Saturday, July 7, 2012

Wimbledon Finals Preview

After nearly a fortnight of rain, royalty, and unbelievable upsets, a former champion reaches the final in hopes to match their past successes while going up against a first-time finalist with overwhelming pressure to succeed. I just described both the men and women's final match-ups at this years Wimbledon Championships which will be contested this weekend.

For the women, 4-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams blitzed past the defending champion (Petra Kvitova) and the world no. 2 player (Victoria Azarenka) for a chance to tie her older sister Venus with 5 Wimbledon championships. Just as an aside, Serena and Venus are also in the Women's Doubles Final with a chance to win their 5th Wimbledon title there as well. Third seed Agnieszka Radwanska will be Serena's opponent reaching not only her first Wimbledon final, but her first Grand Slam final ever. In fact she's celebrating a lot of first by also reaching her first slam semifinals after outlasting Maria Kirilenko in the quarter-finals and then deftly handling the hard-hitting German Angelique Kerber in the semifinals. Many have remarked her easy draw, but credit her for staying focus to give herself a chance to win her first major title which would also vault her to the number one ranking. Unfortunately, she seems to be suffering from a respiratory illness oh and also facing the best serve in women's tennis.

History will be made on the men's side no matter who wins. Six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer can recapture the number one ranking by winning his 7th Wimbledon title on Sunday which will also put him in a tie with Pete Sampras in number of Wimbledon titles and help him surpass Sampras at total weeks at number one. A few people predicted Federer at the beginning of the tournament especially with the kind of relatively easy draw he received and that belief got stronger with Rafael Nadal's shock early exit. He certainly cruised for the most part with the exception of having to come back down 0-2 sets to Julien Benneteau, but after that scare Federer found new life dismissing Mikhail Youzhny in the quarter-finals and more impressive taking out world number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic. Federer's final opponent will be none other than the lone British hope Andy Murray who reaches his first Wimbledon final ending that particular drought. Were he to win the title, he would be the first British man since Fred Perry to win Wimbledon. With the London Olympics in a few weeks, this is an opportunity of a lifetime for Murray. Can he handle the pressure? He certainly showed great composure in getting through the toughest draw of the top 4 taking out Ivo Karlovic, Marin Cilic, David Ferrer, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Predictions: Radwanska was overmatched even before she got sick and if Serena continues to serve like she has been, she will be unbeatable. Then again might playing too much tennis (doubles) mean it'll be closer than we all expect especially with Radwanska's Hingis-esque game that could prove useful. As for the men, the pressure will be huge on Murray and while he leads his H2H with Federer, I think the occassion and his past slam finals history will play with his mind especially against a champion as experienced as Federer. Then again what better storyline for Great Britain for a homegrown champion right before they host the Olympics? With all of that said, I'm going to go with the tried and true and pick Serena and Federer for their 14th and 17th Grand Slam titles respectively.

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