Racquet and Ball

Racquet and ball is probably an appropriate tennis spin of the phrase ‘rock and roll’ as far as this year’s Wimbledon championship goes.

Garbine Muguruza and Roger Federer were the two players, who overcame the mayhem of past fortnight to emerge as 2017 King and Queen of Wimbledon.


Men Singles

The Men Singles draw was quite dull throughout the opening week. If looking for shocks, the two main shocks from early rounds saw Stan Wawrinka and Ivo Karlovic crash out on the opening day.

Fast forward to ‘Maniac Monday’ when the men’s draw blasted into life with three five set thrillers.

Sam Querrey and Milos Raonic safely overcame their thrillers but Court One saw possibly the greatest match of all time.

Rafael Nadal was aiming to reach the last eight for the first time in six years but things didn’t go according to plan from the off against Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller.

Doing his usual pre court entry routine, the reigning French Open champion whacked his head against the doorframe.

Once on court, Nadal found himself two sets down before coming back to level things up for a final set shootout.

At that point, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Spaniard was going to continue his momentum and win.

Instead we saw unbelievable tennis as both players refused to budge on their serve till 13-14 when Muller brought up two match points on Nadal’s serve.

Boy did he convert them at the first attempt to win the match 15-13 in 4hrs 47 minutes to reach the quarter finals for the first time in his career.

The quarter final stage saw Federer breeze through seeing off last year’s finalist, Milos Raonic.

The other quarter finals were much tougher with Sam Querrey stunning the defending champion, Andy Murray in five sets.

The American had already played two matches that had went the distance making this even more unbelievable.

Marin Cilic saw off Nadal’s conqueror, Muller in another five set epic whilst Tomas Berdych advanced due to Novak Djokovic’s shock retirement when 7-6 2-0 down with an elbow issue.

The semis saw tight battles but Cilic and Federer prevailed to set up a rematch of their last eight meeting from 2016.

The final sadly didn’t live up to its potential with the Swiss maestro waltzing to a record eighth Wimbledon crown without dropping a set all tournament.

The final result was 6-3 6-1 6-4 to Federer.


Women Singles

This year’s women singles produced plenty of surprises with the shocks starting in week one.

Several contenders including Petra Kvitova and Madison Keys got dumped out on day three to open up the draw.

Day four however saw the biggest surprise as title favourite, Karolina Pliskova got sent packing by unseeded Magdalena Rybarikova on Centre Court.

At that point, her dreams of becoming the world no.1 looked shattered with Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep also in contention.

After a relatively quiet third round, Kerber crashed out to eventual champion, Muguruza on ‘Maniac Monday’ in the fourth round.

She was also joined on the exit list by Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska, who were also strong contenders for the title.

This meant that Halep just had to reach the semis to become the world’s top female tennis player.

The final stages saw some strong line ups with Muguruza, Rybarikova and Venus safely hitting their way into the last four.

The biggest highlight of the quarter finals let alone the whole tournament saw Britain’s Johanna Konta face Romania’s Simona Halep.

Konta was the first British woman to reach this stage since Virginia Wade in 1983 but faced fellow big hitter in Halep.

With several breaks and two tense tie breaks to send it to a decider, this was a match that either player wanted to lose.

Alas, Halep was the first to crack and let Konta reach the semi final with a 6-4 final set victory.

With that defeat, Karolina Pliskova had somehow managed to claim the world no.1 ranking despite making a much earlier exit.

The semis were disappointingly one sided with Muguruza and Venus Williams breezing past their opponents.

For Konta and Rybarikova, they shouldn’t hang their heads in shame because they showed excellent progress and how far they have, come despite having poor records on the SW19 turf.

That certainly applies to Rybarikova who was ranked outside top 400 at end of March, due to injuries and needed to use her protected ranking to complete here.

If she can take this form into the US hard court season, expect her name to feature more in the deep end of coming tournaments.

Now the final was quite different because it was youth against experience here. Spain’s Muguruza had been here before against Venus’ sister, Serena in 2015 with no success.

This time around, she never gave up and dictated play before breaking Williams in the 11th game of first set. Sadly the second set saw a complete collapse with Muguruza handing out a swift bagel to Venus with a final score of 7-5 6-0.

In summary, the women’s singles was one hell of an unpredictable fortnight and far more exciting than most of the men’s draw.

Should Serena Williams decide not to return after maternity leave, this tournament leaves me in no doubt that women’s tennis is going to be ultra competitive going forwards.


Star of Wimbledon

There are several players who could easily be described as this year’s star of Wimbledon.

In the men’s game, you have Federer, Cilic, Muller and Querrey who have all had an amazing fortnight.

Federer is in his mid thirties but to be challenging for grand slam titles at this stage of his career is incredible.

Add in the fact that he hasn’t dropped a set all tournament and no wonder he is the GOAT (greatest of all time).

Muller and Querrey were surprise packages but the latter had to handle three consecutive five set thrillers to get to the last four.

That in itself is an amazing achievement given the amount of time he had spent on court.

Cilic has had his most strongest trip to Wimbledon yet so deserves credit for using his powerful serve to reach the final. Sadly a foot issue prevented him from being at his best when it mattered most.

For the women’s side, Konta, Muguruza, Rybarikova and Venus Williams are all worthy of being this year’s star of SW19.

If I had to choose one of those players as my star of the tournament, it would have to be Federer because at 35 years old, you would be forgiven for expecting him to be ranked much lower and dropping sets in most matches.

For him to surpass those expectations and reclaim third place in the world rankings at his age is no mean feat, having missed the second half of last year with a knee injury.

Konta and Rybarikova would be joint runner ups for me due to their achievements here but Federer has that bit extra about him.

Now will 2018 bring more of the same?




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