Murray and Federer win Wimbledon warm-ups
The Grass ‘season’ is already one week old and a quarter finished. After three months of playing on clay the players move to the Grass no sooner as the red clay has been brushed off Rafael Nadal’s shoes. The players have about the same amount of time to get their games together for the Grass with only a couple of warm-up tournaments for what is still the sport’s most prestigious event, despite the sparing use of its surface, Wimbledon.
They don’t have to adapt too much though, a few hours practising slicing and getting down for volleys being more than sufficient. It is after all no secret that the Grass is not as green as it once was for attacking players; serve and volley having been weeded out more than a decade ago, the seeds sown for the modern game of tennis to bloom.
That Roger Federer should have blossomed in that time frame is a blessing for the game, covering up the slowing down of the grass as well as the tarpaulin protects Wimbledon’s Centre court from becoming mud. Federer’s all court talent would bloom on whatever surface he played on and while Nadal and Djokovic’s successes in SW19 have raised questions, Federer’s victory last year over Andy Murray, whose variety, hands and touch are complemented by the still lower bounce of the Grass, drew enough oohs and aahs to silence those who still hanker over aces and forays to the net but who have been bowled over with Federer’s all-court beauty.
Thus with the grass season rolling round again, we started from where we left off in July 2012, with Roger Federer and Andy Murray winning the big warm ups in Halle and Queen’s club. While neither title is a Masters, with Grass being excluded from that series despite the game’s premier title being competed on it, they are the most important warm ups historically and timing-wise, being played in the first week of the season and so meaning those playing at the business end have a week to practice and rest, some match play in hand, before the Big W.
Federer and Murray’s victories had similarities. Both played against distinguished and proficient grass court players in Youzhny and Cilic respectively. And both went down a set to love. But being as they are the more skilled and being of superior grass court pedigree, both Federer and Murray pulled through, their consistency and better match play also telling factors. For Federer it was his seventh title in Halle, and his first title of the year. For Murray it was his second title of 2013 and his third title at Queens. Both men’s victories point promisingly to another successful Wimbledon run for both men on a surface which while much changed is still a tennis court and so still rewards the classiest and most flairsome of games.
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