With the first week of Wimbledon in the books, there’s a lot to look forward to in the second half of Britain’s most famous fortnight. Upsets were the story of the opening rounds with both Nadal and Federer losing in the first and second round respectively. I’ve gotten so accustomed to watching them battle it out in finals that something feels amiss with their early exits. They’ve spoiled me and tennis fans in general and their absences for the remainder of Wimbledon have helped me appreciate their sustained greatness. It’s amazing what they’ve accomplished and this year is a much needed reminder that it’s not easy to reach the semis or finals of every single tournament.
With 2 of the big guns out on the men’s side, the stars have aligned for a Murray/DJokovic final. The history of Wimbledon always makes it a compelling tournament and with each passing year, you can feel the home crowd pining for a Brit to win more and more. The pressure on Murray continues to mount with each point played and the elimination of two of his biggest threats only intensifies that burden to make history.
No male British player has won his home tournament on the men’s side since Fred Perry in 1936. Murray is the savior and although that’s a heavy load to carry, I think he’s up to the task. Watching Murray’s matches is infectious. It’s impossible not to get behind him and cheer just as loud as the British crowd when he hits a winner. He’s been playing fantastic tennis this year and he’s been getting better as matches go on. He used to have problems closing out matches but now he appears more dominant when he can sense the end is near.
The pressure is also intensifying for Murray based on his recent successes at the All England Club. Andy reached the Wimbledon final last year, becoming the first Brit to do so in 74 years, but lost to Federer. He provided some more excitement and built confidence by beating Federer at the Olympics, which took place right at Wimbledon Centre Court. But he needs to win at Wimbledon during Wimbledon. This could be his year and I’m pulling for him like never before.
The women’s side also has a sizable drought for British players. No female Brit has won at Wimbledon since Virginia Wade in 1977. Not quite the length of the drought on the men’s side but still sizable nonetheless. This year, the women’s side has their savior as well – 19 year old Laura Robson who has proven she can beat big names. She recently defeated Venus Williams and she’s the top ranked female player in the United Kingdom. Robson also won the girls junior championship at Wimbledon so she’s had some success at her home tournament – even if it was just a junior event.
Murray and Robson have both advanced to the quarters at Wimbledon this year and both have the entire nation behind them. The stakes and history give their matches an energy that is hard to find anywhere else in the draw. It could be a historic year with these two Brits poised for deep runs and the final week will be must-watch television. I’ll be pulling for Murray and Robson like I was born in England.