The usual suspects likely in Wimbledon top four


When Major Walter Wingfield invented the game of Spharistike, little did he know that the two racquets, ball and net that he sold in a cardboard box, would evolve into one of the premiere sporting spectacles on this planet. Wimbledon had its first meeting in the 1870s at the All England Croquet Club. The sport quickly gained in popularity all across the British Empire and in the United States.
The Wimbledon Champioships were originally played at Worple Road, a short distance away from the current site on Church Road. The championships quickly outgrew the Worple Road facility and following the end of World War One, a triangular plot of land was purchased on Church Road.
The first Championships were played here in 1922 and were won by Gerald Patterson, the big serving Australian, whose game might not be out of place in today’s milieu. The women’s champion was Suzanne Lenglen from France. This was also the first year of the Challenge Round, where the reigning champion had only to play in the final.
The present Championships are a marvel of the latest technology applied with a careful eye to maintaining the traditions that have made this event the blue ribbon of the tennis world. There may be the French Open or the Australian, but Wimbledon is unique. Nestled in a village South of London, the Championships as it is called, is a place where anyone who is anybody in the sport, converges to watch the tennis, do business and reminisce about the past years.
Many of the past champions attend the championships although the ranks are now thinning out. Sidney Wood, champion of 1931, the only year the title was won by default was a regular till his death a couple of years ago. His opponent, Frank Shields was ordered by his Federation to default and rest a sore leg because a Davis Cup tie was to take place a week later! Shields’ granddaughter Brooke married Andre Aggasi sixty years later. Don Budge (1938) the first Grand Slam winner, Jack Kramer (1947), Budge Patty (1950) were some of the past champions on view.
Wimbledon got a boost with the onset of Open tennis in 1968, when the professionals and amateurs were allowed to compete together. Since that time, tennis has not looked back, to the extent that the Wimbledon champion gets prize money of over one million pounds. In the days before Open tennis, only a trophy and expense money was up for grabs.
Apart from the prize money, a Wimbledon title is valued at over $10 million in increased endorsements.
Indo-Pak Express loses marathon
This was expected to be the year when Aisam Qureshi and Rohan. Bopanna were going to challenge for the doubles. They had won the Halle tournament in Germany for their second title. In the first round, the Indo-Pakistan Express cruised through the first set against a young Colombian pairing of Cabal and Farah. The Colombians rebounded with an equally emphatic second set win.
The third set went with serve to 19-19. Aisam’s serve had been under pressure several times but he had proved up to the challenge. But eventually, the Colombians, who had themselves survived two match points, hit some clever cross court passing shots for the break. Aisam and Bopanna had a chance in the next game with Farah serving at 0-30, but the Colombians held on for a famous victory.
Sania Mirza went out in the first round to the experienced Virginia Razzano of France. She will now be hoping to go one better in the women’s doubles than she did at Paris where she reached the finals. Sania’s serve is a weakness that she has tried in vain to overcome. It is cruelly exposed in the singles as the women overpower her. She does better in doubles and looks destined to become a specialist like Aisam.
Aisam continues in his quest for a Wimbledon title as he partners Kveta Peschke in the mixed. The duo is seeded fifth and reached the finals of the US Open last fall. Aisam has a couple of years more at the top level in doubles. Already, one senses that his serve does not have the same sting as it had in his prime.
The four top men players proceeded smoothly through the first week. Fifth seed Robin Soderling lost the first two sets to former champion Lleyton Hewitt, but in the end, it was Soderling’s overpowering serve and forehand that turned the tide.
The semi-finalists look to be Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray. Federer looks very sharp and should have the edge on Djokovic should the two get that far. Murray will have the superhuman task of upending Rafael Nadal. There has been no tougher competitor in tennis than Rafael Nadal. Every point against him is a mountain to climb. Eventually he wears everyone down, including the great Federer. Lately, Djokovic has had his number. Murray also has had some success against him. All said and done, look for Roger Federer to win yet another title.