Oh boy, the Frites Family picked a doozy of a week to toddle off to a tropical paradise (hey, as either of the ladies finalists would second, when opportunity knocks, take it!) But anyway, we’re back on the mainland, all accounted for, not suffering from virgin baby skin sunburn and just a wee bit of jet lag, but we’re still trying to sort out what exactly happened on the lawns of Wimbledon while we had our feet (and heads, to some degree) stuck in the sand.
Djokovic vs. Murray – Okay, this final is not exactly a surprise on paper. But there have been so many shockers along the way – like the five set quarterfinal Murray had to battle through vs. Fernando Verdasco (!) in order to face Jerzy Janowicz in the semis (!!!) – that this final match up seems like a not so small miracle. And don’t even get me started on Nole’s clutch victory over Juan Martin Del Potro in Friday’s first semi, now the longest in Wimbledon history. It’s like Nole can’t help it- let me push myself to the absolute brink of what is humanly possible and then magically pull through at the last possible moment with a few brilliant swings of the racquet. The Centre Court crowd may have been cheering for Del Potro today (did they think he’d give Murray an easier final?), but it’s Nole who continues to amaze, confound and entertain in the biggest matches.
Bartoli vs. Lisicki – Wow. No one, and I mean no one, would have penciled in the No. 15 vs. No. 23 seeds to meet in this Wimbledon final. Crazy. Agnieszka Radwanska, she of the arctic handshake, put it this way after losing that amazing semi to Sabine: “No Serena, Maria, Vika…Yeah, definitely am disappointed.”
The result was obviously gut wrenching for Aga, last year’s finalist and this year’s No. 4 seed, who happens to have a 7-0 career record vs. Bartoli. But I, for one, am not disappointed in the least! I’ve been a Sabine Believer for a long time and I’m thrilled to finally see her go (almost) all the way. And unlike, say, Stakhovsky or Darcis, at least Sabine has had the pluck to make good after her huge win over Big Seed Serena in the fourth round.
Which brings us to the main point I’m trying to make: Hey, this is fun! No matter which member of the Big Four you adore, it’s been exciting watching some other players – both experienced and upstarts – challenge them. Sure I wanted Murray in the final over Janowicz (come on, the stakes are just so deliciously high!), but I still found myself giggling deliriously when Jerzy took the first set in Friday’s semifinal and was up a break in the second. Finally! It made me realize how much tennis needs a jolt of fresh talent in the veins these days.
As for the ladies, I think this final is just as good – maybe better – than the old “will she at least make Serena (or Maria) raise an eyebrow at some point?” narrative that most of the recent Major finals have established. This isn’t to malign a great champ like Serena – I’m simply enjoying the novelty of it all. Serena still has plenty of chances to hoover up those Major titles. For Lisicki and Bartoli, this may be the chance of their lifetimes. Can’t ask for better drama than that.
In doubles – look out for the amazing Bryan Brothers, who are looking to win their 15th Major title as a team and their fourth in a row (plus last summer’s Olympic gold). They take on Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo. In Ladies action, we have the team of Su-Wei Hsieh and Peng Shuai (both double handed on both sides, like singles finalist Bartoli) taking on Australians Ashleigh Barty and Casey Dellacqua.
So what are your thoughts going into this weekend at Wimbledon?