Wimbledon Tennis 2012: Ranking the Tournament's Best Storylines
As this year's third Grand Slam wraps up, it's time to reflect on the events that have captivated viewers for the past two weeks. As the green, slippery baselines have turned to dust, but the stories have not, leaving the tennis world a lot to ponder as the summer hard court swing and Olympic tennis looms.
Will Nadal and Djokovic find their form? Will Serena Williams dominate the rest of the women's season? Can the lawns grow back in time for the Olympics?
Before those questions are answered, lets look at the top 10 stories, some for better, some for worse that headlined the last two weeks at the All England Club.
10. Tell Us How You Really Feel, Gilles Simon
Gilles Simon caused quite a stir in the tennis community during Week 1 in a French radio interview (via ESPN), commenting on his disapproval of equal prize money and how men should be paid more than women.
Equal prize money has been an issue with professional tennis in the past, but Wimbledon began equal prize money in 2007, raising the women's payroll to match the men's.
And to make matters worse, Simon kept digging himself into a hole, when clarifying after his second-round defeat to ESPN that men's tennis is more entertaining.
I have the feeling that men's tennis is actually more interesting than women's tennis. As in any business or anything, you just have to be paid just about that. It's not because we play five sets and they are playing three.
Maria Sharapova's reply (via ESPN)? "I'm sure there are a few more people that watch my matches than his."
Sorry, Simon, you're not going to win this argument.
9. Wimbledon Hawk "Rufus" Gone Missing
Rufus, the Wimbledon Hawk, has helped the grounds crew keep pigeons off the main show courts. During the first week of play, he was stolen from his cage and went missing for two days.
8. Maria Sharapova Falls Short Again
The newly crowned French Open champ didn't put up much of a fight against Sabine Lisicki, a player she has beaten in previous Slams. During "Manic Monday," where every singles player competes in their fourth-round match, Sharapova was out-hit and out-served by the German.
Since winning the tournament in 2004 at 17 years old, Sharapova has only gone deep three other times but has yet to claim her second title. Most experts picked her to get to the semifinals or finals.
Sharapova did not live up to her No.1 seed and ranking and needs to pick up her level as the hard court season approaches.
7. The Roof
To close the roof, or not close the roof, that is the question. The $80 million addition to Centre Court in 2009 was a source of debate throughout the Championships. The purpose of the roof is to allow play during rainy conditions, but also provides lighting, which comes in handy for matches that go the distance late in the day.
However, the lighting can only go so far, as play must end by 11 p.m. local time due to zoning ordinances. It also takes about 45 minutes to close the roof and allow the air conditioning to settle in. That was a problem for Nadal, when after dominating Rosol in the fourth set, had all the momentum and then had to leave the court as the roof was closing for lighting. As we all know, the delay greatly helped Rosol, who found his form and won the match.
The next day, the sun was out, and when Novak Djokovic took Centre Court, the roof was again closed because of the rain predicted. Although the sun stayed out, the roof was closed all day.
There is protocol for the roof, but its use throughout these Championships have left people scratching their heads.
6. American Comebacks
Two Americans, despite their major health problems, made great showings at Wimbledon this year. And to top it off, were the only two American men in the second week.
The No. 10 seed, Mardy Fish, didn't know when he would compete next after a major heart scare in Miami this past March and surgery in May. He came to Wimbledon, looking exhausted in his first round match, and after the three-set victory, canceled his press conference.
Many feared it was due to his heart, but he said via ESPN that he was not feeling well and was "not heart-related." He went on with his press conference the next day, and in the tournament, lasting five sets against James Ward and three tough sets against up-and-coming star David Goffin before losing to fifth-ranked Tsonga. Fish had a good showing at Wimbledon and hopes his health issues are behind him.
As for Brian Baker, we all know his story from the French Open, and backed up his recent success by not only qualifying for Wimbledon, but in his first main draw appearance, reached the fourth round. Baker hopes that these recent success will translate into playing at the U.S. Open.
5. Querrey/Cilic Marathon
Although this match was nowhere near the length of the 2010 Isner/Mahut classic, it still had similar styles of play—the monster serving and no break points converted. Querrey pushed his way back into the match after being down two sets to love, winning sets three and four in tiebreaks.
These two men battled in the fading sunlight, ace after ace until at 15 games all, Querrey's level dropped, doubling faulting and an unforced error, giving Cilic the break of serve. Cilic won the next game and the match, 7-6, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 17-15.
The match time was 5.5 hours, making it the second-longest match in Wimbledon history.
Querrey told the AP that he felt "a little tired, it was a good match. I had my chances, but (he) kind of came through at the end."
4. Roger Federer Proving He Belongs in Wimbledon Finals
Very few picked Federer to defeat the world No. 1 and defending champion in the semifinals, let alone in four sets. Although Novak Djokovic was not playing his "A" game, with his level of play significantly dipping in the fourth set, Federer played the grass court game he knows. With his wide angle serves and net rushing, he pushed Djokovic off the court and as such, Djokovic lost his movement.
Federer looked shaky to start these Championships, but is now in the finals for the first time since 2009.
Federer has not won a major since the Australia Open in 2010, and this seventh Wimbledon title (17th Grand Slam overall) would mean the world to him. And as an added bonus, becoming No. 1 again with the win.
3. Andy Murray Making His First and Much Deserved Wimbledon Final
After three tough losses in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 semifinals, Andy Murray has finally made his first Wimbledon final and ending a 74-year drought for Great Britain.
Now, he hopes to end the biggest drought yet: Be the first Brit to lift the Wimbledon title since Fred Perry in 1936. He'll have a very tough task next, meeting six-time champion Roger Federer, who has a perfect record against people name "Andy" in Grand Slam finals.
No matter Sunday's outcome, it will be a match for the ages.
2. Serena Williams Is Back
Serena Williams came into Wimbledon very nervous. She did not want a repeat of what happened in Paris, losing in the first round. She was placed on court No. 2, an outer court, for her first match against Barboa Zahlavova Strycova and nearly came to tears after the 6-2, 6-4 victory.
By the time she reached the quarterfinals, she was in the zone, out-hitting and out-serving against the defending champion, Petra Kvitova.
And on Saturday against Radwanska, although a minor hiccup in the second set, Williams proved how lethal she still is on grass.
This is Williams' fifth Wimbledon title and 14th overall Grand Slam singles title.
1. The Upset
On June 27, everyone knew Lukas Rosol as Rafael Nadal's second-round opponent, a virtually unknown player. The next day, he was a star thanks to his epic upset of defeating the two-time champion in a five-set thriller.
Rosol was playing the match of his life, hitting Nadal off the court, which was and is nearly impossible to do. Plus, it helped that most shots coming off Rosol's racquet were screaming winners.
However, Rosoal's real help came from the roof, when play was suspended for 45 minutes after the fourth set. The roof was closed to allow artificial lighting as it was past 9 p.m.
Rosol, after being pummeled in the fourth set, regained his composure, broke Nadal to start the fifth and never looked back.
It's been awhile since the "Big Three" were rattled early in a Slam, and this upset definitely made Wimbledon the tournament of the year (so far).
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