Wimbledon 2013 Review: Where Has It Left the 'Big 4'?
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What a tournament. Even if it had been scripted and made into a film, they couldn't have produced a more dramatic Wimbledon Championships than we saw over the past week (for proof, see the simply awful 2004 film Wimbledon...but don't actually see it—it's really bad).
So where to now for Rafael Nadal? Before the obituaries are written it is important to remember that he is still the current French Open Champion, having lifted his eighth title there just last month.
Doing well at the French Open then Wimbledon is meant to be difficult.
Only four men have won them back to back in the Open Era. Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer. Not a bad list of players to be included in.
Since his comeback from injury, Nadal's form has been incredible. With his knees the way they are, the two week transition from clay to grass was never going to be easy. Chances are he didn't anticipate it.
All in all though, with the year that he has had still, a first round exit at Wimbledon is far from the end of the world.
He still leads the race to London for the ATP World Tour Finals, which is all the more impressive considering he missed the Australian Open.
By the end of next year's Australian Open, he could easily be the number one in the world again.
Great champions are great champions for a reason. Expect Nadal to bounce back from this and be a major contender heading towards the US Open.
The Big Shock
And then there was Federer.
Arguably the greatest of them all in arguably the greatest shock of them all. His second round exit at the hands of Sergiy Stakhovsky looks as though it could have truly ended the great one's time at the top once and for all.
Wimbledon was cited by many as his last genuine opportunity to have a genuine tilt at a Grand Slam title. Since winning Wimbledon 12 months ago, he has lost at the semi-final stage of the US Open, the Australian Open and at the quarter-final of the French.
To go out in the second round of his beloved Wimbledon, on his beloved Centre Court, may be one setback too far to come back from. The slip down to 5th in the world will only make things harder from here.
He has reacted to this by entering two tournaments in Hamburg and Gstaad during a time that would normally be his post-Wimbledon period.
It is not panic stations yet, but Federer is certainly on alert.
But then, as I have said before (literally about ten seconds ago), great champions are great champions for a reason.
In 2002, a 30 something Pete Sampras seemed to be declining towards the end of his career. At Wimbledon, the scene of his greatest glories, he lost in 5 sets to George Bastl in the second round. His career at the highest level seemed as good as over.
Just two months later, he clawed his way back from the abyss to win the US Open, his 14th and final grand slam success.
It won't be easy. Roger is nowhere near the impenetrable force he once was, but if Federer wants it badly enough, I believe he has another Grand Slam title in his locker.
Do not write him off just yet.
Despite the disappointing loss in the final, Novak Djokovic is still very much the man to beat. He was imperious in his route to the final, barely breaking a sweat until his bruising semi-final encounter with Juan Martin Del Potro.
The Serb is still comfortably the World Number one player in the rankings and would have to do a lot wrong to lose that position between now and the end of the year.
But would he swap that position in a heartbeat if it meant the two grand slam titles that he agonizingly missed out on were his? Surely the answer is yes.
You have to wonder how the last month will have affected him mentally.
Losing to Nadal in the French Open semi-final despite being a break up in the fifth set will have hurt him badly. Getting beaten in straight sets by Andy Murray in Sunday's Wimbledon final could leave lasting psychological damage.
He claimed fatigue was a factor in his loss in the final.
But whilst it is clear that his win against Del Potro in the semi-final two days earlier would have taken a heck of a lot out of him, we are talking about a man who 18 months ago at the Australian Open beat Murray in nearly five hours, then beat Nadal in nearly six hours just two days later; the longest grand slam final of all time.
The air of invincibility around Djokovic seems to have diminished.
Yesterday it seemed like everything that Djokovic does so well, Andy Murray just did that little bit better.
So much of Djokovic's game is built upon his physicality, it will be interesting to see how he does next time he comes up against Murray again, a man whom he now knows can ran as hard, as fast and as far as he can. If not further.
Right now he seems to have lost his psychological edge. And once you have lost it, it is very, very hard to get it back.
After 77 long, long years, Britain finally have their Wimbledon Champion.
It is hard to properly put into words just what this means. It is simply incomparable.
For Andy Murray it was a vital win. Two wins in seven Grand Slam finals sounds so much better than only one in seven.
He is now a multiple Grand Slam Champion. Plenty of decent players have won one, only the greats win more. He now holds two of the four Grand Slam titles, as well as Olympic gold.
He now seems to have the edge over Djokovic, in the same way that Djokovic had the edge over Nadal, and the same way that Nadal had the edge over Federer.
In Australia this year, Murray also beat Federer in a Grand Slam for the first time. For someone who has been conquered by Federer in three Grand Slam finals, this was a pivotal achievement.
The one barrier left for Murray now is Rafael Nadal. If Nadal can put himself back together and genuinely compete again on every surface, it will be interesting to see how Murray stacks up against the Spaniard.
The eight time French Open Champion has always had an edge on Murray, and has a significantly better win-loss record (14-5) than any other man on tour.
This is not something for Murray to be worrying about right now though. He is Wimbledon Champion. He is on top of the world.
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