Yesterday was probably one of the most dramatic days at Wimbledon ever, with Federer losing to an 80-1 outsider, Sharapova ‘falling’ to a straight sets defeat to 131 ranked Michelle Larcher De Brito, and then Azarenka, Tsonga and Cilic all withdrawing because of injury.
The main topics of conversation now are Andy Murray and the expectation that he will breeze through to the final, together with the women’s competition, which sees the number 8 seed Petra Kvitova as the highest ranked player left in the bottom half of the women’s draw. Oh, and of course, the slippery courts! What are we going to see next?!
One thing we can definitely expect is any player who slips up on the court today to criticise the chairman of the AELTC, Richard Lewis, who put out this somewhat embarrassing statement yesterday:
“There has been a high number of withdrawals at The Championships today and we sympathise with all the players affected. The withdrawals have occurred for a variety of reasons, but there has been some suggestion that the court surface is to blame. We have no reason to think this is the case. Indeed, many players have complimented us on the very good condition of the courts”
Yes grass is always going to be a slippery surface compared to others but it seems unlikely that a simple coincidence can account for Victoria Azarenka slipping and injuring her knee, Sharapova falling three times and damaging her hip, Wozniacki falling and having to tape her ankle and Ferrer slipping in his first round and hurting his ankle too.
And was the slippery court perhaps a reason for Nadal not putting in a full effort because he was worried about what he could potentially do to this knee?? The only defence case that the officials of Wimbledon can put forward is that there has been a change in the way players move and the players are subconsciously thinking that they have the same foot support that they have on a clay or hard court. We all know that players can slide on clay courts but the development of the game has seen players being able to slide now on hard courts, which Novak Djokovic does on countless occasions and usually you hear a gasp from the crowd when he does.
But what do all these shock losses mean for the draws? I am afraid the women’s draw is looking like a complete walkover (Serena Williams could probably be restricted to just having a second serve for the rest of the tournament and she would still win!) But let’s hope that Brit Laura Robson can make an impact in her section of the draw too.
With the men’s tournament, the media appear to have already written their July 7th newspaper with a Djokovic and Murray preview but one should not be so sure. I would put half my monthly salary now on Murray reaching the final – (the highest ranked player he has left on his side of the draw is the 15th seed and clay court specialist Nicholas Almagro!)
But after being told by countless reporters at the beginning of the tournament that he had the easy draw, perhaps the pressure will get to Djokovic. I also think there could be a gatecrasher to the party in the name of former finalist Thomas Berdych. Thomas is set to play Djokovic in the quarterfinals and, on the ‘slippery grass,’ Thomas has the game to take out the Serb and then break his way into his second Wimbledon final. If that’s the case, Thomas would actually have a 5-4 head to head lead over Murray.
I predict we will see a Berdych and Murray final but, before you get your hopes up, I think the pressure of potentially being named the first British Wimbledon champion since Fred Perry might just be too much, and we’ll instead see a new Wimbledon champion in the name of Tomas Berdych.
Let’s see if I have to eat my words on Monday July 8th back in the office….