Sliding doors at Wimbledon… one star fades, another one fires up…
This year’s Wimbledon tournament has kicked off with the largest convoy of Australian singles contenders since 1995. With three men winning their spots in the draw through qualifying matches, Australia will see eleven men and five women take the court under the green and gold, and the spread of players is diverse.
As the current highest ranked female for Australia, Sam Stosur looks to be our best shot at taking out the women’s title. But history is not on her side. This will represent Stosur’s thirteenth occasion competing at Wimbledon, but only twice has she advanced beyond the second round.
Stosur hit the court on day two of the 129th Wimbledon, defeating Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic in straight sets; 6-4, 6-4. Round two saw a match up against Polish world no. 107 Ursula Radwanska, and performing as she should Stosur won comfortably; 6-3, 6-4. Advancing into the third round, Stosur is a win away from her best performance at a Wimbledon, but her run at the title will not come easily with both world no. 4 Maria Sharapova and world no. 6 Lucie Safarova lurking in Stosur’s quarter of the draw.
For the men, Round one yielded mixed results. Aussie veteran Lleyton Hewitt couldn’t make it through to round two of his last Wimbledon championship, going down to Finish Jarkko Nieminen in a five set thriller that lasted over four hours. The 34 year old father of four bade farewell to Wimbledon after seventeen appearances, with eight grass court titles under his belt; second only to Roger Federer’s fifteen.
Nick Kyrgios came into the tournament after a less than ideal preparation – suffering from a lingering virus as well as separating from his coach, Todd Larkham, just one week out from his opening match. Despite this, Krygios managed to defeat both his round one and round two opponents in straight sets – but not without controversy.
Kyrgios entered an ugly spat with match officials in his round one match after a contentious call, threatening to cease playing the match until the point was replayed before being overheard muttering the words “dirty scum”. In round two, Kyrgios again clashed with officials, after a linesman reported audible cussing coming from Kyrgios throughout the match.
Kyrgios is undeniable a player of talent, making a name for himself at his debut Wimbledon appearance in 2014 by knocking out then world no. 1 Rafael Nadal in four sets and becoming the first male singles debutant to reach the quarter finals of the tournament in ten years.
The twenty year old is reminiscent of a young Hewitt, not only in terms of early success but also in terms of demeanour. The brief period he has spent so far in the world of tennis’ elite has been marred by his brash behaviour, with his emotions openly displayed through his frequent on-court spats with officials and spectators. Hewitt suffered through a few controversies of his own during the early stages of his career, but as Hewitt rose of the top of the men’s tennis rankings he matured in both his game and his behaviour. With Hewitt now making way for the next Aussie to burn his way to the top, one can only wonder at whether Kyrgios can learn from his world champion predecessor, or if his unchecked attitude may just lead to his demise.