Tennis  

Curtain falls on a Wimbledon of quests

Wimbledon Men’s doubles champion Juan Sebastian Cabal (2-L) speaks next to Robert Farah during a press conference in Bogota on July 15, 2019. – Colombia’s Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah won their first Grand Slam men’s doubles title on Saturday with an almost five-hour triumph at Wimbledon (Photo by DANIEL MUNOZ / AFP)

Every player enters a tournament with a goal, but the 2019 Grand Slam in London was a basket of quests.

The top three dominated the gentlemen’s event. Each of the triumvirates had a mission. World number one and top seed, Novak Djokovic sought to extend his tally. The second-seeded Roger Federer aimed to add another one, considering the age factor. Rafael Nadal also wanted another Grand Slam title.

The top-seeded lady, Ashleigh Barty wanted to win a second Grand Slam and consolidate her position at the top. Serena Williams continued her chase of the 24th title to equal the record set in 1973 by Australia’s Margaret Smith Court.

Between the first serve on opening day and the point that ended an epic gentlemen’s final, much transpired at the venue of the only Grand Slam played in a private club in the pristine suburb of a great city.

After the seedlings were released, the third-seeded Nadal realized he would likely face second-seeded Federer in the semifinal. The Matador bludgeoned his way through five matches but succumbed to Federer in straight sets, including a thrilling first set settled in a tiebreak. For the Swiss Maestro, it was retaliation for his straight-sets loss to Nadal in the semifinal in Paris.

The decision of the Committee of Management on seedings was confirmed when the top two seeds met in the final. It was a hair-raising battle. Federer would for long remember the two match points he lost in the 16th game of the fifth set when he was deuced from 40-15. Novak Djokovic won the match by taking the three tiebreaks, including the novelty that ended the fifth set. The Serbian extended their rivalry record to 26-22.

Australian, Nick Kyrgios’ antics got much media space for days. When he delivered an underhand serve in his second-round match and the ball bounced twice before Nadal could reach it from his receiving position way back, the Spaniard smiled at the “ace.”

Although such a service is not illegal, the authorities will eventually have to look into it. Otherwise, it could put an end to double faults in the game, while receivers may protest because of the need to “see” the ball at the moment of contact by the racquet.

Simona Halep of Romania fulfilled her individual quest in her resounding 6/2, 6/2 victory over Serena Williams. The American superstar said Simona “played literally out of her mind.” The ladies draw had been depleted of the top seeds, Naomi Osaka, Karolina Pliskova, and Petra Kvitova before the semi-finals. Serena’s pairing with Andy Murray for mixed doubles ended with their 6/3, 4/6, 6/2 loss to Brazil’s Bruno Soares and Nicole Melichar of the United States.

In his speech on the court after losing to Djokovic, Federer quipped that he hoped his performance would serve as an inspiration to others aged 37 and above. Djokovic retorted that he considered himself one of such.

The younger generation may have to wait sometime before taking over from the triumvirate.

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