No. 1s ran tables at wacky '10 Wimbledon
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In one of the wackiest Wimbledon tournaments ever staged, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams came out on top when all the smoke cleared at the storied All England Club.
Oddly enough, one constant throughout the fortnight was unusually clear and hot conditions, as play was not once interrupted by rain. For the second year in a row, Wimbledon enjoyed basically sun-spanked playing conditions, which is a far cry from the weather that they typically get around London in late-June and early-July.
Since the All England Club installed that very expensive retractable roof on Centre Court, they've only had to use it once because of the weather, and that day came last year, and the rain only lasted for about 30 minutes.
On the courts at the AEC, Nadal and Serena were busy adding major hardware to their ever-growing collections.
The world No. 1 Nadal, who was somehow seeded second behind defending champion Roger Federer, nailed down his second overall, and second straight (for him), Wimbledon title, while Serena recorded her second straight and fourth overall championship at The Championships. Nadal hasn't actually won it two years in a row, because he missed the tourney last year due to knee injuries. He won it in 2008, capped by his incredible win over Federer in a final that turned out to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, tennis matches of all- time, and won seven straight matches again there this year, giving the super Spaniard a 14-match winning streak at the venerable Club.
|World No. 1 Rafael Nadal has won the title in his last two appearances at the All England Club.|
The top-ranked Serena, meanwhile, now owns 13 career major titles after pasting Russian Vera Zvonareva in the women's finale. She improved to 4-2 in her career Wimbledon finals, while Nadal is now 2-2, with his losses coming at the hands of Federer, back-to-back, in 2006 and 2007.
The seemingly-unbeatable Nadal, who's won 31 of his last 32 matches on tour, now boasts eight Grand Slam singles titles and currently holds both the Wimbledon and French Open crowns. It was 28 years before someone matched Bjorn Borg by winning the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year when Rafa finally turned the trick two years ago, but it's now be done three years in a row, as Federer did it last year and Nadal did it for a second time this season.
A rarity that's no longer rare, I guess.
Note: The 24-year-old Nadal still needs a U.S. Open title to complete the coveted career Golden Slam (Aussie Open, French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open, Olympic gold medal). Only Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf have turned the trick in singles.
Nadal is now tied for seventh on the men's all-time list with his eight major titles, joining legends Fred Perry, Ken Rosewall, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl, and Agassi. Federer is the all-time leader with 16. In the Open Era (since 1968), Nadal is tied for fourth, behind only Federer, Pete Sampras (14) and Borg (11).
The 28-year-old Serena currently holds the Wimbledon and Aussie Open crowns and will be the heavy favorite to prevail at the U.S. Open in September. It's hard to say whether or not Nadal will be the men's favorite in Flushing at this point, but only time will tell if the Mallorcan strongman can break through and reach his first-ever final and capture his first-ever title in New York.
|Serena Williams has won two straight and four overall Wimbledon championships.
Serena, who was tied with Billie Jean King (12), is now alone in sixth place on the women's all-time list with her 13 majors. She'll have to win five more to move up and join legends Martina Navratilova (18) and Chris Evert (18) for a share of fourth place. Aussie Margaret Court is the all-time leader with 24 majors (11 in the Open Era). Serena's already fourth on the list in terms of Open Era Grand Slam titles, behind Steffi Graf (22), Evert and Navratilova.
Outside of the singles titlists at the Big W, the biggest story at the AEC was the record-setting match played between 6-foot-9 American John Isner and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut. They played a first-round affair that took three days, or 11 hours and 5 minutes, to complete. They set a ton of records in that one, like longest-ever match played, most aces in a match, and most- incredibly, the longest-ever tiebreak, which carried on for an astounding 138 games, with the 23rd-seeded seeded Isner coming out on top 70-68. The marathon of all marathons started on a Tuesday and ended two days later. The previous longest-ever match lasted a paltry 6 1/2 hours.
It's safe to say that Isner and Mahut set a record that will never be touched. Maybe some adjustments will be made to assure that we never have to see another 11-hour, 5-minute encounter. Who could possibly want to watch one match for that long? And surely, no one wants to play in one that's that long either.
Of course Wimbledon 2010 was the year of the upset, so much so that a pair of unexpected finalists were produced.
|American John Isner and Frenchman Nicolas Mahut played in the longest-ever tennis match (11 hours, 5 minutes) two weeks ago at the Big W.
On the men's side, Tomas Berdych made it all the way through to the final as a 12th seed, while Zvonareva landed in the women's final, opposite Serena, seeded 21st.
Berdych upended the six-time champion Federer in the quarters, and sent current world No. 2 Novak Djokovic packing in the semis. Federer, who has now lost in the quarterfinals in his last two majors (hmmm), hadn't missed out on the Wimbledon final since way back in 2002. The iconic Swiss had appeared in seven straight finals there, going 6-1, before succumbing to the 6-foot-5 Berdych in the round of eight last week. Could this now be the beginning of the end for Federer, who complained of back and leg problems just minutes after falling to Berdych?
Note: The former long-time No. 1 Federer is now down to No. 3 in the ATP rankings.
The surging Berdych wound up in his first career Grand Slam final, just four weeks after appearing in his first-ever major semifinal, at Roland Garros.
Unfortunately for the big Czech, who's now up to No. 8 in the world, he lost to Nadal in straight sets on Sunday.
|Tomas Berdych has reached the final (Wimbledon) and semifinals (French Open) in his last two Grand Slam events.|
Zvonareva, like Berdych, also appeared in her first-ever Grand Slam final. Unfortunately for her, the great Serena was waiting for the capable Russian, who also lost in the women's doubles final on the second Saturday of the fortnight.
The 25-year-old Zvonareva helped clear her path to the final by stunning U.S. Open champ Kim Clijsters in the quarterfinals. The two-time Wimbledon semifinalist Clijsters was playing her first Wimbledon tennis in four years.
The two-time U.S. Open champion Clijsters reached the quarters by posting an upset, of sorts, by ousting her long-time fellow Belgian rival and fellow former No. 1 Justine Henin in the fourth round last week. It's a shame that these two greats had to play so early on in the draw...but those are the breaks. Henin, like Clijsters, hadn't played at Wimbledon in years...three years to be exact. The 2010 Aussie Open runner-up to Serena (Henin) was trying to capture her first-ever Wimbledon title, but, obviously, didn't come close this time around. As it turns out, Henin played hurt against Clijsters after taking a spill on the court early in the first set of their fourth-rounder at the AEC. Henin won the first set against Clijsters before losing the next two and was later diagnosed with a partial tear of a ligament in her right elbow, an injury that will sideline the seven-time major champion for two months, which means she'll skip the final Grand Slam event of the year, the U.S. Open.
Henin has won just about everything there is to win, with the exception still being Wimbledon, where she was a runner-up in 2001 and 2006.
|Roger Federer failed to reach the Wimbledon final for the first time in eight years.
Better luck next year, Juju!
The biggest upset of the tournament came on the men's side, where 2009 runner-up Andy Roddick was shocked by unheralded Taiwanese Yen-Hsun Lu in five sets in the fourth round.
How did that happen?
I don't know!
Roddick headed to the AEC as a three-time runner-up (to Federer) and was one of the favorites to go deep into the draw, but no one told Lu, who was ranked No. 82 in the world at the time.
The former No. 1 Roddick pushed the mighty Federer to the brink in last year's epic final, as the super Swiss needed 30 games to capture the fifth and final set on the famed Centre Court.
|Vera Zvonareva was a surprise finalist at Wimbledon last week.
The British faithful had their hearts broken for a 74th straight year (on the men's side), as Aussie Open runner-up Andy Murray gave way to the powerful Nadal in the semis. The Dunblane, Scotland native was trying to give the Brits their first male champion there since the aforementioned Perry in 1936, but, of course, that didn't happen...again.
Murray is a two-time Grand Slam runner-up who has yet to reach a final at the All England Club. Tim Henman would almost annually punish the British faithful by coming up short in the semis, which he did on four occasions.
Clearly, Murray is a bigger threat to capture Wimbledon than "Our Tim" was, but, just like "Tiger" Tim, he has yet to break through at his home Slam.
Let's get back to the upsets.
The biggest upset on the women's side came when five-time champion Venus Williams was shown the door by upstart Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova in the quarterfinals. Pironkova also stunned the tall American (in the first round no less) at the Aussie Open four years ago.
The former world No. 1 Venus was last year's Wimbledon runner-up to her younger sister and captured the title back-to-back in 2007 and 2008, as she was trying to reach a fourth straight and ninth overall final at the AEC.
Former champion Maria Sharapova failed in her bid to win a second Wimbledon title when she was dismissed by Serena in the fourth round last week. The former No. 1 Sharapova captured the first of her three major titles by stunning Serena in the 2004 Wimbledon finale.
|Andy Murray came up a semifinal loser for a second straight year at the AEC.
Additional upsets came when U.S. Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki was doused by Czech Petra Kvitova in the fourth round, French Open champ Francesca Schiavone was vanquished by Russian Vera Dushevina in the first round, and Roland Garros runner-up Samantha Stosur was also knocked out in the opening round, by Estonian Kaia Kanepi. Kvitova advanced all the way to the semis before running into Serena, while Kanepi was a surprise quarterfinalist who ultimately fell against the ultra-surprising Kvitova.
Another huge upset came, in the doubles, when a top-seeded tandem of Serena and Venus lost to a Russian duo of Zvonareva and Elena Vesnina in the quarterfinals. The sisters were the two-time defending champs and had won four straight and five of the last six major titles coming in.
FYI, it was 30 years ago today (July 5th) when Borg outlasted John McEnroe in arguably the greatest tennis match of all-time -- the 1980 men's Wimbledon final. My tennis hero Borg prevailed in five sets that day to corral his fifth and final Wimbledon title, despite the fact that Johnny Mac pulled out that memorable fourth-set tiebreak, 18-16.
Where have you gone (obscure '80s unseeded Wimbledon finalist) Chris Lewis?