Archive for the ‘Wimbledon’ Category
Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
For the first time since 2002, Roger Federer will not be playing in the Wimbledon final. The most decorated Grand Slam champion fell to Tomas Berdych 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6 on Wednesday in the gentlemen’s quarter-final, ending one of the most remarkable runs at the All-England Lawn Tennis Club.
“It’s tough to describe what I’m feeling, it’s really amazing,” said Berdych to the BBC following the match. “If I go through my career, this (last) game was the toughest to serve and close out the match.”
The 23-year-old from the Czech Republic is coming off a semifinal appearance at Roland Garros. Berdych becomes the first man from his country to reach the final four since the great Ivan Lendl in 1990.
If you simply looked at the match on paper, you would think Federer won handily. The Swiss had a better first serve percentage, more aces, fewer double faults and fewer unforced errors. He had his chances, but only converted on one-of-eight break point chances.
“I feel like the semis (at Roland Garros) gave me a big box of confidence,” added Berdych. “I was hungry.”
Berdych will face Serbian Novak Djokovic in Friday’s semifinal. Djokovic knocked off giant killer Yen-Hsun Lu from Chinese Taipei who upset Andy Roddick in the fourth round.
Federer, who will drop to No. 3 on the ATP World Tour rankings come Monday, is generally a man with no excuses for a poor performance. However at the post-match interview on Wednesday, he gave a indication as to why he may have lost, having been bothered by back and leg trouble.
“If I’m healthy, I can handle these guys,” he said. “When you can’t play freely, that’s the kind of performance you get.”
Berdych gave the performance of his life and will be rewarded with a consecutive Grand Slam semifinal appearance and a Top 10 ranking.
Tuesday, June 29th, 2010
Two of the biggest upsets at this year’s Wimbledon have come at the hands of two players ranked No. 82 in the world. Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, the 82nd ranked woman, provided the shock of Tuesday in London, taking down five-time Wimbledon winner Venus Williams 6-2, 6-3, to move on to her first Grand Slam semifinal.
There was no lack of confidence from Pironkova on Tuesday. Winning the coin toss and electing to serve first, something that doesn’t happen often in tennis. She sent a message from the moment the players stepped on the court.
“I thought that I could win and was really going for it,” she remarked right after the match. “I’m really happy with the way I played.”
On Monday, 82nd ranked Chinese Taipei player Yen-Hsun Lu upset last year’s Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick in five sets. Lu will face Djokovic in the quarter-finals while Pironkova meets Russian Vera Zvonarenva in Thursday’s semifinal.
Two big-time Americans ousted by two Cinderellas.
This really has been a Wimbledon to remember.
Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010
Nothing can be said to accurately describe what went on at Court No. 18 today at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. In a match that will be continued for a third day, John Isner of the United States and Nicolas Mahut of France are the most talked about men on earth today. The score currently stands (Isner first): 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-7(3), 59-59. Not a typo folks, 59-59. Act III, Scene III tomorrow.
The scoreboard broke, however the will of two tennis players did not.
The longest tennis match ever played will resume on Thursday but not before the sports world exhales. In a day that included an earthquake in Toronto and the soon-to-be-arrival of the most influential political leaders on the planet in front of a slew of protests – the chatter around water coolers is Wimbledon.
On Twitter, this match represented three of the most trending topics worldwide.
Mahut and Isner were the only two people on Court No. 18 today. In a normal order of play, a court would have four matches. More than nine hours – with no coaches, no caddies, no teammates. They have each served nearly 450 times each already. Think about that, a pitcher who throws 110 pitches in a game is pushing the boundaries. With 877 points behind them, the match moves on.
There will be much debate regarding the need for a fifth-set tiebreaker, but as a respected national columnist reminded me today, this is why we play sports.
Tune in tomorrow…
Monday, June 21st, 2010
Think about it this way, Roger Federer losing to Alejandro Falla in Wimbledon on Monday would’ve been about the same as me taking a leisurely drive in downtown Toronto this coming weekend. The reigning Wimbledon champion came from down two sets to defeat the Colombian 5-7, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(1), 6-0 on Day One in London.
“I definitely got very lucky out there today,” said the top seed but No. 2 ranked player in the world. “I’ve lost many matches this year I should have won. This is one I should have lost.”
Going into this amazing Monday, Falla had only won six games in five sets on grass against Federer. The last time the great Swiss lost in the first round of a Grand Slam was 2003. It was the greatest played match of Falla’s career, no question. He was all over the court and made Federer look human at times. Federer earned every point he won. Falla, looked like he was privy to the Swiss’ game plan before the match.
Down two sets, 4-4 and 0-40, Federer clawed his way back from the depths of despair and forced a fourth frame. His forehand winner down the line was followed by a scream and a fist pump by the six-time Wimbledon champion. It was at that moment, you thought he might have a chance to stick around.
Falla did not give up until losing six consecutive points in the fourth-set tiebreaker. He was absent in the final stanza.
The tennis world collectively exhaled at about 4:30 p.m. London time today. The champ lives another day. It would have easily been the greatest tennis upset in decades. Instead, Federer moves on, and for his fans, a hope that today was just an off day and not a sign of things to come.
If this is the way the next fortnight is going to trend, we’re in for the most peculiar Grand Slam of my generation. I’m a man who has been accused to talking too much, but on this Monday, I am at a loss for words.
Friday, June 18th, 2010
Sunday, July 5th, 2009
Who the h-e-double-hockey-sticks am I to comment on what happened today at Wimbledon, and more so the status of one Roger Federer. I feel slightly ridiculous sitting here, after all the hoopla surrounding a historic day for tennis, and pontificate about the impact one man has played on professional sports.
After claiming a record sixth Wimbledon title and (I repeat) a record 15th Grand Slam today, Federer said he would leave the comparisons to greatness for the end of his career. However, since every water cooler in the free world will be having this debate Monday morning, I might as well take a stab at it too.
Make no mistake about it. Roger Federer is the greatest professional athlete on Mother Earth. More dominant than Tiger Woods, more accomplished than The Great One and with more major victories than that Olympic swimmer who swears he didn’t inhale. Finally, after today, nobody can argue, he is also better than Pete Sampras.
If we’re going to measure tennis greatness by the number of Grand Slams then the debate is quick. Roger wins with No. 15. Let’s also talk about dominance. Pistol Pete captured his first major at the 1990 U.S. Open. It was not until 2002 at the same tournament that the American claimed his 14th Grand Slam crown. In comparison, the Swiss master won the 2003 edition of Wimbledon and just six years later, cements himself as the most successful tennis man of all time. (Of course I’m a little biased because Sampras never won Rogers Cup – he lost to Andre Agassi in the 1995 final, while Federer has won two titles and was also finalist in Canada).
If he remains healthy, Tiger Woods will surpass Jack Nicklaus one day with his 19th golfing major, but he has already played in 54 majors to claim 14 titles. Roger took his 15th title in just 41 Grand Slam finals and doesn’t appear to be slowing down. Oh, and Tiger has also played a few more years on Tour than Roger. I’ve always wondered what North America would think of Roger if he had stars and stripes beside his name instead of a white cross on a red flag.
What’s even more unbelievable about today’s Wimbledon win for Roger is that he had to do it with the icons of tennis right there. Tennis greats and those greatly admired by Federer, such as Laver, Borg and Sampras were looking over his shoulder sitting in the front row. They stared at every masterful backhand and punishing serve. Talk about pressure. I’m quite certain Jack won’t be walking beside Tiger for every swing he takes.
You can look up all of the records and stats about Federer and make your own comparisons, but a few things about today stood out for me to complete my love-in for the man (in a totally sports-only kinda love). Andy Roddick, who I’ve avoided mentioning thus far on purpose, had a 5-1 lead in the second set tie break. The man was sweating profusely while Federer casually went about his business. Even as the match wore on to the record 30th game of the fifth set, Federer occasionally asked for a towel while the American looked like he could use a shower after every point. Roddick played his butt off today but for a third time in London, he fell to Federer in the final.
Throughout his entire illustrious career (with the odd sign of being a human being), Roger Federer has carried himself with grace, dignity, respect for his sport and appreciation for his place in tennis. His place, is no longer up for real debate.
Three months ago the world was ready to write off Federer. Now, he is the world No. 1 once again, winner of three of the past four Grand Slams and the most prolific athlete of our generation.
Today, he said for the 15th time in his career, that he was “the luckier man.” But we’re the lucky ones to witness such a spectacle. We could not ask for a better role model for our kids who want to pick up a racquet.
Saturday, July 4th, 2009
Happy Fourth of July. Sorry, I had to. Some of my American friends and colleagues read my blog on fan590.com so I just had to rub it in that the Canuck and his Serbian partner took away what might have been an All-American sweep in London.
While it took an American team for the gentlemen’s doubles final at Wimbledon to be shown on major TV outlets, the world was able to watch Toronto-native Daniel Nestor successfully defend his Wimbledon crown with Serbian partner Nenad Zimonjic. A great day for Canadian sports.
I’ve known Daniel for about four years and he rarely shows any emotion on court. To see his clench his fists in joy when Nenad served an ace on match point was pretty special.
We’re in for a real treat tomorrow with the singles final but until that time, let’s relish in a great Canadian accomplishment.
Did Serena look awesome today or what? I know that Venus certainly didn’t play her best tennis in the second set but the younger sister was on fire. Can’t wait to see her in Toronto this summer. It will be the first time that both sisters play Rogers Cup together. When they’re on, there’s no stopping them. End of story.
So six weeks until the tennis world comes to the Big Smoke. A lot can change in that time. As the U.S. Open Series starts and the tennis turns to the hard courts, it will be interesting to see who is the fittest.
It’s been a fun two weeks of Wimbledon. Let’s sit back and enjoy the final match of a memorable fortnight for Canada and a great celebration of a pretty cool sport.
Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
Sorry, but I need to rant.
Yes, I know, doubles tennis is not as sexy as its singles counterpart. But considering a vast majority of the four million Canadians who played tennis last year participated in doubles action, you would think there would be more respect for Daniel Nestor. There is more news about a hockey team re-signing a fourth-line winger tonight than Toronto native Nestor coming back from down two sets to advance to his second consecutive Wimbledon final with Serbian partner Nenad Zimonjic.
When Nestor hoisted the Wimbledon trophy last year, the man joined Andre Agassi and the Australian Woodies as the only men to capture the career ‘Golden Slam.’ That means all four majors AND an Olympic gold medal. Federer just reached the milestone when he won doubles in Beijing and the singles title at Roland Garros. Mac didn’t do it. Pistol Pete didn’t either. Maybe it’s because Nestor is on the road representing Canada for practically 10 months of the year and only at home for eight weeks. Maybe it’s because he’s a pretty quiet guy who doesn’t get excited very often. Either way, Nestor has accomplished more in his chosen sport than most other elite Canadian athletes, and yet his accomplishments are generally an afterthought. Today in the sports headlines he followed hockey free agency, a tour golf event and a player fined in the CFL.
So on Saturday, Nestor and Nenad will face the rival Bryan Brothers from the United States in surprisingly, their first Grand Slam meeting. The Canuck will be going for this sixth Grand Slam crown to go along with his 60 Tour titles. Did you know that he’s won more tournaments than any active player?
And as we all get back to work after celebrating Dominion Day, take note that Nestor, a dedicated Davis Cup player, will return to Toronto for just two days before hopping on a plane and joining the Canadian Davis Cup team in Peru for an Americas Zone Group I relegation match. I can almost guarantee you that most star tennis players would skip a match like this so close after a Grand Slam. But Nestor has continually answered the call for the red and white. We should all be proud of this humble Canadian, even if he is a die-hard Habs fan.
Tuesday, June 30th, 2009
For obvious reasons, the hype is around Roger, Andy and the roof. But take a look at the ladies draw. Top four seeds into the semifinals. This should be a blast. It’s USA versus Russia as world No. 1 Dinara Safina takes on Miss Wimbledon Venus Williams in one matchup on Thursday and Serena Williams versus Olympic gold medallist Elena Dementieva in the second semifinal. Say what you want about the ‘no clear No. 1′ stuff. This will be a very exciting end to the women’s Campionship Wimbledon. Fans, the media and organizers could not have asked for more.
Any way the finals shape up, it will be in dramatic fashion. All Williams / American? All Russian? One versus Two? Defending champ vs. Olympic champ? They are the top four players in the world and in the draw. This time the wome’s game is right.
Of course the way the players got to this point are a little different. Venus and Serena gave up a TOTAL OF EIGHT GAMES in their two quarter-final encounters. Dementieva has breezed through to the final four as well. Safina, who looked fatigued, had to work hard come back and beat Sabine Lisicki of Germany (who won the Toronto Tevlin Challenger last year).
In a sport that features more countries as elitists than any other, two nations stand alone as the two to beat. Hardly the Miracle on Ice but the world will be watching as these two tennis super powers collide.
Friday, June 19th, 2009
While there’s no hiding that I would love to see Roger Federer claim the record-breaking 15th Grand Slam of his wonderful career at Wimbledon, I’m also upset about the fact that Rafael Nadal won’t be in London to defend his crown at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.
Fans don’t get a full sense of the amount of pressure these guys but on their body. I remember my time at the Raptors – guys would get plantar fasciitis all the time. Running, jumping, changing directions quickly on such a hard surface takes a toll on your body. The same can be said on the tennis court. Even more so on the hard court. Which is why I’m a little concerned about Rafa considering he’s only played the Australia / Miami / Indian Wells swing before switching the clay.
I’ve said in a previous blog that Federer (minus mono) has been healthy throughout this illustrious run. Nadal has not been so lucky. We all remember when he first made a mark on the ATP World Tour, the Spaniard was much heavier and reminded me of the professional wrestler “The Ultimate Warrior.”
While Rafa lost the weight and trimmed down to be a model muscular pro athlete, the toll on his knees was too much to handle. Let’s hope that this set back is minor so that we can all continue to watch and appreciate the best rivalry in sport. Despite being a hardcore Yankees fan (boo BoSox), there is not a better battle than Roger vs. Rafa right now.
Fans in the UK will be happy to know thast Scot Andy Murray found the other side of the draw from Federer so the local dream final is still a possibility. People are going to assume that it’s a walk in the park for Federer to the final now but there’s probably more pressure for him to win now in 2009 at Wimbledon than ever before.
Let’s all enjoy the fortnight unfold.
Oh … and good luck on Saturday Frank!