Whatever you were doing this weekend – cancel it! The women’s and men’s finals are going to be blistering. How the game has changed!
From long trousers and gut racquets to Hawkeye and the tie break. When I first started watching Wimbledon Tennis, the men wore long trousers and matches could go on for hours. Women were dressed in very demure white dresses and even at fever pitch you did not get an eye-full of underclothes.
We moved from there to shorts, and even shorter dresses, frilly knickers and splashes of colour. The game itself became a dish of serve and volley – point over. The era of Bjorn Borg – the ice man on court and the gentleman off it, at a time when on average there might have been five aces in a match, was one of the golden moments – a joy to watch. From the ice we went to the “you cannot be serious” era of Jimmy Connors and John MacInroe – entertaining fireworks but less interesting tennis. From there we seemed to move into a very unpleasant era when tennis became un-watchable because of the grunts and screams on every stroke.
None of this is to suggest that there was not some quite amazing matches, but ear-splitting screeches are less appealing than the occasional tantrum.
But now, now we are into an era of magical skill. Different racquets, steel strings, larger heads and the tie break have made each match more manageable for the audience, if not for the players. The number of aces per game has gone from five to fifteen to fifty, quite a change.
Hawkeye has helped avoid the questioning of the line call, though it would be very interesting if one day when they produce the endless stats for matches: points lost, points won, first serves in etc. etc. the stats board also showed the statistics for the number of times Hawkeye has proved the line call to have been correct. One has to hand it to those men and women who watch the ball to see where it lands. So often within a hairsbreadth of the line – they are very often right.
But to this year’s finals we need to add the extra ingredient of surprise. At the beginning of the second week it looked as though all the giants would fall, some did but in the long haul two of the best men’s finalists pulled through. But looking forward to the future we can expect some great matches as the old guard give way to the talents and strengths of such players as Raonic, Krygios and Dimitrov. In the women’s draw the old guard have already given way so Saturday will be a great day to see what Bouchard can do against Kvitova.
Bring it on!