The Heroes and Zeroes of Wimbledon

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What lovely weather we’ve had recently? And there’s no better way to celebrate this than sitting at home and watching people play tennis in the sun. No better way. Every July, Britain is infected with tennis fever, where we root for Andy Murray; share his victories and glory, and apportion blame when it all inevitably goes wrong. Aside from the eventual winners in the men’s and women’s tournament, many more should be crowned as winners in their own right. Others less so.

Heather Watson – Hero

How about this then? With Laura Robson seemingly in a permanent state of injury, Heather Watson took the reins as Britain’s female number 1 at Wimbledon this year. In her first round match against the seeded Caroline Garcia, Watson fell 6-1 in the first set. Typical British pessimism kicked in, and many feared the worst. But Watson soldiered on, eventually claiming her first scalp in an 8-6 final set thriller. Then came a surprisingly comfortable victory against Daniela Hantuchova, serving Watson a delicious tie against reigning champion and number 1 seed Serena Williams in the third round.

Things took a turn for the worse immediately, with the Brit falling 6-2 in the first set. Then, a magnificent display to level, beating the American 6-4 in the second. Unfathomably, Watson then broke the tennis icon twice, to lead 3-0 in the deciding set. This would have went down in history as one the biggest upsets in Wimbledon history. However, on centre court in front of a packed crowd, Williams proved her credentials right, and took the set 7-5, despite Watson at one stage being 2 points away from victory. Regardless of her loss, Watson should rise astronomically in the rankings, and give her the confidence to go further at the US Open in September.

James Ward – Hero

Another plucky Brit, just like Watson, defying the odds to get to the third round. Like Watson, James Ward came from a set down to defeat to progress, beating Luca Vanni. Second round, and Ward saw off Jiří Veselý 3-1, and slowly people began to realise that we could have a British face-off in the quarter finals. If only Ward could overcome Vasek Pospisil. Unfortunately, Pospisil was the man to face Andy Murray in the quarter finals, as Ward was defeated in five sets, eventually falling 8-6 in the final set. But this should be enough to propel Ward into the top 100 for the first time in his career, and to qualify for the US Open for the first time.

Dustin Brown – Hero

The Jamaican-German now has a whole legion of fans after disposing of 2-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal. Sure, the Spaniard had been suffering with injury of late, but the big serving Dustin Brown wowed the crowd with his immense power to completely outplay Nadal. Unfortunately, he could not repeat this in the third round against Victor Troicki, but the biggest scalp of Wimbledon belonged to Brown already.

(Honourable mentions – Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet, Gabriñe Muguruza, Serena Williams, Roger Federer)

Nick Kyrgios – Zero

The most talked about, most hyped, most everything at Wimbledon. Nick Kyrgios was a man to watch after sweeping aside Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon 2014 en route to the quarter finals. Yet again, he proved his worth with his immense shot-making and thumping winners. But it all ended in controversy for the Australian against Richard Gasquet in the fourth round. During the second set (which he eventually lost 6-1), it became obvious that Kyrgios didn’t really care. Many shots he would put minimal effort in, resulting in rare boos from the usually polite Wimbledon crowd. Ex-pros and pundits accused Kyrgios of disrespect and for ‘tanking’ – deliberately missing shots. His extravagance in his usual shots is drawing the crowds in, everyone wants a piece of this maverick youngster. But the fact that he didn’t understand the criticism directed at him after his exit shows he still has a lot to learn.

Eugenie Bouchard – Zero

Eugenie Bouchard had only turned professional in 2009. She won the junior championship at Wimbledon in 2012. She is only 21. Yet in 2014, she took the tennis world by storm, reaching the semi-finals of the French and Australian Opens, and incredibly the final of Wimbledon, defeating the seeded Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep to face Petra Kvitová at the climax. Although she lost, this 20 year-old was now one of the biggest names to watch in the singles game, similar to Kyrgios’ meteoric rise.

However it all seemed to come crashing back to earth for Bouchard in 2015. At the tail-end of 2014, she split with long-term coach Nick Saviano. Come Wimbledon this year, Bouchard was seeded 12th, a fairly respectable rank for the defending finalist yet still comparatively unproven Canadian. She faced qualifier Duan Yingying in the first round, and suffered an unprecedented straight sets loss. Potentially the greatest shock in the women’s side of Wimbledon, and begs the question, was 2014 a one-off flash in the pan for Eugenie Bouchard?

Rafael Nadal – Zero

It would be easy to label Rafael Nadal’s limp exit as inury-related. Though, it would also be impossible to ignore the fact that injuries have been a key factor in the Spaniard’s fall from grace in 2015. Nadal swept past Thomaz Bellucci in the first round, but fell quite convincingly in 4 sets to Dustin Brown. For the man who is a two-time Wimbledon champion, and an unprecedented nine-time Roland Garros victor, this early defeat was not acceptable. Nadal has now failed to reach the last 8 in London for 4 straight years, and many have begged the question whether he will ever win another Grand Slam open. Surely this is an exaggeration, but yet again Nadal’s season has been a disappointment.

(Dishonourable mentions – Gael Monfils, Simona Halep, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Petra Kvitová, Kevin Anderson)

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