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About the Lounge Wimbledon special

LiveMint logoLiveMint 30-06-2017 Pradip Kumar Saha

At Lounge, we love the Wimbledon. We don’t dedicate annual special issues to F1, cricket or even other Grand Slams, but we always do a special edition around The Championships. Last year, for example, the issue was bookended by two odes to Rafael Nadal, who wasn’t in competition.

This year, we highlight the turning points at The Championships in the 49 years since the Open Era—be it the change of grass at the turn of the century, the advent of technology, or the demise of serve and volley. Or motherhood, which has been in the spotlight again since Serena Williams, world No.4 and winner of 23 Grand Slams, announced her pregnancy earlier this year. Victoria Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open winner who became a mother in December, has just returned to tennis with the Mallorca Open in Spain, after a year’s break.

Naresh Kumar, the Kolkata-based octogenarian who played for India for almost two decades from 1949, tells us how The Championships have evolved. We discuss some of the classic rivalries—Björn Borg vs John McEnroe and Boris Becker vs Stefan Edberg on either side of the 1980s, Pete Sampras vs the rest in the 1990s, and Roger Federer vs others in the noughties and thereafter—which have shaped the way the game is perceived long after the players have hung up their boots.

Looking at the line-up this year (3-16 July), the women’s singles draw looks more open, given that there have been 27 different winners at 33 WTA events so far this year, and taking into account the absence of Williams, a seven-time champion.

The men’s draw seems slightly more predictable. Since 2003, only four men have won at The Championships; only eight have participated in those 14 finals. Federer and Nadal, who have dominated the men’s tour for over a decade, seem to have found a way back from talk about retirement. While Federer won the Australian Open this year, his 18th major and the first in over five years, Nadal returned to his major-winning ways at Roland Garros this year, emerging victorious at his 10th French Open and 15th major—his first Slam win since the French Open 2014.

The two have faced each other 37 times, with the Spaniard leading the head-to-head tally 23-14. They have squared off thrice at the Wimbledon finals, Federer leads that tally 2-1. After dropping out from the clay season, he looks intent on winning his eighth Wimbledon. Nadal, meanwhile, will be eyeing his third Wimbledon title and history suggests he has a good chance.

Punters are betting on the quartet of Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray reaching the last four. And like most fans of the sport, we are rooting for a Federer-Nadal final, even if for one last time.

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