NATIONAL pride always swells during sporting spectacles, no matter how steep the challenge may be. While many people come together to watch the World Cup, and London 2012 was nigh on the pinnacle of the nation’s sporting prowess, no annual event comes close to the excitement of Wimbledon. The grass court Grand Slam might be the most prestigious event on the tennis calendar, but there’s also very little more typically British. Strawberries & cream, The Royals in attendance, waiting for rain, Sue Barker; the stereotypes are endless.
While the days of pinning wildly unrealistic hopes on Tim Henman have passed by, Andy Murray comes into this tournament looking for a second title at the All England Club and as number three seed he steers clear of some dangerous characters till the quarter finals. Notable threats before the last eight include Jo Wilfred-Tsonga (who recently made the semi-final at Roland Garros) and Nadal, who is uncharacteristically out of the ATP top four and without this year’s French Open title.
Nadal’s fellow countryman and world number seven David Ferrer was also in this quarter of the draw but had to withdraw at the last gasp on Sunday with an elbow injury. This might see him slip from his spot in the rankings as Milos Raonic is only just behind and can overtake him with a third round finish or better. Sadly a final farewell from 2002 champion and former No.1 Lleyton Hewitt came earlier than expected when Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen bested him in the first round in a dramatic four-hour contest ending 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0, 11-9.
In the Women’s Singles, Serena Williams can still win all four majors this year with the Australian and French Open already under her belt. She has previously held all four titles at once, but the feat straddled 2002 and 2003 so she is still perusing her first Grand Slam proper. She has come in as the overwhelming favourite and her confident win over Margarita Gasparyan has given her campaign a strong start. Not to be outdone, Venus Williams moved into the second round without dropping a game and in a stunning 42 minutes against Madison Brengle. If they both keep in winning ways the sisters could meet for a fourth round clash.
It may have been 11 years since a teenage Maria Sharapova lifted the women’s plate and four since she reached the final, but she too is through to the next stage, her consistency has kept her in the top four seedings and out of immediate danger, with her biggest challenge before a possible quarter-final likely to be Lucie Safarova. The Czech is a strong singles competitor but her focus may be split between this and her doubles campaign, especially considering her current form and the two major doubles titles that her, and her partner, Bethanie Mattek-Sands have won this year so far.
Alongside all of this are our other British hopes; Laura Robson was back from a long term wrist injury and looking to reclaim her British No.1 title but was snubbed by Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina, and Heather Watson who has since replaced her at the top and had to fight back from three match points against Caroline Garcia to eventually win 1-6, 6-3, 8-6.
Aljaz Bedene is the only other British men’s entrant in the top 100 and also had a hard time in the first round, being stretched to five sets by Radek Stepanek, and despite scoring less points in the match overall he eventually pulled a win out of a 1-2 set deficit. Other home-grown talents to make it to the second include James Ward and Liam Broady, whose sister Naomi was knocked out on Monday.
Today’s matches include Djokovic v Nieminen on Centre Court, Heather Watson in action before Stan Wawrinka on Court No.1, and the remaining Broady v David Goffin on Court No.3. Click the picture above for more from the Wimbledon website.