Jolly Roger flies high but McEnroe in pirate pants steals show
Tuesday 05 July 2005
Roger, and out. What more can be said? Except that it is possible to have an out-of-this-world experience by watching a guy have an out-of-body experience on Centre Court. And that grass makes Federer immune to his rare off days.
* BEST MATCH
It's tough to split Venus beating Maria Sharapova in the semis, and Venus beating Lindsay Davenport in the final. Venus's sheer emotional intensity and physical excellence (in the semi) signalled her return to business, while her mental stamina (in the final), confirmed it. Maria and Lindsay's defeats also taught us that big hitting alone is not enough to win Slams.
* BEST SHOT
Any number of Federer's shots were unbelievable. But I'll go for the Andy Roddick volley that sealed his win over Daniele Bracciali, as much for its significance as its execution. Roddick is a heck of a player on grass, and prepared to work on everything to get better. This entertaining match also showed the fighter in Roddick, who featured in, and won, three of the best competitive contests in the men's singles (against Bracciali, Sébastien Grosjean and Thomas Johansson).
* BEST NEWCOMER
It has to be Andy Murray, and his five-set match against David Nalbandian would have been a contender for best match if there had been less doubt about the outcome after the third set. A new chapter in British tennis has been opened. But don't judge this guy by his results in the next year or so. That's not as important as making sure that he's getting fitter and stronger, and developing all areas of his game, mind and body, so that, by his early 20s, he can really have a shot at being a top player.
* BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT
Justine Henin-Hardenne, who crashed out early when many people, me included, expected her possibly to win the tournament. But after the exertions of Roland Garros, she wasn't able to compete. If you're not fit and healthy, it's probably best to stay at home. Serena Williams should certainly have stayed at home too.
* BEST OLD-TIMER
Mary Pierce, who at the age of 30 arrived in London off the back of a French Open final and reached the quarter-finals to equal her best Wimbledon showing. She is due credit for the way she played in losing to the eventual champion, and more for going on to win the mixed doubles. It's never too late to have goals, be tenacious and work hard to reach them.
* FUNNIEST MOMENT
I was told an American guy tried to get into Centre Court by showing a sheriff's badge. It didn't work. And Andy Roddick trying to beat Federer by hitting through his legs and then being self-effacing, gracious and humorous afterwards is a contender. But I'll go for John McEnroe dressed in long knickers at his veterans' match. John doesn't wear tank-tops at the US Open any more because of his skinny arms. And now his legs are so bony he's got to cover them in pirate pants!
* BEST-DRESSED PLAYER
Joint award to Maria Sharapova for looking good in gold, and to Venus, who for some reason made me think back to Annie White. Maria is one slick girl. But Venus is pure elegance.
* BIGGEST PERSONAL THRILL
Being made an honorary member of the prestigious Lawn Tennis Writers' Association, and being given an LTWA tie, on the same day that McEnroe, Boris Becker, Pat Cash and Martina Navratilova were also inducted. Those guys are all Wimbledon champions. I feel humbled and honoured. It's like a knighthood to me. All I need now is the country castle.
* LOOKING AHEAD TO 2006
The women's singles winner looks impossible to predict, and that shows the strength in depth of the women's game. It could be any one from Kim Clijsters, Henin, Venus, Serena (she'll be back), Maria, or even a newcomer we don't yet envisage. But for the men's singles winner it looks a simple case of Roger, and out. What more can be said?
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