Wimbledon, the premier tournament in the professional tennis calendar has come to a close once again with Garbine Muguruza and Roger Federer winning amidst the greenery at SW19. Every year, the tournament throws up surprises; Rafael Nadal knocked out in the fourth round having won the French Open at a canter, Agnieszka Radwanska and Caroline Wozniacki failing to reach the Quarter-finals, the spate of injuries that claimed Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. Equally assured are brilliant matches between closely matched opponents where only those who can keep their nerve survive to the next round. The best six are contained below:
Rafael Nadal v Gilles Muller (3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 13-15)
A hugely entertaining match that should have been a comfortable win for the two-times winner. although Nadal’s body may be letting him down more often than it once did, you cannot doubt his courage. In the face of an onslaught from the unheralded Luxemburger, Nadal fought back having been two sets down and was constantly under the heel of his opponent in the fifth, but refused to relent for over four and a half hour before hitting a forehand long, handing the match to his opponent!
Svetlana Kuznetsova v Garbine Muguruza (3-6, 4-6)
One of the matches caught up in the controversy over the number of women’s matches played on the centre court and judging against any number of factors, this should have been. Ranked fourteen, the eventual champion Muguruza overcame her Russian opponent ranked twice as high as her through her clinical groundstrokes from the back of the court and an unrelenting set of service games. Both sets only saw one break of serve, but Kuznetsova was unable to cope with Muguruza’s intensity and accuracy from the baseline. The Russian arguably had the best of the rallies at the net, but found herself unable to break the Spaniards momentum in a match that only lasted an hour and fifteen minutes.
Simona Halep v Johanna Konta (7-6, 6-7, 4-6)
The WTA’s most tenacious player played the quiet, unassuming Brit in this dramatic quarter-final clash. Having beaten Victoria Azarenka in the previous round and with the draw opening up with the loss of Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova, Halep was tipped by many as a potential champion, but was unable to match Konta in the rallies despite defending doggedly. With the first two sets decided by tie-break, the third opened up as Halep’s resistance was finally broken in her third service game and Konta was able to hold serve for a spectacular win in just over two and a half hours.
Angelique Kerber v Garbine Muguruza (6-4, 4-6, 4-6)
A titanic clash between the World No.1 and the 2016 French Open Champion. Kerber looked on course to progress having won the first set 6-4, but was unable to match Muguruza’s power in the second and third sets. The match made for an interesting spectacle between two competing tennis styles, Muguruza’s aggressive attacking play versus Kerber’s ability to counterpunch after soaking up pressure. Ultimately, the stats told the course of the match with Muguruza completing 50% of her breakpoint chances to Kerber’s 30% with the Spaniard also recording more aces and wins on her second serve.
Any mixed doubles match involving Henri Kontinen and Heather Watson
For many, the appeal of Wimbledon lies in seeing the world’s best singles players compete in titanic battles on centre court, under the gaze of thousands of lucky ticket holders and VIPs, but for me, the best games have often been those just off the peak of the tennis world, with players attempting to win their first titles or demonstrate their flamboyance to adoring crowds. The mixed doubles competition also falls within this bracket, with an injection of fun into the usually steely gaze of professionalism. This is most clearly demonstrated in the partnership of Henri Kontinen and Heather Watson, who having won the title last year, lost in this year’s final against Martina Hingis and Jamie Murray. Even amidst the tension of close matches, Kontinen and Watson always found a way to smile and enjoy the game, the peculiarities of doubles creating both greater opportunities for skilful players whilst requiring close coordination. For Kontinen and Watson the latter might not have always been the case, but it was their attitude that stood them out and allowed them to weather the pressure as few others could.