Wimbledon 2014: Winners and Losers from All England Club
Put away the strawberries and cream until next year. Gulp down that final glass of Pimm's. Add some color back into your wardrobe. The Wimbledon fortnight has officially come to a close.
Petra Kvitova won the women's championship, proving that her run to the title in 2011 was anything but a fluke. By dominating Canadian sensation Eugenie Bouchard, Kvitova announced herself as the best grass-court player of her generation.
Her date to the Wimbledon ball will look familiar. Novak Djokovic won the men's title in an epic five-set affair over Roger Federer, so the 2011 men's champion will join Kvitova at the Champions' Dinner once again.
It was a fortnight of inspirational stories, head-scratching defeats and emotional victories from start to finish. We saw the younger generation start to rise, the older generation push back and legends push themselves to the brink.
Here are all of the winners and losers from a memorable two weeks at the All England Club.
Winner: 1990s Kids
All around the All England Club, the next generation of tennis players announced themselves as legitimate contenders.
Veterans have taken over tennis lately. Whereas Roger Federer was a late bloomer at 21, and both Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova won their first Slams when they were 17, these days 24-year-olds are still hyped as the Next Big Thing.
But the status quo started to slowly shift this fortnight. Two men born in the 1990s made the semi-finals at Wimbledon, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov (both 23). They joined last year's Wimbledon semifinalist Jerzy Janowicz as the only men born in the 1990s to make a semi of any Slam.
The women fared even better. Three of the four female semi-finalists were born in the 1990s: Simona Halep (22), Eugenie Bouchard (20) and Petra Kvitova (24). That's noteworthy considering that only five women born in the '90s have made the semis of any major.
Bouchard and Kvitova contested the first major final between two players born in the 1990s.
The trend even extended to doubles, where youngsters Jack Sock (21) and Vasek Pospisil (24) became the only doubles team born in the 1990s to win a Slam.
It's taken a while, but it looks like at long last, fresh faces are coming.
Loser: The Williams Sisters
Venus and Serena Williams have had many memorable fortnights at Wimbledon. This was not one of them.
In singles, they both lost before the first week was complete. Venus fought valiantly and pushed eventual champion Petra Kvitova to the brink 5-7, 7-6, 7-5, but she was unable to come up with her best tennis in the biggest moments of the match.
Then Serena fell to Alize Cornet, a Frenchwoman who had also beaten her earlier in the year.
To cap off their terrible trip to London, Serena came down with a viral illness and displayed bizarre behavior in their second-round doubles match. She couldn't catch a ball when it was tossed to her during the warm-ups, couldn't get a serve in play and looked very disoriented.
They ended up retiring from the doubles match, and Serena has since been resting.
With 10 Wimbledon singles titles between them, the sisters will surely be back for more Wimbledon glory. But 2014 is a year at the All England Club they will want to forget.
Winner: The Federer-Djokovic Rivalry
Tennis used to be all about the Fedal rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Lately, the Rafole rivalry has overtaken it according to many fans and media members, due to the fact that Nadal and Novak Djokovic have played so many memorable matches lately.
But in this discussion of the greatest tennis rivalries, Fedole often gets overlooked. Maybe this Wimbledon final has finally changed that.
Federer and Djokovic met for the 35th time in their careers Sunday, and it was an instant classic. With Djokovic trying to stop his three-match losing skid in Slam finals, and Federer trying to win his first major in two years and 18th overall, the stakes were high.
It was a topsy-turvy affair. Federer took the first set in a tiebreaker, but Djokovic immediately went up a break in the second set and was able to hold on. The Serb, trying to win his second Wimbledon title, looked in control when he took the third set 7-6.
But the two legends traded breaks in the fourth set, and Federer saved a championship point on his own serve to push things to a fifth.
The fifth set was nonstop tension, but it was Federer who finally caved first, dropping serve in the final game to give Djokovic the title. The Serb impressed with his mental toughness and his unrelenting display of tennis throughout the five sets, but Federer didn't disappoint either. They brought out the best in each other.
Djokovic retakes the No. 1 ranking back from Nadal now and takes his seventh major title back to Serbia. The 17-time major champion, meanwhile, reminded everyone that he still has some magic left in him.
With this showcase, we were all winners.
Losers: The French Open Champions
Both French Open champions fell back-to-back on Centre Court at Wimbledon to kick off the second week of play.
In one of the most high-quality matches of the tournament, Maria Sharapova fell to No. 9 Angelique Kerber 7-6, 4-6, 6-4. It was the 10-year anniversary of her breakthrough Wimbledon title when she was only 17, and this was certainly not how the Russian had hoped to mark the occasion.
Next up, Rafael Nadal's recent grass-court woes continued. The 2008 and 2010 champion failed to make it to the quarterfinals for a third straight year, falling in the fourth round to Aussie teen sensation Nick Kyrgios.
Once again, the Channel Slam remains untouched.
Meet the newest tennis powerhouse: Canada.
The maple leafs took over Wimbledon this fortnight and announced that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
Genie Bouchard became the first Canadian to make it to a major final when she beat No. 3 Simona Halep in the semis. Milos Raonic became the first Canadian man to make it to a major semi when he took out Nick Kyrgios in the quarters.
And Vasek Pospisil gave Canada a real reason to party when he joined American Jack Sock to win the doubles title in a huge upset over the Bryan brothers.
Luckily for our friends up north, Raonic confirmed that Canadian ambitions don't stop here. Per the official Wimbledon site:
Unfortunately, to this point there hasn't been as much Canadian success, especially on the singles side in the men's.
So all the things sort of come and go and you appreciate them, but you don't give them too much value because it's ambitions that are beyond doing what no Canadian has done before. It's about really trying to become the best player in the world.
Loser: Andy Murray
There are only two options for Andy Murray at Wimbledon: He can win and be a hero, or lose and be a bitter disappointment. It doesn't matter that he just won the title last year, thus ending the most famous drought in tennis. He will be harshly judged on today's results.
This year, Murray looked great throughout the first week, cruising through his first four matches playing some of the most economical and focused tennis of his career. But then in the quarters he came out incredibly flat.
Against rising star Grigor Dimitrov, Murray offered no resistance. He fell 6-1, 7-6, 6-2 and sent the British press into a frenzy.
The two-time major winner was his typically analytical self after the loss. "He was the better player from start to finish," he said, per the official Wimbledon site. "I certainly lost the match today, yeah. I don't think I won it."
Winner: The Czech Fed Cup Team
The Czech Republic has won the Fed Cup title two out of the past three years, and this Wimbledon they showed that their team is deeper than anyone even realized.
Of course, Petra Kvitova was the belle of the ball, winning her second Wimbledon crown with one of the most dominant displays of tennis Wimbledon has ever seen, taking out Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-0 in just 55 minutes in the final. But she had company throughout the fortnight.
Her compatriot Lucie Safarova made her first major semi-final at the age of 27, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova made her first quarterfinal at the age of 28 and 19-year-old Tereza Smitkova made it to the fourth round.
John Branch of The New York Times covered this phenomenon:
Given that there are no grass courts in the Czech Republic, and most players spend winters playing on indoor hard courts and summers on clay, this is a bit of a Wimbledon anomaly.
"Good, right?" Barbora Zahlavova Strycova asked late last week of the Czech Republic's success, which was not matched by the men, none of whom reached the fourth round. "We are great. It seems like we feel good on grass. I'm very happy. We're such a small country. We have really good players."
Loser: The Dress Code
When even by-the-books Roger Federer thinks a rule is too strict, perhaps it's time to change things up.
This year, the All England Club made their all-white dress code even more all-encompassing, making sure that undergarments, sweatbands, shoe soles and all accessories would remain white.
As Chris Chase of USA Today's For The Win reported, the seven-time champion was not enthralled with the new additions to the rulebook.
"We're all white. White, white, full-on white. I think it's very strict," Federer said. "My personal opinion, I think it's too strict. If you look at the pictures of [Stefan] Edberg, [Boris] Becker, there was some colors, you know, but it was all white."
Winner: The Aussie Wild Card
We've already talked about the success of the '90s kids here at Wimbledon, but 19-year-old Nick Kyrgios deserves a special mention.
The flashy Australian won a wild card into Wimbledon by coming through the qualification rounds and winning the Nottingham Challenger on grass last month.
He made the most of his gift. Kyrgios saved nine match points in his second-round match against No. 13 Richard Gasquet, and then he backed that up with authority, shocking Rafael Nadal in the fourth round.
Kyrgios' shotmaking and power certainly leave a lot of reasons to be optimistic for his future.
"You know, I'm just a normal kid, 19-year-old. I play a lot of Xbox," he said at his post-upset press conference, per the official Wimbledon site. "Never did I think a week ago I was going to make the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in my first appearance. Geez, I'm sure some of you have 19-year-old kids. I'm exactly the same."
Wimbledon schedulers once failed to show any flexibility. They particularly messed things up when they refused to play on Middle Sunday again, despite the fact that some players were a match behind and would have to play back-to-back throughout the second week.
Of course, Wimbledon will likely never change its traditions, but it's still frustrating to see some players at such a disadvantage.
Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka really got the short end of the scheduling stick this year, and he did not mince his words when discussing it, as reported by James Riach of The Guardian:
To play a five-set match, it’s never easy. But if you look at this week, me or [Feliciano] Lopez or [John] Isner have to play three matches in three days, five-set matches. It's terrible for the body. I was surprised they didn't move any doubles matches, because they played doubles five-set matches on Saturday on many courts. So that was a surprise. But then they took a decision and you can't do anything.
Winner: The Career Slam
There are two new members to the Career Slam club. Welcome, Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci.
The Italian doubles team won their first Wimbledon title Saturday with a 6-1, 6-3 destruction of Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic in the women's doubles final.
The duo began their doubles dominance two years ago, when they won the French Open crown. That was a special year since Errani made it to the singles final as well.
The Fed Cup champions proved that was not a fluke when they won the U.S. Open title later that year. They followed up that feat by winning the Australian Open in 2013 and then defending that title this year.
Finally, they captured Wimbledon to give them one doubles title at every major. The best friends celebrated by rolling around in the grass together.
"Unbelievable," Errani said after the victory. "I mean, no words to tell you what is it for us."
Loser: The British Tabloid Press
The press rooms at Slams are always packed with journalists who don't cover tennis on a week-in, week-out basis, and in London that usually means an overflow of tabloid reporters.
That leads to unforgivable mistakes, such as this incredibly incorrect and inappropriate headline from the Daily Mail: "Simona Halep beats Eugenie Bouchard in women's semi-finals...so was her breast reduction to thank?" (Halep actually lost to Bouchard in that match, and REALLY?)
The tabloid reporters also took over the press room, asking Caroline Wozniacki questions about online dating and irresponsibly speculating about Andy Murray's personal life after his straight-sets loss to Grigor Dimitrov in the quarters.
It's infuriating when the best athletes in the world are treated like the Kardashians at the biggest stage in tennis.
Winner: Victoria Duval
Young Victoria Duval stole the hearts of America when she upset former champion Samantha Stosur at the U.S. Open last year.
This fortnight, Duval showed that she is a winner both on and off the court.
The 18-year-old was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma after her first-round qualifying match at Wimbledon. Still, she stayed in the competition and went on to qualify for the main draw and win her first-round match.
Her attitude is incredibly impressive, especially for someone so young. As reported by Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times, Duval is staying positive:
I have complete faith that God will assist me and my family with all that we need to achieve victory and become stronger from this journey. I intend to put up my best fight and have a full recovery. I picture myself healthy, stronger and competing again soon with even more appreciation for the game I so love.
The cancer was caught early, and Duval is expected to have a complete recovery in the next few months. The tennis community is rooting for you, Vicky.