2019 Wimbledon Wrap-up: Djokovic Wins 16th Slam, Halep Shocks Serena

2019 Wimbledon Wrap-up: Djokovic Wins 16th Slam, Halep Shocks Serena

A recap of Wimbledon 2019, where the top men reigned again, a somewhat surprising women’s champion emerged and a 15-year-old took the world by storm.

Updated: July 15, 2019 • 11:10 AM ET

Simona Halep has won her first Wimbledon title.

Ninety trophies were awarded at The Wimbledon Championships 2019, Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep winning the most valuable hardware from a sports perspective.

Djokovic’s sixth title and 16th overall Grand Slam puts him two behind Rafael Nadal and four behind the man he beat on Sunday in the gentleman’s singles final, Roger Federer. Halep set her own record, becoming the first woman from Romania to win the Venus Rosewater Dish. It was her second Grand Slam, having won Roland Garros in 2017.

Although Djokovic had the edge entering the seventh and final round of the fortnight, Halep was not the hands-on favorite.

Djokovic’s record against Federer told a story of missed opportunities: 25-22 overall, 2-1 on grass and 9-6 at Grand Slams.

In fact, the last time Federer had beaten Djokovic was at the Paris Masters in 2018. All these lopsided stats were punctuated by one held by Federer: he had not lost a match on grass this season.

Their final became an instant classic, the longest of the tournament’s history at 4 hours and 57 minutes. The top-seeded Djokovic squeaked out the win 7-6(5),1-6, 7-6(4), 4-6, 13-12 (3) over the second-seeded Federer.

“Congratulations man, that was crazy,” Federer said to Djokovic on-court during the awards presentation.

Asked his opinion on the match, though, Federer was succinct, “I’ll try to forget.”

And forget he will, although he never said he’d be back in 2020.

This was the first match of the tournament that used the new tiebreak rule, which the tournament established after last year’s Wimbledon semifinal where Kevin Anderson and John Isner tore themselves up in a 5-set battle, the fifth set ending 24-22. The encounter left Anderson too depleted physically and mentally to compete properly in the final, which Djokovic won. Wimbledon stood with the players a few days later, putting a stop to the format that called for a player to win by two games in the final set.

So at 12-12 on Sunday, Federer and Djokovic played a tiebreak in the fifth set (first to seven points and win by two points). And like the other two tiebreaks in the match, Djokovic took it, plus the championship.

“For now it hurts and it should,” Federer said in his runner-up press conference. “Like, every loss hurts here at Wimbledon. But, I think it’s a mindset and I’m very strong at being able to move on, because I don’t want to be depressed about actually an amazing tennis match.”

As much as Djokovic was expected to win, Halep was expected to lose. Serena Williams was in top form and on the verge, once again, of winning a record-tying 24th Grand Slam. Certainly, Halep didn’t have the game to demolish a great champion like Serena.

Yet, in 56 minutes, Halep had won, 6-2, 6-2. Williams admitted on-court that she felt “like a deer in headlights.” This was the third time, over a year, that Williams had been in a position to match Margaret Court’s record and didn’t. Now we have to wonder if she will ever reach that goal, as time waits for no one.

“When someone plays lights out, there’s really not much you can do,” Williams said in her runner-up press conference. “You just have to understand that that was their day today, and hopefully they can play like that more often and more consistently. And hopefully, I can raise the level of my game sometimes.”

Halep, the defender to Williams’ power game, executed a perfect match against the 37-year-old. She played without pressure, seeming to embrace Centre Court in her first women’s singles final at The All England Club.

“I was so proud of her,” Darren Cahill, Halep’s former coach, said on ESPN.

Serena will be back. Having started her Grand Slam career winning 21 of her first 25 finals, there’s no reason she shouldn’t continue to strive for one more. Yet, she hasn’t won a tournament since the 2017 Australian Open. And, she will turn 38 in September.

“I feel like I’m still incredibly competitive, or else I wouldn’t really be out here, per se,” Williams said. “For the most part, I feel like I’m on the right track. I’m just going in the right direction in terms of getting back to where I need to be.”

Tennis players are definitely stretching their careers to the later parts of their lives. However, age has disadvantages, especially when you run into a woman named Halep who took tennis, a running game, to its limits and left Williams without any options.

In addition to the Wimbledon winners there were those who didn’t make the grade.

Angelique Kerber tops that list. As the defending champion and with a strong record on grass entering Wimbledon, Kerber flopped badly, losing in the second round to American qualifier Lauren Davis 2-6, 6-2, 6-1.

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On the men’s side, Stefanos Tsitsipas (No. 7) and Alexander Zverev (No. 6) disappointed, as well. The two young stars were expected to shine at Wimbledon, but both lost in the opening round. Tsitsipas fell to Thomas Fabbiano, a 30-year-old who had never advanced beyond the third round of a major, and Zverev to Jiri Vesely, a lefty giant-of-a-man who was trying to at least equal his 2018 quarterfinal appearance.

Both Tsitsipas and Zverev seemed uncomfortable on the lawns that are always slippery on day one, but not as they’d expect on a clay-court, which is designed for sliding. At 20 and 22 years old, respectively, their early-round losses will be forgotten, at least at some level. However, they should be concerned as professionals, because there are challengers abound; and as with Serena, time waits for no one.

Although news from the singles championships will dominate the media for a time, when history is written, it will state that Cori “Coco” Gauff stole the heart of tennis and the fortnight on day one.

The 15-year-old American became the youngest player to qualify for a main draw berth at Wimbledon. As luck would have it, some would say, her first challenger was five-time champion Venus Williams, Gauff’s idol, who she dismissed in an emotional match.

A week later, Gauff became the youngest female player to make it to “Manic Monday,” the round of 16 at Wimbledon, since Jennifer Capriati in 1991. By the that time, Gauff had proven to the world that she knew how to dig deep mentally and game-wise, a trait players take years to cultivate. Gauff, though, couldn’t get past eventual champion Halep, a tribute to the teen as we look back.

Finally, this edition of Wimbledon was also a time to celebrate the elder statesman of tennis: Rod Laver. Fifty years ago, the Australian won his second calendar-year Grand Slam, his first coming in 1962 before the Open Era began in 1968. Needless to say, it has not happened since.

Can it ever happen again?

“Believe me, if he did it, I would be the first person to shake his hand." Laver once said of Federer accomplishing the feat.

Laver, however, might be shaking “her” hand if everything ever lines up again.

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