Monday, July 1, 2013

Sent Packing

As the second week of The Championships, Wimbledon begin, both the men’s and women’s draw has opened up due to huge upsets. The upsets began last Monday afternoon, Day 1. Rafael Nadal lost in straight sets to Belgian Steve Darcis, and unranked Monica Puig took out Sara Errani (Number 5 woman). The upsets continued throughout the week with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, John Isner, Victoria Azarenka, and Marin Cilic all retiring their matches due to injury. Additionally, the week’s most shocking upset, Roger Federer lost to Sergiy Stakhovsky in four sets. These upsets left everyone wondering what was happening at Wimbledon. 
An analysis of the upsets and injuries 

Rafael Nadal vs Steve Darcis
Nadal played 0 warm-up tournaments on grass and looked sluggish on the court. Darcis was the better player and was all over the court, surprising Nadal, who was expecting to win easily. Once Darcis won the first set, the crowd was behind him, aiding him to the huge upset. Nadal played really sloppy tennis, spraying his ground strokes all over the place. Steve Darcis thumped forehands, hitting 52 winners to just 24 unforced errors. In addition to thumping winners, Darcis won the key points, especially in the first two set tie breaks; after it looked Rafa was starting to find form. Darcis never let Nadal back into the match. 
Sergiy Stakhovsky vs Roger Federer
Roger Federer had made 36 straight major quarterfinals, but lost in 4 sets to Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky. Stakhovsky came into the match with an excellent game plan. He did whatever it took to hold his serve every time Roger pressed him. He was only broken 1 time in 24 service games, striking 17 aces. He came out with a classic grass court approach: The serve and volley. He surprised Roger, with incredible volleying and presence at the net. He did not let the pressure packed tiebreaks get to him, by continuing his incredible shot making. He continued to play his style, even after dropping the first set. Roger didn’t play poorly, Stakhovsky played brilliantly. He hit 72 winners and had just 17 unforced errors. In the end, Sergiy was the better player on that day.
All of the Injuries
What do John Isner, Victoria Azarenka, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Marin Cilic, and Steve Darcis have in common? They all had to withdraw from Wimbledon due to injury. John Isner came down awkwardly after a serve in the first game of his match, and could barely walk. Victoria Azarenka fell on the grass in warm-ups, and withdrew. Also, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga injured his knee on a fall in his match, had to retire down 2 sets to 1. Darcis fell on his shoulder vs Nadal, and could not play his next match either. With all of these injuries, Wimbledon faces a problem. Why do players struggle to keep their footing on the grass surfaces? The problem is the new grass, which is fresh at the start of the tournament, is too slick for the players, who make all types of cuts and turns. The solution would be to start the tournament with some wear and tear on the grass, to prevent injury and increase the quality of Wimbledon. Additionally, there needs to be more time between the French Open and Wimbledon. 2 weeks is not enough time to transition from clay to grass and prepare for another major. I think 2 more weeks should be inserted, adding another optional tournament as well. The players need time to rest.
This Wimbledon has had incredible drama through one week. The underdogs have met the challenge of facing the tennis giants, and have not shied away from the spotlight. They came in with an excellent game plan and executed it. As for the injuries, look for the All England Lawn and Tennis Club to change the grass to be more worn at the beginning of the tournament to have safer, better tennis.-Anthony Dubbundo

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