Tag Archives: Wimbledon

WIMBLEDON: Can a Djokovic-Murray Rivalry Without Friction or Contrast Carry Tennis?

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REPORTING FROM THE ALL ENGLAND CLUB IN WIMBLEDON

LONDON

So this is what tennis is turning it. its next generation. The straight man vs. the punchline.

Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic won their semifinal matches Friday to advance to the Wimbledon final. It’ll be the third final in the past four majors that they have played each other. In a crazy Wimbledon of upsets, it so happens that the No. 1 and the No. 2 seeds have reached the end. They are supposed to be here. They are consistently the best players in the game.

And remember their last classic against each other? It was in … uh. Well, no, they haven’t had a classic yet. I’m not sure they ever will. But for this to work, they’re going to need their Federer-Nadal Wimbledon moment.

These rivalries in sports are mandatory. They drive a sport, get people talking, choosing sides. Tiger or Phil. Bird or Magic. Roger or Rafa.

But in tennis, generations go so fast, and there is little time to replace them, promote them and define them.

Defining Djokovic and Murray is going to be a problem.

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WIMBLEDON: Serena Come Back! Homestretch of Wimby Lacks Mainstream Appeal

 

Marion Bartoli reaches Wimbledon final

Marion Bartoli reaches Wimbledon final

REPORTING FROM THE ALL ENGLAND CLUB IN WIMBLEDON

It was the dream day of women’s semifinals at Wimbledon. Did you like Marion Bartoli or Kirsten Flipkens? Sabine Lisicki or Aga R…

Wait! Hold on! Don’t go! I’ll talk about Serena Williams, I swear. And Maria Sharapova. Probably Sloane Stephens, too. Even gone from the tournament, they all matter. Sometimes, the story is more about who’s not at a party than who is.

If this day was a look into the immediate future of women’s tennis, then it doesn’t look good.

Serena, come back. Wimbledon needed you here Thursday.

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WIMBLEDON: Andy Murray Closing in on History? Brits Need a Drink

Andy Murray now two matches from history

Andy Murray now two matches from history

REPORTING FROM THE ALL ENGLAND CLUB IN WIMBLEDON

LONDON

It can be fun to laugh at the panic attacks that Britain has over Andy Murray. Fans want him to win soooo badly at Wimbledon, but they know he’s going to lose. They feel it in their bones. It drives them nuts. It defines them, too.

Wanting a close-up of such fun, I made sure to arrive at Centre Court ahead of time Wednesday, after the early match but before Murray’s. And finally, he and Fernando Verdasco took the court to … polite, quiet applause.

Look, this was a quarterfinal match at the place that will define Murray’s career, and through three games, the stands were half empty. The first set was nearly over, and it still wasn’t packed?

People were arriving casually. No panic. I felt cheated.

What happened? Fans had left after the first match to have a few drinks.

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WIMBLEDON: Sloane Stephens Suffers Cruel Learning Curve; Americans Don’t Survive to July 4

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REPORTING FROM THE ALL ENGLAND CLUB IN WIMBLEDON

LONDON

The learning curve is painful and cruel, and you can’t avoid it. It’s as if you’re driving down the road and your car automatically searches out and finds every last bump and pothole, even cliff.

For Sloane Stephens, American tennis hopeful, the problem is that you don’t know for sure which bumps you’ll eventually figure out how to clear easily and which ones you never will. Which ones will you learn from and which ones will define you.

Stephens ran off the cliff Tuesday at Wimbledon. She was playing brilliantly and beautifully, and then she was duped for the second time in three majors by someone pulling a veteran’s dirty trick on her. She lost 6-4, 7-5 to Marion Bartoli in the quarterfinals.

“I am disappointed in myself because I know I probably could have given a little bit more,” Stephens said. “You have to keep learning from it and keep moving forward.”

If you thought this tournament was a torch-passing from Serena Williams to Stephens, then take a deep breath and sit down for a minute.

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WIMBLEDON: For First Time Ever, Serena’s Body and Mind Break down at Same Time

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Serena Williams loss to Sabine Lisicki wasn’t an upset at Wimbledon. It was THE upset.

REPORTING FROM THE ALL ENGLAND CLUB IN WIMBLEDON

WIMBLEDON, England

This is the impossible. It doesn’t happen because it can’t happen. Now, it did happen. Serena Williams lost in the fourth round at Wimbledon on Monday, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 to Sabine Lisicki.

It’s not just that Serena lost, which seems nearly impossible enough. The bigger issue is this:

For maybe the first time ever, Williams buckled, both mentally and physically. Both, at the same time.

“I wasn’t willing or able,’’ she said, “or probably didn’t even want to hold my serve today.’’

Didn’t want to?

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WIMBLEDON: Strange Cats-and-Dogs Cultural Truth About Women and Men on Tour

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REPORTING FROM THE ALL ENGLAND CLUB IN WIMBLEDON

LONDON

It was 7-6 in the tiebreaker Sunday at Wimbledon, and Novak Djokovic was about to lose. “Moment of Truth,’’ he yelled, trying to pressure and intimidate the, well, the kid on the other side of the net.

It was the middle Sunday at Wimbledon, the day off. The Bryan brothers got off their practice court at the same time Juan Martin del Potro got off his, and they took pictures together. The Bryan Bros. posted one on their Twitter account.

Djokovic had somehow run into a highly ranked junior boy, and they practiced together for a few minutes, then played a tiebreaker. Djokovic was screaming at him, trash-talking him. Still, the kid won, and Djokovic dropped and gave five pushups.

This all comes together as just another example of a strange cultural truth in tennis that has become more and more evident the past two weeks: For some reason, the women on tour don’t seem to get along with each other, and the men do.

This Wimbledon started with a storyline about the bickering between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Their dislike of each other was never exactly a secret, but it had never been this open before. Serena took shots, presumably at Sharapova, in an article in Rolling Stone magazine, and Sharapova shot back that if Serena wants to talk about personal things, she should stick to the fact that she’s a homewrecker.

It just seemed like a fun-to-watch personal thing. But more and more, things anecdotally keep popping up to show that it’s bigger than that.

“I think so,’’ John Isner told me early last week with a laugh that seemed to say, `That’s the understatement of the year.’ The women, you don’t even see them practice together. It’s weird.’’

By contrast, Isner said that on Monday, he and Roger Federer happened to be in the locker room at the same time.

“We were in the showers, and started talking WWE (professional wrestling),’’ Isner said. “I kid you not.’’

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WIMBLEDON: One Rivalry Can Spark Women’s Tennis in the U.S.

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Sloane Stephens and Serena Williams

REPORTING FROM THE ALL ENGLAND CLUB IN WIMBLEDON

LONDON 

I’m starting to dream of a Serena-Sloane Wimbledon final. Can you imagine? The new rivalry of tennis?

After they both went along with, and then later debunked, the whole feelgood story about their mentor-student relationship?

After Sloane Stephens beat Serena Williams at the Australian Open? After Serena took a shot at Sloane, theoretically, on Twitter? After Sloane called Serena a phony? This could be great. It could revive women’s tennis and spark it in the US.

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WIMBLEDON: A Year Like no Other. Wimby Defined by @DreddyTennis

 

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REPORTING FROM THE ALL ENGLAND CLUB IN WIMBLEDON

LONDON

He played way out on Court 14 Friday, with the Centre Court stadium still in view, hovering. With only three rows of stands, people were packed around the brick walls just six paces off the side of the court. People were on their toes, or kid on dad’s shoulders. Some people stood and strained from the seats from the next court over, others climbed the walls until security told them to move. Then more climbed anyway.

Dustin Brown became a cult figure at Wimbledon this week. Tall, black, Jamaican/German with sleeveless shirt, stretched skinny muscles, long dreads down his back and a jacket promoting his Twitter handle on the back: @DreddyTennis.

“I mean, why not?’’ he said. “If no one else is putting the patch on you, why not market your own product?’’

He gained 15,000 Twitter followers this week. Usually, in the minors, he said, he gains three. Not 3,000.

Three.

Maybe for the first time, this was the week of the little guy, the no-name, the underdog at Wimbledon. Well, that’s not exactly right. It was their week on the Wimbledon grounds, the outer courts. That’s where they were heroes, with the people who had the cheaper, outer-court tickets.

This isn’t just a tribute to some journeymen having the week of their lives. It’s more of a cultural thing for this place and this tournament. Be honest: With Wimbledon’s history, you would not expect a black Jamaican with long dreads to actually become the cult figure.

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WIMBLEDON: U.S. Tennis Just Can’t Man Up

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Bobby Reynolds was the last American man standing at Wimbledon

REPORTING FROM THE ALL ENGLAND CLUB IN WIMBLEDON

LONDON

So now it’s down to this: Not only aren’t there any U.S. men capable of winning a tennis major, but there aren’t any ready to compete. And there isn’t even a representative to ask about it.

So it falls on some guy named Bobby Reynolds. He was the last American man standing at Wimbledon but lost Thursday to Novak Djokovic. It’s the first time an American man hasn’t reached the third round of Wimbledon since ’12.

That’s 1912, when the Chicago Cubs World Series winless streak was up to … three years. One thing: No American men even entered that year.

“I knew a couple Americans played today,” Reynolds said after his match. “I don’t feel like I’m carrying the U.S. flag, the lone guy left. I just happened to play the last match.”

True enough. So it was bad luck that he had to be the one to turn out the lights. Well, these one-time fluke things happen sometimes. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those

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WIMBLEDON: Searching for Challenges for Serena. Andy Murray in Vegas Showdown?

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Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs

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Serena Williams and Andy Murray

REPORTING FROM THE ALL ENGLAND CLUB IN WIMBLEDON

LONDON

We have now come up with two opponents who can beat Serena Williams: Andy Murray and 21-year-old Serena Williams. That’s where the discussion went Thursday after Williams clobbered Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-2 in the second round at Wimbledon.

Responding to a tweet from a reader, Murray wrote in a column in a London newspaper that he would love to challenge Serena and suggested Las Vegas as a possible site. And apparently Martina Navratilova said on The Tennis Channel that Williams is so amazing at 31 that she would beat Williams at 21.

No, she wouldn’t. And Murray would win easily, but that doesn’t really matter. It’s just filler conversation. This is crickets-chirping time in the women’s draw, as everyone is just waiting for Williams to finish off her last five matches. By everyone, I mean the other players.

At this point, Williams’ opponents are Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf. She is competing against history for label of best ever.

But what about Serena vs. Murray?

“That would be fine,” she said. “I get (to hit in doubles) alleys. He gets no serves. I get alleys on my serves, too. He gets no legs, yeah . . . I doubt I’d win a point.’”

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