It's been a lawn time

I've been glued to my various screens for the last week and a half watching the Wimbledon tennis tournament from England. They started out with 256 players and have whittled it down to the eight semi-finalists as of this evening. 

There have been many surprises, especially on the women's side, where two of the remaining players were unseeded and the others were seeded 2 and 6. Over on the men's half, there were some twists and turns, as always, but the remaining players were seeded 1, 2, 3, and 8. The defending champ in the women's event lost today, but the current holder of the men's trophy is still very much alive. 

In the women's final four, which starts in a few hours, it's Ons Jabeur (6), the groundbreaking star from Tunisia and a finalist last year, against Aryna Sabalenka (2), the screaming Mimi from Belarus; and the Battle of the Unseededs, Elina Svitolina from Ukraine against Marketa Vondrousova from the Czech Republic. The winners of those two matches will face off for the trophy on Saturday.

On the men's side, on Friday we'll see young Jannik Sinner of Italy (8) try to unseat defending champ Novak Djokovic (2), the Serb superb who has more major tournament wins than any other man in modern history. In the other match, Spanish phenom Carlos Alcaraz (1) will battle Daniil Medvedev of Russia (3). The final match for the men is on Sunday, and only a fool would bet on it being anybody but Alcaraz and the Djoker, which is what everybody expected all along.

Three Americans made it to the round of 8 and bowed out there. But it wasn't exactly the trio that anyone would have predicted. The unheralded Christopher Eubanks, who at age 27 had never played on the sacred Wimbledon grass, gave Medvedev a run for his money before succumbing in five sets today. And Madison Keys, seeded 25th, steered her choppy game through four rounds before being routed by Sabalenka today. Jessica Pegula, a 4 seed, fell in three sets to Vondrousova.

The Americans whose performances didn't cut it included Coco Gauff, who was bounced in the first round by fellow American Sofia Kenin. A teen sensation a few years ago, Gauff has clearly reached a plateau. Apparently her unorthodox grip makes her vulnerable despite her hard-hitting ways. Opponents have figured her out. (Kenin wound up losing in the third round to Svitolina.)

Among the American men who faded pretty early were Taylor Fritz, whom people (including me) can't stop mistakenly calling Taylor Swift; and Frances Tiafoe, a generally likable guy who lost his cool when he realized he wasn't getting past the third round.

It isn't easy making it to the semi-finals at Wimbledon. Here's whom the men had to beat to get there:

  • Sinner: Juan Manuel Cerundolo, Diego Schwartzman, Quentin Halys, Daniel Elahi Galan, Roman Safiullin
  • Djokovic: Pedro Cachin, Jordan Thompson, Stan Wawrinka, Hubert Hurkacz, Andre Rublev
  • Medvedev: Arthur Fery, Adrian Mannarino, Marton Fucsovics, Jiri Lehecka, Christopher Eubanks
  • Alcaraz: Jeremy Chardy, Alexandre Muller, Nicolas Jarry, Matteo Berrettini, Holger Rune

It looks to me like Djokovic and Alcaraz have had the tougher slates of opponents so far, especially in the last two rounds. They are battle-tested.

If, as is likely, those two meet up on Sunday, it will be a rerun of the semifinals in Paris a couple of months ago. That match was truly phenomenal to watch, with one eye-popping shot after another, before the Spaniard succumbed to cramps, probably brought on by nerves. If he keeps his cool in London, Sunday's tilt in front of the royals could be truly epic.

Here are the lists of the women semi-finalists' wins:

  • Jabeur: Magdalena Frech, Zhuoxuan Bai, Bianca Andreescu, Petra Kvitova, Elena Rybakina
  • Sabalenka: Panna Udvardy, Varvara Gracheva, Anna Blinkova, Ekaterina Alexandrova, Madison Keys
  • Svitolina: Venus Williams, Elise Mertens, Sofia Kenin, Victoria Azarenka, Iga Świątek
  • Vondrousova: Peyton Stearns, Veronika Kudermetova, Donna Vekic, Marie Bouzkova, Jessica Pegula

Based on those results, I'd say Sabalenka has had the weakest lineup of opponents in the group. My money's on Jabeur in the semi's. The contest between the unseededs could be one for the ages, but I think Svitolina, who just sent the world's No. 1 home early, will get the win.

It's been an interesting year at Wimbledon. The first couple of days were badly disrupted by rain, and there have been a few weather delays since, but they've got two courts with retractable roofs, and so that issue is behind us for the rest of this year's tourney. The whole event is a week later than it used to be, and that change is apparently here to stay. It's big, big business now, that's for sure.

The time difference between here and London is too much for a fan my age, but in the days of easy time-transfers, I'll be firing up the recorder, getting to it as early as I can, and hoping to avoid spoilers. As we get closer to the end of the tournament, the spoiler threat becomes greater, and so early viewing of the video will be a must.

No, I have never played tennis, and I don't really understand it all, but every summer lately, it hypnotizes me. Go figure.


  1. I had a dear cousin who, like you, never played tennis, but would follow the sport religiously. Forest Hills was her Stonehenge, and she made the pilgrimage every year.

    1. Well I guess that it beats out Gresham.

  2. It's been frustrating here to try to follow. Broadcasts from ESPN are recorded unreliably on a dying TiVo machine and sometimes play back ok, other times not. More irritating has been the tendency of the ESPN feed to ignore women's matches we wanted to see. And yesterday? The TiVo folks apparently decided we didn't need to have a recording of any of the day's events. Finding a streaming source has been difficult.

    1. Ouch! We have the Comcast box here, which has picked up everything. After ESPN and ESPN2 finish live, the Tennis Channel has replayed a lot of matches. To be sure you saw everything, I believe you could pay extra (probably a lot extra).

  3. My interest in competitive tennis changed the day I saw a teenager named Connors play the highest ranked amateur club player in Santa Monica. It was brutal, almost savage. Connors had yet to enroll in UCLA and was just keeping busy.
    I always watch the “highlights” of Wimbledon, when they are shown of the news. But, I no longer follow the sport.


Post a Comment

The platform used for this blog is awfully wonky when it comes to comments. It may work for you, it may not. It's a Google thing, and beyond my control. Apologies if you can't get through. You can email me a comment at, and if it's appropriate, I can post it here for you.