Young Tennis Guns III – This Ain’t No Sequel

There were three young guns vying for semi-final spots at Wimbledon overnight.

One of them was our very own ‘Farstrider’ Nick Kyrgios, looking to carry on the hopefully inexorable momentum he generated in beating Rafael Nadal, the day before.

Joining him in ‘the last 8’ were two men with historic millstones on their backs, but this time seemingly with a set base of belief & performance, more able to resist the weight of their own history, to stop them being overrun.

That makes five, and with Nadal now gone, that left the only men remaining in the draw to have won this tournament before … The perennial Champions.

Roger Federer, 7-time winner; Novak Djokovic, 1-time winner, 2-time Runner-up; Andy Murray, Defending Champion, Reigning Olympic Gold Medalist on this court, Undefeated on the grass of Wimbledon since he was overcome, by the seemingly last flowering of Federer’s greatness in the 2012 Wimbledon Final.

Andy Murray was the first of the men to take the court, Centre Court, where he had won every match he had contested through the Olympics, Wimbledon 2013 & so far this year. Most of them with ease, including straight-sets dismissals of Federer & Djokovic to win the respective deciders noted above.

With an interesting new coach in train – Amelie Mauresmo – to replace his seemingly karmic union with the inscrutable Ivan Lendl, Murray rode his best form of the year into his quarter-final with One Young Gun – Grigor Dimitrov.

Dimitrov, long christened Baby-Fed, ever since he emerged on the ATP Tour four or five years ago had had a salutary year on a minor level. He started with an inspired Australian Open, reaching a quarter-final encounter with Rafael Nadal.

It was a Grand Slam breakthrough for Dimitrov and he looked every inch the arriving star, as he forced a blistered Nadal to call on every reserve of his dark competitive arts, to survive, persevere and eventually overcome.

Since then, Dimitrov has achieved the minor feat of being the only player this year on the ATP Tour, to win on all three competitive surfaces to have hosted events so far – albeit in the lower tier 250/500 point events.

He won on hardcourt in February (Acapulco, Mexico); clay in May (Bucharest, Romania); grass last week (Queen’s Club, England). But in between, he was once again bundled out of the French Open in Round One, to continue his hoodoo there.

Each player had something to live up to, Murray’s status being the rather more substantial something of the two. But in the end, it was indeed a time-warp as ‘Baby Fed’ put a Grand Slam beating on Andy Murray, the way Federer used to, before the glacier of time inexorably rolled over the past, into a new dynamic.

Starting at the 2013 U.S Open, Andy Murray has been a Two-Time defending Grand Slam Champion, bundled out of his respective defences, both times at the Quarter-Final Stage, after a brutal disabusal of the efficacy of his defence.

So long the bridesmaid, Murray was at least better at defending his Runner-Up finishes, than he has been shown to be when defending ‘all the marbles’.

If nothing else, his new coach Mauresmo will have to impart some sort of lesson regarding summoning the proper competitive motivation, when there isn’t anywhere new to go, but to climb back up the stairs, last year you made your own.

There are only three men left on the ATP Tour to have successfully defended a Grand-Slam Title. Only one of them has done it at more than one venue – Roger Federer, everywhere but the French Open. As Murray first found out against Wawrinka in New York last year, now Dimitrov at Wimbledon, just because you’ve climbed those stairs once, hard goes the way when you return, to once again make them your own.

On the other hand, the two remaining ‘Young Guns’, faced off against each other. Like two speed-demons on the flat salt-plains of Utah, these two strapping lads burst into their Court 1 Quarter-Final matchup with the rumbling thunder of untapped horsepower at their back.

Unweathered from experience, unencumbered by doubt, Milos Raonic and Nick Kyrgios rode into their first ever Grand Slam Quarter Final together. As often is the way of youth, one was left unapologetically in the dust, to learn and rise & come again.

Though both ARE young, Raonic has been waiting longer for this bus than Kyrgios, who only just arrived, with the thunder of guns that tore Rafael Nadal apart just yesterday. While Kyrgios CAN find a level in his game to threaten anyone on his day, Raonic KNEW of a certainty where his game was today. And he made Kyrgios pay the price every competitive athlete is tolled … multiple times in their career.

Yesterday was. Only Champions can make it define what is. Neither of these two lads – bright beacons of a secure future for elite tennis – are Champions … yet. Overnight, Milos Raonic moved one step closer. Our own ‘Farstrider’ has to wait another day, for another giant leap. One hopes Nick Kyrgios understands there is no shame in that.

Given this lad’s apparent nature, Australian Sports Fans have nought to worry ’bout there! Kyrgios will settle, reflect, learn and come again. It is who he is. No pretence is evident here.

So, two Young Guns through. Who would they meet? Would it be the contenders who shrugged off the ‘Atlas Stones’ of past miseries? Or, would the Champions’ slide on over to their accustomed place continue?

It wasn’t easy, but Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic found a way past Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic, in four & five sets respectively, to maintain the status quo. Now, they face two new challengers at this stage of a Grand Slam for the first time. Djokovic is playing for everything else of course, but an immediate result of success at Wimbledon for him, would be a return to World No.1.

Federer has been there, done that and found a way to be here again. He has ALL the records and nothing to chase. History is his. It is for others to chase him.

But I don’t reckon putting another length on the man – now that Nadal is out – most expect to catch and pass him soon, before he reaches the irrevocable turn of his career would bother Federer unduly. No, I don’t think he would mind that at all.

All he has to do is find a way to draw faster than at least one Young Gun. Maybe both, in an ultimate triumph of seasoning & experience that is slow-cooked. A success to be savoured in tennis’ new ‘fast-food’ world.

Comments

  1. I have been loving the tennis this week. Did they schedule the break in the World Cup so you wouldn’t have to choose?
    Did you see the Serena Williams debacle? Would love to see the test results if she was swabbed at the moment? Fame and fortune has its downside. Who in your paid entourage is ever going to say no or “I don’t think that’s a good idea”?
    Looked like Wacko Jacko territory to me.
    If she had a virus I’d like one too.

  2. Gregor Lewis says

    Not to be a Conspiracy ‘nutter butter’ friend Peter, but methinks Serena might have been battling with the realisation she was ‘playing for two’ … And I don’t mean Venus.

    Milady might be preggers!

    Either that or she’s auditioning for the tennis version of ‘Horror Movie’.

    As for choosing … My fave example of that is Boris Becker getting himself choppered to Rome right after losing the Wimbledon Final to Edberg, so he can watch West Germany vs Argentina, in the Final of Italia’90.

    Now that’s choosing with style!

    Me?

    Trusty DVR … if required.

    grl

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