Wimbledon Review 2015
by Craig Wright
So Wimbledon draws to a close for another year. The lawns of SW19 move out of the global spotlight for another twelve months, the respective trophies get locked back in their cabinets away from us mere mortals, and Rufus the hawk maintains a constant vigil against those pesky pigeons until the championships roll back into town next year. Meanwhile, we can only reflect on this year’s vintage, and remember our favourite moments in all their halcyon glory.
It would be remiss of me to start anywhere but the obvious place- with the 2015 champions. Serena completed her second “Serena Slam”, and left us all marvelling once again at her talent, drive and downright brilliance on a tennis court. She was already featuring heavily in the discussion of the greatest tennis player of all time, and this only adds weight to her claim. The definitive decision on that will be made by those with more experience than yours truly, and for that I’m glad. For now, though, just remember her run to the title- Watson- who got so, so close to the upset of all upsets-, her sister Venus, Azarenka, Sharapova and Muguruza. All great players, all unable to cope with the undisputed number one.
Speaking of undisputed number ones, how about a certain Serb’s performance in the final? Coming in (unusually) as the underdog against Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic could have been forgiven for possessing some self-doubt after his shock defeat in the final of Roland Garros against another Swiss maestro in the form of Stan Wawrinka. Indeed, Federer was and is in such a vein of form, that you wondered if the Serbian man would be able to keep his crown. Not only did he keep it, but he did it in such a way that made us feel guilty about ever doubting him. Second set tiebreak aside- and what a tiebreak it was-, Djokovic had all the answers. As Federer himself said, he’s “played really well this year, and last year, and the year before that…”. Who shall be the next challenger to the Novak Empire?
Will it be Dunblane’s favourite son? A largely positive tournament for Andy Murray was brought to an abrupt halt by Federer in the semi-finals, but there is no reason why he can’t repeat his US Open triumph of a couple of years ago when the tennis circus rolls into Flushing Meadows in a couple of months’ time. His performance against Vasek Pospisil, in particular, showcased some of the best pieces of his game against an opponent who didn’t do much wrong, yet still lost in straight sets. If he can stabilise his mental state, he has the game to beat anyone.
It was a good fortnight for Britons all round. Jamie Murray partnered Australian John Peers to the men’s doubles final, coming up just short against an inspired pairing of Jean Julien Roger and Horia Tecau, but performing admirably. Jordanne Whiley continued her dominance of the women’s wheelchair doubles, claiming her sixth Grand Slam in the last seven with partner Yui Kamiji. Heather Watson brought Centre Court to its feet, going toe to toe with Serena Williams over three outstanding sets of tennis, showing the Guernsey girl can mix it with the best. And James Ward, Mr Davis Cup himself, finally got the break he’s worked for in a Grand Slam, making the fourth round and breaking into the top 100 for the first time in his career. Not bad in the lead up to a Davis Cup quarter final…
What about the so-called underdogs as well? Who would have thought that one of the performances of the championship would have come from a dreadlocked Rastafarian competing for Germany before the tournament began? Dustin Brown played the match of his life to knock out the great Rafa Nadal on a balmy summer evening on Centre Court, swashbuckling his way around the court with a drop shot here, a slice volley there, standing ovations everywhere. Spare a thought for the beleaguered Mallorcan matador, who I’m sure we’ll see back to his best soon, but applaud the genius of Brown. Vasek Pospisil, world number 51, also shone, making the quarter finals with five set epics all the way. On the women’s side of the draw, we had doubles specialist Bethanie Mattek-Sands put out seventh seed Ana Ivanovic on Court One, whilst fellow American Coco Vandeweghe battered her way into the quarter finals. A combination of heavy hitting and cleverly implemented tactics made people take notice, and remember the name for future tournaments.
Meanwhile, a star of the women’s game was born. 21 year old Garbine Muguruza, a Spaniard with one of the widest smiles in the game, had previously said she hated playing on grass. Surely not any more. Despite being seeded 20th, no-one had really mentioned her in the run up to the tournament, and even once the championships got underway she flew under the radar until the third round. There, her natural talent made everyone sit up and take notice. Victories over Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki and Agnieszka Radwanska, players with higher seedings and more experience, captured the tennis faithful’s imagination, and set her up with Serena in the final. Whilst ultimately losing this one, even the victorious Williams agreed that, for Muguruza, it’s a question of when, not if, when it comes to her winning a Grand Slam.
In the end, though, it was business as usual for the top seeds. Serena and Novak. Two first names that are all that’s required. They come to tournaments. They win tournaments. They move on to the next tournament. Sounds dull, but it’s rarely anything but…