A few Wimbledon reflections (plus a special guest post from (actual tennis player) Alex Van Gils)

27 Jun

The first few days of Wimbledon have been full of surprises. On both the men’s and women’s sides, we’ve seen top players fall (Nadal, Fed, Sharapova), a score of mysterious injuries (too many too list; what the heck is going on?), and 40-year-olds dominating players half their age (42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm in a 6-0, 6-2 win over 18-year-old German Carina Witthoeft). On the men’s side, shocking early losses have opened up the draw for a host of young and previously unsung players.

So, what to expect going forward?

First, a few names you’ve never seen but should watch on the men’s side. These guys have huge potential and a great draw. Look for them to make a run deep into the tournament’s later rounds.

-Jerzy Kankowicz (semis)
-Ernest Gulbis (quarters)
-Dustin Brown (quarters)
-Bernard Tomic (quarters)
-Viktor Troicki (4th round)

Now, for more some more – if still somewhat obscure – names, who will also go deep – potentially, very deep – into the draw:

Grigor Dimitrov (semis)
Milos Raonic (quarters)

Despite all of the surprises, the fundamental story of this year’s Wimbledon remains the same as it was going into the tournament: we’re headed for a Djokovic-Murray final on the men’s side, with Murray winning, and Serena cleaning-up, without much of a challenge, on the women’s side. Meanwhile, the decentralization of men’s tennis that the Balke Bros Blog has riskily predicted, is underway. The Big Four – Fed, Nadal, Djokovi, Murray – aren’t as dominant as they once were. Today, it’s Nadal and Fed going down early. In the next major, we may just as well see Djokovic and Murray take an early exit. The talent on the men’s side is too deep, and the vulnerabilities – including age, physical issues, and mental wobbliness – too significant for the underbelly to remain suppressed. Young talents are increasingly confident in their ability to break thru. Their hunger grows each time they see a journeyman, like Steve Darcis, knock-off a major champion, as he did with Nadal, in the first-round.

The dynamic is men’s tennis is changing. We are not recalibrating from a Fed-Nadal rivalry to a new bipolarity centered on Djokovic and Murray. Instead, the young guns, like Grigor Dimitrov, the “Bulgarian Bison”, and Jerzy Jancowicz, the “Polish Python”, are coming irrepressibly to the fore, to claim their rightful place as heirs to men’s tennis pre-eminence.

Stand back, and enjoy the show. This should be fun to watch!

Guest post from Alexander Van Gils, two-time George Washington University men’s tennis captain, and two-time Atlantic 10 Conference men’s team tennis champion:

My opinion on Wimbledon
With Nadal, Federer, and Tsonga out, the draw is definitely more open. It’s crazy if you think how many high seeds are out of the tournament after only 2 rounds (both in the men’s and women’s draw). It seems like everyone is slipping and sliding on the courts, and it must have been a record of how many players retired today. The tournament will definitely be very different, but it is a great opportunity for a Brit to finally win Wimbledon. I believe that Murray has a really good chance, especially after he won the gold medal on the same courts last year during the Olympics. Besides that, he also has the experience, now, of playing a final at Wimbledon (and he has already won a major, at last year’s U.S. Open, over Djokovic).
That said, I am very interested to see what will happen the upcoming days. As I predicted before the start of the tournament, I really think that Janowicz can make a run. Besides his unbelievable serve and powerful groundstrokes, he also moves really well. Particularly on grass, movement is key (one of the main reasons why Hewitt won Wimbledon in 2002).  The (lack of) movement will also be the reason why 17-seed Canadian Milos Raonic is not going to make it far in the tournament. He actually plays against my fellow Dutchman, Igor Sijsling, who I tipped for creating upsets before the tournament started. Sijsling has the game to be successful on grass. He just needs to believe that he can beat the hot shots.
Furthermore, I think that we will see some magic again from 26-seed Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov, this tournament – making it at least to the fourth round (after beating 4th-seeded Spaniard and French Open finalist David Ferrer), where he will play against Sijsling.
I am excited to see what will happen. Maybe one of the French (Gasquet, Paire) will surprise us…

One Response to “A few Wimbledon reflections (plus a special guest post from (actual tennis player) Alex Van Gils)”

  1. Alex June 29, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

    I still like my boy Dolgopolov. He’s got a tough matchup now but let’s see if he can pull this out.

    I also want to go on the record to say that Ernesto Gulbis will always be a terrible player and will never go anywhere.

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