It is the greatest tennis tournament on earth, and this year the two current players who struggle for the ‘greatest’ tag won’t be involved in the final rounds. Wimbledon is suddenly an open tournament again.
Okay, so the top seeds in both major draws are still in play. Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams were always expected to be finalists. However, some of the biggest names in the sport have either been beaten or withdrawn, setting up the exciting and intriguing prospect of an upset winner.
With the first round defeat of Nadal, and the second round exits of Federer and Sharapova have shaken the conventional wisdom of tennis pundits around the world. All were expected to feature in the quarterfinals at the very least, potentially the semifinals or better. Now there is the possibility that someone completely new will win their first major, or feature in their first final.
The prospect of a final between Djokovic and Murray was always on the cards, what has changed now is how they will get there. Some would argue that the defeats of the other two members of the big 4 will make this more likely, I’m not sure if that is the case though. The giant killing actions of previously unheralded players will have sent shockwaves through the tournament. Now every journeyman pro still in the draw will be thinking ‘why not me?’
I should qualify this post. I still expect the top seeds of each major draw to win. That remains the default setting in major tennis tournaments, and as a result the first few rounds are always fairly humdrum. Not this year though. Now every round matters, and really matters at that. Could a new young gun emerge, to challenge the supremacy of the next generation of masters? Could an old pro (David Ferrer, I’m looking at you) roll back the years and take their first grand slam title? Only time will tell, but that is the point. Now it is not all but assured who will be there at the end.
Tennis needs this. For too long now every major tournament has been full of early rounds that don’t matter. After all, it was just a matter of time before some combination of the big 4 found themselves playing each other at the end, yet again. Not this year though. Something that happens with monotonous regularity cannot stay entertaining forever, so it is excellent that somebody new could very well emerge this time.