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What the papers say

Andy Murray lines up a forehand
by Clive White
Thursday 26 June 2014

Andy Murray’s defeat of the Slovenian qualifier Blaz Rola for the loss of just two games and the removal of the No.7 seed David Ferrer from his quarter of the draw got the British media all excited about his chances of retaining his Wimbledon title in 10 days’ time and wondering whether the Amelie Mauresmo factor was already yielding dividends. All of a sudden Ivan Lendl was yesterday’s man.

Oliver Brown, of the Daily Telegraph, asked: “Should we call this fearsome trouncing of Rola the Mauresmo effect? Murray never registered such a brutal scoreline under the tutelage of Ivan Lendl, and in only his fourth match mentored by the Frenchwoman he claimed the most one-sided result of his Wimbledon career. So consummate was his performance that the Duchess of Cornwall even left her place in Centre Court’s royal box to watch the demolition job taking place on Court No.1.”

Without wishing to sound like a killjoy, it might be worth mentioning that at the time of writing Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Stanislav Wawrinka and the impressive young Grigor Dimitrov are all still in the game and that Ferrer is not a grass court player and, anyway, by his standards, is experiencing a difficult year.

So one-sided was the match and without much incident that at the post-match press conference Murray was “questioned about pretty much everything except the crisis in Ukraine,” as Alyson Rudd, of The Times, put it. “The story that everyone seemingly cannot get enough of is how the Scot saved a dog 24 hours before beginning the defence of his title,” she added. “As he retold the tale, it was all too easy to imagine him one day sitting his grandchildren on his lap, only for them to ask not how he triumphed at the All England Club but how he rescued a labradoodle.”


Novak Djokovic, by comparison, was all nervous tension in his match against the 35-year-old veteran Radek Stepanek, which Simon Briggs, of the Daily Telegraph, saw as a repetition of his mood in Paris, where he just failed to win the one Grand Slam that has eluded him. “At his best, he is serene and poised at these early-round matches, achieving the sort of Zen-like state you might expect from a patrol of Wimbledon’s local Buddhist temple,” said Briggs.
“But there was no incense in the air as yesterday’s match slipped out of control. Having held a comfortable two-set lead after 75 minutes, Djokovic let the contest balloon into a three-hour arm wrestle.”


Harvey Araton, in the International New York Times, thought he saw “Venus-in-trouble alerts” from the Williams sister in her match against Kurumi Nara, of Japan, as she dropped the first three games before coming through the second round match. “Would it finally be time for her to acknowledge that, in addition to illness, age had gotten the best of her?
“The normally private Williams, who bared almost all while posing recently for ESPN The Magazine’s body issue, swatted away the suggestion like the most routine volley. ‘I’ve worn my sunscreen so I haven’t aged terribly,’ she said. ‘My knees are very tight, not saggy. And the crow’s feet have been kept at bay’.”


Venus Williams plays another former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the next round and Simon Cambers, of The Guardian, noted the Czech girl’s own unpredictability at times, although the player herself found Wimbledon had a calming effect upon her. “There is not much middle ground with Kvitova: when she is on, she can look like the best player in the world; when is not, the wheels can come off, fast,” wrote Cambers. “But grass courts are perfect for her game-style and she takes some stopping.”
He reported Kvitova as saying: ‘When I’m playing the first matches in Eastbourne, I’m never feeling that confident as when I’m coming here. So definitely it’s about the atmosphere and about the memories that I have.’


Not everyone it appears loves Wimbledon, though. A Daily Telegraph story reported the French player Benoit Paire as saying after his defeat to Lukas Rosol: “I’m not at all sad to leave this place where the atmosphere displeases me greatly. But I prefer not to say anything because people will think I look a s***. Simply, I hate Wimbledon and I’m glad to leave as soon as possible.” And once he had lost his doubles match, too, he had his wish.


The appointment of Bob Brett as the Lawn Tennis Association’s new director of player development was hailed as “the best thing to happen to British tennis in a generation” by none other than Goran Ivanisevic in a Daily Telegraph story by Gavin Mairs. The Australian coach had guided Ivanisevic to his 2001 Wimbledon title. Mairs reported the Croatian as saying: ‘It’s going to be a success – because Bob won’t take any nonsense from anyone.’
In the same story, Julien Hoferlin, the Belgian coach of Dan Evans who is leaving the LTA after six years, claimed that some British players were spoilt and that a major failing of the organisation was its inability to bring enough juniors through to the professional ranks. It quoted Hoferlin as saying: ‘There’s not an exceptional tennis culture at club level and the players are spoilt.’


World Cup questions abound at post-match press conferences at Wimbledon, although few players seem to be as keen on the game as the recently retired David Nalbandian, who was runner-up in the men’s singles here in 2002. In fact, according to a story in the International New York Times by Ravi Ubha, he once had his match scheduled at Wimbledon so that he could see his beloved Argentina team play a quarter-final against Germany in the 2006 World Cup.

Andrew Jarrett, the Wimbledon referee, told Ubha of Nalbandian’s visit to the referee’s office: “David came, he wanted to watch Argentina play, and I think the chat went something along the lines of: ‘We’ll do the best we can. It might be that you don’t play on as big of a court as you might have done. I forgot the exact line, but his reply was something like, ‘I don’t mind if you play me on the practice courts’.”

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