When 127th edition of Wimbledon 2013 (June 24 – July 7) got under way, it marked more than a century old tradition that has remained largely unchanged. It’s the only Grand Slam tennis championship played on natural grass. It has struck to its rule that says: ‘including the warm up period, players at Wimbledon must be dressed almost entirely in white dress code…’ This time round, this caught a player of the stature of Roger Federer on the wrong foot who was served with a warning notice for his appearance in his round 1 match with orange-soled white shoes on. Roger promptly corrected himself though for his round 2 match. It’s another thing, however, that he lost the match against Sergiy Stakhovsky – a Ukrainian player – and made an early exit much to the disappointment of his fans.
One significant change, however, that’s in place since 2009 is that its Centre Court now boasts of a retractable roof cover facility. This is to ensure that matches – those featuring top 10 men’s and women’s singles players in earlier rounds and particularly semi-final and final events – continue uninterrupted should London’s frequent rains threaten to disturb the schedule.
Yet another change is in operation for quite some time now is the ‘Decision Review System (DRS), that allows the players to challenge the close line call decisions of umpire/line judges to seek the technological assistance of hawk eye to settle the issue. Three challenges per set plus an extra one should the set is extended to a tie-breaker, is permitted to each player. This has come as a huge relief to both the umpires and the players as human errors are corrected instantaneously.
The tournament this time did not turn out to be ominous first week for many of the top seeded players – both in the men’s and women’s section – as Rafael Nadal (# 5 seed), a round 1 casualty against Belgian Steve Darcis, RogerFederer (# 3 seed) loss against the Ukrainian Stakhovsky in round 2 and Wilfred J Tsonga (# 6 seed) pulling out owing to injury quite early on. 7 players were made to quit on account of injuries. There were a few complaints from players about the conditions of the grass courts that were, however, promptly refuted by the organisers.
It further turned out to be a tournament of stunning upsets in women’s section too when more fancied players – Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic, Victoria Azarenka, Kvitova, Li Na and more importantly, Serena Williams (#1 seed) – all exiting early or at quarter final stages that left the field wide open.
In the men’s singles, at the end of the second week, true to the seeding earlier granted, Novak Djokovic (#1 seed) was pitted against Andy Murray (# 2 seed) and the stage was set for a grand finale. Djokovic was bidding for the 2nd title while Murray was carrying the burden of whole of the nation to lift the championship trophy that was last won by a British Fred Perry 77 years ago in 1936. Being a British player at Wimbledon is never easy, it’s often said – the history of this tournament apparently supports this as well.
The two finalists, incidentally, share some common features, like, both are of the same age at 26 years. They began their career as junior players at age 11 and are friends since then and both play right handed. While Djokovic’s ATP career has nosed ahead a little faster, Murray has been chasing and following him closely from behind otherwise.
Sunday’s final between the two at the Centre court was an exhibition of base line duels of long rallies from corner to corner marked more often by 26, 28 or even 30 strokes while chasing for the winners. It was all power packed tennis with heavy top spinning and sliced shots with occasional drop shots were the hallmark of the two players. Murray, backed by the strong support from the crowd inside the stadium that included British Prime Minister, among others, seemed to be in excellent touch and in each of the 3 sets he came from behind to clinch the issue in 3 straight sets at 6-4, 7-5, and 6-4. Some of the drop shots that he returned as winners during this match were simply outstanding that left Djokovic thoroughly dejected and clueless.
As the match wore on, Murray seemed to be growing in confidence and never appeared to have any wrong foot forward, if ever there was any, he promptly corrected himself soon after. Djokovic, on the contrary, seemed to be on a slippery ground – both literally as he happened to slip on a number of occasions at the baseline, as also in failing to drive home the initial lead that he had gained in each set. He faltered and seemed to have wilted under pressure and committed several unforced errors he is normally not prone to.
It was not Djokovic’s day, as Murray was destined to make history. Wimbledon 2013 has a British King after a gap of 77 long years.
In the women’s singles section, after all the top seeds were out of the way it was a clash between Marion Bartoli (France # 15 seed) and Sabine Lesicki (Germany #23 seed) in the final. It turned out to be a one sided match when Bartoli never lost the grip and won the championship in straight sets: 6-1, 6-4 to get the tag of this year’s Wimbledon Queen.
1. Men’s and women’s singles winner at Wimbledon this year, apart from the trophy, won a cash prize of UK Pound 1,600,000 each, while the other finalists were given cash prize of UK Pound 800,000 each – it was 39% more compared to what it was last year.
2. Ahead of the men’s singles final match featuring Andy Murray, tipped as potential winner, the last minute ticket sale is reported to have recorded a price of Rs. 31 lakhs ( UK Pound 35,500 ) per ticket.
3. Ahead of men’s singles final one thing that was nevertheless clear was: regardless of the result of this match Djokovic would remain as world # 1 and Murray as # 2 in the ATP ranking to be released on Monday next.