The Championships 2016 - My Wimbledon Weekend Special
In Pursuit of Greatness: Serena wins Wimbledon and equals Steffi’s Open Era Record, Andy Murray wins his second Wimbledon title in straight sets.
Ladies’ Final: Serena vs Angelique Kerber
The 2016 season has been difficult for the World no. 1. She lost the Australian Open to Angelique Kerber, lost the Indian Wells final to Azarenka and lost the final of Roland Garros to Garbiñe Muguruza. She came to Wimbledon having won just one title of the season in Rome, where she defeated Madison Keys. You think, so many finals and a title isn’t bad, right? Well not if you are Serena Wiliams, the perfectionist who wants to and is expected to win every tournament she enters. For 12 months Serena has been trying with no luck to tie Steffi Graf’s record of 22 major title wins in the Open Era. And it has been a painful and a long road. Serena has mentioned many times during her career that grass is not her favourite surface despite the fact that her game is perfect for it. She came to London to defend her title. Last year by winning Wimbledon 2015 she completed the Serena slam 2.0 having won all four majors in a raw. Something was different about Serena in her 3rd attempt to tie Steffi’s record this season. Putting aside the difficult second round match with Christina McHale, she looked strong and calm in her matches. Her serve was back, her shot making improved, she made far fewer unforced errors. Her match with Svetlana Kuznetsova was a clear indication she was in it to win it. Having won all her matches she reached the final and gave herself yet another chance to equal the record. Kerber reached the final winning all her matches in straight sets and looked to be in a great form. The ultimate challenge for Serena in this match was to stay calm and play her game. Dictate, attack, avoid the unforced errors. Kerber is a quality player and a skilled returner but her serve isn’t the strongest part of her game. Both ladies came onto Centre Court very focused and on top of their game. The match was tight, full of high quality exchanges between the two but it was Serena who knew when to strike first and break her opponent to claim the first set 7 games to 5. One thing we’ve learned about Kerber is that she is not one to give it away cheaply. She fought hard to hold her own service games and even had a look at a break point on Serena’s serve in the second set. Literally a look, because her break point opportunity came and went. Serena, when in trouble, served monster aces to win the game. And history of the first set was repeated when she used a moment of weakness in Kerber’s game to break for a 5:3 lead. The history was once again on Serena’s raquet, only this time she didn't let it go. She finished the match with her trademark unreturnable serves, sending a clear message to her opponent - this one is mine. Serena fell on the grass in joy. After tough losses earlier this year in Melbourne and in Paris she finally put her name in the history books as a 22 time major title winner. A huge relief for her and the team who now have the Olympics to focus on.
Serena’s current status: 22 major titles, including 7 Wimbledon titles, 6 Australian Open titles, 3 French Open titles, and 6 US Open titles. ONE Champion. Congratulations Serena!
Ladies’ Doubles Final: Like the old times
Venus and Serena haven't played doubles on tour in a while so they entered Wimbledon unseeded and far from being the favourites. They’d played a little on clay but lost early in both Rome and at Roland Garros. Of course they came to London to win but also to warm up before the Olympics. They played some amazing matches and as a reward they put themselves in a position to win big again. The final against Shvedova and Babos (seeded 5) was a very close affair with a lot of very high quality shots coming from either side of the net. I’ll be honest with you, I don’t watch doubles often because I have a really hard time following the ball! It’s so fast! The doubles play tests not only the tactics but also requires to have a very good reflex. Venus and Serena played like in the good old days. That match was like a blast from the past. For Venus and Serena age is just a number, the number is 14 - 14 finals, 14 major doubles title together. Once again the Sisters have shown they are from another planet! A great pleasure to see Venus win a major again. The quality of her play in both singles and doubles has been amazing.
Gentelmen’s Final: Andy vs Milos Raonic
Andy had a great run at Wimbledon. Yes he had to play some five set matches but all is well that ends well. His opponent in the final Milos Raonic gave him a hard time just weeks before at Queen’s Club where he was up a set and a break in the final. Andy managed to bring his game up a level and finish the match in 3 sets to become a champion at Queen’s for a historic 5th time. This time they met again for a rematch at a Wimbledon final. Raonic played well and defeated Roger in an epic 5 set semi-final encounter. He looked strong, composed, and more developed as a player. Working with John McEnroe in the weeks leading up to Wimbledon he’s improved his touch at the net and volley skills. He also has a fantastic serve. The ultimate challenge for Andy was to make the most of it in the return games and at a same time hold all of his own service games. The match was very tight due to both Andy’s and Raonic’s solid serving but it was Andy who dominated in the rallies, and net exchanges, He rattled Raonic sending the ball to his feet and making it difficult for tall Raonic to put the ball back in play. The tactic worked wonders for Andy as he won most of the points. They key to Andy’s win in the second and third set was again great returning. At one point Raonic sent a 147 mph bullet at Andy - the fastest serve of the tournament - and… lost the point. Andy won 1st set 6:4 and 2nd and 3rd set in tiebreaks and the match in straight sets in less than 3 hours.
Andy’s grown a lot as a player in last couple of years. He is now a more calm and composed player and his skills are better then ever. In the final match he not only showed he serves and returns great but also deserves to be crowned the king of passing shots. It will be very exciting to see how his game develops during the summer hard court season.
Andy now has a US Open title and two Wimbledon titles in his collection. Congratulations Andy!
A few things we learned at Wimbledon:
Novak is a human after all. The World no. 1 and the hot favourite to win 3rd major of the season lost early to the big serving Sam Queerey in 4 sets. Surely the greatest moment of his career for the American.
A few weeks after winning her first major Garbiñe Muguruza, world no. 2, lost in the second round to a qualifier Jana Cepelova.
Juan Martin Del Potro is back! Playing his first major tournament in 3 years he made it to the third round defeating Stan the Man on his way.
Venus is as good as ever on grass. The older of the Williams sisters made it all the way to the semis where she lost to Kerber, this year’s runner-up.
Dominika Cibulkova is quite a little fighter - defeated Radwanska in a thrilling match 9-7 in the 3rd set.
Both Andy and Serena win their first major of the year. Both lost in the finals of Australian Open and Roland Garros. At Wimbledon they celebrated together at Champions’ Dinner. (I’ve still no news on the dance though! )
Even if you haven’t played doubles in 2 years and are ranked 251 in the world you can win a Wimbledon doubles title - Serena and Venus do it again in 2016. They won their last doubles major here in 2012.
Marcus Willis, a British player ranked no 772 made history when he advanced to the second round and played Roger on Centre Court as a reward.
Andy Murray is capable of returning a 147 mph serve and winning the point!