First, I am sorry that my Wimbledon coverage in 2021 was so sparse. Between a laptop dying, a vacation, and some personal life business, I was not able to give Wimbledon as much attention as it deserved.
Second, I went into Wimbledon thinking on the men’s side that three tiers existed: Tier 1 – Novak Djokovic, Tier 2 – A Few of the Next Gen, Tier 3 – The Field On the women’s side, I had no idea who would win. My tweets will prove that I thought Karolina Pliskova would win pre-tournament as I figured in a wide open even that she was “due.”
Naomi Osaka won the 2020 US Open and 2021 Australian Open. I thought a new sheriff was in town, but the events of Roland Garros threw women’s tennis into chaos. I forgot that while Ashleigh Barty had not won a major since June 2019 she had been remarkably consistent in 2021. Her athleticism and level head as well as chip backhand and midcourt touch led to a second well-deserved major title. Naomi Osaka holds 4 major titles. The Tokyo Olympics may be a reset for her. The US Open could be a nice showdown. Still, Pliskova and Kerber might have us thinking it is 2016 again. Also, Aryna Sabalenka deserves a lot of attention as the second half of 2021 unfolds.
Novak Djokovic continues to make history with every week at #1 and ever match or title won. Novak Djokovic moved past Bjorn Borg’s 5 Wimbledon titles and became only the 3rd man in the Open Era to claim 6 or more Wimbledon singles titles (Sampras 7, Federer 8). Novak Djokovic’s record number of weeks at #1 is going to continue growing for quite sometime after claiming his 3rd major of 2021. Djokovic is now tied with Roger Federer for having 3 different seasons with 3 major titles. Djokovic did what Jim Courier and Mats Wilander could not do in 1988 and 1992 (and what he could not do in 2016) by winning Wimbledon after winning the Australian Open and Roland Garros to start the season. Novak has a double career Grand Slam and won the Nole Slam from Wimbledon 2015-Roland Garros 2016. Novak Djokovic now has the chance to win an Olympic Singles medal in Tokyo (He won Bronze in 2008 in Beijing) as well as a US Open title. A calendar year Grand Slam and even Steffi Graf’s Golden Slam are in the realm of possibilities for Novak Djokovic. If he finishes 2021 at #1, and he should given that he would own 3 major titles even if things went horribly wrong to close out the year, Novak Djokovic would be the only man to finish 7 years ranked #1. He is currently tied with Pete Sampras with each having finished 6 years at #1. Accomplishments keep piling up, but a calendar year slam would be the greatest season in men’s tennis history given the lack of surface diversity at majors prior to the US Open moving off of grass in 1975 and the Australian Open moving off of grass in 1988.
Rafael Nadal is training and trying to get healthy. The Next Gen is making strides. Roger Federer may have one major left in which everything goes right. Still, it is Novak Djokovic’s world tour at the moment. He has the experience, maturity, mental steel, and game to beat the Next Gen and is seemingly far healthier than the other 2/3rds of the Big 3.
All Wimbledon Championships are Historically Significant, but as Hegel put it, “History is the process whereby the spirit discovers itself and its own concept.” The spirit of tennis might be heading toward discovering its ideal self as being airtight tennis, flexibility, defense, and mental toughness.