As the political situation in my country grows more and more dire by the hour, I’ve continued to decompress and keep myself sane by focusing on tennis. We’re now in the second week of Wimbledon, and it’s getting pretty exciting. I read an article about how Wimbledon Week 1 was one of the most boring weeks of tennis ever, but I disagree… sort of. On the men’s side, the first week was somewhat boring, minus Stan Wawrinka crashing out in the first round (sad). But the women’s side has been fascinating, and the ladies have been picking up the slack when it comes to compelling, must-watch tennis.
Some quick notes about the ladies: after showing a lot of fighting spirit in her third round match, Angelique Kerber (world #1) crashed out on Monday in the fourth round. Venus Williams is on to the quarterfinals, and some people believe she could go all the way (fingers crossed), although she faces this year’s French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko today in the QFs, and Ostapenko’s forehand is scary and amazing. I also like Coco Vandeweghe’s chances, as well as Garbine Muguruza’s chances. Watch, now that I’ve said all that, none of those people will end up in the final. Sigh…
But the big story coming out of Monday – Day 7 – was the craziness that was Rafael Nadal’s fourth-round match. Nadal won his tenth (La Decima) French Open title last month. He made it to the final of the Australian Open, and he swept nearly all of the clay-court titles this year. He’s had an incredible year after really struggling through 2015 and 2016. Many analysts were looking ahead in the Wimbledon draw, noting that Roger Federer and Nadal were on opposite ends and that we could end up with another old-school Federer-Nadal final, just like we saw in Melbourne this year. Well… that’s not going to happen. Nadal lost in five sets after nearly five hours of uninterrupted play. The fifth set – which had no tie-break – ended with a score of 13-15. Who beat Nadal? A 34-year-old dude from Luxembourg who was, like, an ace machine. Gilles Muller is rather unassuming, although he was playing exceptionally well on grass leading up to Wimbledon. He was pretty stunned that he beat Nadal too – the look on his face was one of pure astonishment:
Nadal waited for Muller – as is customary at Wimbledon – and they walked off the court together… almost. Nadal stepped off to sign autographs, even though he lost. He did the same at the US Open last year too – even though he lost after more than four hours of play, he still stopped to sign autographs and talk to kids.
Class in defeat.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 10, 2017
Next up? Muller faces Marin Cilic, Andy Murray faces American Sam Querrey (yay, Sam!) and Roger Federer faces Milos Raonic, the same Raonic who beat Federer in the Wimbledon semifinals last year, but that was when Federer was hurting. I feel like it will be a different story this year. My money’s still on Federer to pick up his eighth Wimbledon title, and his 19th overall Slam title. I don’t think Murray’s got it this year, nor do I think Djokovic can go the distance. Nadal could have made it a fair fight in the final against Roger, but ’twas not to be.
Photos courtesy of Getty.