It was very saddening to see the Wimbledon men's singles semi finals get underway without the great six times champion, Roger Federer, who suffered, somewhat ignominiously for him, a second successive Quarter Final defeat at the All England Club.
Prior to his defeat at the hands of Frenchman, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, an equally sad tale had been witnessed in the Ladies Singles, with both Serena and Venus Williams leaving the tournament earlier than expected. In their cases it is possibly easier to understand, Serena had not played a tournament since winning Wimbledon 12 months ago, while older sister, Venus, who has won the title here five times, had not played a competitive match for five months. At least those two are back on the road and will no doubt be big threats at the US Open which gets underway late next month.
Federer meanwhile will not give up just yet, we should remember he appeared in the final at Roland Garros just a few short weeks ago and he will go to Flushing Meadows as one of the top three favourites to win, which for him would be a sixth title there.
However, on the whole, the early departures of Federer and both Williams sisters from the tournament does signal the decline of these three dominant forces in the sport over the past decade.
Other shock early exits were the Ladies number one and two seeds, Carolina Wozniacki and Vera Zvonareva, but perhaps their defeats are understandable given the very open feel of ladies tennis in 2011, particularly with the Williams sisters and Kim Clijsters missing for all or most of it.
Wozniacki is one of several ladies in recent times who have made the number spot their own with solid performances in lesser events, but who fail to turn that seemingly good form into winning form in Grand Slam’s. The same applies to Zvonareva, although she has at least made one or two Grand Slam finals recently. The fact that Wozniacki got dumped in the last 16 by the diminutive, Dominika Cibukova, who was only seeded 24 and that Zvonareva did not even make the fourth round having suffered a one sided straight sets defeat by the 32nd seed Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria, who has hardly won a match all year speaks volumes as to the overall weakness of the Ladies game currently.
Perhaps the biggest shock in the men's draw came when Swede Robin Soderling, the number five speed met his demise at the hands of 18 year old qualifier from Australia, Bernard Tomic. In fairness to Soderling he was suffering from some sort of viral infection, but it is doubtful he would have won even if fully fit as Tomic became the nearest thing to a sensation that Wimbledon had this year. The young Australian, who has been playing on the Challenger Tour this year looks certain to be a star of the future and he can be regarded as somewhat unlucky to have lost in four sets in the quarter final to the number two seed Novak Djokovic.
His performance will do wonders for his current world ranking of 158 and he should rise enough to be able to make several tournaments on the main tour for the rest of the season. He is a definately one to mark down for the future.
There should also be a word of encouragement for Britain’s potential ladies star of the future, Laura Robson. The 17 year old put up a very plucky display against former champion and this year’s finalist, Maria Sharapova in the second round. Although going down in two sets, she led and even took charge of the first set before Sharapova staged her comeback but even then Robson gave a really good account of herself which won her great praise from her opponent. There are definately reasons to be optimistic although Robson will need to work on her speed around the court and her agility.