Freeman Cebu Sports

Slippery when wet

WRECKORDER - FGS Gujilde - The Freeman

Welcome back Wimbledon. The fresh green grass refreshes, especially from the red clay that strains the eyes. And feelings, after Rafael Nadal lost in the semi-final. Fourteen may never happen, the king of clay is balding though not yet gray. At 35, his biggest impediment is time. And a guy named Novak Djokovic who is only a year younger.

But girls are not excited to welcome back Novak. They dislike him. Including guys across the net. They can’t forgive him for giving false hopes. The world number one has the habit of flirting with defeat only to escape unscathed. Most memorable is when he bucked two match points against Roger Federer in the fifth set of the longest final in Wimbledon history two years ago. Roger had it, but Novak grabbed it. Woe to Federer, it lingered longer. The crowned virus canceled the grass championship last year. Novak holds over.

In the recent French Open finals, the Serbian allowed Stefanos Tsitsipas to win the first two sets. Insurmountable, until he turned the championship match around and the Greek’s world upside down. In the first match of his title defense earlier this week, he humored a rising British teen with a first set advantage but bewildered the wildcard in the next three sets.

It seems there is no real threat to the Serbian throne, his clay runner-up Tsitsipas is for now in the past after he lost in the first round. Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev may still be around and may have reached slam finals before, but fell short even if they’re both 6’6”. Rafael Nadal is not playing to allow his fatigued body and bruised ego to recover. If Roger Federer doesn’t play his invincible best, welcome to twenty slams Djokovic. Wimbledone.

But not in the distaff side. Grass may do clay. Any woman can win, with the door wide open. Big names are out of the game. Defending champion Simona Halep withdrew even before the tournament. Naomi Osaka too. Two-time champion Petra Kvitova lost the opening round to Sloane Stephens, a slam winner elsewhere. Serena Williams did not finish the first set after she slipped on the grass and injured her knee. She should listen to her body. It’s tired and worn-out. Wimbledown.

But then older sister Venus survived a three-set first round scare. Caveat, the five-time champ should be careful when chasing the ball. Look what just happened to not-so-little sister Serena. At 41, the once dominant Venus Williams is no longer as fit, and to her 6’1” frame she added a little weight. When the striped grass is moist, she may need to hold back a step and give up the ball else she injures herself to retirement. Wimbledoom.

But the organizers have somehow caught on the slippery problem, even if they continue to hold it on a rainy season. It installed a retractable roof each time rain comes down. An outdoor sport, tennis needs to adapt to climate change. By closing the roof. Wimbledome.

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