Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why You Should Watch Wimbledon


Tennis was born on the grass lawns of England and to England the game returns every summer. Wimbledon is, of course, the world's most prestigious tournament. One could argue about the relative merits of the four Slams but the fact is, if you wanted to cement your legacy in the sport by winning only one tournament, this would be the one.

Grass Court

Switching from the clay of Paris to the grass of Wimbledon is one of the most abrupt and dramatic transitions on the world sport calendar. The two surfaces, as discussed in regards to Roland Garros, benefit very different players. Grass is for the gunslingers. Big serves and booming ground strokes are rewarded by the low bounce. If you like the power game, sit back and enjoy. Also, from an aesthetic stand point, there is something very satisfying in seeing the summer sunshine on green grass. Neither red dirt nor concrete can quite compare.

Champagne and Strawberries

Looking for a weekend brunch idea? Watch the tournament over the traditional treat served on the grounds: champagne with strawberries and clotted cream. Don't forget, though, that the tournament takes the middle Sunday off. Not that you couldn't have brunch anyway.

No Vuvuzelas

Don't get me wrong. I'm going to have to make tough choices with Wimbledon and the World Cup running concurrently. But I think I can promise you that the tennis coverage will be quieter without the senseless drone of the vuvuzelas. However, should Andy Murray falter for even a point or two in a given match, I can virtually guarantee that comparisons will be made to Robert Green, England's unfortunate goalkeeper. Especially if Murray is facing an American at the time. Never mind the fact that Murray is actually Scottish. This will happen. Count on it!

Serve and Volley

If you watch tennis at all, you've surely heard the old guard (John McEnroe and friends) complaining about the fact that players don't come to the net enough anymore. At Wimbledon, you will hear references to the fact that the grass on the court wears differently from how it did in the good ol' days. You'll see comparison shots of the court in 1979 and the court now. There is now far less wear near the net, far more at the baseline.

The old guard really needs to let this one go. The fact of the matter is that modern racket technology better enables the baseliners to fire soul-crushing passing shots by any would-be volleyers. Johnny Mac wouldn't be quite so gung ho about coming to the net himself if he had Nadal staring him down from the other end of the court, AeroPro Drive in hand.

But if you like serve and volley tennis, Wimbledon is the most likely place to see it.

Federer vs. Nadal

In the story of tennis's greatest rivalry, the best chapters have been written at Wimbledon. Who knows what this year's edition will bring? Federer's brilliant career seems to be trending downward. Nadal has bounced back from his injury-plagued '09 and has returned to the top of the rankings. They are the top two seeds so the possibility of their meeting in the final is there.

The Williamses v. The Belgians

The Williamses have owned Wimbledon. Over the past decade, Venus has won the title 5 times, Serena 3. They've met in the final 4 times. They've also won the doubles together 4 times. Neither Kim Clijsters nor Justine Henin has ever won a singles title at Wimbledon.

Women on the Rise

Sam Stosur's big serve and strong showing in Paris make her a serious dark horse at Wimbledon. One wonders how she will react emotionally to her loss in the final at Roland Garros. Francesca Schiavone, the surprise RG champ, is unlikely to replicate the feat in England but as was her motto, nothing is impossible.

Andy Murray

He is not my favorite player but I have to admit that I feel for Britain's #1 when Wimbledon rolls around. It will be such a relief when a British player finally wins here again. Then we can stop hearing about how long it's been!

Fantasy Tennis

- Tennis Channel bracket challenges for men and women

- Wimbledon suicide pool

1 comment:

  1. I always enjoyed watching at my grandmother's house when I was younger....the Lendl-Becker days...