Before we begin, a quick reminder that there will eventually be a diary style piece for each of the eight years I’ve attended the hallowed lawns of SW19.
My first visit to Roland Garros was diarised here if anyone missed it and is suffering from insomnia.
So, Wimbledon 2014 – what have we witnessed? In short, the greatest tennis tournament in the world (sorry America) has delivered yet again. First; the opening days saw defending champions Murray and Marion being welcomed back to the stage of their history making a year before – the latter’s tears were understandable even without the well-judged tribute to poor Elena Baltacha.
Then, when the action began, the talking points, shocks and heroics all arrived in earnest.
Of the men, Murray and Federer look the strongest, neither has been tested so far – no surprise given their easy match-ups – and on this form they must be the picks to make the final yet again.
Djokovic and Nadal – the higher seeds and headline-grabbers from the last major a month ago have looked sloppy and nervous by comparison. Djokovic is still producing the goods but mentally seems a little distracted. Rafa of course has been bludgeoned with a draw choc a bloc with fearless, dangerous lurkers and – of all people – his SW19 nemesis of 2012, one Lukas Rosol.
All three of the Spaniard’s foes, Klizan, Rosol and Kukushkin took the opening set, with the Czech going further than that with points for a two set to love lead.
Nadal has certainly been on the ropes this week but showed all of his incredible desire and mental toughness to prevail and reach the second week for the first time in three years.
Elsewhere the challengers for the men’s title have slimmed further, Wawrinka remains but still hasn’t regained the confidence which inspired his Australian victory whilst major latter stage regulars Ferrerand Berdych were among the many illustrious names to have exited the Championships – more on that later.
Tsonga, Cilic, Dimitrov and perhaps Raonic may spring some surprises in the men’s competition and one should never count out the grass specialists and big servers including Deliciano, Isner and Chardy who all remain.
A shout out too for some young stars who have shone brightly this first week; Andrey Kuznetsov and Jiri Vesely (both former junior stars) and the nine-match-point-saving and probable new face of Australian tennis Nick Kyrgios have lit up the tournament and mixed up the draw.
The women’s competition has resembled last year’s big-name exodus with both Williams siblings, Li Na and – less of a surprise – Azarenka the biggest seeds to fall. Whilst this season’s head scratching and soul searching must continue for Serena (the American hasn’t made a major QF in 2014 thus far) Venus can hold her head high after only exiting to a resurgent and fully capable former champ Kvitova in a tight match that stands as one of the first week highlights.
Li Na looks a shadow of the player who took control Down Under in January, a missed opportunity one feels given Serena’s terrible form and Azarenka’s injury woes.
This of course has left the door wide open for miss Screamapova herself. Just when it looked likely that Masha would run out of time to add to her perfect set of a single triumph at each major it looks more than likely she will add a second Wimbledon triumph to Roland Garros number two a few weeks ago.
However, such is the unpredictability of the women’s game and a lack of dominance at the top of the tree that there are plenty of contenders for the major that has become something of a boon for the underdog in recent years in the women’s game.
Maria remains the favourite but she will have to be wary of the likes of Bouchard, Kerber (who she plays next), Halep and even Wozniacki who looks very solid. There’s also the aforementioned fellow champ Kvitova and two former finalists in Lisicki and Radwanska.
Even the gaps in the draw have been filled with more than capable contenders in Cornet, Peng and Safarova.
A good first week for
Andy Murray – Supreme progress so far for the defending champion, should have too much for Novak if they meet again.
Roger Federer – It’s his best chance for an 18thmajor triumph and the Swiss is looking composed and in control.
Rafa Nadal – Three ultra-tough matches is the perfect preparation for a second week which should see Rafa settle into his imperious best.
Tommy Robredo – A repeat match-up of the US Open fourth round against Federer is the reward for the veteran’s impressive efforts.
Nick Kyrgios – With Hewitt narrowly missing out versus Janowicz it is the nineteen year old who has kept the Aussie contingent in full voice. The Gasquet match could be a real coming-of-age moment.
Jo-Wilfred Tsonga – Slack early on and had to play each of the first five days amidst many a marathon encounter. But the Frenchman’s enthusiasm and energy will keep him fresh and feisty.
Grigor Dimitrov – Another tough draw and slight hiccup against the difficult Dolgopolov, but Mr Maria has hung on and could serve up more magic.
Maria Sharapova – A stumble against grass specialist Alison Riske is the only blot on a faultless first week report card for the 2004 champion.
Lucie Safarova – Some fine wins and growing in confidence with every game, not a futile quarter of the draw either.
Alize Cornet – Sensational against Serena, the former world number 11 could finally begin the much-promised assault on the top ten – but Bouchard is another big ask.
Eugenie Bouchard – Say what you like but Hantuchova was a tough first round test and the Canadian starlet played some blistering stuff to fight back and prevail. Has looked in fine fettle since.
Petra Kvitova – Another player to pass an acid test with that excellent win over Venus. If she can stay positive then she can challenge again.
A bad first week for
First week Heroes
Seeded players lost
Tomas BerdychDavid FerrerErnests GulbisRichard GasquetJerzy JanowiczFabio FogniniMikhail YouzhnyFernando VerdascoAlexandr DolgopolovPhilipp KohlschreiberGael MonfilsAndreas SeppiRoberto Bautista AgutGuillermo Garcia-LopezMarcel GranollersVasek PopisilDmitry Tursunov
Serena WilliamsLi NaJelena JankovicVictoria AzarenkaDominika CibulkovaFlavia PennettaSara ErraniCarla Suarez-NavarroSam StosurSloane StephensAndrea PetkovicRoberta VinciKirsten FlipkensAnastasia PavluychenkovaGarbine MuguruzaSvetlana KuznetsovaSorana CirsteaVenus WilliamsKlara KoukalovaElena Vesnina
Other notable exits
Lleyton HewittMarcos BaghdatisNicolas MahutDaniela HantuchovaVera ZvonarevaHeather Watson
Picture courtesy of tennishead