EMBRACING THE WIMBLEDON GLOW – NOTES FROM TENNIS HEAVEN

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Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

THIS MUST BE HEAVEN: The most beautiful player in the world glides with balletic ease across the lawn of the most beautiful court in the world at London’s most beautiful time of day, when the setting sun floods Centre Court with an embracing glow, and you think you’re in tennis heaven. And you are.

VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF ROGER: Has there ever been an elite male tennis player with more variety and shotmaking skills than Federer? He scoops up forehands on the half-bounce and creates winners. He hits authoritative backhand volleys that bring to mind Stefan Edberg. He blasts a corkscrew overhead and unleashes an almost desperate forehand pass that bends your mind. Then there is a drop shot that has the delicacy of a December snowflake. And on the next point, there comes a lunging (what a wrist!) flick backhand pass from the baseline, followed by a powerful forehand return of serve and a volley that is so simple and relaxed and yet so wonderful as it dips into a far corner. Finally, at crunch time, he unleashes a 107 mph curling ace to save a break point, followed by a 116 mph power blast to the “T.” That’s Roger – so smooth and yet so fierce.

JUDGING ROGER: While skipping through British TV it’s hard to miss Judge Rinder, who’s England’s answer to Judge Judy. He told Radio Wimbledon that when it comes to tennis, he’s just “a thin enthusiast.” But then he gushed, “Wimbledon is the most magical place to be and Roger just has magic hands. He completely sparkles with a quiet charisma – he’s mesmerizing. He changed the way the game is played. He just caresses the ball. Underlining it all there is a balletic quality.”

ANSWER THE QUESTION: Inside Tennis asked Tomas Berdych, “If the tennis gods came up to you and said ‘Tomas, you are such a great player, so please, please tell us one weakness this Federer guy has, what would you say?” Berdych twitched, he mumbled, he said it was a good question and proceeded to not say anything.

JUST WONDERING: Where would tennis be without Federer and Nadal and Venus and Serena?

VIVA LA DIFFERENCE: The crowd used to come to McEnroe matches to see his epic meltdowns. They come to Federer performances for his graceful movement, astonishing shots and artistic flicks…The Cilic-Querrey semi featured two superb athletes trying to overwhelm each other with a kind of grim artless power. When Roger played Berdych in the other semi, an artistry lit up Centre Court.

CURIOUS QUESTIONS: Berdych was asked if Roger has an “X” factor that just doesn’t fade with age. The Czech said yes and added that Roger is “just proving his greatness.”

TENNIS IN A WORLD OF GIANTS: Big serves, power forehands, short points, narrow margins, lots of tiebreaks – welcome to modern grass court tennis as played by large men. It’s no accident that Croat Marin Cilic and Sam Querrey slugged their way in 2015 to the longest match ever played in one day at Wimbledon.

In the past year, Querrey has beaten three of the big four: Djokovic and then Murray – both at Wimbledon – and Nadal in Mexico. But in his eleven-year career, this was Sam’s first Grand Slam semi. He’s only No. 28 in the world. Cilic is No. 6, and he’s won a Grand Slam: the US Open. The Croat had won all four of his matches against Sam and three of them were on grass.

Today, in a bim-bam-boom! battle of 6’6″ towers of power, both wearing Fila, the Santa Monican Querrey raced out to a one-set lead after an elderly woman became ill during the tiebreak and Cilic inexplicably muffed two backhands to give the Californian the first set.

But Marin has only lost to two Americans in his career – James Blake and Jack Sock. And he is just a better player than Sam. Amped up and intense, Cilic’s pedigree eventually emerged, as his force and will prevailed. He lifted his game, exploded with power, excelled at key moments and scored a hard fought 6(6)-7, 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-5 win over his slightly laid back Southern California foe. The smart, likable 28-year old will now face Federer in his second Slam final.

LIKE A ROLLING STONE – JAGGERS ON TENNIS: Every once in a while a Jagger makes waves in tennis. Mick Jagger’s ex-wife Bianca once discounted casual sex, saying, “Unless there’s some emotional tie, I’d rather play tennis.” Lindsay Davenport’s son is named Jagger. John McEnroe confided, “When you’re twenty-six, who are you gonna listen to, Jagger and Nicholson or some old farts in the USTA?” Before the woman’s semis, Mick Jagger tweeted, “Konta makes the semis. 1st British woman in 39 years. I never made it to a Grand Slam.”

PENCIL SAM IN: Inside Tennis reminded Querrey that he reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year and the semis this year. Then we asked, “So what about next year?” Sam replied, with a glint in his eye, “Pencil me in for the finals.”

WHAT A RUN: Others may be beaten or ailing with pain, but Roger has won the Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami and now is in the Wimbledon final. And that’s not too shabby for an old geezer.

THE MOST IMPORTANT TAKEAWAY FROM WIMBLEDON – BE NICE TO MIRKA: Roger Federer confided, “If Mirka said, ‘I don’t want to travel anymore,’ that’s it, my career is over. I can’t do this without her.” Okay fans, here’s your assignment: Be sweet and effusive towards Mrs. Federer, the most important woman in men’s tennis.

FEDERER’S NUMBERS: In Sunday’s match against Marin Cilic, Roger will be in his 11th Wimbledon final. He will be seeking his second Slam of the year, a record eighth Wimbledon and his 19th Slam overall. After Ken Rosewall, he will be Wimbledon’s oldest finalist.

GO FIGURE: Federer said having success will be critical for him continuing to play tennis and he hasn’t even thought about the 202O Tokyo Olympics. He added that today’s Berdych semi was his toughest match, but he was calm beforehand, didn’t panic during the three sets and came up with the goods when it mattered…At the Australian Open, Roger’s backhand famously led him to triumph at crunch time. Today, when facing critical break points in the third set, Federer hit four incredible serves in row…Roger said it’s special when Sampras, Borg, Laver, Rosewall or the Royal Family show up to watch him in the Royal Box.

BATTLE OF THE SEXES: Look for a potentially wonderful movie about the pivotal 1973 Battle Of The Sexes between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. It’s slated to hit the big screen in October and will feature the brilliant Emma Stone as Billie Jean King and Steve Carell as Bobby Riggs. Reportedly, an inspired Sarah Silverman “kills it” as publisher Gladys Heldman.

BRITISH WORDPLAY: Three British fans on Thursday’s queue featured T-shirts that said, “You Konta Be Serious.” “You Konta Touch This” and “I Konta Believe This.”

WHY CAN’T WE JUST GET ALONG? When asked about his five-minute meeting with Golden State Warrior Draymond Green, Sam Querrey said, “Draymond is cool, but I’m a Lakers fan so I’m not going to be nice to him.”

AT LAST: ANOTHER TENNIS CONNECTION WITH BEACH VOLLEYBALL: At the 2008 London Olympics, John McEnroe was smitten with the passion of the crowds at the beach volleyball competition and insisted that tennis should learn from the lively, free-form and sandy sport. Now, Vika Azarenka has said that as a mother playing sports, her inspiration was beach volleyball legend Kerri Walsh Jennings.

EITHER WAY: Colleen, a silver-haired eighty-year-old from Sherbourne, England was asked what player in her 55 years of coming to Wimbledon she most favored. She replied, “Agassi with long hair or with no hair at all.”

A STAMPEDE WITHOUT THE BULL: While Spain has its running of the bulls in Pamplona, Wimbledon has the stampede of its queue each day – a civil, but nonetheless epic scene, where thousands briskly rush to get their favorite seats. And that’s no bull.

GO USA: An American will win a Wimbledon crown this year. American Ann Li will play Claire Liu – who like Querrey is from Thousand Oaks, California – for the girls’ singles title. American Partrick Kypson is in the boys’ final.

THAT’S THE WAY THE GARBINE CRUMBLES: Virginia Wade said that “When [Garbine] Muguruza is expected to win that’s when she crumbles.” So things may be looking good for the Spaniard. Just about everyone is picking Venus.

TAKING ATTENDANCE: Rocker Eric Clapton was on hand today, and up in The Royal Box, not far from Lord and Lady Hall of Birkenhead, was Bee Gee Barry Gibb.

QUOTEBOOK:

“Maintaining the traditions is as important as the events themselves.” – The Daily Telegraph

“The only thing I don’t like is the rules.” – Fabio Fognini on Wimbledon

“He’s the 6’6″ American with the Hollywood serve.” – The BBC on Querrey

“Her arms and legs go on forever.” – Virginia Wade on Venus Williams

“I was going to say Roger was playing the best tennis of his life. But he always plays that way.” – Boris Becker

“Djokovic keeps moaning and groaning…He was like a little baby. He just doesn’t look that comfortable or composed.” – Wayne Ferreira

“Murray has been relegated to sideshow status by the new heroine of British tennis.” – The Telegraph

“You need the people around you to be wise old owls.” – Barry Cowan on tennis’ support teams

“We need a superstar from America.” – Mats Wilander

“These are selfish men out there.” John McEnroe on the Big Four

“I said the sooner she loses, the sooner we can get on the practice court.” – Pat Cash after his pupil Coco Vaneweghe lost in the Wimbledon quarterfinals

“He has a little of the old man walk.” – Mats Wilander on Andy Murray

“I can barely speak one language.” – Andy Murray on his linguistic skills

SAY IT ISN’T SO: There is a 14-page guidebook on how broadcasters should apply for Wimbledon credentials.

HEADLINES:

ANDY MURRAY: THE FEMINIST THAT TENNIS NEEDS

SAM LIKE IT NOT!

KONTA STOP ME NOW

OUR GIRLS KNOW ORDINARY JO

JO KONTA-ATTACK!

Photo by Roland Harrison/Action Plus via Getty Images

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