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10 things we learned from Wimbledon 2014

by Dan Imhoff
Monday 7 July 2014

1) Watching Djokovic is stressful for a pregnant fiancée

Poised to get his hands on Wimbledon’s gold cup for a second time, Novak Djokovic let a 5-2 lead in the fourth set and a championship point go begging as Roger Federer stormed back to force a fifth set. Stressful enough for his team watching from the players’ box. Worse for his pregnant fiancée Jelena Ristic having to watch the match on television, when she’s meant to be putting her feet up. “I spoke to her. ‘Darling did you have any contractions?’ She said ‘You should keep your matches shorter’,” Djokovic revealed to ESPN afterwards.

2) Nadal is not the only man who can beat Federer in a Wimbledon final

Looking to become the oldest man in the Open Era to win the Gentlemen’s Singles crown, the seven-time champion looked like he would become the first man since Bob Falkenburg in 1948 to save a championship point en route to victory when he stole the fourth set from the brink of defeat. He would come up short at the final hurdle, missing a break-point opportunity at 3-3 before dropping serve to hand his opponent a second Wimbledon title. “I'm very happy to see that I can produce a performance like I did the last two weeks,” he said. “That clearly makes me believe that this was just a stepping stone to many more great things in the future.”

3) Becker pegs one back on Edberg

In the first Wimbledon final where both coaches were former Wimbledon champions, it was German great Boris Becker who would walk away with bragging rights over his one-time rival Stefan Edberg. Becker won 25 of the 35 times he played the serve-volleying Swede and finished his career with one more Wimbledon title, but Edberg won two of the three Wimbledon finals the pair played. He now leads his great Swedish rival in the coaching Grand Slam tally 1-0 and what a stage to do it on.

4) The Murray-Mauresmo partnership enters new territory

Amelie Mauresmo entered her first serious test on trial as Andy Murray’s coach and despite the defending champion’s quarter-final exit, it is too early to tell what impact if any she will have on the Scot’s game, given her appointment was only made during the French Open. By way of his defeat to Grigor Dimitrov in the last eight, Murray will tumble to No.10 in the rankings, his lowest standing in six years. He has only reached one semi-final in four Grand Slams since his Wimbledon triumph and has not beaten a top-10 player since last year’s Wimbledon final, but is expected to announce an extension of his deal with Mauresmo.

5) Nadal is most vulnerable against players with triple-digit rankings

After a run of five straight Wimbledon finals (barring the 2009 Championships he missed), Nadal has crashed out before the quarter-final stage to a player ranked No.100 or lower in each of the past three years. In 2012, it was world No.100 Lukas Rosol; last year, world No.135 Steve Darcis and now world No.144 Kyrgios. Every time Nadal had progressed beyond the third round he had found himself in the final. Until now. It is fair to question whether the Spaniard will ever make a deep run at Wimbledon again.

6) Kyrgios is arriving in a hurry

Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic may have finally reached their first Grand Slam semi-finals at Wimbledon, but it was a 19-year-old Australian who announced his arrival in the most emphatic style, saving nine match points against Richard Gasquet before causing one of the biggest boilovers in Wimbledon history, stunning world No.1 and two-time Champion Rafael Nadal in the fourth round. A former junior Australian Open winner, Kyrgios has been cautiously touted as the next big thing in the men’s game for a couple of years, but was never expected to make his breakthrough this soon. “We’ve been waiting for this for a while. We keep saying ‘Who’s the next guy?’ and I think we found that guy right now,” former champion John McEnroe said.

7) Kvitova is back to her brilliant best

Delivering a pure masterclass in power play, scrambling defence and flawless composure in the quickest women’s singles final in 31 years, Czech lefty Petra Kvitova silenced all the Bouchard hype to join the Williams sisters as the only two-time winner since 1996, when Steffi Graf claimed the last of her titles at the All England Club. “She was so unaffected by the occasion. She played this match like it was a practice match on a side court. She goes for a lot, and she wasn't missing. I'm not sure there's anything anyone could have done today,” 1999 champion Lindsay Davenport said.

8) Eugenie Bouchard is knocking on the door

Named after Princess Eugenie and fitting the Prom Queen bill to a T, the blonde, pony-tailed 20-year-old became the first Canadian to reach a Grand Slam singles final. The hype has been mounting. The women’s game has been pining for big names to consistently challenge the later rounds of the majors since the retirement of Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin. Given the inconsistency of Williams and world No.2 Li Na this year, combined with Victoria Azarenka’s stunted comeback from injury, Bouchard has stepped in to put herself in the mix. She heads to Flushing Meadows having reached the semi-finals in Melbourne and Paris and with a maiden Grand Slam final under her belt.

9) Americans no longer a sure thing

The once dominant force in world tennis is no more. When a leg injury forced Madison Keys to withdraw from her match, while trailing by a set to Yaroslava Shvedova, the U.S. was left without a woman in the fourth round at Wimbledon. Hours later, No.9 seed John Isner guaranteed the men would follow suit when he was felled by Feliciano Lopez. It marked the first time in 103 years no American man or woman had reached the last 16. A bunch of young talent – namely Sloane Stephens, Keys and Taylor Townsend – is ensuring it is not yet panic stations for U.S. women’s tennis, and if 21-year-old Jack Sock can transfer the form he carried to a surprise win in the doubles, he could well be the best bet to pick up the pieces for the men.

10) Czech women are on a charge

Nine-time ladies singles champion and Prague-born Martina Navratilova was beaming when Tereza Smitkova, a qualifier ranked No.175 in the world joined Lucie Safarova, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and eventual champion Petra Kvitova in the fourth round at this year’s Championships. “Four Czechs into the second week and none of them are named Berdych – it’s amazing,” she said. It took Kvitova to stop two of her compatriots – Zahlavova Strycova in the quarter-finals and Safarova in the semi-finals. It bodes well for the 2011 and 2012 Fed Cup champions, who will start heavy favourites against Germany when they host this year’s decider in Prague in November.

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