What have we learned from Wimbledon 2017?
Wimbledon has now finished for another year but fans and pundits alike have learned much about the changing state of affairs in the men’s and women’s games.
In the men’s game the season is fast becoming a throwback to the mid 2000s. The last time that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal claimed three of the first four slams of the season between them was in 2009. Federer’s win at Wimbledon matched Nadal’s at Roland Garros in that neither player dropped a set in taking their titles.
Wimbledon also told us that physical and mental issues continue to haunt the two players who have largely dominated in recent years, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. It was during Wimbledon last year that the first chinks in Djokovic’s seemingly impenetrable armour first became apparent, and he only managed a quarter-final before retiring against Tomas Berdych with an elbow injury. Murray too was hobbled, as the hip injury that received such intense media focus ahead of the World No.1’s home slam plagued him in the quarter-final with American Sam Querrey.
Stan Wawrinka’s quest to improve his Wimbledon record under the tutelage of Paul Annacone ended abruptly with a first round defeat. Marin Cilic fared rather better with Jonas Bjorkman. The Croatian had never been beyond the quarter-finals at Wimbledon but made just his second career grand slam final whilst working with the Swede.
In the women’s games questions were being asked about Garbine Muguruza, who was seeded fourteenth after failing to defend her Roland Garros title. The Spaniard dismissed questions about her form and play by dismantling World No.1 Angelique Kerber in the quarter-finals, before dropping just five games against Venus Williams in the final. Muguruza has addressed concerns about her ability to translate her game to all surfaces with an assured tournament. Questions will still be asked about Kerber, who flattered to deceived through the early rounds.
Back to the Men’s and Sam Querrey finally put to an end an embarrassing statistic for the US. He became the first American man to reach the semi-finals of a singles grand slam since Andy Roddick made it to the final at Wimbledon in 2009. Hope for the future came in the form of Frances Tiafoe and Jared Donaldson, who both won their first matches at Wimbledon, with Donaldson making it to the third round.
In events off court, some players courted controversy. Bernard Tomic’s interview gave fans an insight into his struggles for motivation. The former Wimbledon quarter-finalist admitted to taking a medical timeout for non medical reasons and his desire to to get off the court as quickly as possible.
The other main issue that arose from the Championships was that of the retirement debate. Nick Kyrgios, Denis Istomin, Viktor Troicki, Feliciano Lopez, Janko Tipsarevic, Aleksandr Dolgopolov, and Martin Klizan all retired having failed to complete their first round matches. Dolgopolov and Klizan retired back-to-back in high profile centre court matches on the second day, leaving fans furious. Tipsarevic played and lost five games to Donaldson, whilst Troicki retired having lost the first set to Florian Mayer. Troicki had won just a single game.
One injury retirement that left no one in doubt as the validity of the situation was the unfortunate Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The top ranked doubles player on the WTA collapsed in agony in a match and had to be stretchered off. The American later revealed that she had dislocated her kneecap and ruptured her patellar tendon.
The championships are perhaps best remembered for the lack of any meeting between the Top Four, as Djokovic, Murray, and Nadal all fell before the semi-finals. The women’s game will remember this Wimbledon for Muguruza’s title and the absence of the pregnant Serena Williams.