When Kevin Anderson began his semifinal match with John Isner that day, I was brushing my teeth and getting ready for work. When it ended, I was picking up a late lunch and missed it. I actually had to concede about four hours in that the only reason I was watching it was to root against Isner, whose MAGA-headedness is a non-starter in this TWA house. I legit had to ask myself: Do you actually care about this match or just the result? I had to move on with my life.
But this marathon match kept things others from continuing on with their lives, namely Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. They started their match on Centre Court after Anderson/Isner (problem No. 1) and were only able to play three sets which they split (problem No. 2) and therefore had to finish the following day (problem No. 3), the same day as the women's final, traditionally played on Centre Court as the showpiece match of the day (problem No. 4).
This led to the Nadal/Djokovic semi taking precedence over the women's final (in which Serena Williams was competing for a record-breaking Slam title, but no big). At first, this irked myself and a lot of other fans, but in the end, letting the men go first was the best thing to do in a situation that is far from optimal. One of them would still have a match the next day. But this proved to be a train wreck situation. It really could have been solved with two tweaks:
Nadal/Djokovic on Centre Court while Anderson/Isner play Court 1, or Court 13 or wherever else. There's no reason not to play both of these at the same time. Wimbledon is literally full of tennis courts. If Roger Federer was a factor here, this might be a tougher call, but still the call to make. People make plans, buy their tickets (travel and match) based on the schedule. Try to stick to it.
A fifth-set tiebreaker. The U.S. Open has one, and I've actually been to the U.S. Open and felt the excitement in the air over a tiebreaker. It doesn't hurt anything. It actually amps up the excitement. Watching two guys ace each other for nearly seven hours is maybe not the thrill the other three Slams think it is.
Having said all of that, I have seen some truly ridiculous takes on this. Yes, I mean Ben Rothenberg, who said
Only ~10% of this match, timewise, was after 6-6 in the fifth. It was the best, most exciting part of it all, when both guys were on the cusp of winning.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) July 14, 2018
Abbreviating that part, instead of the extraneous two sets at the beginning of the best-of-five match, seems so misguided.
I know. I got a headache reading that again just now. All I'll say at this point is that if he really believes this, the New York Times should just run the last 3/5th of his stories. What the hell do you need the beginning for? I get that this is just another way for him to make his best-of-three case. Still dumb.
And then this 12-12 tiebreak idea? It's a five-set match, not six! That's the equivalent of a sixth set! No, a regular tiebreak is just fine here. Yeesh, guys.
Anyway. Huge damn disaster that probably led to a lackluster men's final. What will Wimbledon do? LOL the same thing they did this year!
Quick hitsBack to Serena. She came up short in the final against Angelique Kerber in a win some consider an upset. OK, it's huge that Serena was able to reach the final, and it would have been amazing if she had won. But Kerber is No. 9 in the world, and had previously won Slams! Anyway, movement was Serena's biggest hurdle this tournament and her groundstrokes and serve had been enough to bail her out, but Kerber is basically a ball machine, so yeah. I honestly would have been more surprised if Serena had won.
The hell happened to Nadal in that last game?!?? Like, what? Seriously, that was a semifinal where I didn't miss a point. He and Djokovic played some truly spectacular points, and I'm really sorry to say this, but it was the de facto Wimbledon final. I don't want to minimize Anderson's achievements here (he beat the one guy I couldn't bear to see win Wimbledon), but the quality of Nadal/Djokovic was pretty high. Heck, Nadal/delP was of better quality than the final. In the semis, though, Nadal made some uncharacteristic mistakes when he had an open chance to win the point. And those misses were really the difference. Djokovic showed some shakiness at the end, and Nadal didn't take advantage. Of course, Djokovic was also really good at opening the door, and then closing it back with a strong serve or groundies. I know a popular question now will be whether Djokovic can pass Nadal or Federer in Slam wins. He's got age on his side, but as long as Nadal has two legs, he'll secure at least one Slam a year. Fed probably, too. Also, by the way, Nadal is a great grass court player, so we can stop acting like he only excels on one surface now.