If Nadal is the king of clay, then Federer is certainly the king of the grass courts
Federer’s swift progress through the draw may not have been the best for entertainment value, but it was unquestionably a stunning display of tennis. He progressed through the entire draw without dropping a set, and despite not facing a top 5 player, he was up against some serious quality. His opponents included two former finalists in the shape of Tomas Berdych (2010) and Milos Raonic (2016). Mischa Zverev, the 27th seed, has a serve and volley game that makes him a dangerous opponent for anyone on quick surfaces. Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov, who Federer dismissed in the fourth round for the loss of just ten games, is a former Wimbledon semi-finalist and Queen’s Club champion. If there was one match that proved to be a real disappointment, it was the final, where an injury hit Marin Cilic was unable to truly compete. Still a Wimbledon title at 35 without dropping a set. That’s some achievement.
It is also an achievement that takes Federer to nineteen Grand Slams, and a record breaking eight Wimbledons. He may not be the ‘Greatest of All Time’, but he’s without an equal on grass courts. Particularly because he has had success on them when they were still dominated by serve-and-volleyers back in 2003 and in the modern era of baseliners where the courts are considered slower than many hard courts. Federer continues to defy age and records, and who knows what he may have achieved when he finally hangs up his racket, a day dreaded across the tennis world. No one player is bigger than the game, and the elegant Swiss has never had any such pretensions, but he’s unquestionably been one of tennis’ finest servants, and long may that service continue.
All these injuries may be showing the downsides of an ageing tour
The longevity of the Big Four is oft-discussed, with them once again occupying the top four spots on the tour despite all being in their thirties. But they aren’t alone in finding success in what was once the twilight of a players career, or in Federer’s case midnight. But this year the men’s draw at Wimbledon was plagued with injuries. From the first round in which back-to-back Centre Court matches end in retirements to the quarterfinals when both Djokovic and Murray were cut down by an elbow and hip injury respectively, injuries have dominated the narrative.
Arguably even greater disappointment was still to come when Cilic was clearly unable to compete at the level he expects from himself. A blister which severely hampered his movement and his ability to push off reduced the big Croatian to tears in the second set and one can hardly blame him. His dream of lifting the Wimbledon title was stripped away more by the frailties of his body than the racquet of his opponent, no disrespect to Federer. Of course, it is possible that this was simply an unlucky year for Wimbledon, but after touring for over a decade, player’s bodies recover less swiftly from niggling injuries. Djokovic’s talk of ending his season now, a move taken by Federer, and more or less Nadal, last year could become a growing trend. Whilst having such great champions still around and competing is great for the sport, periodically losing some of them for such extended times is certainly not.
Mixed doubles should remain a treasured feature of the Grand Slams
The mixed doubles may have more in common with exhibition matches than the tour with no points and minimal prize money. But it remains one of the unique delights of the Grand Slams. Nowhere else can you see top quality players from both tours competing with one another. Moreover, the disparity in power between male and female players, far from being a disadvantage for the discipline, increases the level of tactics required. It also continues to attract some great players. The winning team of Hingis and Murray was composed of half of the third seeded pairs from both men’s and women’s draw. The opposing pair featured outgoing men’s doubles world number one Henri Kontinen. Mixed doubles is understandably not the showpiece event of a Grand Slam, but it is one of the best.
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