After showing Novak Djokovic an early exit at Roland Garros, Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber has…
Ok: let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As deep as the men’s game is these days, Rafa Nadal’s exceedingly unfortunate withdrawal from Wimbledon ’09 has shined a blindingly bright light on the fact that, after a series of sea changes this year, there appear to be no realistic challengers to Mr. Federer’s quest for Wimby #6 and major #15.
But I’m not here to make predictions (whether the latest betting odds, or just general predications); I’m here to mourn. First and most notably, I mourn Nadal’s absence. Now I’m the first guy to espouse the need for sharing the wealth, and that watching Roger and Rafa trade off winning Slams can get repetitive. On the other hand, last year’s Wimbledon and this year’s Aussie final offered nothing to complain about. As much as I would love to see a new champion emerge at this Slam and any of the next, one must feel that he’s earned it by going through the best. And with Rafa — the Rafa at the top of his game (his knees the exception) not around to be surmounted, this men’s draw has a bit of a consolation feel to it, even with Andy Murray around (though it doesn’t feel he’s quite ready to pose Fed a serious threat).
Here’s what else I’m mourning: a complete absence of anything resembling a serve-and-volley presence: gone are Jonas Bjorkman, Max Mirnyi, Tim Henman. There is good ol’ Taylor Dent, but he’s still making his way back from a long injury sabbatical, so we can’t expect much, though it will be interesting to see how he fares: how frequently he gets passed could be a bellweather of just how dominant backcourt tennis is this year.
On the women’s side, looking forward to seeing how Michelle Larcher De Brito plays out with her opponents and the fans. It’s safe to say no one will be mourning her seismic grunts after she gets bumped from the draw.
Michael Shaw writes about tennis and other subjects for the Los Angeles Times and is also an artist. He can be reached at michaelshaw_sar AT yahoo DOT com. Read his previous posts for TSF here.