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Poetry in motion

Swiss has sights set on matching Sampras' Wimbledon record

Gerry Williams Posted 18th June 2010 view comments

Recession? What recession?

The new Wimbledon singles champions will, for the first time, walk away with £1m each this year.

The All England club have even appointed a first Championship poet, one Matt Harvey, to compose a daily ode and give impromptu performances to the queues.

Cast of greats: Bjorn Borg, Sampras and Rod Laver join Federer after the 2009 final

Cast of greats: Bjorn Borg, Sampras and Rod Laver join Federer after the 2009 final

No wonder the queen is coming again this year - her first visit since 1977.

Some experts think we are going to witness a changing of the guard in the men's game.

Perhaps they drank too much Roland Garros Beaujolais as reputations meant little at this year's French Open. Even at Queen's club and in Halle results were still more upsy-daisy

Nadal is no longer the ultimate, muscled-grinder but is experiencing a second coming.

Gerry Williams
Quotes of the week

Catch Gerry twice a day, live from Wimbledon, on Sky Sports News

One thing I promise you.

It is not going to be such a drab and lop-sided women's event as last year when the Williams sisters again held sway. We can thank mainly the Belgians, Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters, for that.

They should never have retired when they did, but love does funny things to you, doesn't it?

Anyway, they are back - Kim talking about her brother-in-law, who has signed for Wolverhampton Wanderers, and about her father who played for Belgium in two World Cups!

As for Henin, her motivation is sharp. Wimbledon, you see, is the one Wimbledon final that she hasn't won.

Perfect

Of course, these are side issues in those queues I was talking about. All they want to know in the queues is can Andy Murray win this time? We British are so British.

So let's first consider the men. In my view Roger Federer (who has lost only two matches on grass since 2003) is the most perfect tennis player the game has yet produced.

If he triumphs again this fortnight he will equal Sampras' Wimbledon record of seven singles titles.

Federer's reign will only end when one day at Wimbledon, feeling less than his best, his mind tired and distracted, a blister on his racquet hand and two sets behind, he dallies with the thought: 'do I really want this anymore?' That whisper will then grow louder.

As for Rafael Nadal, the evidence of Queen's Club is that he is tailoring his shot-making and tactics to the demands of grass courts.

He is no longer the ultimate, muscled-grinder but is experiencing a second coming.

Distracted

As I say, all true Brits want to know is about Andy Murray. Can he do it this time?

The answer I believe, is that he is in a select group (which menacingly includes Andy Roddick) who could finish this fortnight as the men's champion, and that says much for the excellent player Murray has become.

In terms of shot-making he can do just about anything on a tennis court. But there is indeed a 'but'. What is going on in his head? He appears to be distracted, his fire intermittent. Not even Murray seems to know why.

His, and our, hope is that the two near misses he has already had in the Grand Slams (the US Open and this year's Australian Open) reveal how desperately hungry he is to win one of the four.

Remember the tears on court after that close Melbourne final? Big boys don't cry, but they do really if they care enough.

So we now wait to see if Wimbledon (of all places) can produce the adrenalin rush Murray badly needs.

Challenging

As for the rest of the British, they await the annual denunciations of the first few days.

Someone - and it could even be Greg Rusedski's pupil James Ward - will one day step up to share the burden with Murray. No-one will be more relieved than Andy himself.

Finally, a word about the British girls (oh for the glory days of Mortimer, Jones, Truman, Bloomer, Wade and Barker).

But we can admire Elena Baltacha who might not find it easy, I sense, to do as well as her Russian Olympic athlete mother, former Ipswich Town footballer father, and Millwall footballer brother.

Add this to her recurring ill health, which may now be on the wane. Elena deserves a break at Wimbledon.

Down the age list, of course, we have Laura Robson, who will surely be challenging the world's best before too long.

She certainly has a good deal more savvy on a tennis court than in an interview room where she is going to have to learn discretion.

Wimbledon, you see, is not all strawberries and cream after all.

See Gerry's daily Wimbledon preview on Sky Sports News throughout the tournament. Just click play and watch him set the scene ahead of Day One.

Comments (1)

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Brian Hamill says...

The draw has been very kind to Andy Murray. I will be shocked if he doesn't make the quarter-finals to play Verdasco or Tsonga, his path is clear up till that point. If he beats Verdasco/Tsonga, I'd say his tournament has been a real success, I don't think anyone can seriously expect him to beat Nadal in the semis. Nadal-Soderling will be a fantastic quarter-final, if Nadal can get through that I expect him to win it, but Soderling has a realistic chance of an upset on grass. Federer is the greatest player of all-time and my personal favourite, but he is almost 29 and a father, I think he is slipping and I don't see him winning here.

Posted 12:26 21st June 2010

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