Navarro (25)
Camila Giorgi def. Madison Keys (17)
Madison Brengle def. Petra Kvitova (11)
Naomi Osaka def. Barbora Strycova (22)
Heather Watson def. Anastasija Sevastova (18)
Victoria Azarenka def. Elena Vesnina (15)
DAY 4- 6/7/2017
After the amount of upsets the day before, you would have thought that would be enough and things would go according to plan. But you would be mistaken. There were 7 upsets on the day- same number as Day 3- but at least on this day there would be a more even number on either side. Federer, Djokovic, Raonic and Thiem once again enjoyed a relatively easy day on the grass. The shocker on the women’s draw was third seed Karolina Pliskova going out at the hands of Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova. But if Pliskova was having a bad day, it was nothing compared to the gruesome injury suffered by American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who crumpled to the court in agony and screamed in pain- pretty sure there were some F-bombs in there. She was stretchered off and taken to hospital, where it was confirmed that she had a dislocated kneecap and ruptured patellar tendon. Anyone wanna say: OUCH. While not a particularly successful singles player, Mattek-Sands is an incredibly talented doubles player and together with her partner Lucie Safarova are the top-ranked women’s doubles side on the tour. They were also looking to win an (almost) calendar slam this year, so this is a disappointing injury indeed. Also in the upset category, our favourite gentleman friend, J. M. del Potro.
Today also marked the 9th anniversary of Federer and Nadal’s epic Wimbledon final that I (probably) mentioned in my introduction to this piece………..HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!
Roger Federer (3) def. Dusan Lajovic
Alexander Zverev (10) def. Frances Tiafoe
Milos Raonic (6) def. Mikhail Youzhny
Tomas Berdych (11) def. Ryan Harrison
Dominic Thiem (8) def. Gilles Simon
Novak Djokovic (2) def. Adam Pavlasek
Gael Monfils (15) def. Kyle Edmund
Caroline Wozniacki (5) def. Tsvetana Pironkova
Angelique Kerber (1) def. Kirsten Flipkens
Sebastian Ofner def. Jack Sock (17)
Ernests Gulbis def. Juan Martin del Potro (29)
Dudi Sela def. John Isner (23)
Anett Kontaveit def. Daria Kasatkina (29)
Shelby Rogers def. Lucie Safarova (32)
Magdalena Rybarikova def. Karolina Pliskova (3)
Alison Riske def. Kristina Mladenovic (12)
DAY 5- 7/7/2017
In addition to being Day 5 of the tournament, today also marked the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings in London. David Beckham and Sergio Garcia (resplendent in his green Master jacket) graced the Royal Box. Murray and Nadal once again kicked behind on Centre Court.
Once again, Nadal did not drop a set, bringing his total to 28 games without losing one.- althouugh that third set was stressful! This dates back to the clay court season. I mean, he’s a decent clay courter, right? Let’s be honest, grass is not Rafa’s favourite surface, although given the current condition of SW19’s lawns, it sure is playing a lot like clay. Most of the other players have already said this. Rafa presumably cares not a lot. Surely, if the grass is going to play like clay than it makes his life a whole lot easier. Fun fact of the day: Rafa only needs to make the finals at Wimbledon in order to retake the no. 1 ranking. Whether he wins said final is irrelevant. Kind of. I’m not sure that just making the final is good enough for him anyway: he’s definitely in it to win it in 2017.
Andy Murray (1) def. Fabio Fognini (28)
Rafael Nadal (4) def. Karen Khachanov (30)
Marin Cilic (7) def. Steve Johnson (28)
Gilles Müller (16) def. Aljaz Bedene
Venus Williams (10) def. Naomi Osaka
Jelena Ostapenko (13) def. Camila Giorgi
Johanna Konta (6) def. Maria Sakkari
Simona Halep (2) def. Shuai Peng
Victoria Azaranka def. Heather Watson
Roberto Bautista-Agut (18) def. Kei Nishikori (9)
Ana Konjuh (27) def. Dominika Cibulkova (8)
DAY 6- 8/7/2017
It was, again, business as usual at Wimbledon. For the first time all week, none of the women’s seeds went the way of the upset, although Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils weren’t so lucky. Monfils went out in a five-set thriller against his countryman Adrian Mannarino and Tsonga went out in five sets against 28th seed Sam Querrey in a match that was held over from yesterday due to darkness. He only played one game once on court. Sound like a familiar scenario? It is: you may recall that this happened to him several weeks ago at Roland Garros where he was upset by Renzo Olivo. Let’s just hope that history doesn’t repeat itself at the US Open. Because we all like Tsonga.
Today was Olympic and Paralympic Champions Day in the Royal Box. Spectators included: Jason & Laura Kenney, Nicola Adams, Adam Peaty, Helen Glover and some guy named Andy Murray on his day off. Must be nice when you’re invited into the Royal Box whilst also a competitor at the tournament and they make an exception and relax the dress code for you. But I suppose that’s what happens when you’re the defending Wimbledon champ and the two-time defending Olympic gold medallist.
Alexander Zverev (10) def. Sebastian Ofner
Roger Federer (3) def. Mischa Zverev (30)
Dominic Thiem (8) def. Jared Donaldson
Novak Djokovic (2) def. Ernests Gulbis
Tomas Berdych (11) def. David Ferrer
Milos Raonic (6) def. Albert Ramos Vinolas (25)
Grigor Dimitrov (13) def. Dudi Sela
Angelique Kerber (1) def. Shelby Rogers
Agnieszka Radwanska (9) def. Timea Bacsinszky (19)
Coco Vandeweghe (24) def. Alison Riske
Garbiñe Muguruza (14) def. Sorana Cirstea
Svetlana Kuznetsova (7) def. Polona Hercog
Caroline Wozniacki (5) def. Anett Kontaveit
Sam Querrey (28) def. Jo_Wilfried Tsonga (12)
Adrian Mannarino def. Gael Monfils (15)
Another upset worth mentioning was the Bryan brothers being eliminated from the men’s doubles tournament.
As Wimbledon enjoys its traditional Sunday off before the second week kicks off in earnest, here’s a look ahead at what lies ahead in week 2.
Milos Raonic (6) vs. Alexander Zverev (10)
Grigor Dimitrov (13) vs. Roger Federer (3)
Novak Djokovic (2) vs. Adrian Mannarino
Dominic Thiem (8) vs. Tomas Berdych (11)
Roberto Bautista-Agut (18) vs. Marin Cilic (7)
Rafael Nadal (4) vs. Gilles Müller (16)
Sam Querrey (24) vs. Kevin Anderson
Andy Murray (1) vs. Benoit Paire
Now, that is what I call a good day of tennis. The Big Four in action, plus Raonic, Thiem, Berdych, Zverev and Dimitrov. There’s also 3 unseeded players- Paire, Anderson and Mannarino- still in the draw. As I’ve said before, I don’t make predictions, but if I was going to I wouldn’t bet against those 4 at the top.
Venus Williams (10) vs. Ana Konjuh (27)
Victoria Azarenka vs. Simona Halep (2)
Magdalena Rybarikova vs. Petra Martic
Coco Vandeweghe (24) vs. Caroline Wozniacki (5)
Jelena Ostapenko (13) vs. Elina Svitolina (4)
Johanna Konta (6) vs. Caroline Garcia (21)
Angelique Kerber (1) vs. Garbiñe Muguruza (14)
Agnieszka Radwanska (9) vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova (7)
The women’s side is stacked full of fun as well. Kerber and Kuznetsova will have tough matches as will Svitolina against Ostapenko, but will her rawness get the better of her is the question. Azarenka shouldn’t be counted out either; she could easily make Halep’s day very difficult if she’s on form; she is so far this tournament. Despite all the upsets this week, there’s only three unseeded players left in the draw: Azarenka, Rybarikova and Martic- those two are playing each other, which should be interesting.
Just another Manic Monday at Wimbledon, then!
But if, like me, you’re desperate for some sport on Sunday and because we’re all deprived of tennis, here’s some things you could watch instead:
Tour de France (Nantua-Chambery)
London Grand Prix Athletics
Austrian Grand Prix
Major League Baseball- last games before the All-Star Break.
Stay tuned for my Week 2 Round-up and Finals Weekend write-up! As always please like and follow SplitFocus Sports for all your sport blog needs.