Tennis: Ball

Wimbledon Week 1

Well here we are on the so-called 'Middle Sunday' of this year's Wimbledon. It will be the last time they have the day off, as from 2022 Wimbledon will finally join all the other Grand Slams and become a two-week-without-a-day-off tournament.

It's been an interesting week with some excellent matches and a fair bit of rain. At one point thunderstorms were forecast for yesterday, which had they come would have played havoc with the schedule. As it was, the men's doubles were demoted from five sets to three.

As well as the weather, the grass has played its part too. It's been uncommonly slippery this year - caused partly, I think by the fact that the roofs on Centre and No. 1 Courts had to be closed for much of Monday and Tuesday, thus the grass didn't have a chance to dry out naturally. There have been some nasty falls and even players like Djokovic who is usually so secure slipped and fell more than once. Several players, including Serena Williams and the man who was beating Federer in the first round had to pull out of their matches after falling.

Centre Court opened in an unusual way, as before Djokovic opened play, various special guests were acknowledged. Dame Sarah Gilbert, the lady who played a pivotal part in the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, had been invited and the applause turned into a standing ovation that went on and on; the poor lady was clearly overwhelmed and embarrassed by the outpouring of gratitude. That was followed by more applause firstly for a number of front line workers who had been invited and for Captain Sir Tom Moore who touched the hearts not only of the British but people around the world when he raised over £30 million for the NHS. He sadly died this year from Covid contracted when he went into hospital for something else. His daughter had been invited as his representative. It really was a very moving opening to the tournament.

In terms of British tennis, we did get three men (Andy Murray, Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie) into the third round, something that hasn't been achieved since 1999. Sadly none of them made it any further. Also Jack Draper, who took on Novak in the opening match, played extremely well and in fact won the first set, before Djokovic 'learnt' Jack's game and stormed back to take the next three.

However, we do have a young female through to the fourth round tomorrow. I hadn't even heard of her (Emma Raducanu) before this tournament, but she is playing extremely well and has an excellent attitude and non-pushy parents. She's very grounded and is awaiting her 'A' level results. On what I've seen of her, I see no reason why she shouldn't win her fourth round match tomorrow.

The above-mentioned three chaps had played very well in the first two rounds and I certainly thought Dan Evans would go through to the fourth, but alas, he didn't play as well as he could in the third round - something he acknowledged himself. Cam Norrie was playing Roger Federer, but as Federer hadn't been playing as well as he normally does (certainly in the first round) there was a chance Cam could best him. He did take a set off him and was praised by Federer later.

As for Andy. Well, he was . . . Andy. He put us through the mill in his first two matches, turning both from what should have been straight sets wins into non-straight set wins. All three of his matches ended up being played partly under the roof; with the first two matches it helped him, but in the third, he just didn't have the energy, the movement, the ability even to best the 10th seed. There were a lot of positives in his matches, he moved pretty well for the most part, he still had the same 'never say die' attitude and grit and determination, but he was clearly rusty and there were times he was more than a step slow and signs the 'old Andy' had gone. What he'll so now is anyone's guess - he hasn't decided whether he'll carry on trying to play. He still loves the game but he wants to be able to compete at his best, even if he doesn't win.

Tomorrow is 'Manic Monday' so called because all of the men's and women's fourth round singles matches are crammed into one day - let's hope the weather is obliging.

I'm having my usual 'lacking in interest of doing all the things I could/should be doing given I have a day off from tennis' day *g* And am looking forward to the week to come.

I stand by my prediction that Novak Djokovic will win the men's trophy.

As for the women, I have no idea. The vast majority of my favourite female players have already gone out and I haven't really seen enough of the ladies left in the draw to form any kind of opinion on their chances.

I really do miss Rafa.
Tennis: Andy (racquet)

A strange Wimbledon

Wimbledon begins today after missing last year due to Covid.

And thus begins my fortnight of watching people dressed in white hitting balls across a net. It's going to be a strange Wimbledon in more ways than one.

Obviously there are the Covid restrictions themselves that have an impact not only on the number of spectators but on what players and ball kids and officials can and cannot do. Although in many ways I've got used to those things at other tournaments. The one change brought about by Covid that I think would be worth keeping, is that players have to get their own towels from the back/sides of the court and not have the ball kids bring them to them.

Another strangeness is that Rafa won't be at Wimbledon. He announced a week or so ago that he was withdrawing from both Wimbledon and the Olympics. There's no specific injury, it seems partly down to the moving of the French Open which cut down the length of time between it and Wimbledon, plus his desire to carry on playing for as long as possible. It's good that he does want to carry on playing, but it's sad that it's Wimbledon he's missing as it's the tournament that I can watch more easily than any other - being in the same time zone.

Andy Murray plays today for the first time at Wimbledon in four years (I believe it is) and there was speculation in the paper this morning that it might possibly be his last match at Wimbledon (assuming he doesn't win). From what I've read, it's not a case of him being tired of tennis, just that his ongoing hip and groin issues just keep resurfacing and stopping him from playing at the level he wants to.

Our female number one has been forced to pull out due to a 'close contact' (one of her bubble members) testing positive for Covid. Poor Jo, a horrid thing to happen at the eleventh hour.

Today a young British chap who did pretty well at Queen's and who is being talked about as being 'the best new chap for some time' has the dubious honour of playing on Centre Court in the opening match against Novak Djokovic - the tournament favourite by some way.

I think he will win Wimbledon (I honestly can't see who can stop him) and thus join Rafa and Roger Federer on 20 slams each - which in itself is quite mind blowing. For three men, all still playing the game, to have won (potentially) 60 slams between them is just amazing. They really are three of the greatest players of all time.

I shall wander off and see if play has started or if the British weather is getting involved - at least we do have two roofed courts.

*And yes, the weather has indeed got involved: play hasn't started. That's the UK for you. *Wry grin*
LJ: Permanent

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