Grading Wimbledon: Who Went to the Top of the 2018 Class?
Grading some of the most notable players that stepped on the lawns of the All England Club this year.
By Jane Voigt
Updated: July 17, 2018 • 9:45 AM ET
Novak Djokovic is Wimbledon's champion once again.
Now that the 132nd Wimbledon is over, how did tennis’ biggest stars fare?
Novak Djokovic Returns to Grand Slam Glory
Novak Djokovic won his fourth Wimbledon gentlemen’s singles title and his 13th major overall on Sunday. It marked an end to the nagging question that had followed him for 10 months: When will Djokovic be back?
He’s back with a fury.
Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal, the No. 2 seed, in a tension-filled, two-day semifinal, and then a depleted Kevin Anderson, the eighth seed, in the final. Monday morning, Djokovic rose 11 spots in the ATP Rankings to No. 10, his first time back in the top 10 since Oct. 10, 2017.
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Angelique Kerber is now a Wimbledon champion.
Angelique Kerber Shocks Serena
Angelique Kerber sealed her place in history, not only by winning her third major and first Wimbledon on Saturday, but by defeating the queen of the courts, seven-time Wimbledon titlist Serena Williams. The German has now won three of the four majors in her career, the only one not on her resume being the French Open.
To win two of the three now on her trophy shelf, Kerber took out Williams twice, the last time at the Australian Open in 2016. Kerber’s world ranking rose from 10 to 4 on Monday.
Serena Williams Suffers Surprising Defeat
Serena Williams’ performance wasn’t up to her standards in Saturday’s final. However, she proved throughout the entire competition why she is a great champion and the woman to beat. Ranked No. 181 coming into Wimbledon and seeded No. 25, the American legend rose to No. 28 in the world on Monday, or 153 spots up the WTA ranking’s ladder.
This was only Williams’ second Grand Slam since giving birth last fall, which was complicated by four post-delivery surgeries. Yet, her tearful comments on Centre Court following her loss to Kerber won over the hearts of millions worldwide.
Called “Mrs. Williams” by chair umpires, Serena’s competitive spirit on the lawns, combined with her compassionate leadership role as a mother, signaled a new frontier for the 23-time Grand Slam Champion.
Kevin Anderson went as far as he could at Wimbledon last weekend.
Kevin Anderson Comes Up Just Short
Men’s finalist Kevin Anderson reached his first Wimbledon final and second major final after heroic performances in the quarterfinals and semifinals. He handed Roger Federer, the top seed, his earliest loss at Wimbledon since 2013 in a five-set battle that Federer had locked up.
Federer was up two sets and a break of serve in the third and let the momentum slip away point by point until Anderson triumphed 2-6, 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11. Anderson’s belief in his game over Federer’s was a major breakthrough for the South African. He had never won a set off Federer in their four prior meetings.
In the semifinals, the 6-foot-8 Anderson faced another giant, American and first-time semifinalist John Isner. The 6-foot-10 and ninth-seeded Isner blasted aces and showed off his improved tennis, the most striking upgrade being his ability to take the ball early. But, once again, Anderson had to dig deep to erase a two-set deficit. Yet here’s the rub, and Anderson’s toes literally can vouch for that. The match with Isner made history as the longest semifinal at a major. The score: 7-6(6), 6-7(5), 6-7(9), 6-4, 26-24. Time elapsed: 6 hours, 36 minutes.
Immediately following the marathon, Anderson said, “When you get stuck in these positions, playing such long matches, it’s very tiring,” referring to the fifth set, which according to rules, must be won by two games. “It’s very tough playing six-and-a-half hours, whatever we were out there for.
“I personally don’t see the added value or benefit compared to, say, at the U.S. Open where, we’re playing tiebreaks in the fifth set…I personally don’t see the reason not to include it now at least at all the slams.”
Mike Bryan Continues Doubles Magic
Mike Bryan won his 17th men’s doubles Grand Slam and first without identical twin brother, Bob, on Saturday, pulling even with John Newcombe for the most all time. A few days earlier, Mike had become the oldest man to reach No. 1 in the ATP doubles rankings at 40. His ability to lead Jack Sock, his teammate at Wimbledon, adapt to the partnership, letting Sock rip-away while Mike anchored the net and positioned himself on court for optimal coverage, was a brilliant display of flexibility and skill.
Sloane Stephens Had a Short Stay
Sloane Stephens’ first-round loss to Donna Vekic, who was unseeded and ranked 55, was an appalling display of careless tennis with a blatant disregard for the occasion. Stephens, crowned the French Open champion three weeks prior, was seeded No. 4 at Wimbledon, her highest seeding to date at a slam. She had not played any grass court warm-up tournaments in preparation. Stephens is the best young talent American tennis has, yet she doesn’t seem to recognize the importance of her actions on the game.
Rafael Nadal Makes Run Back to Semis
Rafael Nadal’s semifinal run was his first in seven years. Hot and dry conditions made balls bounce higher, which made his ferocious top spin even more wicked for opponents. His quarterfinal contest with Juan Martin del Potro, seeded fifth, was a blockbuster.
The match was a see-saw affair, especially in the fifth set. Del Potro threw his heaviest forehands at Nadal, sending the Spaniard scrambling to then return a shot that equalled Del Potro’s effort. This set was the best of the tournament, with Nadal coming out on top 7-5, 6-7(3), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, and their friendly hug after all was said and done brought tears to their eyes. Nadal crossed over the net and met Del Potro at his baseline. The moment was sport at its best.
Roger Federer Relinquishes Crown
And, finally, Roger Federer. The top seed and the man with the most Wimbledon titles — eight — brought international attention on opening day, not for his tennis but for his wardrobe. After being sponsored by Nike since 1998, the 20-time Grand Slam champion and internationally celebrated athlete walked on Centre Court in togs from Uniqlo. The Japanese retailer, which is described as one akin to The Gap, will pay Federer $300 million over 10 years. An additional 10 years puts the Swiss legend close to 47 years old. Don’t worry, he doesn’t have to live out the length of the contract. Needless to say, that’s how royalty should be treated.
Wimbledon made strides to be more equitable when scheduling men and women on the two show courts: Centre Court and Court 1. The improvement was a result of advocacy and slanderous accusations that the grand ole slam was sexist. Last month, The Guardian wrote a blistering account, backed up with statistical analysis, that showed bias was a problem.
“There were 109 men’s matches on main show courts between 2013 and 2017 and 71 women’s matches.” The article went on to state, “Women’s matches represented 39.4% of all those scheduled on main show courts between 2013 and 2017.”
The final count of matches on Centre Court this year: Men’s singles: 17; Women’s singles: 16; Mixed Doubles: 3; Men’s Doubles: 2; Men’s Legends: 1; Women’s Doubles: 0.