Wimbledon 2015 Takeaways

The 2015 Singles Champions took the dance floor at the traditional Wimbledon Champions’ Dinner.

After another breathtaking fortnight at the All-England Club, and with the year’s most prestigious tournament in the books, it’s time to look back and evaluate what exactly we just witnessed.

For starters, Novak Djokovic is the best player on the planet. Period. And it isn’t even close. For two weeks, he proved this point with apparent ease. Djokovic lost 3 sets all tournament and each of these was in a tiebreaker; however, two of them came in the first two sets of his 4th round match vs. the big-serving South African Kevin Anderson. Staring at a two-sets-to-none deficit, in which four decisive points could’ve made it a two-sets-to-none lead, Djokovic responded by simply thrashing Anderson the rest of the way, winning the next three sets decidedly and securing his spot in the quarterfinals. Similarly in the final against Federer, Djokovic lost the second set in an extended tiebreaker after failing to convert seven (SEVEN!!!) set points. Yet, he followed that up by dominating the third and fourth sets en route to the title. See, what makes him so difficult to beat is that he simply refuses to beat himself. Get him down all you want; you’re going to have to stick the nail in the coffin because Djokovic will make you earn every last point against him. Stan Wawrinka managed the feat a few weeks ago at Roland Garros, but to win three of five sets against Djoker takes a special effort. There was no way Novak was going to lose in another final, which brings me to his final opponent.

Federer following his semifinal victory.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t win his seventh and final match, but Roger Federer is playing some of the best tennis of his career at age 33 going on 34. This is simply unheard of, especially in the men’s game. He’s supposed to be old. He’s supposed to be washed-up. And yet, he continues to defy logic and critics and prove that his graceful playing style and mastery of the game of tennis truly is timeless. Through six rounds, Federer had committed just 60 errors, and in his semifinal match with home-crowd favorite Andy Murray, he absolutely brought his A-game. In the straight-set victory, Fed was simply too good, and a disbelieving Murray had no answers for his impeccably accurate serving nor his perfectly placed groundstrokes. The victory set up a matchup in the final against Djokovic, but unfortunately Federer was unable to complete his 18th Grand Slam title against the world’s #1. For the last few years, it has seemed as if Federer would need some help to win another major: for an upstart to knock out either Djokovic or Nadal or Murray, or to have one of them knock another out, in order to soften his schedule on the way to the title. Although he was able to dispel of Murray, winning two consecutive matches vs. the Big Four remains elusive at this age for Federer. Yet, we’ve learned to never, ever count out Roger Federer.

And speaking of the Big Four…should we start referring to them in past tense? What on earth has happened to Rafael Nadal? He won his first round match easily, but when he faced Dustin Brown, the Jamaican German-national who is now 2-0 career head-to-head vs. Nadal, Brown endeared himself to the crowd in a four-set upset victory. After splitting the first two sets, it appeared Nadal might regain control and power through. Brown, however, was unrelenting, and his tricky drop-shots and incredible enthusiasm carried him to the win. But this isn’t about Brown, this is about Nadal. Rafa has now failed to pass the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam since winning the 2014 French Open, and his ranking, now #10, continues to plummet. Nobody is quite sure of what’s wrong with his game, including him. Hopefully some time off between now and the US Open will do his game some good, but for tennis fans, watching the second-winningest Grand Slam champion of all time falter so suddenly at age 29 is a frightening sight.

Serena Williams after winning her 21st career Grand Slam.

Another frightening sight for every women’s tennis player is Serena Williams’ total lack of signs of slowing down. With her victory on Saturday, she now holds all four Grand Slams. Meanwhile, she will enter the U.S. Open as the three-time defending champion and the favorite to win all four majors in 2015 and complete the calendar Grand Slam, something only Steffi Graf has completed in the Open Era of Women’s Tennis. Additionally, if she wins in Flushing Meadows, New York, Serena will tie Graf with her 22nd career major title. As impressive as all these statistics are, watching her is even more impressive. She seems to be playing at a level so high that there are no signs of coming down. Her total domination over the sport is unheralded. She may very well be the most dominant athlete, of any sport or of either gender, in the world today. Nobody else owns her opponents regardless of who they are the way Serena does. She’s 33 years old, and there’s no telling when her run will end. For now, we can just sit back and enjoy an American athlete with such a strong grip on an internationally dominated game.

This may be a sign of things to come on the men’s side as well. Since Andy Roddick won the U.S. Open in 2003, no American man has won a Grand Slam. Roddick reached a number of finals after that, but after his retirement we’ve been left with John Isner as our strongest male representative. Currently ranked a respectable #18 in the world, Isner hasn’t reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal since the 2011 U.S. Open, and his style of play which is heavily dependent on his serve, doesn’t suit him to beat the likes of the more well-rounded top-10 players.

But, there’s hope; in the last two junior Grand Slam tournaments, three of the four boy’s finalists have been Americans, including both champions. Tommy Paul (French Open) and Reilly Opelka (Wimbledon) have provided a spark for American tennis, and can hopefully carry their success over to the men’s tour. Now our fingers are crossed that in just a few years this recap will once again praise two Americans for their championship successes.

Now we get to sit back, enjoy the hard court, pre-U.S. Open tournaments, and await the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year. But until then, enjoy this video of today’s two greatest tennis champions, who move better than anyone else in the world on the court. Just not on the dance floor.

Sources:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/wimbledon/11734840/Wimbledon-2015-Champions-Dinner.html

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