WIMBLEDON, England—After the first round of Wimbledon 2022, neither Venus nor Serena Williams were in the women’s singles draw. For the first time since the 1990s, Roger Federer was not in the men’s draw.
World-ranked No. 1 and No. 2 players Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev are also not here. (The latter is injured. The former is from Russia, a nation that is not welcome at these championships due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, prompting the ATP and WTA Tours to withdraw ranking points from the event. Iga Swiatek , the top-ranked, did not last the week, as his 37-match winning streak was snapped in the third round. Coco Gauff and Emma Raducanu are also out.
For all these absences, it has been a present Wimbledon. Defending champion Novak Djokovic could never be in better shape to win. Ons Jabeur, tennis’s favorite indie band, continues. So does Rafael Nadal, who won the previous two Slams of the year. And the Nick Kyrgios show has been renewed to continue into week two.
It’s all a tennis metaphor, a reminder that for every loss, there is a win. There is no Middle Sunday demarcation (another loss), but since we turn around, we attach illustrated sports intermediate grades.
Novak Djokovic: The defending champion seems headed for another title. He named it Center Court and had a tough first hour of play, in which he lost a set. Since then, he has been virtually unstoppable. And, to clarify, we are referring to Novak Djokovic, not his son, Stefan, who also hits the ball poorly.
Ons Jabeur: With Swiatek and Gauff out of the tournament, Jabuer emerges as the women’s favourite. She would make history. And a larger portion of the sports public would be exposed to a game and a personality that is entertaining in equal measure.
Nick Kyrgios: He is spitting. He is admitting to tank fighting. He is being accused of being a bully. He’s also bringing out his volcanic blasts and bottomless talent, breaking into week two.
The triple digit club: Three players under .100 are still alive. Tim van Rijthoven (a Dutch wild card), Heather Watson (who nearly beat Serena Williams here in 2015) and Tatia Maria (who knocked out No. 5 Maria Sakkari).
Wimbledon updates: Like top players realizing that to stay on top they must keep innovating, the tournament continues to add details big and small, like a new center court gate, new viewing areas and website updates.
Alize Cornett: Playing in her 63rd consecutive major, the Frenchwoman defeated Swiatek in one of the biggest wins of her career.
Kristen Flipken: One of the most popular players calls it a career after her loss in the second round.
The Tennis Podcast: Read all about it.
Garden maintenance: It is not Lee Cole’s book, although it is excellent. There have been very few surface complaints this year.
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Venus Williams: He is 42 years old, plays mixed doubles (with Jamie Murray), and generally loves life.
Serena Williams: Losing in the first round is not the result she wanted (“I think you know the answer to that,” was her response when asked about her expectations), but there were positive takeaways given that she hadn’t played a full match in more than one year.
AndyMurray: Neither did the result he wanted: a second-round loss to John Isner. But it wasn’t a loss due to age or physical compromise, just an inability to make a dent against an industrial-grade serve.
Casper Ruud: The No. 3 seed and finalist at this year’s French Open lost early. Good for him for staying to play doubles. His partner: Will Blumberg of Greenwich High (and UNC) fame.
The Russian ban: Some agree with that. Some don’t. But it is striking how little has been discussed. This is not limited to tennis. For the ferocity of modern outrage, it sure is short-lived. I’m sure we’re easily distracted… wait, I’ve got an alert. Yellowstone is filming in Arizona?
Stability: Tennis seems, I would say it is—as fractured and conflicted as ever. Ranking points are withheld from the larger event… by two tours operating separately… at a major that unilaterally banned players due to their country of origin. Then you look at golf and think: “What a model of agreement and unison we have built.”
COVID-19: Two recent Wimbledon finalists, Marin Cilic and Matteo Berrettini, have withdrawn after testing positive, and it is collectively felt that there is no more. One theory circulating here is that the tournament spent its capital on the Russian ban and believed it couldn’t add another imposition on players by testing or asking them to socially distance or wear masks in the locker room.
Canada: After two rounds, there are no Great White North players left, otherwise a tennis powerhouse.
Control room errors: The idea that a director would cut to a crowded shot as Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas walked to the net to shake hands after their one-match cage match is the equivalent of, “I’ve got Neil Armstrong landing, but come on.” to chamber 4 where the igneous rocks are.”
The sowings: Anett Kontaveit totally deserves her No. 2 ranking, but as a COVID victim who has never been to a major semifinal, should she have been the No. 2 seed? Ruud is fully deserving of his No. 5 ranking, but should he have been the No. 3 seed given that he never won a match at Wimbledon? Totally subjective seeding is a recipe for disaster, but an objective formula that takes into account past turf success makes sense.
Beatriz Haddad Maia: He crushed it in the prep events, received 23rd place…and then lost in the first round.
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