Tennis 101 from Wimbledon 2013
These are the lessons, some new, some revised, from Wimbledon 2013.
1. The Grass season needs to be longer.
The ATP and WTA tennis seasons last ten months. A tenth of it is played on Grass with half of that time taken up by the world’s most recognized tournament. A tournament that does not even have a Masters or a Premier warm-up. It does not make sense. And it results in the chaos we saw at this year’s championships. Unprepared, the players, fresh from three months on the clay, and mostly overly versed on hard, gallop across the court, slide into shots and out of the tournament. While it makes for a crop of new faces, it means the world’s best tournament is somewhat of a crap-shoot, maybe not in the winner’s circle but in terms of the vanquished opponents.
2. The Grass is too slow.
It breaks the heart to see offensive players like Berdych and Lisicki move inside the court, hitting the ball hard and flat, only for their big shots to come back time and time again and either send them back and get them on the run until forced into error or passed at the net. This is not how grass court tennis was meant to be. Leave the defense to the medium hard courts and the slow red clay. Let the big-weaponed attacking players thrive on the grass before that style of game dies out for good and tennis is a one surface game it was never born to be.
3. Perseverance is rewarded.
Not the defensive style just criticized above, instead the never giving up on a dream. There are few better examples than this year’s women’s champion Marion Bartoli. The Frenchwoman made her first final in 2007 and came back year after year only to be thwarted in her plans. This year the players fell down one by one, the draw opened up and Bartoli stormed through it without dropping a set. Andy Murray is another fine example. After last year’s disappointment, the man who lost his first four Major finals came back to win his second of seven contested.
4. Women’s tennis’ next generation is looking good.
Puig, Robson, Stephens, de Brito and Bouchard all put in good performances. Puig saw off Errani, de Brito beat Sharapova, Bouchard saw off Ivanovic, Robson knocked out Kirilenko on her way to the last four and Stephens made a run to the quarter-finals. Encouraging stuff from five players who in future years could very well make up five of the last eight places in Major draws.
5. Jingoism sucks.
We know Murray is British and the British men have not had a champion for 77 years but few outside Britain really care and anyone watching the crowd when Murray played must have felt a little uncomfortable for his opponent. Henman Hill, which can be heard from the courts, does not make it any better, either. While home players deserve home support, the calling out between points and the cheering of rival’s errors all condoned by the host broadcaster is not acceptable in a sporting event.
6. And sexism sucks, too.
Britain has had a Wimbledon Champion in the last 77 years. Her name is Virginia Wade and she won in 1977, and in the Jubilee year, too. How’s that for pressure? And how’s that for recognition?
7. And sexism sucks, too, II.
The less said about Inverdale’s comments about Bartoli the better but really in 2013? Bartoli could not have stuck up for herself better the way she coloured Inverdale true.
8. Tennis is amazing.
The performances this tournament were amazing. While the surface is slower than it once was, in the first week, when it is at its fastest, players such as Brown, Stakhovsky, Darcy, Knapp, Robsosn, Lisicki, Janowicz and Berdych all played the brand of flat, hard and aggressive tennis to get the heart pumping and take us back to the days when tennis was hard and fast and amazing.
9. Wawrinka is wonderful. First round loser or not, it was still good to watch him play for three sets.
10. We love Del Potro.
11. Tennis is AMAZING.
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