Wimbledon is the only one of the four grand slam tennis tournaments that is played on grass courts, that has a dress code requiring players to dress in white, and that is played at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. It is the most prestigious and elegant stop on the pro tour. So far this year it has been action-packed.
Here is a rundown of the major happenings at the Championships Wimbledon 2010 in the first week. Be sure to tune in during the second week as the top seeds finally meet and the level of play hits the stratosphere.
Likely Men’s Final
Still the most likely matchup in the men’s final: Roger Federer, defending champion, vs. Rafa Nadal, 2008 champion. To make the finals, Andy Roddick may have to beat Federer in the semifinals.
Likely Women’s Final
On the women’s side, it may be Serena versus Venus Williams in the finals, but the Belgian comeback kids-Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin–are also playing well. Venus may encounter one of the Belgians in the semifinals. Maria Sharapova remains in the mix, if she can survive her Round of 16 match against Serena Williams.
Murray Played for the Queen
Andy Murray of Scotland won his second round match in fine style with Queen Elizabeth II looking on from the Royal Box. This was a tremendous relief for his fans, since he has been playing poorly for months. Andy and his opponent, Jarko Nieminen of Finland, had three opportunities to bow self-consciously to the Queen, who had not visited the Championships since Virginia Wade of England won the women’s singles in 1977. In his post-match chat with the Queen, Her Majesty commented on how the players slide on the grass these days-not so common in the past. You can read more of Murray’s thoughts about the day here in his column on BBC Sport.
Isner-Mahut Match Lasts 11 Hours
Strong servers John Isner of the U.S. and Nicolas Mahut of France had already played a long five-setter across two days when they found themselves locked in a serving standoff. They played for eight straight hours until their first round match was suspended for darkness.
The next day, in about an hour, Isner finally broke through and took the fifth set by an astounding 70 games to 68 games! Later Isner said that he was pretty much “delirious” after the 25th game, serving on autopilot, not even aware of the score. This match was absolutely surreal and broke all records.
Although victorious, Isner was a physical wreck and unable to play at a competitive level in his second round match, which he lost by a mile. Nonetheless, he has become popular and well-known as the Marathon Man of Wimbledon.
Retractable Roof Wards off London Rain
The wildly expensive roof over centre court has been used only once so far this season-for darkness and not rain.
Angry Hanescu Spits on a Fan, Quits in Huff
Followup Statement from the Championships Referee:
“The player Victor Hanescu (ROU) has been fined US$7500 for Unsportsmanlike Conduct* and a further US$7500 for not using Best Efforts* at the conclusion of the match.”
The Romanian veteran player was being taunted by a portion of the crowd in a very un-Wimbledon-like manner. Amazingly, the umpire did not quiet the insults and Hanescu finally erupted, spitting on a fan who had been rude and profane. Ultimately, Hanescu retired from the match citing a leg injury, but he was generally believed to be more angry than injured. Hanescu does not have a reputation for this behavior; he seems to have been severely provoked by fans sitting very close to the players on one of the outer courts. More assertive intervention by the tournament officials could have prevented this disaster.
Next Up: The Round of Sixteen!
One hundred twenty-eight men and an equal number of women began the tournament in singles competition and the second week begins with sixteen men and sixteen women still standing.
Below are the men’s Round of 16 matchups scheduled for early next week. The numbers following the players’ names are their seeding ranks for the tournament. Note that the top six seeds (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Roddick, and Soderling) are all alive and well, and expected to play well next week.
Top half of draw
Roger Federer (Switzerland) #1 vs. Jurgen Melzer (Austria) #16
Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) #12 vs. Daniel Brands (Germany) unseeded
Novak Djokovic (Serbia) #3 vs. Leyton Hewitt (Australia) #15
Yen-Hsun Lu (Taipei) unseeded vs. Andy Roddick (U.S.) #5
Bottom half of draw
Julien Benneteau (France) #32 vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France) #10
Sam Querrey (U.S.) #18 vs. Andy Murray (Great Britain) #4
Robin Soderling (Sweden) #6 vs. David Ferrer (Spain) #9
Paul-Henri Mathieu (France) unseeded vs. Rafael Nadal #2
Potential quarterfinal, semifinal, and final matchups
Federer vs. Roddick in the semifinals seems likely; Federer vs. Djokivic could also happen. If it were Federer vs. Roddick it would be a replay of last year’s final.
A Soderling vs. Nadal meeting in the quarterfinals seems almost inevitable; Soderling stopped Nadal’s win streak on clay at the French Open last year. Can he do it again? Nadal has shown some vulnerability in the first week, dropping many sets and squeaking out a victory in the third round.
If Nadal succumbed to Soderling in the quarterfinals, the semifinals could feature Murray vs. Soderling and the finals Murray vs. Federer-a repeat of the momentous Austrialian Open final in January.
With so many men playing well this year at Wimbledon-including not just Federer and Nadal, but also Soderling, Murray, Djokovic, Hewitt, Roddick, and others, the closing rounds of this tournament are bound to be competitive and fascinating. It is not necessary to have Federer face off against Nadal again to have a high level of play and a riveting contest.
On the women’s side, let’s hope it is not another Williams vs. Williams final. When two close sisters play each other for a major title, it is weird. (Playing as sisters works a lot better when the two are on the same team in doubles.) Let’s hope one of the Belgians or Sharapova, Jankovic, or Wozniacki can survive to the final to make it a more interesting match. Chances are they will square off against a Williams.
ESPN, NBC, and Tennis Channel coverage of the Championships Wimbledon Monday, June 21 through Saturday, June 26, 2010.
Website of the Championships Wimbledon http://www.wimbledon.org