Imaginative, exhilarating and unexpected, Wimbledon 2018 was tennis at its best
Unexpected winners? Yes. Disappointing tournament? Not at all!
While Djokovic and Kerber’s performance at SW19 alone is enough to gauge the magnitude of their achievement, their tango sequence after the conclusion of the event unintentionally encapsulated their entire careers.
The peaks and troughs of their tennis careers were subtlety portrayed as they tangoed on the dance floor during the Champions Dinner at Guildhall in London, with notable rhythms and sudden pauses.
Djokovic rejoins the cult of champions
At the beginning of the season’s most prestigious grand slam, one could have predicted at the drop of a hat that Swiss maestro Federer would run away with the title, whereas Spaniard Nadal also had a chance despite grass being his less-favoured surface. However, for the first time in six slams, we had a new winner – albeit an old face.
Before digging into the details of Djokovic’s victory, an interesting facet accompanies his win. Back in 2016, this was the same venue where the four-time Wimbledon winner’s career took a nosedive after a shocking defeat at the hands American Sam Querrey. Add to that a combination of various factors on and off the field, all kept him out of reckoning for major events.
Querrey: "I was ready for his strong start this morning. He is arguably one of the best ever. I am so happy" pic.twitter.com/HBt5q1REzM
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 2, 2016
Although Djokovic enjoyed a relatively easy ride till the round of 16, the Serbian went into another gear in the quarterfinal against Japanese player Kei Nishikori. For the first time in the event, it was evident that Djokovic was finally hitting the right notes. He moved well from side to side, reminiscent of the athleticism from his peak days, and looked at ease despite Nishikori playing some real good tennis.
His semi-final encounter against Nadal was a thing of class. It was one of those matches where it is hard to grasp that one of them had to lose at the end of it all, but thankfully for the Serb, he prevailed in five sets.
Since his return, Djokovic had showed signs of being low on mental strength, but in that particular match against the 17-time grand slam winner, he remained composed regardless of the fluctuating fortunes in the match.
The final was all too easy for the Serb, as he overpowered Kevin Anderson in straight sets. On a day where the South African seemed riddled with nerves while his game also lacked the potency of previous rounds, the Serbian pounced on him like a tiger on its prey, leading to a hard-earned and well-deserved victory.
Kerber denies Serena Williams her fairy tale ending
Women’s tennis can be very unpredictable at times, and Wimbledon 2018 experienced this to a significantly large extent.
All top 10 seeds were ousted from the tournament even before the quarter-finals, with the top two seeds and winners of the previous two slams of the year – Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki – bowing out in the third and second round respectively.
While the top seeds went out in a heap, Kerber ensured that her progress was serene. She only dropped one set throughout the tournament, going from strength to strength as the event progressed. The German’s meteoric rise in 2016 stunned the entire tennis fraternity, but it also made her fall from grace in 2017 even more dramatic and startling.
“I know that I’m back,” Kerber said after losing to Halep in the semi-final of the Australian Open 2018.
Although she was on the wrong side of the result, it was clear that the conviction in her game was back; something she sorely lacked during her poor run in 2017. Despite losing at the quarterfinal stage at the French Open, it seemed a matter of time before Kerber would get over the hum, and the recently concluded Wimbledon proved just that.
Williams, her opponent in the final, has a story of her own. In fact, it won’t be wrong to say that most tennis fans wanted her to have a fairy tale ending, after the agonising medical complications the American had to endure post-pregnancy.
It is miraculous how quickly she has recovered and started playing at the highest level. As the event reached its second week, it was clear that Williams was peaking at the right moment, but unfortunately, the final proved a hurdle too far as she was knocked out in straight sets. Kerber’s words of admiration for the 23-time grand slam singles winner aptly revealed the degree of her achievement.
“First, I have to say Serena, you’re a great person and a champion. Coming back, you’re such an inspiration for everyone. I’m sure you will have your next grand slam title soon, so congrats for coming back,” said Kerber after the final.
One thing is for certain: the unanticipated results of the last couple of weeks guarantee that next month’s US Open – which is the last grand slam of the year – is bound to be a mouth-watering one, as all the top stars of men’s and women’s tennis will be firmly back in the mix.
As far as grand slam events go, they sometimes tend to give off a sense of inevitability and being at par for the course. However, the same cannot be said about this year’s Wimbledon, as it went a long way in capturing the imagination of the audience.
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