Monday, July 4, 2011
My Wimbledon top 10
My top 10 Wimbledon occurrences, in ascending order:
10. Serving notice: Serena Williams is back. She lost in the round of 16 to Marion Bartoli, but--as she herself put it: "I can only get better, and that can potentially be really scary...." And after being out for a year and dealing with really serious health issues, getting to the fourth round was really quite an accomplishment.
9. If I don't do it, you know somebody else will: Dominika Cibulkova came back from a set down and defeated world number 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the round of 16. Had Wozniacki won, she would have faced Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals, and one can't help but believe that Sharapova would have still advanced to the semis. Wozniacki's chances will be better at the U.S. Open.
8. Playing the wild card: Sabine Lisicki's ranking, as of today, is up 35 places because of her Wimbledon run to the semifinals. When Lisicki is healthy, her serving alone can get her places. The German wild card upset French Open champion Li Na in the second round, but fell to Maria Sharapova when the final four played. Lisicki has endured a lot of illness and injury since her 2009 Wimbledon quarterfinal run, but made her official comeback when she won the Birmingham title in June.
7. Drama under the roof: On the third day of the tournament, Venus Williams beat Kimiko Date Krumm 6-7, 6-3, 8-6 under the roof on Centre Court. 40-year-old Date Krumm gave Williams all she could handle for three hours. The attacking Japanese star finally lost her nerve in the latter part of the third set, but she and Williams will be remembered for the exciting contribution they made to the first week of the tournament.
6. Oops, I did it...: 2010 semifinalist Tsvetana Pironkova, who has been all but invisible during the last year, returned to Wimbledon to defeat Venus Williams--just like she did last year. Pironkova beat Williams 6-2, 6-3--the same scoreline she had against Williams last year. Pironkova said that she always finds the Wimbledon atmosphere "relaxing." Really.
5. Czhechapalooza!: Czech players won the women's singles, doubles and mixed doubles championships. Petra Kvitova, Kveta Peschke and Iveta Benesova were joined by Czechoslovakian-born Martina Hingis, who was half of the winning Ladies Invitation doubles winning team (played against Czech-born Martina Navratilova and Czech Jana Novotna).
4. A long way back: 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova hadn't made it to the semifinals since 2006. She did it this year, though, and was the favorite to win the tournament. Sharapova played with a rotator cuff injury after her doctor failed to diagnose it, then she had to go through rehab twice. She has had issues with her serve ever since, but her 2011 Wimbledon run (and a French Open run to the semifinals) must surely give her some hope.
3. We're number 1!: Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik, the most successful doubles team so far this year, won their first major title at Wimbledon. This was Srebotnik's fifth time to be in a major women's doubles final. The team is now ranked number 1 in the world.
2. Bartoli def. Pennetta, 5-7, 6-4, 9-7: This was the highest-quality--and the most thrilling--match I saw at the tournament. Grass is generally Pennetta's weakest surface, not to mention that 2011 has not been a very good season for the Italian, who sustained a shoulder injury that kept her out of the game for a while. But something pulled her switch in third the round of Wimbledon, and she put on a show of volleys, drop shots and groundstrokes that took Bartoli to the edge. The fighting Frenchwoman--who sometimes appeard to be on her last leg--paced, sweated, and even threw her parents out of the stands. Unfortunately, someone had to win, and Bartoli, in a stunning display of toughness, did so after three hours and nine minutes. The third set lasted an hour and sixteen minutes, and when it was over, the pair had hit 110 winners. (Pennetta's friend and countrywoman, Francesca Schiavone, would, immediately after, play on the same court--and also lose--in a match against Tamira Paszek that went on for three hours and 41 minutes.)
1. The Rock rocks Wimbledon: 8th seed Petra Kvitova, the player who said her only ritual was to eat a pineapple with her fitness coach every night of the tournament, didn't need any rituals or lucky shoes to win the championship. When it mattered, Kvitova kept her sometimes-errant forehand in check, turning it into a force; and she used her dominating backhand, aggressive style and huge lefty serve to dash the hopes of former champion Maria Sharapova in straight sets. Kvitova also took care of Yanina Wickmayer, Tsvetana Pironkova and Victoria Azarenka, and emerged with a mean of 77 and 60 in first and second serve win percentages. Not so much in spite of her brief lapses, but more in light of them, the Czech's mental strength cannot be over-stated. Hers was a champion's performance from beginning to end.