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Posts Tagged ‘Wimbledon’

Scotland’s Andy Murray has won his 2nd Wimbledon title, three years after winning it for the first time. He has now won 3 Major titles, having also won the US Open in 2012. Remarkably, it was his 11th Major final. Murray beat Canadian Milos Raonic, who was playing in his first Major final. 

Andy Murray won his 2nd Wimbledon title yesterday (Sunday10 July)


As anyone who reads my blog will know, I’m a huge Federer fan, so I was disappointed to see him go out in a thrilling 5-set defeat to Raonic in the semi-finals. I’m still hopeful that Federer can win a few more majors before he finally retires, but clearly his chances of doing so are getting slimmer and slimmer. 

Murray is a very popular champion. He is widely respected and admired for his level of commitment and dedication to being one of the world’s best tennis players. Will he be able to start beating Djokovic in future Majors? Only time will tell, but he will give it everything that he’s got. 

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Serena Williams has finally done it, she has equalled Steffi Graf’s record of 22 Major titles. It has taken her longer than most people expected, given that she had 21 after last year’s Wimbledon, but after three successive defeats in the intervening majors (one at the semi-final stage and two in the final), she is now equal to the great Steffi Graf.

Surely she will go on and win more; although she is now 34 she shows little sign of losing her appetite for tennis and for winning. Also, she is yet to win a Grand Slam, and I am under little doubt that she will try in 2017 (and 2018?) to do this, before retiring. Even if she goes on to win 24 or 25 or 26 Major titles, I think she would not feel satisfied of her legacy unless she can also hold all four titles in the same year.


There has been mention of Margaret Court’s haul of 24 Major titles. But, to my mind, this record does not count. Margaret Court did not turn professional until tennis had become ‘open’, and so from 1963 to 1968 she was not competing against some of the best players of her day, who had decided to turn professional. If Graf or Williams had many of the best players removed from the Majors in which they were playing, who knows how many titles they could have won. So yes, technically, Court won 24 Majors, but many of them were hollow ones, as she surely would now admit.

Serena Williams is a truly remarkable athlete. I love her passion, her energy, her commitment and her drive. I really do hope that in 2017 (or 2018) she can get her Grand Slam, which would not only cap a remarkable career, but ensure her at least 26 Major titles and seal her place as the greatest female tennis player in history.

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Yesterday (Saturday 2 July) saw reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic crash out of Wimbledon in the third round to American Sam Querrey. Not only was Djokovic defending his title,  but he is currently the holder of all four Major titles, a feat not done since Rod Laver in 1969, as I mentioned in this blog here.

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Novak Djokovic suffered a shock defeat in the 3rd round of Wimbledon, brining to a halt his dream of doing the Grand Slam (holding all four Major titles in the same calendar year).

Djokovic’s defeat of course opens up the draw to other contenders. As Djokovic was seeded number 1, and Andy Murray number 2, it will make no difference to Andy Murray unless he reaches the final as they are in opposite parts of the draw. However, it may make a difference to my own favourite, Roger Federer, as he is seeded number 3. Federer would have met Djokovic in the semi-finals if they had both progressed.

I will keep my fingers crossed that this time next week I will be looking forward to a men’s singles final featuring Federer. I so want to see him surpass the record he currently jointly holds with Pete Sampras and win his 8th Wimbledon title. We shall see.

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As anyone who follows my blog postings on tennis knows, I am a huge Federer fan. Yesterday (Friday the 10th), he dispatched Andy Murray with apparent ease to make his way to his tenth Wimbledon final. He has not dropped a set during his passage through the tournament, and has only dropped his service once. Tomorrow he will try to win Wimbledon for the 8th time, and if he succeeds he will make history. The final is a repeat of last year’s final against Djokovic, a final that Federer could have won, and looking back probably feels that he should have won. Federer currently shares the record of the most number of Wimbledon titles with Pete Sampras (see my blog here), with both on 7; but tomorrow he could own this record all to himself. And, he will extend his record of the most Major titles from 17 to 18. If he wins.



As anyone who follows my blogs on tennis knows, I am a huge Federer fan.

Federer looked imperious against Murray, beating him comfortably in three straight sets.



Later today, at 2pm British Summer Time, Serena Williams will also be trying to make some history. If she wins in today’s final she will have won 21 Major titles, and be only one away from equalling Steffi Graf’s record of 22. In addition, she will hold all four Majors at the same time, having won last year’s US Open in September and this year’s Australian and French in January and June respectively. She will also be on course to do the Grand Slam, win all four Majors in the same year, something which has not been done since Steffi Graf did it in 1988, nearly 30 years ago. I would not put it past her, the determination she has shown in this Wimbledon has been a lesson to anyone who wants to see how hard you have to apply yourself to succeed. When she was nearly dead and buried against Heather Watson (see my blog here) she dug deep and found a way to win.

I need to update my July 2013 blog on tennis statistics (Tennis Roll of Honours” see here), as Serena has moved on from the 17 Major titles she had then to 20. Unfortunately Roger’s 17 has not changed, but hopefully by Monday morning they will be on 21 and 18 respectively!

By the way, in this blog I posted a video of the greatest display of tennis I have ever seen, John McEnroe’s demolition of Jimmy Connors in the 1984 Wimbledon final. However, the video no longer works. McEnroe won 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 in the most one-sided thrashing of another high-ranked player that I have ever seen, and some of the tennis McEnroe played on that day surpasses anything I have witnessed, even from Federer. I have found a new link to the video of that match, so if you fancy seeing it you can watch it below. The quality is very poor in places, which is a pity.





So, I’m hoping for a Serena Roger double this weekend! Who are you rooting for?

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Yesterday (Friday the 3rd of July) nearly saw the early exit from Wimbledon of Serena Williams, the overwhelming favourite to win this year’s Wimbledon women’s title. Serena is trying to win her fourth major in a row, having won the US Open in 2014, and the Australian Open and French Open already this year. Since I drew up my table of Tennis Roll of Honours back in July 2013, Serena has added four more Grand Slam titles. In September 2013 she won the US Open, and in 2014 she again won the US Open after a “dry spell” (for her). She now stands at twenty Major titles, just two behind Steffi Graf’s record (in the Open era) of 22.

Serena nearly lost yesterday to an inspired Heather Watson, who is currently the British number 1 (and, on this display, is likely to stay there, despite previous number 1 Laura Robson coming back from an 18-month injury lay-off). Most people assumed Serena would blow Watson off the court, and the first set went pretty much as expected with Serena winning it 6-2.

However, in the 2nd set, Serena started making a series of errors. Some were unforced, but many were due to Watson upping her standard of play and out-rallying Serena with powerful ground strokes which kept Serena pinned back and running around all over the court. Watson won the 2nd set 6-4, but I assumed she would be overpowered by Serena in the 3rd set.

Nothing could have been further from the truth. Watson went into a 3-0 lead, breaking Serena’s serve twice. She was serving to go up 4-0, and had she done so I think Serena would not have been able to come back. In a very long game which went to several deuces, Serena finally managed to break back to make it 3-1. She then brought in back to 3-3, and again I thought Watson would now crumble under Serena’s pressure.

Nothing of the kind. After losing three games in a row, Watson got back to playing the tennis that had troubled Serena so much and broke Serena’s serve again. At 5-4, she found herself serving for the match. Serena managed to up her game again, and broke back to make it 5-5. She then held her own serve, and broke Watson again, to finally win the match 7-5 in the last set.



At 5-4 in the 3rd set, Heather Watson served for the match, but Serena held on to win 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

At 5-4 in the 3rd set, Heather Watson served for the match, but Serena held on to win 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.



I have rarely seen Serena look so worried and relieved to win a match as she did in this one. It is not so much that Watson lost her nerve, she lost because Serena has an inner belief and fight that marks a true champion apart from the also-rans. You don’t win 20 Major titles without having to dig yourself out of holes and win the important points, and Serena did this yesterday to pull off a remarkable victory after staring down the barrel of defeat.

So, Serena is still on course to win her fourth Major in a row, and if she does she will hold all four Majors at the same time. She would also, of course, still be on course to win all four Majors in the same year (with the US Open in September), and if she does this she will finally achieve a Grand Slam, one of the few accolades she has so far not achieved in her illustrious career. After fighting back from imminent defeat, I wouldn’t now put it past her.

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Nova Djokovic denied Roger Federer his 8th Wimbledon title in a 5-set match which will go down as a classic. Both players sustained tennis of the highest level to thrill the crowd for over three and a half hours. At 2-5 down in the 4th set, and facing match point, it looked like it was all over for Federer, but remarkably he won 5 games in a row to take the 4th set 7-5 and take it into a 5th and deciding set.



Djokovic has described his victory in yesterday's Wimbledon final as the most special of his career.

Djokovic has described his victory in yesterday’s Wimbledon final as the most special of his career.



Federer won the first set in a tie-break, but then was broken early in the 2nd set, which Djokovic went on to take 6-4. Djokovic also took the 3rd set, this time in a tie-breaker, and when he stood at 5-2 up in the 4th set it looked like it was all over for Federer. But, digging deep and coming up with some amazing shots, Federer levelled the match at two sets all, and it looked like the dream of his winning his 8th Wimbledon was back on.

Importantly, after losing 5 games in a row, Djokovic won the opening game of the final set, which eventually went to 4-4 before Djokovic broke Federer’s serve for the 2nd time in the set, and then served out the match to take the final set 6-4. For a match which lasted for over three and a half hours, it was remarkable how high the level of tennis was for nearly the entire match. Although I was hoping Federer would win, no-one can deny that Djokovic played superbly well and it was a match he won rather than Federer losing it.

A number of commentators have said that, at soon to be 33, there is no reason that Federer cannot carry on for several more years. He has stayed remarkably injury-free for nearly his entire career, testimony to how balanced a player he is. For a player who has achieved everything in tennis very few things can still motivate him, but it is no secret that winning 8 Wimbledons is one thing he still wishes to achieve, so I fully expect Federer to be back in 2015 trying to win that elusive 8th title.

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Not for the first time, today Roger Federer stands on the verge of creating tennis history. This afternoon he will take on Novak Djokovic in the men’s final at Wimbledon, and should he win he will have won “The Championships” (as Wimbledon calls itself) more times than any other man in history. Currently, he holds 7 Wimbledon titles, and so jointly holds the record with Pete Sampras. And, in some ways, with William Renshaw from the 1800s, although I am not sure Renshaw can really be counted for reasons I will now explain.

Until 1922, the defending Wimbledon champion did not have to go through any qualifying rounds, he (or she) would merely play in the final against whoever had gone through a knockout competition to challenge him (or her). So, of Renshaw’s 7 titles, which he won in 1881-1886 and 1889, he only had to go through the “challenge rounds” in 1881 and 1889, his other 5 titles involved winning merely one match, the final. So, with all respect to Renshaw, I don’t think it is fair to compare his 7 titles to the 7 won by Sampras and Federer.

Sampras won his 7 Wimbledon titles from 1993-1995 and 1997-2000. For the best part of a decade, Sampras dominated Wimbledon. The only Wimbledon he failed to win between 1993 and 2000 was in 1996, when Dutchman Richard Krajicek won, beating Sampras in the Quarter Finals on his way to the title. Sampras also broke the record for the most number of major titles won (all four majors), eventually winning 14 before he retired.



Pete Sampras winning his first of 7 Wimbledon titles in 1993

Pete Sampras winning his first of 7 Wimbledon titles in 1993





Pete Sampras winning the last of his 7 Wimbledon titles in 2000

Pete Sampras winning the last of his 7 Wimbledon titles in 2000



Federer won the first of his 7 Wimbledon titles in 2003, by which time the era of “serve-volleyers” had come to and end. The 2001 title was won by Croatian Goran Ivanišvić who was a serve volleyer, but the 2002 title was won by Australian Leyton Hewitt, who rallied from the baseline. Federer won Wimbledon in 2003-2007, 2009 and 2012. He was also runner-up in 2008, when he lost to Spaniard Rafael Nadal.



Roger Federer winning the first of his 7 Wimbledon titles in 2003

Roger Federer winning the first of his 7 Wimbledon titles in 2003





Roger Federer winning his 7th Wimbledon title in 2012

Roger Federer winning his 7th Wimbledon title in 2012



Federer has won a total of 17 major titles, so currently holds that record, but Nadal has now equalled Sampras’ total of 14 titles. And, should be win today, Federer will also become the oldest Wimbledon men’s champion in the open era, as he will soon turn 33.

There is also an interesting auxiliary rivalry to today’s match, as Djokovic now has Boris Becker helping him, and Federer has recently started employing Stefan Edberg to help him. As Becker and Edberg met each other in 3 successive Wimbledon finals (1988-1990), I am sure there is still a healthy rivalry between them, even though they are also good friends.

I for one will be shouting for Federer. I have said this before in previous tennis blogs, but for me Federer is the most skilful player since John McEnroe in the 1980s. His range of shots is, I believe, greater than anyone since McEnroe, and I also feel that Edberg has brought a new confidence to Federer coming to the net, which has never been a natural part of his game but could give him that extra element to win his 8th Wimbledon title in the twilight of his career.

My main fear for Federer is that his progress through Wimbledon this year has just been too easy. He’s only dropped one service game so far in the tournament, and hasn’t yet been challenged in the way that Djokovic will surely challenge him. But, he also knows what winning Wimbledon is all about, and must realise that his chances of winning that elusive 8th Wimbledon title are getting slimmer and slimmer with each passing year.

Fingers crossed that he manages to do it today!

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History was made at Wimbledon yesterday. On a day which saw court-side temperatures reach nearly 50C, Andy Murray from Scotland became the first British Men’s singles champion at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.


Andy Murray holding the Wimbledon Men's trophy, ending the 77-year wait since Fred Perry in 1936.

Andy Murray holding the Wimbledon Men’s trophy, ending the 77-year wait since Fred Perry in 1936.


It was a captivating match. The first game lasted over 10 minutes, with Murray having 3 break points. It was a portend for how closely fought the match would be. Although Murray won in 3 sets (6-4, 7-5, 6-4), nearly every point was keenly contested, and very few games were won easily by either player.

Murray needed every ounce of his strength and fitness to overcome his Serbian opponent. During each change of ends both players sat under parasols held by ball boys with ice cubes wrapped in towels around their necks to counter the heat. Long before the end of the first set, Murray’s shirt was drenched in sweat, but his years of dedicated conditioning had prepared him well for such energy-sapping conditions.

Not surprisingly, even after losing the first set 6-4, Djokovic was far from out of the match. The Serb went into a 4-1 lead in the 2nd set, but Murray fought his way back to take it 7-5. But still the World number 1 was not beaten. He went into a 4-2 lead in the 3rd set, but again Murray was able to haul him back. Murray broke Djokovic to serve for the match at 5-4, and after failing to convert 3 Championship points Murray finally sealed the historic victory when Djokovic’s shot went into the net.

My parents, 79 and 78 years old, do not even remember the last time a man from Britain won Wimbledon. That is now long ago it was that Fred Perry won! One of the most tantalising questions now is how many Major titles can Murray go on to win? How many times can he win Wimbledon? Many tennis greats believe he could win half a dozen or more. We shall have to wait and see.


All the newspapers in the DUK have Andy Murray on the cover.

All the newspapers in the DUK have Andy Murray on the cover.


The cover of the Daily Mirror.

The cover of the Daily Mirror.


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Rafael Nadal made history in winning the French Open yesterday in Paris. In doing so he became the first man in history to win the same Tennis Major 8 times, as he won his 8th French Open title.


Nadal created history in Paris yesterday, by becoming the first male tennis player to win 8 titles of any particular Tennis Major.

Nadal created history in Paris yesterday, by becoming the first male tennis player to win 8 titles of any particular Tennis Major.


Prior to winning his 8th French Open title, Nadal, Roger Federer and Pete Sampras jointly held the record of 7 titles of a particular Tennis Major, with Sampras and Federer each having won Wimbledon 7 times. Other tennis players have won the same Major 7 times before tennis became open in the late 1960s (I’m not including them as they were sometimes not competing against the best players who were barred by having turned professional).

I have to admit, because I am such a big fan of Roger Federer, I probably haven’t given due credit to how good a tennis player Nadal is. When he is playing against Federer, I always want Federer to win. But, just as Federer has made history in winning more Majors than any man in history, I wouldn’t be surprised if Nadal carries on setting records. Maybe one day he will surpass Federer’s record for the most major titles won, which currently stands at 17. Whether Federer will be able to add to this total before he retires we shall have to wait and see. I for one will be rooting for him at Wimbledon in two weeks’ time.

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After yesterday’s semi-finals, we now know the line-up for the 2012 Wimbledon Men’s final. 6-times champion Roger Federer against the Scot Andy Murray. It will be Murray’s 1st Wimbledon final, although he has made it to the final of a Major three times before (twice in the Australian Open and once in the US Open). Although Murray is a fellow Celt, I will be shouting for Roger Federer, my favourite player of the last decade.

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Roger Federer in his jacket celebrating 15 Major titles.

This will be Andy Murray’s 1st Wimbledon final and his 4th Major final. He is yet to win a Major.

Federer has the chance to set a number of records on Sunday. Should be win, he will increase his record of Major titles to 17, widening the gap between him and the previous holder Pete Sampras, who won 14 in his career. He will also equal Pete Sampras’ record of 7 Wimbledon titles. Thirdly, he will become only the 3rd man behind Sampras and Rafa Nadal to have won a particular Major 7 times (Nadal achieved this by winning the French Open for a record 7th time this June). And lastly, should he win on Sunday, he will go back to being Number 1 in the World rankings, which will mean he will beat Pete Sampras’ record of the most weeks ranked as World number 1.

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Pete Sampras shaking hands with the man who would eclipse his Majors record, Roger Federer.

Why am I such a big fan of Federer? For me, he is the most complete tennis player I have seen since John McEnroe. I know that is a pretty big statement to make, but it is my opinion! His range of shots, his ability to either play at the baseline or come to the net, is something I don’t feel I’ve seen since John McEnroe. Also, his touch. He has a level of skill and touch with the ball which again, I have not seen since John McEnroe. Sure, in the last 2-3 years Federer has increasingly lost to Nadal and, this last 12 months, to Djokovic. But, without taking anything away from these players, I find they rely more on power, speed and strength rather than the range of shots Federer has. Also, just for Federer’s backhand, he deserves a place in the list of the very best tennis players. As someone who never managed to master a decent backhand, I am in awe of the power and precision he is able to get on his backhand. It is the finest men’s backhand I have ever seen, with Justin Henin having the best women’s backhand I can remember ever seeing.

Should Federer win on Sunday, and thus achieve the list I made above of accomplishments and records, where does it place him in the list of all time tennis greats? It is so difficult (impossible) to compare players from different eras. Not only has the game changed, with the development of modern, more powerful rackets, but also the tournaments have changed. If Djokovic had won the French Open in June he would have become the 1st player since Rod Laver in 1969 to have held all 4 Majors at the same time. Although Federer and Nadal have won all 4 Majors, they have not held them at the same time. And, even if Djokovic had won the French Open, he would not have won all 4 Majors in the same calendar year. Again, Rod Laver is the last person to have done this, in 1969.

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Rod Laver, the only man in the Open era to have done the Grand Slam (winning all 4 Majors in the same calendar year).

What is remarkable about Rod Laver’s achievements is that he did the calendar Grand Slam twice, in 1962 and 1969. And, he didn’t play any of the Majors in the period 1963-1967 as he was banned from playing them, as he turned professional after his 1962 Grand Slam. In 1968 tennis went “open” (allowing professionals to play) and Laver won Wimbledon in that year (note: the Australian Open in 1968 did not allow professionals, the first Major to be open to professionals was the French Open of 1968). The following year, he won the Grand Slam, the first player (male or female) to win it in the Open era, and the only male player to have done so. One can only speculate how many Laver could have won, if he’d been allowed to compete during those years from 1963 to 1967.

However, one has to also remember, and this is not to take anything away from Laver’s remarkable achievements, that in his day 3 of the Majors were held on grass, the only one which wasn’t was the French Open. Additinoally, the Australian Open was held in December at the end of the year, and very few Northern Hemisphere players used to bother going to Australia for it, making it a much easier tournament to win than it is today.

Ultimately I think trying to compare players from different eras is impossible. One can talk about records, number of titles won etc. But even that depends on who is around at the same time. Federer finds himself playing at a time when the level of competition from Nadal and Djokovic is very high, it may be that in Laver’s day he did not have such fierce competition.

I am too young to remember Rod Laver, but I grew up admiring the skill and touch of John McEnroe. He wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, due to his frequent outbursts at officials. But, I always saw this as his perfectionism, and also the fact that most of the time he probably did see the ball better than the line judges.

For me, the greatest display of tennis I have ever seen is his victory over Jimmy Connors in the 1984 Wimbledon Men’s final. He completely destroyed Connors, playing as if possessed. He won 6-1, 6-1, 6-2. He himself says it is the best match of tennis he has ever played, every shot he tried came off, and some of the shots he tried were unbelievable. Bearing in mind that Connors was the no. 2 in the World at the time, the gulf between the standard of tennis of the two in that match is truly remarkable.

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John McEnroe, holding the Wimbledon Men’s title cup, which he won in 1981, 1982 and 1984.

The entire 1984 final between McEnroe and Connors seems to be available on YouTube, split into multiple parts. Here is the 1st part:

But, although I would dearly like Federer to win on Sunday, I am in a bit of a win-win situation, because if Andy Murray wins he will become the first Celt to win Wimbledon ever, and we Celts have to stick together. 🙂

UPDATE

Federer wins 3-1. Well done Federer!

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From today’s (Monday the 9th of July 2012) Daily Telegraph newspaper.


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