Wimbledon 2019: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I can’t help it, my initial interest in tennis was born watching Wimbledon and to me this is it if there is an it in the tennis world

I have a different view of each major.  Wimbledon to me is the most exciting time for a tennis fan.  I wanted to learn tennis in 1985 when Boris Becker grabbed the crown at Wimbledon.  I remember Steffi Graf falling to Martina Navratilova in 1987 and feeling crushed as well as feeling joy when Graf grabbed the 1988 and 1989 titles over Navratilova.  For good or for ill, Wimbledon imprinted on me at a young age that it was the place where tennis legends were made.

One of my favorite moments in tennis history

That doesn’t mean I don’t love the other three majors.  Here is my take on the other three:

Australian Open Growth

The Australian Open has grown on me a great deal.  I never disliked it because it A. helped Mats Wilander’s drive to the #1 ranking in 1988, Boris Becker and Jim Courier also grabbed the #1 ranking after their 1991 & 1992 Australian Open titles.  Steffi Graf’s 1988 Golden Slam began Down Under as well.  Graf, Becker, and Courier are among my favorite players of all time and I regret to say I deeply disliked Ivan Lendl in 1988 and was glad to see Wilander grab #1 later in the year.

The Australian Open was struggling to be a major in 1987.  It was not held in 1986, but the switch to hard courts and players taking their off-season to prep for it has made it both the happy slam for fans and the home of some of the best tennis produced by professional tennis players.  The 2012 men’s final between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal was the best match I have ever seen.

Roland Garros and Visceral Tennis

While I am not adept on clay courts, I do enjoy playing on them.  There is something about the soft court that makes everything a little harder.  Changing directions, stopping, hitting winners, etc are all more difficult on clay.  If I were to spend a year doing anything in terms of tennis coverage, I’d spend a year following clay court tennis from the early Latin American swing through the post-Wimbledon clay court swing.  There is something about seeing two pros push themselves to a physical limit on clay.  Of course, I’d love to see Rafael Nadal on red clay, but really I would be nearly as happy watching two guys on an outside court in Monte Carlo run each other to exhaustion.  From Thomas Muster and Courier breaking guys down physically to Carlos Moya and Gustavo Kuerten winning titles and fans in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I love seeing tennis on dirt.

The US Open’s Heavy Metal

The US Open is probably the least aesthetically pleasing of the 4 majors even after adding the roof to Arthur Ashe Stadium.  It also tends to produce the best tennis.  Due to where it falls on the calendar and the predictable bounce of the surface, I rarely think of a US Open as lacking good matches.  Beyond that, there have been very few solo slam winners at the US Open sine it went to a hard court in 1978.  The first 10 hard court US Open men’s titles were held by only three men (Connors 78, 82, 83, McEnroe, 79, 80, 81, 84, Lendl 85, 86, 87).  Andy Roddick, Juan Martin del Potro, and Marin Cilic are the only three men to be US Open champions since 1978 without winning another major (this number could shrink).  Still, Roddick was runner-up at Wimbledon in 2004, 2005, and 2009 as well as US Open runner-up in 2006.  Cilic was runner-up at Wimbledon 2017 and Australian Open 2018.  Delpo was runner-up at the 2018 US Open as well as a silver medalist at the 2016 Olympic Games.  Delpo and Cilic could still add singles major titles to their already impressive career hauls.  In short, the US Open doesn’t often offer up a head scratching champion because the level of play tends to be high for the entire two-weeks.


Still, if someone asked, “What one tournament would you attend if you could only attend one?”, I’d answer, “Wimbledon.”

 

 

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