THE CHAMPIONSHIPS - WIMBLEDON
DAY 7 - MATCH REPORTS
CENTRE COURT - SINGLES
After a week of exciting tennis — it was time to decide who would be the champions in singles at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships. This saw the World No.6 and sixth-seed Anna Barbosa
of Poland take on the unseeded, World No.11 Maria Abdiakova of Uzbekistan.
Barbosa was playing her third Grand Slam final — she finished runner-up to Tina Falcon at the 2017 US Open before lifting her first Grand Slam title at the 2019 Australian Open - where she beat Anastasia Nemayeva (she also won the 2018 US Open doubles with Josephine Tyler-Malone). Meanwhile, for Abdiakova this was her very first Grand Slam final in singles (she did reach this year’s Australian Open doubles final — with Soojung Park losing to the World No.1’s Sabine Graf and Fleri Hingisafrilia).
The match was played in the blazing sun lighting up Centre Court - the quality of the match was high, right from the get go. Both players were dialled in and showed no nerves, despite the occasion. Both players hugged the baseline and used their powerful groundstrokes to take control of the rally as soon as possible. The set went with serve until we got 3-3 - Barbosa serving; Abdiakova stepped up and went for it on return. Two stunning returns got her to 0-30 — and exquisite drop shot followed and it was 0-40 and three break points. Barbosa saved the first two with some great serving — but she couldn’t make it a hat trick and Abdiakova broke with a brilliant lob. Abdiakova showed no nerves at all in her next service a game and moved to a 5-3 lead. Indeed, it was Barbosa who was rattled and a loose service game handed the Uzbek the first set 6-3 in 33 minutes. The 19-year-old was just one set away from her first Grand Slam title.
Set two saw the quality of tennis improve further as both players produced some stunning shotmaking. Both players had early break point chances in the first few games — but soon the match rhythm was dominated by serve. Abdiakova serving first she remained calm and focused as she got closer and closer to the possibility of her first Grand Slam title. However, Barbosa has been one of the most successful players on the FWT Tour in last three years and she began to pile on the pressure — her groundstrokes finding the lines and pushing Abdiakova deeper. With the set at 4-4 - Abdiakova serving, Barbosa stepped up. A huge forehand return, a delightful backhand volley steeped the pressure on and serving at 0-30, Abdiakova showed the first sign of nerves a 93mph service fault — was followed by a 69mph second set — which Barbosa fired away for a winner. Down 0-40 Abdiakova serve disappeared a 97mph first serve — hit the tape and dropped wide and then a 71mph serve hit the middle of the net. Barbosa broke for the first time and would serve to level the match at 5-4 — and she didn’t need another chance — holding to 15 - she secured set two 6-4 in 42 minutes.
Onto a decider… The final set may not have been as high quality as sets one or two but boy was it more dramatic and exciting as the players put on a stunning display of tennis. The 29-year-old Barbosa was on a roll and continued this early in the final set — she broke 1-1 and held to lead 3-1 and she seamed to be on her way to Grand Slam No.2 - but Abdiakova is tough and quickly composed herself and her game — she reigned in the power and switched things up — moving forward — she held, broke back and held again to lead 4-3. At this point Barbosa called the trainer — a huge blister on her right foot required a dressing reapplied — after the break both players had lost some intensity - Barbosa managed to hold — after 7 deuces — saving three break points and it was 4-4. Abdiakova then held to love — and Barbosa matched and it was 5-5. Another Wimbledon final was going the distance… both players held until 9-9 — using her experience and forehand Barbosa broke — thanks to a delightful volley and a confident smash at 10-9 she would serve for Wimbledon… but Barbosa got nervous and Abdiakova bold and the Uzbek broke back to love to square things up at 10-10. Barbosa had break points in the next game but Abdiakova held - Barbosa was down 0-30 serving to stay in the match at 10-11 but held. Abdiakova held for 12-11. Barbosa went down 0-30 again — and Abdiakova thought she had a match point when she hit a big backhand down the line — but it just missed. Abdiakova challenged but hawk-eye showed she had missed by just 1 mm. Barbosa held and it was 12-12.
Abdiakova raced to 40-0 but a careless double fault allowed Barbosa back in the game 40-15. A huge forehand return off a weak second serve made it 40-30. A 27-shot rally ended by an outrageous Barbosa drop volley made it deuce. As both players caught their breath — the crowd were on their feet cheering these two warriors. Abdiakova was tiring — she missed her first serve and Barbosa slammed home a weak second serve and it was Championship Point - Abdiakova hit a solid first serve — but Barbosa hit a huge forehand - Abdiakova managed to get a racquet to it — but the shot was high and short and Barbosa moved in and put away an easy volley into the open court! She did it! Game, Set & Match Barbosa. The Pole won her second Grand Slam singles title with a brilliant 3-6 6-4 14-12
victory. Barbosa fell to her knees — and then ran to the net and there was a warm exchange. Barbosa then climbed into her players box — delighted.
CENTRE COURT - DOUBLES
After an exciting singles final followed an exciting doubles final as top-seeds Sabine Graf
and Fleri Hingisafrilia
took on Bianka Harlow and Anastasia Nemayeva for the Wimbledon title at SW19. Graf/Hingisafrilia - the two-time defending champions have won five Grand Slam doubles titles together, including this years Australian and French Open and are by far and away the No.1 doubles team (and co World No.1s) where the favourites… but Harlow/Nemayeva are really becoming a team to beat — they lost the French Open final to the World No.1s - but won back-to-back grass court titles in ’s-Hertogenbosch and Mallorca. However, Graf/Hingisafrilia beat them on the way to the Eastbourne title last week.
The World No.1s started strongly and moved to a 4-2 lead by sitting on the net and producing some epic reaction volleys — although the joint World No.9s kept fighting — and fighting hard… it was too late Graf produced a flawless service game and served out the first set to love 6-4 in 28 minutes. Graf/Hingisafrilia a game away from winning the first three slams of 2019.
Set two started with the teams trading breaks for 1-1 before Harlow/Nemayeva started to overpower their older opponents. Hitting big and piling on the power the fourth-seeds moved to a 4-1 lead and it looked like we were going to a decider… but the Graf/Hingisafrilia are not the most dominate doubles team on Tour for no reason and they fought their way back into the match — breaking back and moving to a 5-4 lead. Hingisafrilia would serve for a historic three-in-a-row. For the first time they got a little tight and with a few booming returns from Harlow we were back on serve… but not for long. Graf/Hingisafrilia broke again and Graf served for the match…. This time there was no mistake — they held to love - Graf/Hingisafrilia winning 6-4 7-5
and the calendar year ‘Grand Slam’ is on! Three down…. One to go!
CENTRE COURT - MIXED DOUBLES
Play at Wimbledon 2019 came to end with the mixed doubles final. Second-seeds and Australian Open champions Oksana Mikhailova
and Damir Dzumhur
took on veterans Sabine Graf (fresh from the women’s doubles final) and Pat McFadden for Grand Slam glory.
Mikhailova/Dzumhur came out the stronger pair and quickly broke for 4-2 playing some powerful and in-sync tennis. However, McFadden started to take control of the net and allowed Graf to work herself back into form after the elation of the doubles. The unseeded pair managed to get the match back on serve at 4-4 and moved to a 5-4 lead. They had set points on Mikhailova’s serve but the Russian mom held firm and it was 5-5. The second-sets then produced a brilliant return game to break McFadden to 15 - Dzumhur then held to love and the Australian Open champions took an entertaining first set 7-5 in 37 minutes.
The second-set was almost impossible to split the teams — they played some lovely tennis and entertained the boisterous crowd. Graf/McFadden hugged the net and played old-school doubles while Mikhailova/Dzumhur stayed back more and used their power to play modern doubles… things came to a head at 5-5. Again it was McFadden who was break point down… they saved the first one — thanks to a brilliant Graf volley, however a costly double-fault handed another break point. Mikhailova pounced on the return and they broke. Dzumhur would serve for the title. Dzumhur tightened up — but Mikhailova was on fire and soon it was championship — and it was Mikhailova who put away a smash and a scream of delight as they won the title 7-5 7-5
in 1-hour and 23-minutes. A second Grand Slam title — and Mikhailova sure to rise to No.1 on the Mixed Rankings.