Tennis is long overdue for a genuine youth movement, especially on the men's side. The youngest of the top seven players in the world is Scotland's Andy Murray at 27 years of age. To those of us north of 40, 27 still seems awfully young but in the tennis world, 25 has long been a line of demarcation. If you haven't made it to the top by age 25, you probably won't. Consider the current kings of the sport. Rafael Nadal won his first Major at 19. Roger Federer won his first at 21. Novak Djokovic was 20. But those three players have had such a stranglehold on the top honors for so long that even the most talented players in the next wave have struggled even to attain relevance. Add in improved sports medicine and fitness and top pros are playing better for longer than ever before. Even the one breakthrough this year was by Stan Wawrinka, already 28 by the time he won the Australian Open in January.
Enter Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, 23 years old. Never heard of him, right? Well, he is no stranger to those who follow tennis with any regularity. As a junior player, Dimitrov was burdened with the nickname Baby Fed, essentially anointed Federer's successor. Like Fed, he has a strong all-court game and a big serve. In a normal era, Dimitrov would probably have won a Major by this point. But the Age of Fed-Rafa-Novak has been anything but normal. Wawrinka did prove, however, that the top dogs are not invincible. Play brilliantly for two weeks and anything is possible.
Dimitrov has a good game for grass courts, a junior champion at Wimbledon. He just won his first ATP grass title a week ago at the 2014 Aegon Championships. He is, without a doubt, a long shot but I think it would be great for the sport if he could pull it off. Then maybe he can be known as something other than Maria Sharapova's boyfriend.
Speaking of 23-year-olds with well-publicized love lives, Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki could probably do with making headlines for her tennis rather than her recent split with golfer Rory McIlroy. She was World #1 for 67 weeks but has never won a Slam title, leaving her open to great criticism while she owned the top ranking. I've always liked her. She smiles a lot. But she really won me over when, in accepting the runner-up trophy at the 2009 US Open, she gave her speech in English, Polish and Danish. That's not something you see every day.
Wozniacki does have a grass court title, having won the Eastbourne tournament in 2009. She is probably an even longer shot than Dimitrov but it would be nice to see her win. It's difficult to feel too badly for anyone with $16 million in career winnings but it's gotta be rough being saddled with a label like Best Player Not to Win a Major as Wozniacki was for a long time.
Interesting picks. My picks are completely sentimental—I'd love to see Fed or Murray hoist the trophy, as well as Venus Williams.ReplyDelete
Your picks, while perhaps sentimental, are probably safer than mine. Each of them has, at least, won before - Fed and Venus pretty much own the place.Delete
"Best Player Not to Win a Major" is probably the worst title to have outside of "Worst Player Not to Win a Major" AC. I'm wishing you a slammin' day.ReplyDelete
But see, it takes a lot of work to be the former, while no effort at all to be the latter. Heck, I could claim the latter without even getting off the couch.Delete
Happy Monday to you, too, Maurice!
My husband watches tennis sometimes, but I'm not much for watching sports. I have noticed that the more attractive a player is, the more likely he/she is to have a lot of fans--and these two certainly fit that bill!ReplyDelete
In as much as my wife cares about tennis at all, she's in it for the eye candy. Rafael Nadal is her favorite.Delete
When I had knees and played tennis I watched. But I lived in an exciting time of tennis and any day the winner could be anyone. Agassi, Connors, Bjorn, Hewitt, Chang, Ashe, Becker, MartinReplyDelete
Evert, Fernandez, Graf, Hingis, King, Navratilova, Carillo, Davenport
Yes I know many of these had several run and I have left out so many other but it was fun to watch even with MaEnroe yelling.
I hope Dimitrov win this year. Anyone new.
The current age is exciting in different ways. The Big 3 (sorry, Murray) are athletic geniuses of the highest order. Matches between them, particularly Federer-Nadal tilts when both are at their best, are masterpieces.Delete
But I'm always up for a first-time winner, no matter the sport.