A few random thoughts and grades on Wimbledon.
Serena Williams is stealing the tournament. Her touching tears of joy after her first round followed by her complaints about being shoved to an outer court after her second round and then her complete domination in the third round, with this proclamation:
“Don’t bet against me.’’
The idea that this is an amazing comeback, after a year away with foot injury and then illness, is hard to argue with. But I always thought she was going to win the tournament anyway. She’s great. The rest of the tour is not. Two statements are being made here.
Clijsters retired for a while, then had a baby, then came back. After two warmup tournaments, she won the U.S. Open. Williams had two surgeries, she said, for cut ligaments in her foot. Then, forced to sit around while she healed, blood clots formed and worked their way up into her lungs. She played one warmup tournament.
To be totally honest, I don’t think I’m in the best position to be answering the question here. I think Clijsters’ comeback was a little tougher, but I’m also not overly well-versed in exactly what damage is done to the body by having a baby.
Any mothers out there would know better. So I ask you.
I asked my own mother, and also my wife. Both said Serena’s comeback, if she wins Wimbledon, is tougher. Both felt for someone in fantastic shape, as Clijsters was in, recovering from having a baby isn’t that rough. I also asked Chris Evert, who thought Serena’s comeback would be more impressive than Clijsters’.
It’s true, too, that Clijsters left by her choice. She refreshed her mind, recharged her batteries and came back when she felt like it. Williams was forced to take time way, and had the stress of not knowing when, or if, she’d come back.
But Clijsters beat Venus, Serena and current No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in her comeback. Now, with Clijsters out hurt, and Venus nearly two years older, Serena’s path isn’t quite as hard.
- Also, Clijsters’ comeback was more shocking, as she wasn’t nearly as great a player when she left as Serena was. Clijsters dominated tennis in a way she had never done before. Williams, if she wins, is simply back to where she was before. I guess I’m asking this: A baby or a blood clot. Which is more painful?
What do you think?
YOUNG GUNS: Impressive play by Bernard Tomic, beating Robin Soderling and reaching the fourth round. At just 18, he should be able to beat Xavier Malisse to reach the quarters. He keeps fooling me. I watched him play a thrilling match at the 2009 Australian Open, and figured he was a surefire star. By the 2010 Aussie Open, he seemed to have lost his work ethic, so I figured he wasn’t that great afterall.
Now, one step ahead of me again, he is emerging right here, right now.
I guess I’ll jinx him here: He’s going to be great.
With Milos Raonic and Alexandr Dolgoplov, the next generation is lined up perfectly. And that’s not even counting Juan Martin del Potro, who’s only 22, but already a U.S. Open champ. The question is whether Ryan Harrison is going to be in that group. He jumped several levels by going five sets with David Ferrer in the second round before losing. But there are several more levels to go.
COURT 2: After Serena griped about being put on Court 2 – and she was right — Wozniacki also said she would like to be on a main court. Well, Wozniacki is ranked No. 1, but she got Centre Court last year over Serena on the day the Queen came to visit Wimbledon for the first time in decades. Not sure Wozniacki has a legitimate beef.
Some writers have credited Venus Williams for saying that Court 2 is a fine court. Yes, but she also said she just doesn’t like to make her arguments through the press. I still think a snooty white club trying to live in the past cannot just throw two legendary black players onto an outer court. No way.
Wozniacki: Has anyone mentioned the No. 1 player’s name during the tournament? Serena has completely overshadowed her, which is good for Wozniacki. No one is even mentioning that she doesn’t deserve to be No. 1 because she hasn’t won a major. But Wozniacki is playing great. Always looking to prove she’s a real champ, she could do that in the next few days. Imagine her beating Maria Sharapova, then Serena, then Venus to win Wimbledon. Doubts. Gone.
Serena Williams: Playing great. Ready to win. Look for her to play next on the plastic grass courts at the public park across the street from the club.
Rafael Nadal: Same as Serena, only on Centre Court.
Venus Williams: In some ways, her comeback is even better than Serena’s. Age was becoming a factor before her injuries.
Roger Federer: Looking a lot like his old self, moving well. The deep feeling that he can’t beat Nadal, though, must still be there.
Ryan Harrison: Five sets before losing to David Ferrer. That was impressive for a 19-year old. Not impressive was that in the qualifying tournament, which he lost, he broke racquets and took divots out of the court. He was fined, but got a lucky-loser entry into his second straight major.
Andy Roddick: With everything lined up perfectly for one of those late-career miracle runs, he lost to career-choker Feliciano Lopez. Roddick had beaten Lopez every time they played. Had he won that match, he would have played a qualifier to get into the quarters. Roddick is done winning majors. The only reason his grade isn’t lower is that Lopez does have a lot of talent and played one of the best matches of his life.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands: The wild outfits and appearance are fun. But when you lose to some qualifier, it looks clown-like.
Li Na: French Open champ lost early, took half of Wimbledon’s potential world audience with her
Sam Stosur: I thought she would be great someday. Now she’s too scared to hit a backhand and won’t bother coming to the net despite being a strong volleyer.
My predictions: OK, I wasn’t duped by the idea that Serena would be rusty. She and Nadal are on track for winning, as I predicted. But I also picked Melanie Oudin to beat Ana Ivanovic. Instead, she won 1 game.
Oudin: Thanks a lot, Melanie.
Wimbledon scheduling people. Venus and Serena are Wimbledon legends. They should build statues to them, not put them on outer courts. As Venus put it, Court 2 is fine, as long as everyone has to go out there sometimes.
Tennis computers: Gearing up for the ultimate embarrassment: If Nadal beats Novak Djokovic in the final, then Nadal will have won five of the past six majors. He will have beaten Djokovic in two finals. Djoker will never have beaten Nadal in a major. And the next day, No. 2 Djokovic will jump No. 1 Nadal in the rankings.