And just like that, the summer sporting routine for the nation shifts back to the Premier League and some sort of golf/rugby/cricket that are so in vogue. Yesterday saw the conclusion of both Wimbledon and a mighty fine World Cup in Russia; i’ll be bidding farewell to the copious amounts of burgers and Strongbow Dark Fruits…and that’s a good thing let me tell you.
Anyway, onto The Championships (London-based that is).
Kerber downs Serena and Djokovic mops up tired Anderson and is defiantly back – but will he dominate again? (and other questions).
Lot’s of talking points have arisen again during this tournament, which I’ll delve into further in later posts. For now, away from equal pay, scoring formats and the wider picture of both the men and women’s tours and who is set to dominate; let’s focus on the finals themselves.
Angelique Kerber def Serena Williams 6-3,6-3
After a fortnight which saw the top ten women’s seeds fall before the business end, it was a real treat still to have a final contested by household names and therefore guarantee some sort of quality befitting the occasion.
Don’t get me wrong, I like nothing else than a Cinderella story where some unfancied, unseeded shock threatens to de-rail the established order, but as poor Kevin Anderson almost proved, you run the risk of a lopsided finale.
And so after favourites Wozniacki, Halep and Kvitová and defending champ Muguruza it was up to Angelique Kerber to emerge from the ruins and face the fairytale-chasing Serena, post baby and consistent as ever.
Williams had had a relatively low-key run to the final; from players only just rediscovering their mojo (Mladenovic) to those who despite being in form still had to shake some poor form on the grass over the years (Goerges). The toughest test en route same from the lovely but firmly journeywoman category Giorgi.
There were battles here for Serena, only to be expected at 36 and still so early into this comeback, however realistically short-lived it will turn out to be.
Two time major winner Kerber was always going to be a huge step up in quality – and so it proved really.
Angelique herself is still arguably on the road back too – her customary ‘second album’ year of 2017 had rocked the former world number one’s confidence so much, but a decent year so far has done wonders.
With downed foes including Bencic, Osaka and Ostapenko (a joy to watch again hitting freely), it was the perfect prep for another stellar opponent come Saturday.
The German was focused and fiery, spraying winners when it mattered and proving rock solid in defence – the added boost of a previous slam victory against Williams proved decisive I think as well.
Kerber could push on again now – for Serena, this could be the beginning of a fond farewell to one of the all-time greats of the sport.
Novak Djokovic def Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2, 7-6
As the women’s seed exodus hogged the first week headlines here, the men saved the drama for the final rounds as big names were outlasted, titanic battles took hold and a much-fancied semi-final delivered on quality worthy of a Sunday showpiece.
I’ve mourned already about Roger, so will mention it no more except to reiterate how brilliantly Anderson did, how well he deserved it and how the BBC (Tim you’re excused) were wrong to hype the great Swiss so much this fortnight.
It was never a foregone conclusion, and Anderson’s heroics will live on in this tournament’s memory, the semi-final with Isner provided a mini throwback to the 90’s era of the big servers (if perhaps without the net-play to make it a true tribute). The jury is out as to whether the game will head back to this style of tennis once the Big [INSERT NUMBER HERE] retire or not.
So, the US Open finalist delivered again on the biggest of stages, but who would he face? Nadal and Djoko had sailed through the tournament thus far, both looking by and large back to their imperious best – Rafa especially – and in so doing perfectly encapsulating the modern face of tennis, from this generation at least; athleticism and other-worldly defence, power and precision.
The purists may balk at such a spectacle (and they’re entitled to) but there is simply no denying that the two-day semi-final contested by these two greats was a wonderful spectacle. At times in that third set tiebreak it looked even to my 32 year old eyes like the two were playing at twice the speed of mere mortals.
That Djokovic somehow prevailed against the perfect specimen in Nadal i’m still not sure.
I say that because, as good as Novak undoubtedly is right now, he is still a little way away from being at his very best, glimpses were shown for sure, but scarily for the rest of the tour, the Serb can get even better again.
That is if he has the desire once more – I think we can all agree that is the case again.
The final itself was a little deflating, the extra day’s rest had done nothing to quell Anderson’s tired limbs and it seemed instead to allow time to reflect on his achievements and duly let nerves take hold come the contest.
The Serb had to do precious little in two error-strewn sets yesterday, and when Kevin did start to hit his form, such is the quality of Djokovic and the strength he still had in reserve, it was never going to end any other way.
For Anderson, an excellent effort , and chances for the South African should emerge again in future.
Jubilation for Novak ; I have questioned his sincerity before, but truly believe that he never expected to win a slam again.
This could be the start of a second dominance.
Original pics from official wimbles website