The women’s game in tennis can struggle to get any meaningful attention, for a number of reasons connected to, and independent of, the sport itself.
Overshadowed | Women’s tennis is often ignored for a number of reasons, but the treatment of Marion Bartoli rightfully caused outrage. (Image | The Guardian)
Having to deal with the lack of great rivalries compared to previous years, the incomparable brilliance currently on show in the men’s game, and pervasive sexism that still exists in society, it looked as though the 2013 Wimbledon Championships women’s singles final might end up being an eminently forgettable affair.
Andy Murray clung on to beat Fernando Verdasco in the quarter finals – but the Spaniard made him work for it (Image | Reuters)
Having not lost a set in Wimbledon 2013, Andy Murray would have felt confident coming up against a 29-year-old with a far from notable recent record. Fernando Verdasco gave the Scotsman the fright of his life on Centre Court this afternoon, but Murray continues to advance one step at a time towards that inevitable Final against Novak Djokovic.
As another sporting year begins there may be a certain feeling that nothing could top the unforgettable year of 2012, which saw a magnificent Olympic Games, the European Championships, a British Grand Slam winner after so long and much more.
Mario Balotelli | Having once again hit the headlines after a row with manager Roberto Mancini in training, we ask: why, oh why is it always him? (Image | Manchester City FC)
However, there are more than enough prizes to be decided over the next 12 months, some of which are fairly easy to predict, while others remain very much open to debate.
The Armchair Pundits, therefore, has taken a look at the calendar and pinpointed five “sure-fire successes”, some of which are bound to be as controversial as Mario Balotelli and about as likely as Tom Daley being handed his own diving-themed show on televi… Oh, hang on.
A sensational year in men’s tennis is drawing to a close, which has featured four separate Grand Slam winners and once again been dominated by the big four: Novak Djoković, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.
Champion | Novak Djoković lifts the ATP World Tour Finals trophy at the 02 Arena earlier this month. (Image | Yahoo)
With the ATP World Tour Finals having been won by the Serb earlier this month, it is time to look back on how each of the leading lights performed over the calendar year. It has been quite a 12 months after all.
After a record-breaking season last year, it would have been extremely optimistic to expect Djoković to remain at such an auspicious standard.
However, in the early part of the year, it appeared that he may be able to surpass his previous achievements. Particularly when the 25-year-old triumphed at the Australian Open in January, which was arguably the greatest tournament Melbourne has ever seen.
A long road | As the Olympic torch has been transported up and down the country, Olympic fever has slowly begun to take hold, despite the negative press surrounding the Games. (Image | The Sun)
It really has been a vintage summer of sport. The superb entertainment offered by the 2012 European Championships, England notwithstanding, Andy Murray reaching the Wimbledon final and Bradley Wiggins‘ dominance of the Tour de France will live long in the memory of sports fans everywhere.
Not only this, but arguably the most prestigious, and potentially exhilarating sporting event of the summer, is yet to even begin. It is the London 2012 Olympic Games to which that reference pertains, which unofficially begin tonight (with Women’s Football group games) and have already been hitting the headlines, albeit for all the wrong reasons.
Away from transport dilemmas, the issue of packing an extra 10 million visitors into London and the G4S debacle, the Olympic Games celebrate the greatest sporting talents of athletes from across the world. If you claim to be a sports fan, yet this somehow fails to excite you, may I suggest a quick examination of your pulse.
Seventh time lucky | Roger Federer played Andy Murray off the court after a shaky start, the mark of a true champion. (Image | News.au)
There can be no doubting that, after today’s triumph and Roger Federer’s seventh Wimbledon Championship, the Swiss is the greatest tennis player of all time. After the match, during which the 30-year-old broke British hearts by dispatching Andy Murray in four sets, Federer oozed class as he accepted his winner’s trophy.
At times today, Federer was majestic and unbeatable. Murray had no answer for the world number three as he dominated the second set, narrowly defeated the Scot in the third, and gathered all the momentum he needed to power through under the roof on Centre Court.
Weight of expectation | Andy Murray faces the entire tennis dreams of a nation (or a group of nations) every summer at the Wimbledon Championships. (Image | The Guardian)
Around Wimbledon time the whole of the United Kingdom is gripped by a sort of hopeless optimism and desperate, clinging hope that maybe, just maybe, this could be the year for Tim Henman. Or, for the past few years, Andy Murray. The British game is woefully inadequate in terms of the true title contenders and tennis greats it produces.
Rather than witnessing any great grass-roots success, we are given one gifted player who struggles under the inexorable weight of pressure to live up to our delusions of grandeur. Sounds all a bit too familiar to the malaise of English football, doesn’t it?
Or so we may have thought. However, already at Wimbledon 2012 we have learned a number of things. Firstly, Rafael Nadal is not unbeatable, as Lukas Rosol demonstrated. It appears as though there is a future for genuinely talented players in British tennis, and the green shoots of recovery are not confined to one gender.
Moment of madness | David Nalbandian’s kick out at the line judge hit the headlines, and caused his disqualification from the Queen’s Club tournament. (Image | Metro)
The grass court season has begun in earnest after its traditional curtain raiser at Queen’s Club ended with the disqualification of Argentinian David Nalbandian in the final for injuring a line judge, writes James Schofield.
Queen’s saw a surprise winner in Marin Cilic. The sixth seed faced unseeded players right the way through to the final before Nalbandian’s frustration over an errant forehand was taken out in spectacular fashion, thus ending the tournament and handing Cilic his seventh career title. Nalbandian had been a set to the good before the his assault on an advertising hoarding left the line judge bleeding heavily from the shin.