Wimbledon, the third Grand Slam of the season, is now a thing of the past. In its wake, it left with a few thoughts and questions.
OPINION – The finals have been digested, the last strawberries and cream eaten, the last Pimm’s drunk. Now, it is time to come back on Wimbledon 2019, further than the champions.
For many things have kept me thinking, not only now that the tournament is over, but during the last fortnight.
Slow was the Wimbledon surface
Many have said it: the Wimbledon surface was slower than usual this year. It was visible and could be seen by the sheer amount of extended rallies, which have been more numerous than in the previous editions of the event.
Many players have complained about the slow speed which, at times, felt more similar to clay than to grass. However, the head groundsman of the AELTC, Neil Stubley, mentioned that the grass preparation used to make the courts was exactly the same as last year.
In this case: what caused the courts to be so slow? Was it the weather? Or is it everyone’s imagination?
Regardless, those long rallies, including one of 45 shots in the semifinal match between Novak Djokovic and Roberto Bautista Agut, are not common on grass. We may only hope that, as of next year, we can see more “normal” grass speed.
That 45-shot rally
Paging the NextGen!
Another occurrence that we cannot escape was the complete disappearance of the NextGen before the first week was over. In fact, there have only been one player of 21 years of age or younger in the round of 16: Ugo Humbert (21).
Some of the best-known figures of the NextGen were ousted as early as the very first round: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, and Dominic Thiem. Of course, the rivals are for a lot in a defeat. However, for some of those players, it has become almost the norm rather than the exception.
For instance, Tsitsipas has taken part in nine Grand Slam tournaments. His best has been a semifinal appearance at this year’s Australian Open. With the exception of the French Open (semifinalist in 2016-2017, runner-up last year and this year), Thiem has only managed one quarter-final appearance at the U.S. Open of 2018. As for Zverev, if he has reached the quarter-finals of Roland-Garros in the last two seasons, he has never passed the fourth round in any other Major. However, the three of them thrive in the other tournaments.
Lack of best-of-five experience?
This makes me wonder: could the lack of best-of-five matches be a cause of the problem? After all, the former Davis Cup got rid of the BO5 format in the zonal ties in 2018, and due to their age, those players do not have the experience of that format that their elders have had. Furthermore, until 2007, the Masters Series/Masters 1000 finals were BO5. However, if Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have contested their fair share of them, Novak Djokovic has only played one of them in that format (the others being all best-of-three). With that taken into account, this should not be the case.
Many questions. But the most important of them is: will the NextGen make a dent in the Big 3 Grand Slam hegemony?
A star is born
Every Grand Slam brings its load of upcoming players. Some generate talk, some don’t.
This Wimbledon, however, one very young player surprised the whole tennis world: Cori “Coco” Gauff, a 15-year-old American who surprised everyone with her great talent and impressive composure.
If her impressive run ended in the fourth round against the eventual champion, Simona Halep, needless to say that this will not be the last that we will hear of the talented Miss Coco!
This Wimbledon also came with a lot of sadness, as it was the home of Marcos Baghdatis’s last tournament.
If the ever-smiling Cypriot defeated Canadian Lucky Loser Brayden Schnur in the first round, the second match, against Matteo Berrettini, ended up being the last one of his career, as he bowed out in straight sets against the Italian.
Aware of the importance of the moment, Berrettini left all the room for his rival to say goodbye, and joined in the celebrations.
Yes. Celebrations. If, at first, Baghdatis couldn’t hold his tears, they were fast replaced by his eternal big simle, and gifts for those who were present at the match, as he emptied his racquet bag. Hence, he gave away all of his racquets (and extra ones brought by his coach), wristbands, socks, shoes… and even underwear!
Typical of this man, who was beloved by colleagues and fans alike.
Goodbye, Marcos, and thank you!
On to the hard courts
The grass is now a thing of the past. Consequently, tennis moves back to hard courts. Not this week, as there is a grass tournament in Newport, and two clay tournaments in Båstad and Umag, but starting next week with Atlanta, and two more clay events in Hamburg and Gstaad.