The 2017 Wimbledon Championships
Written By: Michael Emmett
The championships – as they are known in the UK and most of Europe – will always hold a special place in my heart. The first day (July 3rd) I was fortunate enough to be one of the patrons on these hallowed grounds and I will always remember the pristine, perfectly manicured blades of grass before that first ball was struck – what a memory! The courts were immaculate and it seemed somewhat unfair that the best players in the world on both tours would soon embark on a journey to mess with perfection and ruin such a wonderful sight. That’s what a fortnight of constant matches does to these historical courts.
The matches were magical on that first day, with a smorgasbord of delicious tennis everywhere you looked. We saw three Canadians take aim at the second round – Genie Bouchard, Francoise Abanda & Denis Shapavalov. Only Abanda was successful in her bid to reach the round of 64. So many great matches on day 1, incredible tennis on so many courts with drama & heightened tension. It was one of the best spectator days I can remember as a tennis fan. I want this dream to be a yearly occurrence – it was that good.
Unfortunately, from this point forward my memories are much more toxic. Other than the Muller/Nadal round of 16 match & the Men’s Doubles final the tennis was rather disappointing. Let’s start with 11 total defaults (or retirements is the official language used) for both the Men’s and Women’s draw. This is the most ever in a grand slam event in the open era. Enough said.
What about the juicy possibility of the top 4 men in the game (Federer, Nadal, Murray & Djokovic) squaring off in what could be 2 epic semi-final matches? Unfortunately, this never came to fruition as 3 of the game’s biggest stars didn’t follow through on their end of the bargain. Murray bowed out in sets 4&5 (6-1 in both sets) without much of a fight. Djokovic lost a tight first set against Tomas Berdych and quit a few games into the 2nd set. And Nadal, whom I’ve already mentioned, was involved in the match of the tournament, ultimately succumbing to Gilles Muller in an instant classic 15-13 in the fifth set in an emotion filled battle on court 1.
The women’s semis had the crowd on centre court buzzing with an electric environment but were treated to two major blowouts. Venus Williams dismantled home town hero Jo Konta in straight sets, losing only 6 games in the process, while Garbine Muguruza destroyed Magdelena Rybarikova 6-1, 6-1 in less than an hour. The final was not much better. Venus had set point on Muguruza at 4-5 (15-40) – lost both set points with forehand errors and went on to lose 9 consecutive games in an absolute rout that had the spectators wanting their money back as they felt Venus mailed it in. Her lackluster play was definitely a story of this second last day of the championships.
And what about the Women’s doubles final? What a debacle. Played on Centre court under the lights because of the phenomenal Men’s match that took nearly 5 hours to complete. The Women had been waiting around all day for this important match to take place. And for those who waited around – nearly to 11pm local time in London – it was a memorable match for all the wrong reasons. This championship match ended 6-0, 6-0. Unheard of for a major final. Never before has this happened, and in my opinion, it will never happen again in my, or anybody’s lifetime.
And finally, the letdown of the Men’s final. We all believed Marin Cilic, who had beaten Federer before in a Grand Slam (2014 US Open), could possibly do it again. Cilic was as hot as a firecracker coming into this anticipated match. He had match points on Federer on this same court exactly one year ago. He proved he was the guy to make this a riveting final. We all believed he was the guy that would finally take a set from Federer in these 2017 championships. Cilic was up 2-1 and had a key break point on Federer in the pivotal 4th game of the first set. As we all know by now, he didn’t capitalize and things went drastically downhill from there. Was Cilic overwhelmed by the moment? Why was he sobbing like a boy who had lost his dog during the changeover at 6-3, 3-0? Was there really a blister issue? What happened? Why was breakfast at Wimbledon a massive disappointment? Sure it was great to see a legend win his 8th Wimbledon title and cement his place in history with his 19th overall Grand Slam, but it was so anticlimactic and it was frustrating to see it so one-sided.
In summary, there were many wonderful moments at this year’s 2017 Wimbledon championships, however, they were overshadowed by undesirable instances that we were all forced to witness at one time or another. Wimbledon will always be a spectacular event, hopefully next year we will can look back and cherish the breathtaking men’s final that went 5 sets over a 4- hour period. And maybe the women’s final can be drama filled until the bitter end. Here’s hoping those classic matches (that we’ve all been lucky enough to see in this generation) that garner much of the talk at the water cooler can be front and center next year at this time. I know I’m already planning to be there for a third time in 4 years!