Serbia’s Novak Djokovic with the trophy after beating South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 in the men’s singles final at The All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon…yesterday. PHOTO: AFP
The 2018 Championships is the story of the vicissitudes of life occurring also in sports.
Angelique Kerber resurfaced from a slump in 2017 to win her third major title.
Novak Djokovic had dropped from the top spot in rankings because of injury and surgery; such that when he lost to Italian Marco Ceccinatto in Paris, he said despairingly that he didn’t know where he was going next.
In the same mode, Serena Williams had survived a near-death experience during surgery after giving birth to her daughter, Olympia.
It was a tournament of stunning upsets. Marco Baghdatis from Cyprus caused the first-round exit of French Open finalist and seventh seeded Dominic Thiem of Austria.
Marin Cilic, the fifth seed, lost a heart-breaker to Guido Pella in the second round. The third seed, Alexander Zverev, lost to Ernest Gulbis in the third round.
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The sixth seed, Grigor Dimitrov, was sent out in the first round by Stan Wawrinka. David Goffin was defeated by Matthew Ebden in first round.
Caroline Wozniacki, the second seeded lady was upset in the second round, while top seeded world number one, Simona Halep lost a 5-2 lead in the decider to hand Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan a spot in the fourth round.
The third seeded Garbine Muguruza fell in the second round to Alison Van Uytvanck.
Also, Sloane Stephens (4), Elina Svitolina (5), Caroline Garcia (6), Petra Kvitova (8) lost in the first round while Venus Williams (9) and Madison Keys (10) were sent packing in the third round.
The gentlemen’s quarter-finals stage was a parade of the old guard; with the oldest Federer (36), John Isner (33), Kevin Anderson (33) Nadal (32), Djokovic (31) Del Potro (29) and Nishikori (2).Anderson achieved the greatest upset in defeating top seeded Roger Federer in the quarter-final match that ended in five sets while Djokovic had a straight set victory over Nishikori.
The two semi-final matches will go down in the annals of Wimbledon history, with Anderson defeating Isner 26-24 and Djokovic outlasting Nadal 10-8 in the fifth set.
The ladies final match was a letdown. There was no explosion of Serena’s domineering power game that saw her through the other rounds.
However, in the straight set match, the steady baseline play of Kerber forced errors off the American lady.
There was justifiable concern that the marathon semi-final matches would affect the finalists.
Kevin Anderson had a day of rest after his 6 hours contest while Djokovic played into a second day against Nadal but in shorter time of.
It is a matter of conjecture as to whether nerves or fatigue caused Anderson’s poor showing in the first two sets.
His change of tactics saw him close to winning the third set but Djokovic prevented that with the straight set victory.
Nigeria has something to crow about, as the son of our Davis Cup player, Michael, history lost to Guilles Muller of Luxembourg 7/5; 4/6; 7/6; 3/6; 6/1 in three hours and 25 minutes in the first round. Michael had also lost in the first round of the Australian Open, after winning through the Qualifying event.
Also, the Nigerian-American Whitney Osuigwe was top seed in the Girls’ tournament but lost in the first round to the eventual winner, Poland’s Iga Swiatek. Whitney and her partner Caty Mcnaly lost in the doubles final to Xiyu Wang and Xinyu Wang from China.
Africa also had another entrant in the Girls’ event in which Sada Nahimara from Burundi, defeated Thasaporn Naklo of Thailand in first round but lost 6/0; 6/4 to Clara Burel from France in the second round
Rudyard Kipling’s immortal words usher every competitor to Centre Court: “If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two impostors just the same.”
The two champions, Kerber and Djokovic gave evidence of these ageless words. So did Serena Williams.