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Continuing with our Golden Season of Classic Sports coverage, it’s time for the Big W, Wimbledon (Officially “The Championships Wimbledon”), which started on Monday July 2nd and will end on Sunday July 15th. Wimbledon is, arguably, the largest and most famous tennis tournament in the world. It’s the last of the four major tennis tournaments (U.S.Open, Australian, French, Wimbledon) to be played on grass (at one time the U.S. Open was played on grass but…that Forest Hills era is long gone) and is the most traditional of all the tournaments while, simultaneously, being one of the most advanced–Wimbledon pioneered the use of “Hawkeye”, the electronic line-calling replay system that is used to settle disputed in/out calls (at the French, the umpire looks for the mark in the clay, which some players have been known to erase before the umpire can get to it).
With all of its traditions, it’s no surprise that Wimbledon has become ever-bigger and impressive. For years, Breakfast at Wimbledon, with Strawberries and Cream (and some champagne) was a Saturday and Sunday tradition in many households throughout America and the world. And Wimbledon has a formal dress code for the players (all white )and an informal one for the spectators (conservative helps as does discretion).
Wimbledon also treats it’s former Champions with great respect (winners become Members of the All England tennis club, which hosts the event). Chris Evert, who has won the Women’s Singles Title three times, remarked during her TV commentary this year that Wimbledon treated former Champions with great kindness and respect: when she asked if she obtain tickets for the tournament for friends and family, Wimbledon gave the tickets to her (good seats, too); at other majors, the players have to beg and scream to receive the right to buy tickets. In short–it’s a classic tournament and it’s run in a classy way.
The US telecast is via ESPN, which fields a good team for the coverage–John McEnroe, his brother Patrick, Chris Evert (graceful, even in the announcing booth), Martina Navratilova. All good, professional, well informed and, with coach/commentator Brad Gilbert mixed in, it’s a very good team. Missing: the energetic and contagious enthusiasm of tennis writer/commentator Bud Collins, who died in March of 2016. Collins was very knowledgeable about the sport (he wrote “The Bud Collins Tennis Encyclopedia”) and reached the finals of the French Open men’s senior doubles. Collins was funny, bright, and totally unique; paired with Dick Enberg for NBC, he became one-half of a legendary play-by-play team. His spirit is missed this year, as it will be every year at the majors.
Results to Date
Going in, the favorites are Federer (he skipped the French) in Gentlemen’s Singles and Kvitova (Women’s Singles). But there’s a problem at the Big W–not with Federer, he cruised right through his first round match–but with Petra Kvitova, a former Champion who was knocked out in the first round by Aliaksandra Sasnovitch. Kvitova is not having a great year on the court—she also left in the first round at Australia and is coming back from an injury. Also exiting, former Wimbledon Champion and current endorsement queen Maria Sharapova (you make money two ways in pro sports: earnings and endorsements and while Maria has done well at the former, she has been spectacular at the latter). Sharapova went down to Vitalia Diatchenko. Diatchenko was on target and played smart, powerful tennis the entire match; Sharapova had the blues as unforced errors and a general lack of precision hampered her game. Nightshift Sports resident tennis coach and consultant Ricco, hates Diatchenko’s two-hands-off-both-sides game but the Nightshift Sports staff has at least one player who can play off both sides and absolutely wallop the ball. Even Ricco has to admit that Diatchenko’s game is impressive; it’ll be fun to closely watch her matches, especially the slow motion replay of her two-handed forehand. Also leaving early: Sloan Stephens, who did not “tune up for Wimbledon after being a finalist in the French and paid the price; Dominic Thiem, the big-hitting Austrian who suffered a back injury in his first Wimbledon match (Thiem was also a finalist in the French) and had to retire. A back injury at such an early age is a bad sign for Thiem, who at 24 is considered one of the rising stars in tennis. You can’t be a star if you’re not on the court; hopefully, Thiem will back back in time for the U.S. Open…he’s real fun to watch. Speaking of injuries derailing a career, Andy Murray, a two-time Champion but often-injured, withdrew from the tournament. Don’t expect to see Murray contend for a major again; at age 31 and relatively fragile, his career is decelerating rapidly. Rafa Nadal took care of business yesterday, taking out Sela 6-3,6-3, 6-2, with military precision. Grass is not Nadal’s optimum surface, but he brings an intensity to every match that is inspiring. He could go a long way.
As predicted in yesterday’s post, England was focused on the World Cup and , by golly, the Brits did it, knocking Colombia out of the round of 16 at the World Cup, winning–ultimately– in the penalty kick shootout (click the link to see the shootout) staged at the end of regular play and overtime. England led at the close of regular play but Colombia scored in stoppage time. Also, as predicted (we’re getting good at this), Harry Kane scored England’s lone goal in regulation play and then put in another shot in the penalty phase. Kane is now the favorite to win the Golden Boot, the award for the highest scorer in the World Cup; his main competition, Ronaldo and Messi, have exited early and Kane is still in the game. Keep an eye on that Kane kid–he can deliver. One more point: England had suffered multiple defeats in the World Cup via penalty shootouts (they had lost six straight shootouts prior to winning one vs. Colombia in the 2018 World Cup). Kane hit the first penalty kick for England and Eric Dier hit the last one, giving England a 4-3 edge in the penalty kick phase and the win. England has a young side and they believe. Big fun. What a great time for sports: Wimbledon and the World Cup. Enjoy.
Other news that rocked Wimbledon came via Roger Federer’s latest sponsorship deal, which makes LeBron James’ four year/$154 million Laker contract look like the warmups. Federer, who has been in Nike gear FOREVER, accepted a $400 million sponsorship offer from Uniqlo, the large Japanese retailer. Federer will now be the face of Uniqlo sports and he’s a perfect match: terrific court presence, beautiful, ageless game, the top player in the sport in terms of majors won (although Nadal is right behind him) and a very classy, classic presence. Even the ultra-competitive Ricco, Nightshift Sports official tennis coach (and consultant) loves the Uniqlo gear. Djokovich was the previous Uniqlo spokesperson and he is an excellent player, a graceful and great competitor. But–there is only one Federer. The size of that deal shocked the tour and while there are not many deals of that size around, a certain barrier has been broken and the numbers can only go up from there. Congrats to both.
You know the drill by now: Nightshift Sports provides overnight updates on the previous day’s play, along with relevant links to the best coverage (print, on the net, TV, and streaming) and an amazing collection of photos from the event. Let’s start with some basics:
Direct Link to The Official Wimbledon Website
The Wimbledon Dress Code
The 2018 Draw
Time Magazine Deep Background on the Wimbledon Dress Code
Wimbledon Background and History
Wimbledon Results (updated Daily)
Where to Watch Wimbledon
Wimbledon Apps Link
The Fine Print: Embed courtesy of our friends at Getty Images (gettyimages.com) who have photographic history of the 20th and 21st century on file. This photo has not bee altered in any way. We thank them, deeply, for sharing. Nightshift Sports is produced by Perception Engineering and The Media Bunker. All rights–except those expressly reserved by others–are reserved by donald pierce. All text, copyright (c)2018 donald pierce. Enjoy the tournament, and check in often, as the site will be updated as often as possible. And…enjoy the Fourth!!