Category Archives: Other Pro Sports

Strange Wimbledon?

By: Prad

Both the Women’s and Men’s draw offer interesting insight into the complexity of sports. Not necessarily tennis, but all sports.  We have seen the greatest tennis players of this generation being eliminated before the quarterfinals of the 2013 Wimbledon. The list has just been growing, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer, and yesterday Serena Williams. This tournament has been a testament to the idea that any athlete can beat any other athlete on any given day.

During this wild tournament, players outside the top 100 have been able to defeat Nadal and Federer, definitively the two greatest players of the 21st century. We have seen upsets in the world of sports, but quite frankly this might just outdo all of them. Some consider the greatest moment in sports, the epic dethroning of the Soviet Union Hockey Team by Team U.S.A. during the gold medal round of the 1980 Olympics, dubbed “The Miracle on Ice.” But, I believe these Wimbledon upsets when “combined” equal a far greater total upset. Now a “combination” is defined on my own terms as simply an amalgamation of all of these upsets, which equals the overall upset of the tournament.

Rafael Nadal Courtesy of ESPN
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal has never lost in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament. What was particularly shocking about this loss was that Steve Darcis disposed of Nadal in straight sets. Obviously, there was an issue with a lingering injury that Nadal had to deal with, but still. Defeating Nadal will be the pinnacle of Darcis’ career, who is ranked 135 in the world and came into Wimbledon unseeded. He is the lowest ranked player to ever eliminate Nadal from any tournament ever.

Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova was eliminated in straight sets by a 131st ranked 20 year old player named Michelle Larcher de Brito. Sharapova attributed this loss to a hip injury. Last year, she was highly successful on the tour, attaining the #1 ranking in the world. Just last Grand Slam, this year’s French Open, she reached the finals but lost to her biggest rival, Serena Williams. I don’t consider this to be a terrible defeat for Sharapova considering she had consistency issues in the past. She didn’t win a Grand Slam for four years between 2008 and 2012. Nevertheless, one of the most respected women on the tour fell to the hands of a barely 20 year old from Portugal.

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

In my opinion, Federer’s second round exit is the biggest upset of the tournament. He had the longest consecutive appearances in Grand Slam quarterfinals in tennis history with 36. This consistency that Federer is noted for evaporated in hours when 116th ranked Serhiy Stakhovsky eliminated Federer from Wimbledon, Federer’s most successful tournament, in four sets. To put this in perspective, Federer hadn’t lost a match in a Grand Slam before the quarterfinals since the 2003 French Open. But a player ended that streak, a player 113 ranks below him.

Serena Williams
Serena Williams

Serena Williams, the current #1, reigning French Open champ, reigning Wimbledon champ, and the reigning US Open champ lost to Germany’s Sabine Lisicki. She lost in three sets to a 24th ranked player. Though, Lisicki is more respectable and established within the sport than the victors in the other matches I’ve mentioned, she ended one of the most dominant displays of tennis in WTA history. This ended the best winning streak of Serena’s career, 34 consecutive matches. It is one shy of her sister’s streak of 35, which she set in 2000 and is a record since the turn of the 21st century.

Sloane Stephens
Sloane Stephens

In both the Men’s and Women’s draws, there remains a sole American left in the quarterfinals. Sloane Stephens, a 20 year old who has elevated her game to new heights in the last year, has reached the quarters. She reached the semifinals of this year’s Australian Open as a 19 year old. Stephens has had some trouble getting into the quarters of Wimbledon though. She had to endure three set matches in the last three rounds. I don’t believe that she can beat a higher ranked Marion Bartoli in the quarters to advance to the semi’s because of the length of her previous three matches. But, tennis critics call her America’s future in the sport after Serena Williams dominance comes to an end.

Andy Murray
Andy Murray

Only two of the Big Four in Men’s tennis remain. The original two members have been eliminated before the third round. And the one who’s usually thought of as the last leg, Andy Murray looks the strongest in the tournament thus far. He has had a chip on his shoulder from the time he turned professional. He was supposed to be British tennis’ savior. A British man has not won Wimbledon in 77 years, when Fred Perry won it back in 1936. Although he has finally broke through at a Grand Slam with last year’s US Open, a Wimbledon title has been at the front of his mind for the last five years. Nadal, Federer, and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, ranked #6, were all on Murray’s side of the bracket. With all of them gone, this is his best chance to win the elusive Wimbledon. Since Murray is seeded #2, he’ll likely go to the finals and face Novak Djokovic, which will make for an exciting Wimbledon finals match.

From 2004-2010, Nadal and Federer won 24 of the 28 Grand Slams. This is sheer domination in the sport. Nadal will easily go down as a top 10 player in tennis history, maybe even better, and the greatest of all time on clay. Federer will go down as the greatest ever in the sport. Are all of these upsets a coincidence or signaling an end of an era that was dominated completely by these great players? If it is a coincidence, then the idea that any given athlete can beat any other athlete on any given day is true. If it is the end of an era, then it will be one that will go down as arguably the greatest in the history of the sport and one that will surely be missed by all tennis fans including myself.

All Statistics and Pictures courtesy of ESPN

Nadal’s Legacy ≠ Federer’s Legacy

By: Prad

Courtesy of wnflam.com
Courtesy of WN Flam

Rafael Nadal is officially 34-1 in first rounds at grand slams. He lost to Steve Darcis in straight sets, an older 135th ranked Belgian who lacks the experience of even appearing in the quarterfinals of any Grand Slam. Though this will go down as one of the greatest upsets in Wimbledon history, the famed Spaniard has two Wimbeldon trophies under his belt from 2008 and 2010, both times beating Federer. Tennis experts call his Wimbledon Final in 2008 against Roger Federer the greatest match ever played. Federer had 5 consecutive Wimbledon titles by that point, the previous two against Nadal. That final was just a 4 hour 48 minute display of the most storied rivalry in tennis history that saw a total of eight grand slam finals matches just between the two and six consecutive years with them having the #1 and #2 rankings in the world. Together, they have won 29 of the last 36 grand slams. Although the last couple of years have seen the tail end of this historic rivalry which has been lauded by critics every match of the way, the two still generally win at least a couple grand slams a year. Both have cemented their legacy in the record books, Rafa as the greatest tennis player in the history of clay and Federer as the greatest tennis player in history period.

Courtesy of odt.co.nz
Courtesy of ODT

I don’t believe that anybody doubts Nadal’s dominance on clay. The “King of Clay” is 59-1 in the French Open. Roger Federer took full advantage of Nadal’s loss in 2009 beating Robin Söderling in the finals of the French Open of that year, the only player Nadal has ever lost to in the French. Roger Federer is 1-4 in all time French Open Finals while Nadal boasts a 7-0 record in French Finals. All of  Federer’s four losses came at the hands of Rafael Nadal. Still, Federer has the upper-hand on Nadal on both hard court and of course, grass. Nobody can say that grass surface wasn’t dominated by Federer in the past decade. For five years from 2003-2008, Federer didn’t lose a match on his best surface. He won a record tying 7 Wimbledon titles in 9 years with a chance of a record 8th in a decade if he can prevail at the 2013 Wimbledon Championships. It’s hard to believe that hard court isn’t his best surface considering he has won a record tying 4 Australian Open titles and a record tying 5 U.S. Open titles. Both Nadal and Federer have career grand slams, two of four men in the Open Era (1968-present) to have attained all four grand slam championships.

Although both athletes have had significant achievements and noteworthy contributions to the sport of tennis, Nadal lacks the consistency that Federer is noted with having. Many fans know that this year’s Wimbledon isn’t the first time Nadal lost in the early rounds of the most prestigious slam. Last year, Lukáš Rosol, a 99th ranked Czech, eliminated Rafa in a five set grinder. This loss coupled with this year’s first round defeat highlights Nadal’s inconsistency and questionable endurance.

On the other hand, the 17 time Grand Slam champion has made a record 36 consecutive grand slam quarterfinals and hasn’t lost in the first round of a grand slam since he broke out onto the world stage when he won the 2003 Wimbledon. The next longest streak of grand slam quarterfinals is Novak Djokovic’s current streak of 16. Federer’s streak of grand slam semifinals, 23 will also go unchallenged for years to come. Guess who’s second? Again, not Nadal, but Djokovic has the second best record with his active streak of 12. The list goes on and on with most consecutive wins in grand slams and the best and second best consecutive grand slam finals appearances. Now, I understand that this list may seem tedious after awhile but all of his statistics and aforementioned records are a testament to Roger Federer’s durability.

Courtesy of tennis-prose.com
Courtesy of Tennis-Prose

Federer’s streaks can attest to another one of his active streaks: the second most consecutive number of grand slam appearances, one shy of tying the record. Barring any major setback or injury, Federer will break this record during the 2014 Australian Open. However, Nadal has not even come close to this record. His personal record is 13 consecutive grand slam appearances. Yet, Nadal never complains or makes excuses regarding his injuries. Many excluding Rafa blamed his first round exit on his persistent left knee issue. Similarly, Federer seems to compliment his opponent and appears to be gracious in defeat. After his quarterfinal exit in the 2013 French Open Final to Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, he said “I struggled a little bit everywhere. To be honest, personally, I’m pretty sad about the match and the way I played. But that’s how it goes. I tried to figure things out, but it was difficult. And Jo does a good job keeping the pressure on. He was just better in all areas.” Evidently, both of these extraordinary athletes are sportsmen of their generation and are courteous in defeat, who choose not to blame their poor performances on anything but themselves.

 

Writers Note: Well, this article seems a little more stupid because of Federer’s second round exit to a 100th ranked player. Fortunately,  all the facts are still true.

What to expect from Wimbledon?

By: Jon

After one of the biggest upsets in tennis history that left Nadal and the rest of the world stunned, the bottom half of the draw is wide open. Every person in the bottom half of the draw has errors and can be upset at any point.

Courtesy of nytimes.com
Rafael Nadal

Although Federer has been the greatest player ever at Wimbledon, he is currently playing very inconsistent and has only won once this entire season, last week at the Gerry Weber Open. During the French Open, Federer was destroyed by Tsonga in the quarterfinals, which showed his age. Andy Murray just came back from a back injury that caused him to withdraw from the French Open. At any point his back can act up and cause him trouble. Murray will also face the pressure of succeeding in his home country, which has caused him to act emotional and fail in the past. Similar to Federer, Tsonga has been extremely inconsistent and looked like Jackal and Hyde. After his big win against Federer, Tsonga followed it up with a stinker against Ferrer, which made him look clueless.

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

Once considered the group of death, the bottom half of the draw is now looking extremely weak. After Tsonga, Isner, and Marian Cilic defaulted and Federer stunning upset today during their respective matches, only one of the original five top ten ranked players in the tournament are still alive in the tournament. The prior results has opened the door for Murray to cruise into the finals. Murray faces a similar script as the highest person ranked in his half is Nicholas Almagro, 15th, who barely  survived a tough four set match against Rufin. Almagro is an inconsistent player and probably will not reach the semifinals to play Murray. With the Wimbledon crowd behind him, Murray will definitely not fall to a player outside the top 15. Now the harder section of the draw is located on the upper half with five players in the top 10 including major champion Juan Del Potro, Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berydch, and French Open finalist David Ferrer.

Andy Murray
Andy Murray

On the other side of the draw, Djokovic will cruise to the finals after defeating Del Potro in the semi. Although Murray will reach the finals for the second straight year, he will again fall in 4 sets in the final to Djokovic, instead of Federer. As long as Djokovic does not hurt himself on his path to a championship, he will earn his second career Wimbledon win and 7th career major championship.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic

However, if there has been one thing that we’ve learned from this tournament, we should expect the unexpected and keep your body healthy. Leave comments about your predictions and feelings about the tournament so far.

All info from Wimbledon.com