Weekend review takes on the land of strawberries and cream
The fact that Wimbledon's consumption of strawberries and cream is skyscraper-high says quite a bit about its culture.
For the longest time, Wimbledon has been the epitome of conservative values: they have refused to pay men and women equally, favored human judgment over technological accuracy, required an all-white dress code and even outfitted the ball boys and girls in Ralph Lauren. But this year, Wimbledon turned its back on times long past as the All England Club boosted prize money, sliced the payouts uniformly and installed instant replay. The Ralph Lauren polos and dress code, superficially enough, will stay.
With or without the polos and old school values, though, the tennis at SW19 has changed very little. Aces were as plenty as British wins few, as most seeds held their ground on the sleek, green grass during the tourney's first week.
Nike went above and beyond previous tennis fashion standards in creating the white and gold multiple piece suit that Roger Federer donned to his match on Centre Court. Due to inclement weather, both the Swiss defending champion and his opponent both wore pants, which led to a much noted hark back to the style of the 1930s. Nike's creation for Maria Sharapova was arguably less successful, but it was hard to tell because the dress was ever so slightly buried under a voluptuous swath of frills that cascaded down the back.
Of the 18 players who advanced safely to round four, 14 were seeds. For a Grand Slam with a court dubbed the "Graveyard of Champions," upsets have been far and between. The infamous court two did claim 1997 champion Martina Hingis, but the favorites have all survived.
Tournament organizers made a brilliant move in updating the most prestigious and obdurate of all tennis tournaments. Strict reliance on umpires is quaint, but not the most fair.
Andy Roddick, whose loss in the third round here last year drew much talk of his premature demise, continued his march back to the top, dropping one set in three rounds.
Teenager Michaella Krajicek took out eighth seed Anna Chakvetadze to reach the fourth round; no doubt her big brother Richard Krajicek will be proud. In a stroke of irony, it was Chakvetadze who won the Ordina Open just last weekend, where Krajicek was the defending champion.
With eighth-ranked Andy Murray's wrist still injured, Tim Henman warding off eminent retirement and a slew of unrecognizable players with wildcards, Britain's hopes were predictably crushed as no one advanced past the second round. Considering Americans are always grilled for their lack of clay expertise, it's odd that no one bothers to critique Britons who don't particularly play well on the home turf.
Anticipated matches failed to deliver, as Federer's three set third round clash with Safin fizzled with rain delays and a predictable finish. The first rounder featuring Daniela Hantuchova, of the 44 inch legs, and the world's top junior Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was equally anticlimactic, as Hantuchova won 6-0 6-1.
What to look for in week two
Davydenko (6) v Monfils, third round – A battle between one of the tour's hardiest players and one of its most flamboyant could go either way. Despite Davydenko's higher seeding, the Russian has never played well at Wimbledon, giving the acrobatic Monfils an opportunity for a solid win and tournament result.
Maria Sharapova (2) v Venus Williams (23), fourth round – Though Williams has yet to actually make it to the fourth round, any match featuring two of the recent Wimbledon winners bound to provoke interest. In 2005, it was Williams who knocked out Sharapova in the semifinals to steal the latter's title. This time around, both players are off their game but will nevertheless slug it out from the baseline.
Justine Henin (1) v Serena Williams (7), quarterfinals – If the two players both win another round, a rematch of the French Open quarterfinals, won handily by Henin, will be in the works. The results could be very different this time, as the grass favors Williams's power game and Henin's diminutive stature will hurt her at the net.
Lingfeng Li. Some say that Amy, girlie-girl of the first degree, tennis extraordinaire (not really), bearer of the feared and revered pink pen, should switch to an editing color of greater intimidation and formality. She thinks these people are stupid. Whoever said that orange was the new … More »