Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Houston Holds Serve: Wimbledon Doesn't Care About Fireworks

 It may be the Fourth of July, but that won't stop Mike Houston from providing you instant insight into what is going on at Wimbledon.

Happy Fourth of July, my Puddlers. We are in a weird place this year with the Fourth of July as it falls in the middle of the week and a lot of businesses don't know how to handle the vacation situation and no one really wants to do any work at all. Because its on a Wednesday, the Fourth of July has been put on an island of sorts—no one really knows how to get to its true spirit, no one really knows if its safe to go to the beach and basically everyone is stuck buying volleyballs, drawing blood from themselves and painting a human face on the surface of the volleyball so they have someone to talk to that "understands" them. It's all very disturbing to someone like me who loves the Fourth of July with a passion, especially partying and swimming on it. But, hey, at least AMC is running an "Independence Day" marathon, right?

Despite all this carnage, our resident tennis expert and die-hard Redskins fan, Mike Houston, decided to provide some Wimbledon analysis, since I am too heartbroken over Nadal's loss to even turn on the coverage. The Brits don't celebrate the Fourth and they are holding high-class tennis matches on our sacred holiday, we had to do SOMETHING to try and out-do them.

Enjoy the holiday everyone, have about fifty beers and play air guitar on the beach to this song for me. Pleny of windmill moves, OK?

Put on your tennis whites folks, Wimbledon is here! More specifically, Wimbledon has narrowed down the fields to the final eight men and four women through eight thrilling days of competition. As you should know by now, Wimbledon will also play host to the tennis competition in this year’s Olympic games in London, but for now everyone is focused on taking home a different piece of metal: the Wimbledon Cup. We’ve seen top seeds go down in each division*, thrilling comebacks, and Cinderella runs, not to mention the prospect of historic victories that still lie ahead. Let’s dive right into the action:

(*Editor’s Note: That’s what Maria Sharapova gets for marrying Sasha Vujacic. Ah, what the hell—I’m sorry Maria, I will always love you no matter what your marital status is.)

1st Set —The biggest storyline of the first week had to be 2nd seeded Rafa Nadal losing to Lukas Rosol in an epic 5 set match. Rosol pounded the ball against the Spaniard and withstood Nadal’s 5th set onslaught when he usually digs deep and pulls these types of matches out. Nadal has been very outspoken about the ATP yearly schedule and the amount of time players get off. The time from the French Open to Wimbledon is the shortest between Slams, and the transition from clay to grass takes time. Only 4 times in the last 32 years has a player won both the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year. Two of those occasions were Rafa Nadal. This year however, he just didn’t have enough in the tank.

2nd Set —Not to be outdone with upsets and excitements the women’s bracket got shook up as well*. Top seeded Maria Sharapova lost in the 4th round to Sabine Lisicki in straight sets. Kim Clijsters also lost her 4th round match to Angelique Kerber, ending her chance to make a deep run at the only Slam she’s never made it to the finals of.  Defending champ Petra Kvitova had a nice tournament, but her bid to repeat was ended in quarterfinals by Serena Williams.

(*Editor’s Note: Though, to be fair, in the past four years or so every #1 seed in the women’s bracket seems to bow out early in nearly every Grand Slam tournament. It seems that no one has truly been man enough to handle the #1 seed since Serena.)

3rd Set — The women’s semis are set after Tuesday’s action. Serena, the lone American left in the field, will take on two seed overall Victoria Azarenka. Serena is 7-1 all time against Azarenka including a victory in the Madrid Open finals less than two months ago. If she can draw on that experience, she can make it to her 7th Wimbledon final, four of which she has won. In the other semifinal, Angelique Kerber faces Agnieska Radwanska. Both are top 10 players and both are women whose names you don’t want to try to pronounce while inebriated.

4th Set —Perhaps shaken by seeing Nadal’s early exit, Roger Federer almost went down the very next day. He lost the first two sets to Julien Benneteau and mounted an incredible rally to win the final three and the third round match. Among the other quarterfinalists, only Novak Djokovic has yet to play a tiebreak set in any match. The
Great British Hope Andy Murray has been largely untested as well, and Frenchman Jo-Wilifried Tsonga dispatched Mardy Fish* in the 4th round to reach the quarters.

(*Editor’s Note: As per usual, in each Mardy”The Fish Man” Fish match played at Wimbledon, it looked like he had just come from a late brunch with all of his Dartmouth frat buddies and that he was sweating out bloody mary mix during each rally. But I love Mardy, though—real old soul.)

5th Set — Each quarterfinal in the men’s bracket pits experience against the unacquainted. Federer, Djokovic, Murray and Tsonga have 14 Wimbledon semifinal appearances between them. Conversely, Mikhail Youzhny, David Ferrer, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Florian Mayer are all in the quarterfinals in London for the first times in their careers.  Well fine, Mayer made the quarters in 2004, but that was so long ago that we were all still thought Coldplay was interesting. The point being that these spring chickens will have to play their best against the seasoned men of Wimbledon in order to reach the final four.

Tiebreak —My predictions for the rest of the tournament:

Women’s Semifinals: Williams over Azarenka, Radwanska over Kerber

Women’s Final: Williams over Radwanska

Men’s Semifinals: Federer over Djokovic, Tsonga over Murray

Men’s Final: Federer over Tsonga

1 comment:

  1. Good call on the Federer win, the other semi was a toss-up. Quick thoughts before the final in less than 24 hours?