Roger Federer defeats Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 to Claim 8th Wimbledon
At Federer’s advanced age of 35, it would have been an incredible story for him to just win Wimbledon. It was unthinkable that he would win the tournament without dropping a set. In his other 7 Wimbledon titles, he had never done it before. He is the first man to accomplish the feat since Bjorn Borg in 1976. Even at the back end of his career, he is still showing us something we have never seen before. The biggest challenge during his run was the Semifinals against Tomas Berdych. The first two sets went to tie breaks. Nonetheless, Federer found a way to pull it out and win in straight sets. The Finals were anti-climactic. However, it was not a given going into the match. Marin Cilic crushed Federer in the 2014 US Open Semi-Finals. He was also up 2 sets on Federer in their match at Wimbledon last year before Federer surged back, fended off a couple of Match Points, and prevailed in 5 sets. At the beginning of the match, Cilic flashed his power. He got Federer pressing and double faulting. In the fourth game of the set, Cilic had a break point but failed to convert. In the second point of his next service game, Cilic slipped and took a tumble going to the net on a drop shot. The match completely turned after that point. From then on, he hit a lot of unforced forehand errors. For such a big man with a ton of power, it was shocking that he did not even serve a single ace in the first set. His first serve percentage in the first set was a pedestrian 49%. Whether it was due to the pressure of facing Federer at a Wimbledon Final or a physical injury after the fall, Cilic’s legs also tightened and he did not move well. After the first set, Cilic slammed his racket. It snowballed in the second set. He continued to miss easy forehands and gave an early break to Federer. During that set, he also had a medical time out and was in tears. It was unclear whether he was physically hurt or mentally struggling to deal with the moment because he was not receiving any treatment. One of the graphics during the broadcast gave tangible evidence that something was wrong with Cilic: his groundstrokes were down to 62 MPH in the second set from 73 MPH in the first set. He has already won a Grand Slam and played great in his last two matches against Federer. As such, I was not expecting him to have a total meltdown. I thought he had a legit chance at an upset. Nevertheless, I do give Cilic credit for not giving up. He stayed out on the court and provided some resistance in the third set. It would have been a shame to see Federer win a record breaking 8th Wimbledon because his opponent retired due to injury. Although the drama was completely sapped, it was still important to watch Federer win the match with an ace. With his 19th Grand Slam title, it further distances Federer in the argument for the greatest tennis player of all-time. With the way he has played this season, it appears he can still add to his historic total.
The 2017 tennis season has been shocking. It is a replica of the heyday of Federer and Nadal in 2007. They have turned back the clock a decade. Both men have dominated the tournaments this year. It was highly questionable that either man would be relevant again at the end of last season when they were nursing serious injuries at their advanced ages in tennis. It is unbelievable that they are playing as well as they have ever played. Federer has won the Australian Open and Wimbledon while Nadal has won the French Open again. For Federer, the break he took away from the game since suffering an injury that hampered him at last year’s Wimbledon has rejuvenated his career. Honestly, I thought that Federer might have been finally meeting his end when he limped off the court at Wimbledon a year ago. Accordingly, we should be nothing but totally blown away by the fact that he is dominating the game again. For Nadal, he played great in Wimbledon too. However, he lost in an epic five setter that ended with Gilles Muller winning 15-13 in the fifth set. As we head towards the US Open, Federer and Nadal will be the favorites again.
Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray
For Djokovic and Murray, they were obviously hurt during Wimbledon. Murray was up 2 sets to 1 against Sam Querry in the Quarterfinals before he lost 6-1, 6-1 in the final two set. He visibly showed effects of his hip injury. In terms of Djokovic, he was forced to retire at the beginning of the second set against Tomas Berdych in the Quarterfinals. As such, both players are considering a break from tennis similar to Federer. It makes complete sense. Both men are over 30 now. There is usually a steep decline at that age. With the amount of tennis they have played and their current injuries, it is smart for them to recover physically and recharge mentally. Obviously, Federer’s stellar results will give them added motivation to do so. In addition to Federer’s break, I also saw Michael Jordan benefit with a break from basketball in the middle of his career. Although his baseball career was forgettable, I believe it refreshed and sharpened his competitiveness and will to win when he returned to basketball because it was mentally straining to win a championship every year. With Djokovic and Murray likely out for the US Open, it only enhances the expectations that either Federer or Nadal will win the last Grand Slam of the year.
Garbiñe Murguruza defeats Venus Williams 7-5, 6-0 to Claim First Wimbledon
Two years ago, Garbiñe Murguruza played in her first Grand Slam and Wimbledon Final against Serena Williams. Of course, Serena was going for history that year as she won the first three Majors, completed a second Serena Slam (holding all 4 Grand Slam titles at the same time), and set her sights on completing the Calendar Slam. Naturally, that story line overshadowed everything else that year which included Murguruza’s first appearance on the big stage. After losing that Wimbledon, Murguruza was in tears. Serena even took a moment in her victory speech to console the young, up and coming player. Those words have been both prophetic and ironic: “Don’t be sad. You’ll be holding this trophy very, very soon.” Since then, Murguruza won her first Grand Slam by annihilating Serena in the 2016 French Open. After that victory, I thought she had fully emerged and primed to take the torch as the face of women’s tennis from Serena in coming years. However, her play has been very inconsistent outside of that French Open. Although she was certainly capable of returning to the Wimbledon Final this year, it was certainly far from a given.
In terms of Venus, it has been a trying time in her career since she last won a Major in 2008 at Wimbledon. In 2011, she was diagnosed with Sjögrens Syndrome. It sapped her strength and derailed her career. Moreover, she has been completely overshadowed by the greatness of her younger sister, Serena, who is now considered the greatest women’s tennis player of all-time. Nevertheless, she persisted and pushed through despite her illness and advancing age. In addition, she has never shown an ounce of jealousy towards her sister. She has been a model sibling and forever gracious and supporting to Serena. Right before this tournament, she faced adversity again as she was involved in a tragic accident. At first, the police suggested she was at fault for failing to yield the right of way. However, they have recanted that conclusion. While she waits for a total resolution to the case, it may just be an incident where it was an accident and no one was reckless or totally at fault. Regardless, the event definitely shook her and she was in tears and heartbroken when she was asked about it by the press. In spite of all the trials and tribulations, Venus played great and rolled through Wimbledon, except for an early 2nd round scare, on route to the Finals at the ripe age of 37.
Despite how well Venus played in the tournament, I thought she would need to bring her A game to beat Murguruza in the Finals. Murguruza completely dominated in the semi-finals winning 6-1, 6-1 in straight sets. She has the talent to be tennis’s next great superstar, already won a Grand Slam against Serena and been to a Wimbledon Final against Serena, and much younger than Venus at 23. Although I wanted to see Venus win another Major, I thought Murguruza was going to win. The oddsmakers did too as Murguruza was the favorite heading into the match. Despite Venus’s experience, Murguruza was not going to be afraid of her. In fact, she embraces and relishes playing Serena and Venus, two women she idolized growing up, on the biggest stages. Nevertheless, Murguruza was definitely nervous at the beginning of the match. She over hit forehands and double faulted multiple times in the first set. Venus absolutely had her chance to win the match in the first set. After Venus won every point in her service game by overpowering Murguruza to go up 5 games to 4 in the set, she had a chance to break with double set points. Murguruza remained determined and resolute. She saved the first set point by winning a 20 stroke rally that ended with a Venus forehand that misfired into the net. If Venus converted one of those set points, the pressure would have intensified on Murguruza. Even after Murguruza won her service game, she was over hitting forehands when she was trying to break Venus’s serve before eventually doing so. From then on, it was lights out. She loosened up and played her best tennis. At the same time, Venus made unforced error after unforced error. She ended the match with 25 unforced errors compared to Murguruza’s 11. Again, Serena’s words from two years ago were prophetic and ironic. It was prophetic because Murguruza won it. It was ironic because she did it against Serena’s sister, Venus, who was denied her 6th Wimbledon title. Impressively, Murguruza is the only player to ever beat both Serena and Venus in a Grand Slam Final.
For Venus, it was an extremely disappointing defeat. At her age and playing on her best surface, this year’s Wimbledon Final might have been her best and last chance to ever win another Grand Slam title. Nonetheless, she has nothing to hold her head down about. Her story of perseverance was already incredible and inspiring. She has fought her way back to make the Wimbledon Semi-Final last year and two Grand Slam Finals this year (lost to Serena at the Australian Open). I have learned not to underestimate a Williams sister. Although I have no idea if Venus will ever win another Grand Slam, I would not bet against it either. It is difficult to say that she is not capable of it when she has been to two Finals this year. Even if she does not, she is an all-time great anyway. She has won 7 Grand Slams, including 5 Wimbledons. She is 7-9 in Grand Slam Finals. However, 7 of those losses are against Serena, who is her sister and the greatest of all-time. Venus is 7-2 against everyone else. If it were not for Serena in her way, she would probably have 10-12 Major Championships. It would have tied her with Billie Jean King at 7th place. Nevertheless, she is tied for 12th place at 7. Moreover, Serena and her ushered in the era of power tennis in the women’s game. Most importantly, Venus was a pioneer fighting for equal prize money for the women’s draw. For all those reasons, her place in the history of the sport is secure and locked in. Of course, it would still be nice to have a cherry on top with one more Grand Slam.
In regards to Murguruza, the sky is the limit. She has two Grand Slams and obviously is young and talented enough to win a lot more. She has the game, poise, swagger, and competitiveness. If you watch one of her press conferences, she also has a lot of charm. She has every attribute to be women’s tennis’s next great superstar. The game certainly needs her to be because the buzz has died down considerably with Serena out due to her pregnancy. I expect her to return and dazzle us for a few more years but she will not be around forever. Obviously, Murguruza still needs to prove she can be consistent and in contention at every Major. She raises her game for the biggest matches but plays down to the competition in lesser matches. In my opinion, she is up for the task. How could great can she be? She does not have the power or serve that either of the Williams sisters feature. Of course, no other women do either. If she reaches her full potential, I think she lands between the caliber of player between Maria Sharapova, who won 5 Grand Slams, and Venus, who has 7. In other words, Murguruza can be an all-time great but maybe not the upper echelon of Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, and Serena. Unfortunately, we are still in an age when I think a women’s beauty still has a lot of weight in her popularity. Murguruza certainly has plenty of substance with a brilliant game. Nevertheless, she is also a beautiful young women. She has all the talent and looks to be the next face of women’s tennis.