Friday, 4 July 2014

For the first time in years, I can watch the Wimbledon semi-finals without chewing my nails to the quick

In a few minutes, I’ll be sitting down in front of the television to enjoy the Wimbledon semi-finals. Last year, I was biting my nails to the quick, hoping – begging – for Andy Murray to make it through to the final. The year before that, it was Federer. This time, I really don’t care which of the four wins the Championship. For the third year in a row, the rapidly-balding, bum-picking Spanish No.1 isn’t involved, and neither are the deeply dull Duracell-bunny of the men’s tour, little David Ferrer, or the equally boring and flair-free Czech snooze-meister, Tomas Berdych. Instead, alongside the usual suspects (Federer and  Djokovic) we have two 23-year olds who should really have broken through to the top echelon by now, but who have finally made their move.

Superman-lookalike, the Canadian Milos Raonic (variously pronounced Meelosh Row-nitch and Milos Ray-onik, depending on which commentator is on duty), is a pure power player – biggest and best serve in the game, and a piledriver forehand – whose fairly new coaching team, led by the recently retired Croatian Top 20 player, the uncompromisingly bald Ivan Ljubičić, have persuaded him to try to break his opponent’s serve rather than wait for the tie-break in every damned set. He’s the least interesting of the four semi-finalists, but he seems a very nice, intelligent chap, with a game well-suited to grass, so I’d be quite happy to see him win. However, his opponent is Roger Federer, who has appeared in eight previous Wimbledon semi-finals and, scarily, has never lost one. We’ll see.

The other representative of the new guard is Bulgarian heart-throb, Grigor Dimitrov, who put Andy Murray to the sword in straight sets in the previous round. Christened “Baby Fed” by one coach, he’s been in stupendous form this year under the guidance of Australian psycho-nutter-bastard Roger Rashid, who appears to have injected some iron into his charge’s soul and to have taught him an awful lot about choosing the right shot at the right time. Dimitrov – better known until this point as Maria Shriekapova’s toy-boy – is undoubtedly the most exciting tennis player to have emerged since Andy Murray: graceful, powerful, with oodles of natural talent. This afternoon he plays Djokovic (who, for some odd reason, Jimmy Connors calls “Doe-koe-vich”). I expect the Serbinator to win, but I’m hoping for a tight match.

The best result for the future of tennis would be a Raonic v. Dimitrov final, thereby setting up a classic rivalry of power against talent for the next few years. But Federer and Djokovic are more likely to be duking it out on Sunday – this is probably old Twinkle-Toes’ last chance of winning a major, and Djokovic hasn’t won one for 18 months and will be busting a gut to halt a dispiritingly extended series of near-misses. Whatever, I really don’t care – as long as all three matches go to at least four sets.

A word on Andy Murray. From the moment he announced he was going to have back surgery last September, I knew he had no chance of defending his Wimbledon titile. Only drug-cheats recover from major surgery in less than a year. People have been jolly unkind about his dreadful performance against Dimitrov, but, by winning Wimbledon last year, he did everything that had been asked of him. If he never wins another title, he remains an absolute hero. If he wants to win another title, however, I suggest he ditches the wide-mouthed Frog pronto and begs Ivan Lendl to return.

5 comments:

  1. ....and let's not forget the teenage Greek-Australian Nick Kyrgios. When was the last time anybody looked into Nadal's eyes and saw 'who is this kid - and what do I have to do to beat him?'

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    1. Kyrgios looks a terrific prospect - and Rod Laver agrees with you! Let's just hope he doesn't go the same way as Bernard Tomic, who promised so much but seems to have problems between the ears.

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  2. Thank you for an excellent post. I know very little about tennis and your comments are very helpful. Wish I could find a similar source for American Football or Baseball.

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  3. Was looking at the DT on-line to-day to find out who won. White poodle man! Was looking at a series of pictures of Celebs sitting in the Royal Box. One featured somebody called Bear Grylls plus wife chatting to rapidly balding and wimpy British actor Jude Law. Behind them there were Jack Nicklaus and Rocket Rod Laver in deep conversation. There was no reference to the fact of the presence of the two greatest sportsmen of the 0th Century We live in strange times.

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    1. To give John McEnroe his due, he goes into ecstasies whenever Rod Laver appears on the screen and never fails to tell us that Laver is his all-time sporting hero. As the Daily Telegraph appears to be run by some American internet wallah who has been firing staff left, right and centre, I'm not sure there's anyone old enough or well-informed enough there to identify the likes of Laver and Niklaus.

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