We are a little more than a week removed from Wimbledon. Most of the tennis world is now on a break until early next month when big events in Toronto, Montréal, and Cincinnati serve as a lead up to the final major of 2015, the U.S. Open in New York City. Here are my Wimbledon grades for all the major players.
Serena Williams- Much like the French Open, she had to come back from brink occasionally, but she got the job done. She has every chance in the world of winning in New York and becoming the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win all 4 majors in the same year as well as tying Graf’s modern era record of 22 majors. In sports, nothing is a foregone conclusion, but I wish the 127 other ladies who will try to knock off Serena in New York good luck, they will need it. A+
Novak Djokovic- No one impressed me more over these two weeks than the Serbian world number 1 and reigning Wimbledon champion. After being blasted off the court by Stan Wawrinka in the finals of the French Open and being denied the career Grand Slam, most players would have folded playing a major 3 weeks after that kind of disappointment, not Djokovic. He was consistent throughout the tournament and seemed to relish playing the role of villain in the final against Roger Federer, who was/is everyone’s sentimental favorite. He has had rough summers on the North American hardcourts the past few years, but look for that to change this year. There really is not a high enough grade I can give here. A++++
Maria Sharapova- I am not sure why many people are selling their stock when it comes to the Russian ice queen. She did what she usually does at the bigger events. Annihilated everyone in her path until she played Serena. Then she fights hard, but loses handily and bows out gracefully. The only difference this time was playing Serena in the semis as opposed to the final. When you put it all together, Sharapova reached the Wimbledon semis for the first time in 4 years and moved back up to number 2 in the world rankings. That is a pretty solid two weeks. She is a major threat this summer. B+
Rafael Nadal- Alright folks, this is the part you have all been waiting for. Now, I get to be critical. The Spanish left-hander was the victim of yet another early upset. This time it was in round 2 against German Dustin Brown (and his dreadlocks). We always expect Rafa to find his footing on the clay. That did not happen this year, and it carried over to the grass. He just does not seem to be hitting the ball as hard as he used to. I wish I had something more analytical to offer. I do not think he is playing hurt. The 14 time major champion may need to bring in a coach from outside his family, something he has never done. Despite winning 2 U.S. Opens, Nadal has never been comfortable in North America, his body often breaks down once we leave the grass. He has taken wildcards into smaller clay court events, which he will play before coming to this part of the world. That should help a bit, but it is time to start worrying. D
Petra Kvitova- The lefty from the Czech Republic was certainly someone who I thought could challenge Serena here, but the defending champ could not get out of her own way. She crumbled in round 3 to Serbian veteran Jelena Jankovic. She has so much power that she is a threat anywhere, against anyone. However, when she cannot harness it, she is in trouble. C-
Roger Federer- The Swiss maestro finished runner up to Djokovic for the 2nd straight year at Wimbledon. He served beautifully in this tournament, but just ran out of gas in the final. At almost 34, you can see how bad he wants to add to his record 17 majors. It is foolish to write him off, but no one knows how many more chances he will get. A-
Eugenie Bouchard- I have never seen a player as lost as the Canadian is at the moment. She finished runner up at Wimbledon last year. This year, she lost any opening round to a qualifier. Worse yet, She has won just 2 matches since March. Her weight continues to cause people to whisper. She seems out of answers. Her press conferences have become a bunch of I don’t knows. She gets points for playing Wimbledon injured, I admire toughness. Also, she was on stage with Shania Twain this week. So, that bumps the grade up. In all seriousness, I hope this is rock bottom for her. However, with her ranking dropping, she will face tougher draws this summer. D-
Simona Halep- A finalist in Paris and a semifinalist at Wimbledon last year, the stealthy Romanian failed to get through the first week of either European major this year. She is at the mercy of bigger hitters. If they are on their game, she is helpless. Also, she needs stability. She has had 4 coaches in a bit more than a year, even letting one go after winning back to back titles in February and early March. She has had a strange year. Wimbledon was a total bust. However, in the long term, I think she will be fine. She just needs to hit the gym and find one voice to hear consistently. F
Garbine Muguruza- The Spaniard has arrived. She blazed her way through the draw, taking out 4 higher seeded players on her way to the final. She handled herself well against Serena. She may struggle this summer with new expectations, but she is the real deal. Her run here was not just a one-time fluke. A
Andy Murray- The British hope and 2013 champion was outclassed by Federer in the semis. There is no shame in that. A year and a half removed from back surgery, he is almost back to his best. He continues to handle the pressure of playing at home really well. He is at the top of the list as far as contenders this summer. B+
Young Americans- American tennis is finally becoming about much more than the Williams Sisters. CoCo Vendeweghe and Madison Keys reached the quarterfinals. On the men’s side, wildcard Dennis Kudla enjoyed a dream run to round 4, and 6’ 10” Reilly Opelka won the boys singles junior event. The future is bright at last. A.