The Best & The Worst Of FO & Wimbledon
From Winners to Whiners
Our Experts Cast Their Vote for Top Moments at Wimbledon
Outsports readers Bridgeport Jake and BoSox Rudy join The B Man, our regular correspondent, in recognizing some of the best and worst of Wimbledon 2002
The B Man – Sjeng Schalken and Jonas Bjorkman may not look like major threats on paper, but heading into Wimbledon, they had each won grass events, making them dangerous opponents. Hewitt beat both men, Schalken in dramatic fashion, and then went on to dispatch Tim Henman, crowd and fan favorite, in the semis. I don’t particularly like Lleyton, but I now respect his focus and determination.
BoSox Rudy-- Serena Williams beat quality opponents like Hantuchova and Mauresmo with ease, and even managed to get the better of the former Wimbledon queen, big sis', all without losing a set. She was far and away the best player in the women's draw, and is now the best player on the women's tour.
Bridgeport Jake -- Gotta go with Serena Williams. I know it's not fair to include doubles play in considering "Best Performance," but the way she dominated the court mirrored how she did the same in singles. The Els Callens match made me think that somewhere there was a player who could take advantage of her shaky footwork on grass and trick her into losing. Hell, I think Hingis might have had a shot against her this year. Anyway, it's the doubles performance that gives her the edge, to me, over Hewitt.
The B Man – Justine Henin and Amelie Mauresmo were all sour grapes after their respective semifinal losses to Venus and Serena; the two likable players marred their images a bit by speaking so discourteously. American men’s tennis flopped at Wimbledon, with no players advancing past the third round.
BoSox Rudy-- On the women's side, I'll go with Amelie Mauresmo. After playing brilliant tennis against Capriati, seeming to make great strides in her mental game, she collapsed against Serena. But what really makes Amelie the biggest disappointment of the women's side is her ungracious comment about public boredom with the Williams Sisters' domination. On the men's side, the most disappointing performance had to come from Pete Sampras. True, Agassi lost in the 2nd round as well, but grass has never been Andre's surface, whereas Pete won more than half his Slams on the stuff. While Srichapan is no world-beater, he's a strong player who played a tremendous match against Agassi. I'm still trying to figure out who the heck George Bastl is.
Bridgeport Jake -- I picked Anastasia Myskina to make it to the quarters here - instead, she lost in the third round to surprising Amelie Mauresmo. After great results at the grass warmups, I thought this might be her coming-out party. Eh. Biggest Disappointment, male: America. The bottom half of the draw was choking with Americans ... and I use that term quite intentionally. I picked four American quarterfinalists from that half. Instead, we had two who lost in the third round. Sad.
The B Man - In her first outing at Wimbledon, Laura Granville, a standout star at Stanford, upset Mary Pierce to reach the 4th round. Though Xavier Malisse did lose in the semi's to David Nalbandian, Malisse did string together a more impressive run of wins to get there; the victories over Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Greg Rusedski, and former Wimbly champ Richard Krajicek will give Malisse plenty of confidence and match-toughness for future campaigns.
BoSox Rudy-- I'd give the nod to Hantuchova had she played Serena closer, but beating Jelena Dokic to reach the Wimbledon quarters does not a breakthrough make (or at least enough of one to win this category). So my pick in this category is Serena Williams.
With her victory in this tournament, she cemented her position at the top of the women's game, finally living up to the enormous promise she showed when winning the 1999 U.S. Open. I always thought she was the most talented player in the women's game, perhaps even in the history of women's tennis. Now she's proven it. For all I know, David Nalbandian will end up being the Chris Lewis of the 21st century, but I'm guessing he does a lot better for the rest of his career than Lewis did.
Bridgeport Jake -- Laura Granville went from has-been to up-and-comer in the span of three matches. Her collapse against Mauresmo shows that she's still not ready for the big-time. But she broke into the top-100, and one can certainly see her career going the way of Lisa Raymond's - a consistent Top 30 player with the smarts and maturity to make tennis work for her. For the men: Xavier Malisse. Sure, he bit it big in the fifth set against Nalbandian. But HECK, beating Krajicek, Rusedski, and Kafelnikov, making it past the Fourth Round for the first time ever, and finally jumping into the Top 25 after years of promise ... Malisse is on his way.
Best Transition Game
The B Man - Serena is the obvious choice on the women's side, but I'm going to select Chanda Rubin, instead. Chanda successfully adopted her game from clay, where she did, in fact, do some sliding, to grass, where she had many of us wondering whether she might upset Serena in the fourth round. Serena doesn't really play grass-court tennis: she's all serve and huge groundies. Chanda, however, knows how construct a true point on grass and can thus volley rather well, too. Her results in the singles (4th round) and doubles (semifinals) were solid. Lleyton Hewitt, a baseliner's baseliner, acquitted himself admirably at the French, falling in the Rd 4 to a top clay-court player; Hewitt then tinkered with his baseline game for the Big W: he beefed up his serve, gave himself enough room on the baseline to accommodate for opponents' topspin, and even made an occasional trip to the net. The changes were minute but the result was huge: Hewitt won his second Slam title.
BoSox Rudy-- Winning both the French and Wimbledon a month apart was something that Bjorn Borg did so often that it fools us into thinking it's not all that. Well, it is all that (and a bag of chips). Although all the other elements of Serena's game remained unchanged (huge serve, huge groundstrokes, tremendous aggressiveness), Serena successfully adjusted her movement (from clay-court-sliding to grass-court precision), and that was the key for her. With a R16 showing at Roland Garros and a semifinal at W, Xavier Malisse made the best transition amongst the men. Now if he could just avoid a heart attach in his next big match.
Bridgeport Jake -- Serena. Took her a little while, but, hey, results. Runner-up: Venus Williams (naturally). Men: None of the above. No player who won a clay Masters Series event got past the second round at Wimbledon. Costa didn't even play. Nalbandian & Lapentti both had marginal clay-court seasons. Runner-up: Lleyton Hewitt.
The B Man - Reaching the quarters of the mixed doubles and semi's of the ladies doubles, a rather fearless Anna Kournikova delighted television programmers by demonstrating she can, in fact, play tennis: she's got quick hands at the net, and a killer instinct when it comes to poaching, passing, and hitting at an opponent's feet. Unlike the women, whose elite advanced to the later rounds primarily using power games, the men were all about touch (no wonder I like Wimbledon so much!). While Paradorn Srichaphan employed a significant arsenal of spins and angles to upset Agassi, Xavier Malisse gets the nod here for his brilliant shot-making, which included even more wicked angles than Srichaphan, plus slice shots that consistently troubled his competition.
BoSox Rudy-- Don't laugh, but best touch in the Wimbledon Ladies half belongs to Anna Kournikova. I said don't laugh. Richard Krajicek isn't known as a touch player, but all the power from the serve and groundstrokes overshadow his nice hands at the net.
Bridgeport Jake -- Anna Kournikova. Love those doubles volleys, Anna. Best Touch, Male: Rusedski. At least in his match against Roddick.
The B Man - Natasha Zvereva has seemingly boundless energy, and is a hoot, so it was great to see her name in the ladies, ladies doubles, and mixed doubles draws. If she had a great time competing, maybe she can talk Martina into entering all three fields at the US Open…Mark Philippousis had a tough draw, and suffered a tough, close loss to Richard Krajicek. Unlike Dick K., Mark probably still has a Slam left in his tank, so here's to hoping his nice run at Wimbly has Mark headed in a promising direction.
BoSox Rudy-- It seems that Chanda Rubin has been injured almost nonstop since her 1996 Aussie semifinal. She must be so happy just to be healthy again, and I have to think she'll look back and be very proud of her play at this Wimbledon. Krajicek's comeback, from playing just one match in 20 months to reaching the Wimbledon quarterfinals, is an achievement that would impress Lazarus himself.
Bridgeport Jake -- Natasha Zvereva. No, she didn't win her first singles match in a long time. No, she didn't help Martina too much in doubles. But still, it was great that she was there. Best Comeback, Male: James Blake v. Richard Krajicek. Yes, he lost the match. But coming back from being down two sets and some breaks in the final three sets, and losing 11-9 to a previous Wimbledon finalist/total ass like Krajicek ... you can see why he's quickly becoming a fan-favorite.
Nicest Moment of the Tournament
The B Man - The International Tennis Federation grew a pair and gave some pretty damn strong support to Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi when the Pakistan Tennis Federation and Pakistan Sports Board railed against him for teaming with Israel's Amir Hadad in men's doubles. The ITF has let Pakistan know that the country's membership to the global tennis organization would be jeopardized if Qureshi is booted from Pakistan's Davis Cup team as punishment for pairing with Hadad. Given the extremely sensitive nature of the situation in the Middle East, it's both surprising and important to see such a bold gesture.
BoSox Rudy-- Unfortunately, I missed the women's victory ceremony, although it sounded like a wonderful occasion. My vote goes to Nalbandian for his line, "Maybe when I come back and play this tournament a second time, I'll win it."
Bridgeport Jake -- Sandrine Testud revealing after her second-round loss to Mary Pierce that she's pregnant (and retired).
July 9, 2002
Last edited by Cybelle Darkholme; Jul 17th, 2002 at 04:11 AM.