Wimbledon 2013 will always be remembered for one simple fact, a British man won the singles title for the first time since 1936. After what will surely be reported as “77 years of hurt”, Andy Murray won the final in straight sets to dispel the ghosts of 2012. But given the remarkable events earlier in the two weeks it could have gone down in history very differently.
From the first round, this year’s championships were different from the norm. Rafa Nadal dropped out against Steve Darcis in his first match since winning at the French Open, whilst two of the women’s top ten also lost: Sara Errani and Maria Kirilenko. There were even complaints about the condition of the grass as so many of the top seeds slipped up, both metaphorically and literally.
The second round was even more surprising. Roger Federer lost and both Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Marin Čilić withdrew due to injuries. These upsets also plagued the women’s draw, and by the end of the second round matches, just seven of the top sixteen ladies were still standing, with the men faring little better.
But even these shocks have faded from memory so quickly, given Murray’s spectacular performance throughout the tournament. Even when two sets down against Verdasco in the quarters, he looked composed and focused and came out fighting in the next three sets. Couple that comeback with his dominance in the final and Murray stands out as the best performer from the men by some distance.
As for the women, Marion Bartoli was imperious in storming to the title. She didn’t drop a set throughout the tournament, nor did she have to resort to a tie-break. She lost just three games in her semi, and five in the final as she continued to devour her opposition right to the end.
But Wimbledon 2013 also revealed some promising youngsters. Laura Robson and Mónica Puig of Puerto Rico played brilliantly during the first week, and given that they are both just 19 years old, to reach the fourth round was a fantastic result for them. Both knocked out a top-ten player and both played well in their final match despite losing. Puig lost to 20 year old American Sloane Stevens, who gave Bartoli one of her closest runs in the competition.
In the men’s draw, 22 year old Jerzy Janowicz reached the semi finals, becoming the first Pole to do so at a grand slam. At 6’8, he was one of the biggest men at the championships, but unlike a lot of the tallest tennis players, his serve was not his only weapon, as his all round game wasn’t bad at all. He’s four years younger than the likes of Murray and Djokovic, and could be a future grand slam champion. Australian Bernard Tomic also impressed, reaching the fourth round at just 20 years old.
In the doubles, the big news was the victory of the Bryan brothers. They now hold all four major titles at the same time. Unfortunately for British tennis, there was no success in this department this year, but I can’t see too many people at the LTA losing sleep about that. The slow rise of Chinese tennis continued in the women’s doubles, as Peng Shuai and Taipei’s Hsieh Su-wei came through a strong field, losing just one set en route to the title.
So, from the early upsets and drop outs rose two former losing finalists who fully deserved their titles, the first British mens’ champion in more than 75 years, and the emergence of a number of future greats. As the Saint is a Scottish publication, some garbled battle cry harking back to William Wallace is probably a more apt way to end, but there is one worry that English fans in particular may have: if Scotland gains independence, does the clock reset to ’36, given that Andy Murray would no longer be British?