Monday and Tuesday I was lucky enough to go to Wimbledon, which is a wonderful slam to attend. There are various ways to get in, the most obvious is to queue, that is get there very early in the morning, before 6am most likely and line up to buy a grounds pass. I was able to buy tickets, and if you can do this, they are pretty reasonably priced, under $100 and all seats in the stadiums are pretty good ones.
My cousin Bonnie flew over from the San Francisco area to attend with me. She hadn’t been to Wimbledon before so it was an item checked off her bucket list. I checked off Roland Garros earlier in the trip.
Anyway, Bonnie flew in Sunday and met me at my airport hotel at Heathrow, then we went to drop off our bags in Putney and headed into London on the Tube to do some shopping. I’d been into London the day before so had scoped things out. There were sales everywhere.
Bonnie had watched the PBS series Selfridges, so we started there. It’s a huge, very nice department store and wasn’t too crowded, unlike say Harrods. It was pretty interesting, especially the food hall (A-Z chocolate bars, what could be better?).
We found shoes and other items and then headed back to our hotel, as Bonnie was jet lagged.
The next morning I had a great early morning walk along the Thames and got in a light workout in the park and hit the grocery store for some snacks and to just look at all the different foods here (Lamb flavored potato chips anyone?). Then it was off to Wimbledon!
On Monday we took the Tube to Southfields and walked the 15 minutes to Wimbledon. We were there early so did some shopping before taking in some matches on the outside courts. We learned that trying to take a seat at 11:45 wasn’t going to be possible, so I took Bonnie around the grounds and we sat by an empty court. It was a perfect location because a couple minutes later out came Maria Sharapova and her coach, physio and hitting partner. She had a very precisely choreographed 30 minute workout; a minute short, then some ground strokes, then a few slices hit low to her forehand and backhand short to attack, then some volleys, overheads, swing volleys, swing volley/forehand volley combos, serves, then serve, and the next shot after the serve, then returns. All the while her coach had his eye on her and the clock and the physio was shagging balls.
After 30 minutes, Jo Konta, from GBR a wild card who was to play Sharapova that day came out and seemed to have a less disciplined warm up. She had no entourage, just one guy who was a combo coach and hitting partner and ball shagger. She did however also practice swing volleys.
We went next to Court 1 and saw Serena play. The first set was tight but Serena in the end was too consistent and Gasparyan’s serve too inconsistent. That match was followed by a five setter Nishikori/Bolelli. The drama came at the end, in the 5th set when Nishikori had an injury time out and had to have his leg wrapped and seemed to be favoring his calf. He sort of won from 3/0 up on one leg with excellent serving. He’d pulled out of a warm up tournament with the same injury a little over a week earlier, so it will be interesting to see if he can recover for today’s match. After Nishikori we saw Gregor Dimitrov, a semifinalist last year and Sharapova’s boyfriend. He’s stylish and won pretty easily over Delbonis from Argentina, a guy who won a clay challenger in Italy just the day before. So he basically showed up to collect first round loser’s prize money!
It was a beautiful day but our seats were facing into the sun so it was pretty toasty anyway. We took some ice cream and lunch breaks and at the end of the day headed out to Wimbledon Village on foot. All the stores there have tennis themed windows during the Championships. We walked down the street a bit to a pub and had traditional and very excellent fish and chips for dinner.
On Tuesday I again had a nice walk and worked out in the park by a pond and fountain. It was peaceful and the weather in the morning was nice and cool. We changed tactics and took the bus to Wimbledon and walked from there, a shorter walk. We had the routine down…we picked out a match, Lepchenko, an American and Muguruza from Spain, a young talented player. Behind us were Aussie Delacqua and Pazek from Austria, so we could stand up and see that match on changeovers. Lepchenko is a lefty counterpuncher; Muguruza is a hard hitting and tall player. At 4-4 there was a very long game on Lepchenko’s serve. Being a lefty the sun was bad (matches started at 11:30 on the outside courts). It really was the match and Muguruza basically overpowered Lepchenko and lost only one more game the rest of the match. Delacqua won easily over Pazek.
We had Centre Court seats, and since it was considerably warmer Tuesday than Monday we were happy to see that they were in the shade, under the edge of the roof. The roof had been slightly closed too, in consideration of fans. First up, as is tradition was Kvitova, the defending champion, and Bertens from Netherlands. Kvitova was in perfect form, using her lefty flat groundies to power through the grass and Bertens had no chance, losing 61 60 and really winning only a hanful of points. Kvitova when she doesn’t make errors is scary good. The match was over in 35 minutes!
Federer was up next against Dzuhmur from BIH. That match went almost as fast except that the men play three out of five sets. Federer won in three quick sets, breaking early in the first and later in the second and early again in the third…once he broke he was in full flight.
So Andy Murray was up by just after 3pm. His match was a little longer…he was playing Kukushkin. Murray took the first but the second set was a dogfight. interestingly, both players have women coaches. There were tons of breaks in this match. Kukushkin served for the second set at 65 and was up in the game but Murray slowed things down, used his slice and foot speed to good advantage and played an excellent tiebreak to escape with the set, and won the third more easily.
Since the matches went so quickly Wozniaki was put into the Centre Court as a fourth match playing a Chinese player, SaiSai Zheng. Zheng started well and had a definite game plan play Wozniaki’s forehand at all costs. It worked too for a while as she led the Dane 41, but Wozniaki started hitting her forehand harder and down the line more instead of cross court and pulled out the set 75. At 3/0 Wozniaki in the second Zheng took a time out, but Wozniaki was too grooved by then and finished off the set 60.
We looked over the grounds from the staircase and saw that Madison Keys had just started her match on Court 3. So we queued for tickets, and got to sit courtside for that match. Keys was playing a Swiss player, Voegele who seems to be a counterpuncher. Keys is anything but a counter puncher, she smacks the ball. She led much of the set but had a spell of missing balls into the net, or was hitting too short. Keys ended up in a tiebreak where she led 52, but eventually lost it, and got down early in the second set when something switched on for her and she stopped missing her forehands and once they cleared the net they mostly didn’t come back. She also was rocketing first serves. She won the second set 63 and it was getting pretty dark. It was almost 9pm so we left and they did call the match at 2/2 in the third. Wimbledon doesn’t use tiebreaks in the final set so who knows how long it might take to complete.
We hit Wimbledon Village again and went to a different pub. Sitting at the next table were Brad Gilbert and Chris Fowler, ESPN announcers.
I’m off now to California…my plane left quite late so I’m not sure if I’ll get home today, Wednesday, or tomorrow morning…but I’ll get back to the USA today!