July 3rd, 2010

Teddy: Tatty (Flowers)

Wimbledon Days 11 & 12

Men's Semi Finals

Yesterday I said I thought both matches would go to four sets and more likely five - I was wrong, very wrong. Berdych and Rafa both won in straight sets. But there the similarity of the matches ends, despite the similarities in the scores. Tomas Berdych defeated Novak Djokovic 6:3, 7:6, 6:3. Rafa beat Murray 6:4, 7:6, 6:4. However, they were two totally different matches.

As people who follow tennis know there are two Novak Djokovics and either can turn up on court. Yesterday the 'wrong' Djokovic turned up. The man who went out to play Berdych was not the man who played on Wednesday; the man whom I said was playing so well, I doubted anyone could beat him. This was the tame Djokovic, the Djokovic you wondered quite how he'd got as far as he did, the Djokovic for whom nothing was working.

That isn't to take anything away from Berdych, not at all. He played a good, solid match; he barely faltered; but he didn't have to play a great match. He did what was needed to be done to get the job done and advance. Djokovic himself said he didn't deserve to win - he didn't. It was a pretty disappointing match to watch as I was expecting a lot more.

Not so the second semi final. Straight sets is almost cruel, because when it came down to it both men played extremely well and it was all about one or two points and those points Rafa played better than Murray. In the first set there really was only one poor point, it was break point to Rafa and both men played it 'badly' (by the standards of the match) but Rafa slightly less badly than Murray - but in a hard hitting match, it was one very tentative point.

The second set went to a tie-break and Rafa gifted Murray a set point when he double faulted, but Murray couldn't take it and with that failed shot he seemed for the next couple of points to lose heart. Second set to Rafa.

But Murray hit straight back in the third breaking Rafa to love; all he had to do was to hold his serve and we'd be into a fourth set. And I certainly thought he would; four sets looked more than likely; five quite possible. But 'all he had to do' is so very easy to say, but so very difficult to do. It is especially when you are playing the World #01, who is unbeaten on grass since 2007, the man who loves this tournament and who wants his 2008 crown back, the man who doesn't know the meaning of the word 'give up', the man who was playing his best tennis. But Murray was playing some of his best tennis too; but it wasn't to be. Rafa broke back after a few game and then once again broke a Murray who suddenly seemed to know he was defeated.

It was played at a fast pace and Murray lived with the power of Rafa's shots and ran down ball after ball after ball, when most other players would have given up. There was an amusing moment in the first set where I think Murray momentarily forgot who was on the over side of the net and how much spin Rafa can put on a ball. He was chasing down a ball heading for the far corner of his baseline when he hesitated slightly as clearly he thought it was going out - I think everyone thought it was going out. Then you saw the realisation dawn on him that it was Rafa on the other side and that shot was going in. Amazingly he got it, but couldn't control it; had he not paused for the split second, I think he would have got it back into play. That's the kind of shot it came down to.

It was worthy of a final and I really hope Murray isn't given a hard time over the defeat, in truth there was very little else he could have done. Yes, he could have taken the set point in the second set, yes there was the odd point he could have won and didn't, but that happens in matches; there are always the 'should haves'. It was an extremely good match to watch, very enjoyable and not at all disappointing - both in terms of watching and the result (I know, I'm a bad, bad Brit, sorry Andy).

Ladies' Final

Today Serena Williams and Vera Zvonareva do battle to see who will lift the Wimbledon trophy. Will Serena repeat her victory of last year and claim her fourth crown? Or will Vera do what many think is the impossible and take the crown for herself?

Most people are expecting an easy win for Serena, but Vera is playing well, she can hit hard and Serena herself said it won't be easy and they'd played some tough matches. I think for Vera a huge amount of it will come down to her nerves. Thus far she's held herself together, but will she today? She has at least played in GS finals, albeit in doubles, but it will hopefully help. In fact Vera could end today with two titles as she's also in the ladies' doubles. But as well as wanting the Wimbledon crown, Serena will also be after 'pay back' as it was Vera and her partner who knocked Serena and Venus out of the doubles earlier in the week.

Serena is clearly the favourite by quite some way, but as she was shown in her semi-final, not all opponents just 'go away' any more; I do think she has lost the edge of her invincibility, I don't think players fear her quite so much as they one did; plus she has to do what she's never done at Wimbledon: win against someone other than her sister.

I do think Serena will prevail; I hope it's not easily; I hope Vera keeps her head and her nerve. And above all, I hope we get a class match and not a one sided affair. I'd love Vera to win, but I can't see it happening sadly. Whatever happens I hope the match is won not lost.

So good luck to both ladies; may the better lady win!