Federer and Muguruza in control as European players sweep Wimbledon titles

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Federer and Muguruza in control as European players sweep Wimbledon titles

Garbiñe Muguruza and Roger Federer have been crowned 2017 Wimbledon champions. The Spanish number 1 player will move back up into the top five, while Federer yet again rewrites history to claim his nineteenth Grand Slam singles title.

History often has a strange way of repeating itself, and that was the case on Saturday. Muguruza emulated her compatriot and friend-cum-coach, Conchita Martinez in defeating a 37-year old American, and perhaps sentimental favourite, in the final. Going toe-to-toe for the first nine games, Venus Williams set herself up brilliantly to take the first set, obtaining two break points at 5-4. Muguruza rallied and Venus stumbled, allowing the Spaniard to equalise. From there, her confidence went from strength to strength, along with her shotmaking, while Williams seemed to wilt and flounder. The 7-5 6-0 victory propels Muguruza back into the top five as well as giving her a second Major title. Interestingly, Muguruza has won 4 tour titles - half of them at Grand Slams - and is the first player to beat both Williams sisters in a major final.

The men’s final also started off with the players at an even pegging but it too turned out to be a one-sided match in its own way. After falling 3-6 in the first set, Marin Cilic seemed troubled by a foot blister and had his mobility, and emotions, put to the test. After an emotional moment, where tears were shed, Cilic was a shell of the player who won the US Open in 2014. Federer sealed the lacklustre match with an ace for a 6-3 6-1 6-4 win, and with that his eighth Wimbledon trophy. This now places him atop the list of most titles won by a man at the famed club. Martina Navratilova – the player beaten by Martinez in 1994’s final - still holds the distinction of being the only player with 9 singles titles overall.

While Cilic’s injury will no doubt heal, Federer’s decision to skip the clay court season clearly paid dividends. Likewise, Williams has shown that at age 37, she is far from saying goodbye to her tennis career. Muguruza for her part, consolidates her status as a serious contender for multiple grand slam wins and her potential to reach number one.

THE COMEBACKS

After a luke-warm yet self-proclaimed successful comeback at Roland Garros, and a surprise grass court warm-up title in Birmingham, Petra Kvitova was hotly tipped to go all the way at the All England Club. It was not to be, as she was taken out in a tough three-setter in the second round by American Madison Brengle. Victoria Azarenka, for her part, was more successful. While grass has never been her best surface, her comeback seems on track. A tough three-set win over in-form Brit Heather Watson in the third round set her up for a clash with Simona Halep. Azarenka showed great form, but the French Open runner-up was too good on the day.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES

For a second straight year, Sam Querrey also sent shockwaves through the draw. He defeated local hero Andy Murray in a tough five-set quarterfinal, before going down to Cilic in a close four set semi-final battle.

Marin Cilic’s year could only get better after a poor start. His confidence grew after a victory in Istanbul and quarterfinals in Rome and Paris. It is unfortunate that his second grand slam final will be marred by memories of injury.

Johanna Konta lived up to home hopes, and perhaps exceeded them, by reaching her maiden Wimbledon semi-final; the first British female to do so since 1977. Giving Venus Williams a good run for her money, Konta showed that she has the potential to go the distance at a major one day.

On the heels of her unexpected French Open win, Jelena Ostapenko also recorded a personal best by reaching the Quarterfinals, also going down to Williams.

Magdalena Rybarikova posted her greatest grand slam result by reaching her first ever Wimbledon semi-final. Perhaps overshadowed by her own moment, the Slovak was not as fearless with her ball striking as in previous matches, but still must be more than satisfied with an 18/2 grass court win/loss record over recent weeks after a protracted absence from the tour due to injury.

Finally, Karolina Pliskova will be number 1 after a steady and consistent year, despite her early loss at Wimbledon. By virtue of Kerber’s capitulation to Muguruza and Halep’s demise to Konta after being two points away from claiming the top spot herself, Pliskova will become the 23rd women’s world number one, and the first ever female Czech national to do so.

DOUBLES

The men’s doubles title went to Lukasz Kubot & Marcelo Melo in a marathon win over Oliver Marach & Mate Pavic. After nearly five hours of play, the Polish-Brazilian duo took the title 5-7 7-5 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 13-11.

Following them on to court late on Saturday evening, the women’s doubles final was a sprint by comparison. Russia's Ekaterina Makarova & Elena Vesnina silenced Chan Hao-Ching & Monica Niculescu 6-0 6-0 in what they described as a “perfect” tennis match, lasting less than an hour.

Honours in mixed doubles went to top seeds Jamie Murray & Martina Hingis, ensuring a home victory in the event for a second straight year as the British-Swiss combination defeated defending champions Heather Watson & Henri Kontinen of Finland. The win, traditionally the last match of the tournament, ensured that European players had a hand in all of the professional titles won at this year's Championships. 

JUNIORS

Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina became the country’s first boys’ champion for five decades with a hard-fought win over Argentine Axel Geller, while Claire Liu won an all-American girls’ final over Ann Li.

Geller earned a small measure of consolation, teaming with Taipei’s Yu Hsiou Hsu to secure the boys’ doubles title over Jurij Rodionov (AUT) and Michael Vrbensky (CZE). The girls’ doubles final saw Olga Danilovic (SRB) & Kaja Juvan (SLO) overcome another pair of Americans, Caty McNally & Whitney Osuigwe.

All of the European juniors mentioned above are due to be in action at next week’s European 18 & Under Championships in Klosters, Switzerland, a tantalising prospect as for several of them the Tennis Europe flagship event will be their final junior singles tournament.

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