Saturday, July 4, 2015

What We've Learned During the First Week of Wimbledon

Kyrgios' 2014 run was no fluke:  While Nick Kyrgios' run to the 2014 Wimbledon quarterfinals was a big shock to the tennis world (including upsets over Nadal and Gasquet), it's now looking like it was merely the first of many deep Wimbledon runs.  After knocking out Milos Raonic, all that stands in the way of another Wimbledon quarters for the young Australian is a familiar foe- Richard Gasquet.  Kyrgios' antics may rub some tennis fans the wrong way, while others like the excitement he brings to the game.  Either way there's no denying the talent Kyrgios possesses, and it shouldn't be long before his talent shows through at more than just a few big events throughout the year.

Challenging Serena and beating her are two very different things:  Serena's dramatic win over Heather Watson looked like a flashback to her Roland Garros run to the title.  Once again Serena's opponent was right there and had an opportunity to pull the upset.  However, like always Serena managed to escape, and her hope of winning the 2015 Grand Slam remains alive.  She next faces her sister Venus, who may he less intimidated at the prospect of closing her out in a tight match.  The question is, can she put Serena in that position in the first place? 

Not much-in terms of the men's favorites:  So far, other than the "surprising" upset of Rafael Nadal, the top men's seeds have largely done what they were supposed to do.  Djokovic, Murray, Federer and Wawrinka have looked good, but it's hard to say we've learned anything new.  It looks like we'll be seeing these four in the semifinals, though Berdych may have something to say about that in a potential quarterfinal matchup against Federer.  Despite his Roland Garros title Wawrinka seems to be flying a bit under the radar, which is where he is his most dangerous.  If anyone outside of these four is holding the trophy on the final Sunday, it will definitely be a big shock to the tennis world.

The ATP's "Next Generation" still has some work to do:  There's no denying there's a talented group of young players ready to break through on the ATP tour.  Borna Coric, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Alexander Zverev, Hyeon Chung, and even an emerging group of Americans all have bright futures.  But other than 20 year old Nick Kyrgios, there's not exactly a lot of young faces remaining in the Wimbledon men's draw.  This group of young players may not be too far away, and several members are either in or making runs at reaching the top 100 in the world.  However, in terms of being ready to make deep runs at grand slams, it looks like they're still a couple of years away. 

2014 was a very long time ago:  One of the bigger stories of 2014 was the breakthroughs of Grigor Dimitrov and Eugenie Bouchard.  Their success combined with their marketability made many think they would become stars that could carry the sport forward over the next decade.  Fast forward a year, and wins have become hard to come by.  Bouchard fell in the first round (citing a stomach injury) after reaching last year's finals, and Dimitrov went down meekly to Gasquet in the third round after reaching last year's semis.  Both are young enough that they can turn their careers around, and we shouldn't necessarily overreact to what may end up being a minor blip in otherwise fine careers.  But there's no denying both have hit a serious rough patch when it looked like they were on a straight path to the top.  Their rankings will fall drastically after losing points from last year's Wimbledon, and it will be harder to hide the fact they have serious work to do to get back to where they were.

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