Upside down. Novak Djokovic and a rare break during his last training. Photo: Reuters
Grand Slam tournaments always generate high expectations. Not only for the uncertainty they generate, but because it is enough to retrace history to verify that they are the places where impossible dreams magically coexist and become reality with great sporting frustrations. We have all been witnesses in these great events of tears – the good ones and the bad ones – and also of emotions, surprises, sadness and disappointments. And in this Wimbledon, inevitably, history will repeat itself, even if there will be great absences – due to the decision of the organizers to ban the participation of Russian and Belarusian tennis players – and there will be no points at stake – for the determination of the ATP and the WTA to punish that measure supported by the British government.
We believed that after the pandemic we would experience a certain normality in which we would find the usual scenes, the ones we were used to. The tournaments on their dates with the stadiums packed after suffering the absence of that added seasoning that the public always brings. But as a result of this Wimbledon measure, we will once again relive a very special situation. The beauty is that practically none of the great figures have left the tournament, at least among the great candidates, although there will be no points up for grabs and that this will cause a cataclysm in the world ranking, given that Novak Djokovic, displaced by the world number one after the his misstep in Paris will drop to an incredible eighth place.
We could tell All England will be the unexpected setting for a luxury exhibition. The great animators of the two circuits have not turned their backs on Wimbledon and this also demonstrates how deeply rooted this tournament is, which has no equal, in addition to its enormous hierarchy and its even more enormous history.
A worried Djokovic in training this Sunday at the All England Club. Photo: AFP
There, in this unique setting, Djokovic will try to recompose this difficult 2022 a bit. A year in which he was beaten a lot, with so many disappointments and experiences that he would never have imagined living. Furthermore, Wimbledon will be very special for Nole because today she too is in doubt about her participation in the US Open, given that at the moment vaccinations are necessary to be able to reach New York. So this could be one of the last chances of the season to try to add to that parallel race she runs with Rafael Nadal – and with a Roger Federer still in the pits – to become the top Grand Grand title winner. Beat. The truth is that we will see, as the Serbian said several months ago, if that motivation does not end up becoming an impossible pressure to bear.
On the top, Nadal gave better signals in terms of the physical situation, more precisely in relation to his left foot and his chronic injury, compared to everything he suffered at Roland Garros, where he ended up incredibly beating everyone in front of him – Djokovic included – and the pain that forced him to play undercover for the two weeks.
We know, on the other hand, that it is a surface that mostly takes its time. That is why we will use that old phrase again which guarantees that in a Grand Slam tournament you don’t win in the first week, but you can lose or you can start losing. That’s why it will be very delicate, for both Djokovic and Nadal, to see how they fit into the game and establish themselves in the tournament. It is known that when they enter the second week the chances of beating them, of eliminating them, become increasingly difficult. and that vulnerability can often appear in the early rounds. This, of course, remains to be seen. Nadal, on the other hand, is thrilled to win the third Wimbledon of his career and his third principal of the year to take off in that incredible race to be the greatest in history.
Nadal, without discomfort at his feet, the last details to go in search of his third Wimbledon. Photo: AP
The Argentines? Playing without point pressure on defense can take that extra pressure away from them. Internally they can capitalize on this situation and encourage themselves to incorporate other aspects into the game that are sometimes not encouraged by the need to advance in order not to give up positions in the standings. So, beyond the economic question, this Wimbledon can be an opportunity to feel that something else has been discovered on the surface. That’s where the great triumph for the Argentines can take place if they can contribute to that mutation of the tennis DNA and discover that they can play well on grass too, have good results and maintain high performance, even on an unknown and little known surface.
There will be another atypical, different tournament. But that doesn’t take away the emotion or the hierarchy. Nor will it take away the delivery by the protagonists. Because we know that in Wimbledon, beyond money and points, you can breathe history and experience history. And who wouldn’t want to be part of it?
Andy Murray talks to Novak Djokovic before Sunday’s final practice. Photo: AFP