Wimbledon 2011: 12 Biggest Lessons We Learned at the All-England Club

Jaideep VaidyaAnalyst IJuly 4, 2011

Wimbledon 2011: 12 Biggest Lessons We Learned at the All-England Club

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    The Wimbledon Championships celebrated their 125th anniversary this year, and the events that transpired in the two weeks at SW19 truly commemorated the occasion.

    The tournament was one of the most exciting ones in recent years and taught us some important things such as the fact that Rory McIlroy is a tennis buff, Andy Murray needs a good groomer and the Center Court roof needs to be made sound proof to handle the likes of Maria Sharapova.

    But the tournament also witnessed the coronation of the new world No. 1 in men's tennis and the crowning of a new women's champion. We also saw some fantastic breakthrough performances which have become quite routine at the Championships.

    The 2011 Wimbledon tournament left us with a lot to be learned, and here's a list of the 12 biggest lessons it has taught us.

The Royals Love Their Tennis

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    The All-England Club played host to a horde of celebrities in the two weeks of the Championships.

    But the list of celebrities had a royal touch added to it this time around with the appearance of the newlyweds William and Catherine—the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

    Even though Prince William did not appear to be too enthralled by the events transpiring on Center Court, his lovely spouse was pictured having a great time. The Duchess of Cambridge looked stunning in her white dress (God bless her!) and truly brightened up Center Court, considering the gloomy skies above.

    Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, was also sighted and seemed to be enjoying her tennis.

Clothes Maketh the (wo)man, but Not a Champion

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    In the first few days of the tournament, the tabloids were awash with what everyone is wearing at the Championships. 

    Venus Williams carried forward her legacy of flamboyancy with regards to her wardrobe and dominated the front pages with her "jumper" outfit that had the British media bamboozled. 

    Bethanie Mattek-Sands resorted to sticking white tennis balls to her sports jacket and looked like a marine, while world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki looked cute in her Stella McCartney range.

    But none of the above-mentioned made it past the fourth round of the Championships.

    Style and substance have to compliment each other, ladies!

The Center Court Roof Does Work but Has Its Side Effects

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    The £100 million retractable roof on Center Court lived up to its billing and provided relief from the erratic London weather.

    The 10-minute delay undertaken to close it is a small price to pay for non-stop action on Center Court and other Grand Slams could take a cue from the All-England Club to maximize productivity.

    However, some players complained that the indoor atmosphere created by the roof is worlds apart from when it is open. The increased humidity meant that balls became heavier—much like what it is at Roland Garros.

    But you can't have everything, can you?!

American Tennis Is on the Decline

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    The dominance of the United States over tennis seems to be coming to an end if recent results are to be considered.

    The performance of the American contingent at the Championships was poor, to say the least, and just added to the bandwagon that American tennis is on the decline.

    Andy Roddick crashed out early, the Williams sisters, understandably so, weren't at their best, whereas Mardy Fish is not getting any younger.

    I can't recall the last time no American made it to the Wimbledon semifinals.

French Tennis Is on the Rise

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    The French seem to be getting stronger and stronger with each Grand Slam.

    Marion Bartoli bounced her way into the quarterfinals after taking out Serena Williams in the fourth round. The 26-year-old Frenchwoman reached the semifinals at Roland Garros and carried forward her good form into the Championships. The 2007 finalist was finally knocked out in the quarterfinals by Sabine Lisicki.

    Compatriot Jo-Wilfried Tsonga went a step further by beating five-time champion Roger Federer in the quarterfinals.

    Tsonga, who was a finalist at Queen's, became a crowd favorite at the All-England club with his dynamic play and rocked the crowd and his opponent with his bazooka-like groundstrokes.

    Tsonga was felled by eventual champion Novak Djokovic in an intense semifinal that had all the ingredients of a blockbuster.

    The Frenchman is here to stay.

The Rankings Are a Waste of Time and Effort

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    No one other than the geniuses who formulated the ATP and WTA rankings algorithm seem to know how it works.

    Caroline Wozniacki, who has never won a Grand Slam to date, maintains her world No. 1 ranking after falling in the fourth round itself. 

    On the men's side, Novak Djokovic toppled Rafael Nadal as World No. 1 by just reaching the final, after being 65 points behind the Spaniard at the beginning of the tournament. Didn't they play the same number of matches to get to the final?

    Eight-hundred ranking points separate the winner and runner-up of a Grand Slam. But even if Djokovic had lost the final, he would still have been world No. 1!

    I'd really like to see that algorithm!

Grunting Does Not Win You Slams

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    Victoria Azarenka has been crowned the new "Queen of Grunts" after the Championships. Her grunts last all of 1.565 seconds—a good 0.284 of a second more than her predecessor Maria Sharapova.

    Azarenka's sing-song grunts had the crowds amused as she sung her way into the semifinals. It took a determined and, perhaps, musically impaired Petra Kvitova to overcome her.

    Maria Sharapova, on the other hand, put in her strongest performance since her career-threatening shoulder injury two years ago and reached her first Wimbledon final since she last won it seven years ago.

    Sharapova's powerful groundstrokes and her improved movement got her through to the final after being a pre-tournament favorite to win. But the double-faults cost her the title eventually, and it's an area she will have to work on if she wants a shot at the U.S. Open.

    Sharapova looks stronger than ever, but there's still work to be done. Unfortunately for her, breaking the sound barrier does not help win a Grand Slam.

Watch Out for the Newbies

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    In January this year, Bernard Tomic told an Australian newspaper that he would one day be world No. 1. It did seem like an unrealistic teenage dream at the time for the then 17-year-old.

    Six months down the line, Tomic reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon as a qualifier, beating the likes of Robin Soderling and Xavier Mallise on the way.

    Tomic looked set to cause an upset in the quarterfinals against Novak Djokovic but went down fighting 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 5-7 to the eventual champion.

    The 18-year-old's performance shocked the entire world, and the Australian media wasted no time in declaring him as a future champion.

    Tomic's exploits have jumped him up the ATP rankings to 72, after starting the tournament ranked 158th. He has replaced Lleyton Hewitt as the Australian No. 1.

    The boy has big ambitions and hopes to win a major in the next two years.

    On the women's side, Sabine Lisicki was a surprise semifinalist after taking down French Open champion Na Li and 2007 finalist Marion Bartoli on the way. 

    Lisicki became the first German after Steffi Graf in 1999 to reach the Wimbledon semifinals. She eventually lost to Maria Sharapova but not before signaling the rise of a new star in women's tennis.

    Women's champion Petra Kvitova also deserves a mention, even though she is not a newbie per se. Not many would have expected the 21-year-old from the Czech Republic to reach the final, let alone win it!

Andy Murray Is Just Not Good Enough

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    The British media can hype Andy Murray all they want, but it just isn't going to change the fact that the Scotsman is just not good enough to be mentioned in the same bracket as the three men ranked above him.

    Murray reached the final of this year's Australian Open and the semifinals of the French Open and Wimbledon and looks to be in the form of his life right now. But that's clearly not enough for him to be considered a potential Grand Slam champion.

    Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are still miles ahead of him, and Murray clearly needs to work his socks off if he wants to challenge them. 

    A message for his supporters: Shouting out "Come on, Tim!" while he's playing does NOT help!

Roger Federer Is a Fading Star

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    As much as it hurts me to say this, Roger Federer is clearly reaching the twilight of his career, if he's not there already.

    The 29-year-old has had an illustrious career and there's no doubt that he is one of the greatest players of all time. But it is time for him to hand over the torch to his younger compatriots.

    That being said, I think Roger definitely has it in him to win at least one more major before calling it quits, and the icing on the cake would be if he could retire as world No. 1. 

    Seems far-fetched, I know. But then again, he's Roger Federer!

Rafael Nadal Is Not Invincible

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    Rafael Nadal has looked unstoppable in the last year.

    After winning three majors in 2010, Rafa won a record-equaling sixth French Open title this year and was the hot favorite to retain his Wimbledon trophy from last year.

    But it looks like Novak Djokovic has found the right formula to stop the Majorcan's charge. The Serb has beaten Rafa in five finals this year on all three surfaces.

    Rafa's loss at Wimbledon has signaled the beginning of a new rivalry in men's tennis. From the looks of it, this rivalry could go down in the history books as one of the best, considering that both players are not far apart in age and have got many playing years ahead of them.

    They've even got a similar style of play!

    Exciting times ahead!

Novak Djokovic Has Finally Arrived

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    Novak Djokovic has been in ruthless form this season and went 43 matches unbeaten before losing to Roger Federer in the semifinals of the French Open.

    Prior to Roland Garros, the rejuvenated Serb had beaten Rafael Nadal four times and Roger Federer thrice. He was one of the favorites to pick up the Coupe des Mousquetaires last month but panicked on the big occasion.

    Djokovic has the tendency of crumbling in pressure situations, and this has led to his downfall in the past.

    But all that was set to change at the Championships.

    Djokovic reached the final at SW19 for the first time in his career and, doing so, cemented his place as the new world No. 1. This turned out to be just the right incentive for him to overcome Nadal on the big stage.

    Djokovic beat Nadal at his own game—with powerful baseline play and unbelievable court coverage. He even managed to push Nadal a few metres beyond the baseline and make unforced errors, something unheard of in the recent past.

    By winning his first Grand Slam outside Australia, Djokovic has sent out a strong message to the world saying, "I have arrived and I'm here to stay!"

    Judging by his current form, not many would argue against it.