Wimbledon 2015 has drawn to its conclusion. This year’s fortnight of gripping tennis at the All England Club resulted in Novak Djokovic adeptly retaining his championship and Serena Williams winning her sixth Wimbledon title. Although both top seeds emerged victorious, the tournament was as competitive as ever and produced thrills and surprises in abundance. It’s safe to say that there is much to reflect on from Great Britain’s Grand Slam and in assessment; here are five things to discuss:
1. The Resilience of Djokovic and Federer’s Frustration
At Roland Garros a month ago, a tearful Novak Djokovic knew that his defeat to Stan Wawrinka meant that the Career Grand Slam evaded him for at least another year. The manner in which he bounced back from his French Open final loss at Wimbledon really emphasises the mental strength that the world number one possesses.
The spirited Serb has now won nine Grand Slam titles. Yet, he has previously been considered an understudy to Federer and Nadal, who are viewed as the ‘greats’ of a generation. It is worth therefore, making it clear that Djokovic has now overtaken former ‘greats’ of the game: Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and Andre Agassi in the number of major titles won. And at the age of 28, he has time on his side to add many more.
Due to winning his third Wimbledon, Djokovic is now on course to win three Grand Slams in a year for the second time in his career, looking ahead to the US Open. After his performance at SW19, it’s doubtful anyone would write him off to complete the feat at Flushing Meadows.
As for Roger Federer, he will have to wait for another chance to win his eighth Wimbledon title. Despite a brilliant semi-final performance against Andy Murray, in which he served 76 per cent of his first serves in, he was unable to consistently deliver in the final. He won only 49 per cent of his second serve points to Djokovic’s 60 per cent, and hit double the number of unforced errors.
Federer, by his standards, is likely to be unsatisfied that his last Grand Slam final victory came three years ago. Nevertheless, nearing the age of 34, the Swiss 17-time Grand Slam champion is staying in contention for the major titles and that in itself is remarkable to all observers.
2. The Dominant Serena
Serena Williams came into Wimbledon on the back of success at the French Open, winning there for the third time. Her final victory against Garbine Muguruza came in straight sets, finishing 6-4 6-4 and despite a slow start, she showed her mettle and achieved the ‘Serena Slam’ for the second time in her career.
The ‘Serena Slam’ or the feat of holding the four major championships at one time, but not in the same calendar year, is something the American was very dismissive about in her interviews leading up to the final. Having now achieved this, however, she is on course to win all four Grand Slams in the same calendar year.
With 21 major titles to her name, Williams will hope to win the US Open and make it 22, equaling the total reached by German great Steffi Graf. Other than a grueling match against Great Britain’s Heather Watson in the third round, Williams won at Wimbledon comfortably this year. So, who would doubt her to keep on winning?
Former American players, John McEnroe and Chris Evett, discussed how they consider Williams to be the greatest server there’s ever been and simply cannot see her slipping up any time soon. At 33 years of age, the world number one appears as hungry as ever to add to her trophy collection and will undeniably be eyeing up the 2015 US Open.
3. The Decline of Nadal?
Rafael Nadal’s shock loss to Dustin Brown in the second round meant that he had now crashed out in the first week for the third time in four years at Wimbledon. Nadal simply could not deal with his opponent’s approach, as Brown, the dreadlocked German, won 71 out of 99 serve and volley points. Moreover, Brown won a staggering 77 per cent of his first service points in the match.
Nadal, currently ranked 10th in the world, has not won a Wimbledon title since 2010. His early exit this year has provoked widespread questions over whether his career as a top player is coming to a close. Is this fair to say of a 14-time Grand Slam Champion?
Well, the Spaniard’s new ranking of 10th means he has plummeted to his worst ranking since 2005 in the men’s game. Nadal also struggled this year at his favourite tournament, Roland Garros, losing to Novak Djokovic at the quarter-final stage.
As a nine-time winner in France and having won the last five French Open titles before this defeat, it is surprising that Nadal would fall so easily to Djokovic on clay. Losing in straight sets admittedly suggests a loss of the fighting spirit that tennis fans became so accustomed to from the two-time Wimbledon winner.
To follow this, Nadal’s struggle on grass means he is far from being a favourite to taste success at the US Open. Being a champion loved by so many over the last decade, the 29-year-old will have to work hard in the next month to reward his loyal supporters with something to cheer about. Let’s hope to see ‘Rafa’ really endeavour in New York, and try to win a 15th Grand Slam.
4. Two Bright Sparks – Ones to Watch
It is no secret that young talent can break through at Wimbledon and become recognised on the world stage – just look at Boris Becker’s debut in 1985. 30 years on, some of the younger players continue to become well renowned due to their performance at the tournament.
Last year, Eugenie Bouchard lost her first Grand Slam final at the modest age of 20. Despite a poor 2015, her 2014 final on the Wimbledon grass made her a closely followed player on the WTA tour. Bouchard’s story last year is not too dissimilar to that of Garbine Muguruza, this year’s 21-year-old finalist.
Muguruza, the Venezuelan-born Spanish 20th seed, made her way to the 2015 Wimbledon final playing with an aggressive, attacking approach. En route, she saw off the likes of Aegon Classic winner Angelique Kerber, and former Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska.
Despite losing the key match to Serena Williams, Muguruza broke Williams in the first game and continued to contest with confidence throughout the final. Muguruza will now enjoy a newfound place in the top 10, along with the experience of appearing in a Grand Slam final for the first time. This is certainly not the last we will see of her at the later stages of the major championships.
Admittedly, Kyrgios is not a new name at an ITF event due to his giant-killing victory over Rafael Nadal last year at the All England Club. This year his appearance at Wimbledon is more notable because of the way he played fast-paced, hard-hitting tennis. Conversely, his increased fame comes from his rebellious nature on and off the court during the tournament.
Based on Wimbledon, should we expect Kyrgios to start transforming into a top player? Armed with an Australian entourage cheering him on at every step, Kyrgios knocked out 7th seed Milos Raonic to reach the fourth round. He entertained on the one hand by serving 35 aces in the match, throwing in some powerful forehand winners for good measure. On the other hand, he pushed the boundaries by, at one point, throwing his racket into the crowd in frustration to receive a code violation. Either way, the 20-year-old kept spectators engaged.
He upped the bad-boy antics further in the fourth round against Richard Gasquet. The Australian maverick lobbed his racket up high in frustration and bizarrely took a time-out to embrace a ball boy. He then rowed with umpire James Keothavong over his socks, and continued to argue with the post-match press.
Of course, Kyrgios is liable to criticism. Three-time Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick, claimed that 90 per cent of him likes Kyrgios and the other 10 per cent is not sure what to think of him due his attitude and the alleged ‘tanking’ against Gasquet. Will he improve his work ethic? The potential of a top 10 player is there for all to see with tennis’ new bad boy, and we can draw that from his performance at Wimbledon 2015. Whether or not his controversial behaviour is perpetual and hinders this, however, will be down to the man himself.
5. The Brits
Two painful years have passed since a Briton seized the Wimbledon crown on Centre Court – the horror! Regardless of the varying progress in the tournament, the British men and women still roused patriotism and gave the home crowd plenty to get excited about.
Andy Murray played a consistent tournament to make the last four. He was outplayed by Roger Federer in their semi-final meeting, and cannot have too many complaints about the way he conducted his own game. The fact that Murray lost, but still completed 74 per cent of his first serve successfully is testament to Federer’s brilliance. Nonetheless, he missed the chance to reach a third Wimbledon final and fight for a second title.
Heather Watson’s third round match against Serena Williams was unquestionably one of the matches of the tournament. In a dramatic final set, the British number one raced into the lead at 3-0 but was unable to build on this and cause an upset. She was defeated 6-2 4-6 7-5, but should be proud of a valiant attempt to derail Williams on the number one seed’s path to victory.
Elsewhere, 16-year-old Katy Swan reached the girl’s quarter-finals and is certainly an exciting prospect. She made her debut last month on the WTA tour at the Aegon Classic Birmingham.
Other Britons included James Ward, who reached the third round but lost a thrilling encounter with Canadian Vasek Pospisil in five sets, the match finishing 6-4 3-6 2-6 6-3 8-6. Aljaz Bedene and Liam Broady both reached the second round but could go no further, with Laura Robson out in the first.
So, there were mixed results for the Britons at a fantastic Wimbledon 2015. The Davis Cup now awaits a selection of the players, whilst others will be focusing their energies on preparing well for New York.
Feature photo by Wikimedia Commons user: Albert Lee