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What the papers say

Eugenie Bouchard at Wimbledon on Day 11
by Clive White
Friday 4 July 2014

Where would the media be if Eugenie Bouchard had not come along this year with her regal name, good looks and even better looking tennis?

Without her, it would have had little to talk about after the slightly premature departures of Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. It was difficult to tell, though, whether it was pining for the old stars or looking forward to welcoming the new ones.

“The civilisation of women’s tennis has collapsed,” wrote Simon Barnes in The Times, only slightly tongue-in-cheek. “There is no ruler, nothing even remotely like a sustainable hierarchy, no one knows what’s going on. Mere anarchy has been unleashed upon the once rock-solid stable world of the women’s game.

He continued: “The Williams sisters have ceded power in the manner of King Lear – half-heartedly and trying to hang on to their former privileges. Maria Sharapova has the temperament to play the part of the new queen, but has never been consistent enough...the game is crying out for someone to make the big shift from excellence to greatness: a champion who has more than colossal talent, who has the game and the nature to boss the circuit and intimidate the rest.”

Having watched the Bouchard and Simona Halep semi-final, which might have been closer but for the latter’s early ankle injury, Barnes was encouraged to add: “Or there could be two of them. That’s always the best fun.”

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Alyson Rudd, also in The Times, wondered whether the other ladies’ finalist, the slightly fragile Petra Kvitova, should be admitting in public how important her mental coach was to her game. “You can stare all day long at Maria Sharapova and never be at all sure if she feels self-doubt or not. The idea was for Kvitova to be similarly inscrutable. [Michal] Safar knew that Kvitova was riven with insecurity, but he did not think it was such a good idea for everyone else to see this.”

Martha Kelner, in the Daily Mail, says that Kvitova will lift a ban on her parents watching her in tomorrow’s final. “Father Jiri and mother Pavla were in floods of tears alongside Martina Navratilva when she won Wimbledon as a 21-year-old in 2011. It remains her only Grand Slam victory,” says Kelner. It makes one wonder why they were ever banned in the first place.

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The media has been busy playing its own version of television’s Give Us a Clue following Andy Murray’s reported outburst, apparently aimed at his box, shortly before his match against Grigor Dimitrov on Wednesday. Murray is alleged to have screamed: “****ing five minutes before the match.”

The theory is that he was unhinged before his unexpected straight sets defeat. Scribes have been busily at work trying to find out just what he was referring to and, perhaps even more importantly, who his outburst was aimed at, but no one yet has.

There were plenty of guesses, though, as one could imagine. Everyone and everything from his coach Amelie Mauresmo to his girlfriend Kim Sears fell under the microscope. “Wicked internet speculation that she [Sears] had chosen five minutes before the big match to dump him/tell him she was pregnant/say she had always liked Roger [Federer] cannot be substantiated,” jested Paul Harris in the Daily Mail. “But the breaking news last night was that Miss Sears had accidentally let slip the ending of a box-set TV series they had been watching.”

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Not everyone was shedding a tear for Andy Murray, though. Apparently not his brother, Jamie, who at the time of writing is still in the competition. Wrote Stuart Fraser in the Daily Mail: “At least someone is still playing and the family can get out and support,” said Jamie. “Andy’s had a pretty good run of things at Wimbledon over the last five or six years. I’m sure he’s disappointed with the way things went this year but I won’t be losing too much sleep about it.”

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Had Andy Murray got through his quarter-final against Grigor Dimitrov he would, of course, have been involved in today’s semi-finals. It would have been a close run thing which event television viewers chose to watch: Murray’s semi-final or the France v Germany World Cup quarter-final, but perhaps not, according to Daniel Schofield in The Times. He reported that Murray’s quarter-final was watched by a mere 2.5 million viewers on BBC One. 

“Even though the match was in working hours, the defending champion’s exploits only attracted 38 per cent audience share for Wednesday afternoon. So what were the rest of the great British public watching? On Channel 4 there was a Countdown-Deal or No Deal double-header, but that was trumped by ITV’s offering of Peter Andre’s 60 Minute Makeover.”

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20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...

20:03"I already have seven. It's not like I need another one. But it would have been awfully nice to have it. I think that's what the feeling was of the people, and I felt that... I know they love tennis. They love tennis after we're all gone."

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