We discuss our takeaways from Wimbledon in this week’s episode of the Changeover Chat, a quick back-and-forth exchange between the writing staff at The Changeover.
Amy: That was an exciting and unpredictable Wimbledon tournament. Between Nadal and Federer losing early on the men’s side, and Serena and Maria exiting early on the women’s side, it wasn’t really what we expected. What stuck with you guys from SW19?
Juan José: The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that this past Wimbledon was almost exclusively a tennis diehards’ Major. Most of the casual fans left during the first week, given Black Wednesday. I enjoyed the craziness, but I did not enjoy all the injuries and the slipping. It was particularly bad (and costly) this year.
Lindsay: Agreed, Juan José. As a diehard fan it was so much fun to see formally unheralded players get the chance to shine. The stakes felt bigger for them since it was such a great and rare opportunity for so many.
Juan José: Particularly on the women’s side, since the men still ended with a No. 1 vs. No.2 final. However, the men got a nice jolt of energy with Janowicz’ run into the semis – he seems pretty ready to mix it up with the top guys, unlike most of his contemporaries. I wonder what’s next for Marion Bartoli – isn’t she kind of in the Schiavone scenario? Francesca did end up staying in the top 10 for a while after her Roland Garros title.
Amy: I have to disagree to an extent about it being exclusively a tennis diehards’ slam. Murray winning Wimbledon was a huge story, big tennis fan or not. But on the women’s side, absolutely.
Juan José: Well, yes, but Andy Murray doesn’t exactly move the needle outside of England, no?
Amy: He does when he’s winning Wimbledon. He was all over the media here in the States, too.
Juan José: So it was a GIGANTIC story (caps fully warranted) in the UK … but elsewhere?
Amy: I think it drew a lot more attention than it would’ve gotten if Djokovic had won because of the British storyline. I even had non-tennis fan friends texting me about it.
Juan José: Probably, but the Wimbledon winner always gets a bit of press here in the US.
Lindsay: I’d agree with that, Amy. But still–I feel like since Murray didn’t have to face Federer or Nadal in the second week, that the stakes felt higher since he was such a favorite to make it to the final. That’s what I was referring to, the tension created by a more open draw on both sides. It just emphasized the mental element of tennis, which I always enjoy.
Juan José: The funny thing about Murray winning Wimbledon is that it wasn’t a surprise, really. The man had made last year’s final, won the Olympics there, won Queen’s, and had made three out of the past four Major finals. Still, it did feel rather momentous when he finally won. Now what will the British Tennis Journos write about? Start a new countdown? Maybe they all transfer the angst to the women’s side and poor Laura Robson?
Amy: And on Murray making it to No. 1.
Lindsay: I personally am going to have a tough time getting used to the angst-less Murray. It’s very confusing.
Amy: I am loving it. I mean, he still makes funny faces and curses at himself. He’s not entirely different in that respect. It’s almost like the truly self-destructive part of that angst is gone, but the amusing stuff is still there. At least for me.
Lindsay: The jury’s still out for me. I’m a big fan of angst and failure.
Amy: That’s true. You are a Benneteau fan.
Lindsay: It all started with Roddick. Nobody knows angst like the Roddick fans. It’s my default setting.
Juan José: It’ll be interesting to see how Murray does now that both King Kongs are off his back.
Lindsay: Where do we think Djokovic goes from here?
Amy: I think he has a similar year to 2012. A slam or two, and a great chance to finish the year as No. 1.
Juan José: Good question – I think he’ll have a similar US hard court run to last year. The part I don’t know about is the fantastic finish he had in 2012 (titles in Beijing, Shanghai and the World Tour Finals) – he hadn’t done that before (though in 2009 he did win Shanghai, Basel and Paris, but that amounts to 1000 fewer points than the 2012 haul). If Murray outperforms him in the US hard court run, the year-end No. 1 could end up being an interesting contest. And of course, let’s not forget that Rafael Nadal is still leading the Race anyway.
Amy: I do think that Murray will be a more consistent challenger to Djokovic than he had been before. He’s now beaten Djokovic in two slam finals in the last year.
Juan José: They’re tied at 2-2 overall, but Murray has won in two different slams, while Djokovic has only beaten Murray in Australia.
One thing I’ve seen from Djokovic in the past two years is that he’s gotten pretty good at rebounding from tough losses. I honestly didn’t expect him to make the Wimbledon final after that brutal Roland Garros loss to Nadal. Same for last year after the Olympic disappointment. So I think he’ll have a pretty good hardcourt run, which he needs to stay atop the rankings and give himself a chance for a third consecutive year-end No.1 finish. He’s defending a title in Canada, a final in Cincinnati, and a final at the US Open.
Lindsay: What about the former giants, Fedal? I mean, it’s hard to call Nadal a former giant considering he’s still No. 1 in the race–insanity–but I did leave Wimbledon with a lot of worries about him.
Amy: I’d say “wait and see” on both those guys. I don’t know what to expect.
Juan José: Well, what we need to remember about Nadal is that he won the only hard court event he played this year, and it was a Masters 1000 (Indian Wells).
I read a lot of stuff about how his knees will do better on hard court, and that grass presented a whole set of problems. Not being able to play a warm-up tournament didn’t help. So I actually expect to see Nadal challenging for stuff in the US hard court swing – not sure if he’ll partake in the rest of the season, except for the World Tour Finals (and Basel, per contract).
About Federer, I have absolutely no idea. He’s set to collect some easy points in the clay events that are coming up, and he didn’t play Canada last year. Plus, the only title he has to defend from here on out is Cincinnati. Other than that, he just has a Basel and World Tour Finals final to defend. So essentially, Federer can make up ground in terms of getting back into the top four, but it all depends on his back, really.
Lindsay: Yup. Also, it feels like there are more contenders than ever on hard courts, especially if Delpo and Janowicz keep up their run of form and Nadal is okay for hard courts. That’s a lot of ifs, but basically, it’s not getting any easier at the big events.
Amy: I think it’s a positive sign about Federer’s health that he feels up to adding two consecutive tournaments into his schedule. So we’ll see.
Juan José: The upside for Federer is that he didn’t look injured during his loss to Stakhovsky at Wimbledon, unlike at the French Open, Rome, and Indian Wells. Hence the extra tournaments on clay. Del Potro is the other huge question mark.
Amy: Well, it sounds like Delpo’s knee injury turned out to be a minor one. With a decent draw, or a run of good form, he could do well in New York this year. He also tends to plays very well in the fall.
Lindsay: What about the women? It feels like it’s harder to discuss them because of what a weird event it was–I mean, the odds of Sharapova, Azarenka, and Serena all falling before the quarters of a big event are slim.
Amy: Yeah, I don’t see it happening again anytime soon.
Juan José: This hard court swing is particularly important for Azarenka. She’s back on her best surface. How about Serena? Will she back to being dominant?
Lindsay: I think Serena will be dominant but not invincible. That’s hard to sustain, and I feel like she had such a laser-like focus after the French Open last year, which she kept up for 12 months. She got her big prize in the French trophy, and she’s far from done adding to her total, but there will be more losses.
Amy: Yup, Serena will be dominant but mortal. Pretty much like she was before.
I feel like Kvitova trying to defend her hard court titles from last year will be an epic disaster.
Lindsay: Hahaha, oh gosh. It will. Poor Petra.
Juan José: Speaking of epic disasters, do we expect anything from the Dimitrov-Tomic-Raonic trio on the ATP side?
Lindsay: No. Not this year, at least.
Amy: I don’t ever expect too much from those guys, so I’m never disappointed.
Lindsay: I do think the young women will continue to be a factor throughout the summer hard court events. I’m hoping that Puig, Stephens, Robson, Bouchard, Keys, etc. will continue to play well outside the scope of the slams. Because if they do, it could make things a whole lot more interesting during the U.S. Open Series. All of them have games that are well-suited for hard courts.
Amy: Plus, it’ll be interesting to see how Sloane does playing in the US. Whether the pressure of playing at home will help or hurt, and whether the home crowd support will help or hurt. I don’t know.
Juan José: She’s back in the media spotlight. And we know how well she handled that last time.
Lindsay: She’s like the anti-Isner in that regard.
Juan José: I want another Stephens-Puig match. That’s one heck of a rivalry to watch in the coming years.
How do we think Bartoli will do in this US hard court swing? She has played well in some events there in the past. I still remember that time when she waxed Venus in the Stanford final four years ago. It was epic. But now that I check, it ended up being a three-setter. Not a waxing, but it sure felt that way at the time, for some reason.
Lindsay: Because when 2009 Venus and Bartoli made a final, you expected Venus to win.
I hope Bartoli remains a factor. She seems so happy and confident and finally settled into her team that I hope sustained success will follow.
For me, the biggest question mark is Sabine.
Amy: Best match of the tournament?
Lindsay: Men’s: Djokovic/Delpo. Women’s: Sabine/Aga.
Amy: To me on the men’s side, it’s Delpo-Djokovic, but I’ll also give a shout-out to Lleyton Hewitt vs. Dustin Brown, because Brown was on absolute fire. He produced some insane tennis. It was one of those one-sided drubbings that results when one guy is playing well, but the other one can’t miss. Some of those kinds of matches can be underrated.
Juan José: I actually will agree to give the title to Djokovic-Delpo, because it was historically long and extremely hard fought for the whole five sets, but I’ll give a shout-out to Stakhovsky-Federer, which was loads of fun, had a throwback flavor, and ended with a shocking upset.
On the women’s side, I actually didn’t think Lisicki-Radwanska was all that great, but I can’t come up with a better suggestion. Honestly, Puig-Stephens was awesome, but I couldn’t pay that much attention to it, and the third set kind of fizzled.
Lindsay: Radwanska/Keys was a great match.
Juan José: Radwanska/Keys was another match I wish I had paid more attention to. The craziness of the middle of the slams sometimes ends up being counterproductive. My other lesson from Wimbledon is that I hate Manic Monday. It’s just a waste: so many good matches are happening, but you can’t pay attention to many of them.
Lindsay: Worst match? Maybe Fer/Murray? Although Fer was great in that match–Murray just stunk.
Juan José: The men’s final was bad, but Murray-Verdasco was quite comical.
Amy: On the women’s side, the final was right up there. That was a bad match. The worst men’s match I saw was Tomic-Berdych. That was torturous. It go to the point where I was just laughing at how bad it was.
Lindsay: I will say that I thought ESPN did a good job–way better than having to switch between channels and deal with NBC tape delay. Not perfect, but a huge improvement. They pretty seamlessly switched between matches about 75% of the time to show the most important parts.
Juan José: I was just going to say, Wimbledon was probably my most pleasant viewing experience ever. And it was all thanks to ESPN3/WatchESPN. I saw everything I wanted, without having to deal with any nonsense.
Amy: ESPN did great. And streams were always available for everything. The one thing that really annoyed me, though, was having scrolling tweets on the bottom of matches on some of the streams. AWFUL. I actually had to put a paper towel on my screen to cover it up because it was so distracting.
Amy: And the scrolling tweets covered up players’ feet, so you couldn’t watch footwork. They should never do that again.
Juan José: The scrolling tweets sucked. Another thing that made me love this Wimbledon in terms of broadcasting is that I even got to listen to my “friends” over at ESPN Latin America (Javier Frana and Luis Alfredo Álvarez). The option for their broadcast was always there, so I dealt with zero studio crap, and zero John McEnroe, which is pretty much heaven for me. Frana and Álvarez are by far the best tennis announcing duo that I’ve ever heard. It was such a pleasure to watch the big matches at the end of the tournament in their company.
But going back to the streaming aspect: to me, this Wimbledon represented the future of tennis: online watching, completely on demand. It’s really the best scenario for our sport and for the fans. So I’m thrilled that ESPN is now in charge of three out of the four Majors. That means we only have to deal with one of them in terms of nonsense.
Amy: ESPN really does a great job of making everything available to fans. For as much as we complain about the programming on ESPN itself, at least you can stream everything.
Lindsay: Agreed. ESPN has a lot of the US Open Series as well, so I’m looking forward to the perk of added coverage that comes with the buildup to the US Open. Also, I’m looking forward to tennis not starting at 5 a.m. EST, but we have a few more weeks until that’s uniform.
Juan José: Amen to that last point, Lindsay. I’m so done with early-morning tennis.