By Joel Silverberg / @JoelSilverberg
Wimbledon is in the books and the U.S. Open is less than six weeks away. Here are a few takeaways as the tennis season approaches its final major of 2018.
1. Serena hasn’t missed a beat.
Sure, Serena Williams didn’t face a seeded opponent until the semifinals, but to her credit she was very efficient leading up to that point. She only dropped one set before losing to Angelique Kerber in the finals. She wasn’t at her best in London, but the 23-time Grand Slam winner is clearly still the player to beat on the WTA, and that should scare the rest of the tour.
2. Nadal’s riding high despite Wimbledon loss.
Rafael Nadal bowed out of the Wimbledon semifinals with a 10-8 fifth set loss to Novak Djokovic, who went on to win the tournament. It was the first time in seven years Rafa had advanced past the fourth round at the grass court major. Having that sort of performance on the surface many would prefer to be his worst (take that with a grain of salt, he’s still won Wimbledon twice) Nadal’s confidence should be beaming heading into Flushing Meadows, where he’s the defending champ.
3. After more than two years, Djokovic moves up the ladder.
Nole hadn’t won a Grand Slam since completing the career slam with the 2016 French Open title. His two-year drought kept him stuck at 12 majors, tied for fifth all time with Roy Emerson. Sunday’s win over Kevin Anderson gave Djokovic his fourth Wimbledon title and 13th major overall, moving him into sole possession of fourth on the all time list. One more would put him in a tie for third with American Pete Sampras, who never completed the career slam as he failed to win at Roland Garros.
4. Despite two finals, Anderson is still a step away.
Former Illinois All-American Kevin Anderson took advantage of a wide open draw at last year’s U.S. Open to make his first Grand Slam final, losing to Nadal in straight sets. It seemed like a fluke at the time, but then Anderson maneuvered his way through a much tougher bracket at Wimbledon. He upset Roger Federer in five sets in his first ever quarterfinal appearance at the All England Club. It was also his first ever win over Federer. Then he outlasted American John Isner in a marathon semifinal match to make his second major final in the past calendar year. The first run was opportunistic, the second was earned, but it’s clear that the 32-year-old South African is still well behind the top contenders when it comes to winning a Grand Slam final.
5. The WTA needs more star power than just Serena.
None of the top ten seeds in the women’s draw made it to the quarterfinals. Four of them lost in the first round. Ten of the 32 seeded players lasted only one match. This isn’t a result of parity in the women’s game. It’s a result of mediocrity. The aforementioned run to the finals by Serena was impressive, but should’ve been tougher, which would’ve been the case had so many seeds not been bounced early. By the end of the first week of the tournament Serena was the only real storyline remaining on the women’s side of the tournament. Williams can and most likely will continue to be a force on the tour for a while longer, but the 36-year-old can’t play forever.