Damien’s Spin : Tomic penalized at Wimbledon

Thursday, Jul 18

We know Serena’s number. It has to be 25.

She needs that many singles titles in Grand Slam events to pass Margaret Court for the most all-time.  Fair to say, with three straight desultory performances in Grand Slam finals, including this year’s one-sided Wimbledon loss to Simona Halep, it’s going to be close.

But what’s the men’s number? And who’s going to reach it?

It has to be at least 21 – Roger Federer has 20 – but the question is whether when it’s all over, when Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are done and have put their sore and tired feet up, what number is going to stand up as the number to beat.

Let’s suppose Fed gets one more. Maybe Wimbledon. Possibly Australia.

Nadal, meanwhile, is still only 33, four years younger. He has 11 French Open titles to his credit, and based on his age and dominance this year, he can easily get two more. Then give him one other title – his last non-Roland Garros triumph was the 2017 U.S. Open – and that gets him to 21 titles.

Which means the 32-year-old Djokovic, now at 16, would have to set his sights on 22 Grand Slam titles. It’s possible, if Federer can’t get anymore and Nadal continues to break down, that 21 might be the number.

But 22 seems likelier.

We know Djokovic can win any one of the four including the French. Neither Nadal nor Federer can probably make that claim any longer. Still, the Serb is going to probably need six more if he’s going to end up alone at the top of the mountain.

If he could count on still going strong at age 37 like Federer, you’d say he has lots of time. But Federer is a freak of nature.

“I hope I give some other people a chance to believe at 37 it’s not over yet,” said Federer after losing his four hour, 57 minute Wimbledon final to Djokovic.

“I’m one of them,” said Djokovic in response. “I’m not really looking at age as a restriction of any kind.”

You have to believe the next crop of young players, including the likes of Dominic Thiem, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov and Alexander Zverev, is going to push Djokovic harder that the generation ahead of that group was ever able to push the Big Three. Or Big Four if you include Andy Murray.

So we’ll watch. And wait. Djokovic, became the first man in 71 years to come back from match point down to win Wimbledon and deny Federer another Grand Slam title, can make this all simple. He can beat Nadal at Roland Garros like he beat Fed on grass. Do that, and 22 might be more than enough.

If it’s not Nick Kyrgios causing a stir – or causing trouble –  it’s Bernard Tomic

This Wimbledon, it was Tomic.

The most noteworthy wasted talent in modern tennis was stripped of his entire $56,000 US first round prize money after putting in pathetic perfomance in a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga that lasted only 58 minutes. One of the reasons Tomic has been able to get away with this nonsense for years is that there’s always somebody to defend him, and this time it was the Wimbledon men’s champion.

“I don’t think it’s fair to take all his prize money away,” said Djokovic. “He deserved the right to be in this tournament. He’s a top 100 player.

“He’s worked all year to be here. He deserves that prize money.”

Interestingly, that reflects a belief that what Tomic did or didn’t achieve outside Wimbledon matters more than what he actually did at Wimbledon. Djokovic is a highly influential player, and one of the key issues gaining traction among players is the relatively paltry salaries earned by players outside the top 50. Things like first round prize money, for example, are suddenly a hot button issue, which probably has a lot to do with Djokovic’s decision to defend Tomic despite his weak efforts at competing and entertaining the ticket buying public.

Given that Djokovic worked three hours and 59 minutes longer in beating Federer than Tomic did in toppling over to Tsonga makes you really wonder if this is another pay equity issue that goes beyond gender. Federer, by the way, has now played in the three longest Wimbledon finals. He played 4:48 versus Nadal in 2008, and 4:18 against Roddick in 2009,

Roofs over show courts were, as it turns out, just the start of it for the All-England Club.

Wimbledon now plans to expand its operations right across to the other side of Church Road, the road made famous for years for the queues of fans lining up in hopes of even having the chance to buy a ticket. The walk from Southfields tube station up Church Road past flower gardens and well-kept homes is truly one of the pleasures of attending the event.

Until now, the area across the street from the Wimbledon grounds has been a large park with tennis courts and other areas for sport activities. Now, the All-England Club is putting the finishing touches on a purchase plan which, among other things, will allow the installation of a a large number of grass courts that will allow Wimbledon to host qualifying singles matches there, rather than at Roehampton.

This could possibly be all finished by 2024.

It sure seems like Roger Federer still moves the dial more than any other player in the world.

ESPN ratings for this year’s men’s final between Novak Djokovic and Federer were more than three times the figure for last year’s final between Djokovic and Kevin Anderson.

ESPN averaged 3.33 million viewers for this year’s men’s final, the best ratings for a final since 2012 when Federer beat Andy Murray in four sets.

In Canada, TSN reported an average of 2.3 million viewers, while in the United Kingdom, BBC One had a peak audience of 9.6 million viewers going head-to-head against the Cricket World Cup.

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