|By the numbers – The top seeds triumphed with relative ease
So that was that – after a fortnight spent in the warm embrace of SW19, the jewel in tennis’ crown is over for another year. And it was a particularly warm Championships this year, evident from both the predictable British media’s hysteria about the weather and by my repeated layers of suncream on a two day visit to these hallowed lawns.
It was by far the hottest, and busiest I’ve seen Wimbledon in my nine years – but neither the temperature or the 127-strong field of opponents could halt top seeds Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams from the title come the final weekend.
There were significant scares en route (Heather Watson and Kevin Anderson I’m looking at you), but both players proved far too strong and have only cemented themselves as ‘the ones to beat’.
What more superlatives can we attach to 21 time grand slam champ Serena? Her hunger, power, precision and self-belief were all too evident once again here. The aforementioned Watson, Azarenka and Muguruza in the final all had a decent go (the less said about the sorry Sharapova the better), but ultimately only Williams herself can stop this momentum.
Djokovic? He has been unfairly treated almost as a pantomime villain for stamping on the dreams of most of Centre Court and probably the planet and denying Roger one more title. Although the Serbinator lacks the charm, gravitas and so far at least, the legacy of a Nadal or Federer, he is proving himself worthy of his unprecedented place at the summit. He was brilliant in his ruthless efficiency, diluting the power of Cilic, batting away the grace and artistry of Gasquet and silencing the spellbinding Federer once again.
Lleyton’s forlawn goodbye
There was to be no fairy-tale run for the 2002 champ at this particular stop of his farewell tour, but Lleyton Hewitt at the very least produced the usual fighting performance for which he will forever be remembered and celebrated for.
Brits turn up the heat
It was an undeniably positive fortnight for the home contingent – especially that sparkling first week. Despite Murray’s failure to reach the final (he will be back of course), and the very best efforts of the British media and clueless day-tripping instaglammers, this was a fine advert for British tennis. Broad, Ward and of course Heather Watson amongst others injected some much needed joy for the UK game which will again be in the doldrums once Andy’s star wanes.
Watson’s success was of course bittersweet for me, the Guernsey born starlet rightly dismissing a sorry Daniela Hantuchova on Court 1. My fading fave had romped past compatriot Cibulkova two days previous, but just didn’t turn up when it mattered and perhaps this was the last time the delicate grace of the former world number 5 would be seen on such a big stage. A shame.
Nadal downed by Brown
Is this the beginning of the end for Rafa Nadal? A much repeated question of the tournament, and one that is hard to argue against when looking at the ignominious nature of the Spaniard’s last four SW19 exits. More telling is that title-less clay season culminating in an embarrassment at Roland Garros. It remains to be seen if this great champion will ever regain any real standing at the summit of the sport, but one thing is certain – his conqueror this year will have won over many more fans with a gloriously old fashioned performance.
The making of Muguruza, as other stars struggle
Garbine Muguruza started making waves last year of course with consistent runs to the latter stages of the bigger tournaments (including her defeat of Serena at the French). Will this run to the final prove to be the start of something representing a future title challenger? Let’s hope so. One only has to look elsewhere in the top ten for similar promising beginnings quickly turning sour. Genie Bouchard and – perhaps more surprisingly – Simona Halep are both deep in the middle of an all-too familiar mire in the women’s game: a breakthrough year and then the difficult ‘second album’.
Federer defying time
I know I’m biased, but Roger Federer’s run to the final must be seen as one of the stories of the tournament. To be knocking on the door of 34 and – on this evidence – to have proven himself worthy of his number 2 ranking is quite remarkable. The Swiss’ demolition of Andy Murray in that wondrous semi-final was a joy to behold. The Scot has been majestic himself all season, but wasn’t allowed a foothold in this contest. Few players could restrict someone of Murray’s talent so comprehensively, let alone one who is of the previous generation.
Hingis does the same
The title says it all, Martina Hingis returned with swagger and a smile taking both the women’s and mixed doubles titles. The last practitioner of a tennis dictated by angles, slice and touch before the Williams siblings helped usher in the power play of today and forever more – let’s enjoy her return.