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Curtain falls on ‘crazy’ Wimbledon

Order was restored at Wimbledon when the top two men in world tennis, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, made it through to the final. The 13 days prior, saw one of the crazier Wimbledon championships unfold.

A record number of seeds lost in early rounds and a record amount of retirements and withdrawals ensued. Arguably the most shocking of all were the exits of two-time champion Rafael Nadal and seven-time champion Roger Federer, in the first and second round respectively.

There was a lot of speculation as to the reasons behind these crazy developments, with the ‘quality’ of the grass courts at the forefront of most discussions.

Many players felt that the grass was slicker in 2013 than in previous years. However, the Wimbledon groundsmen maintained that the courts were in good condition and not the cause for an increase of injury. While it’s tough for me to pass comment as I didn’t play on every court, the ones I played on felt the same to me as in previous years.

I think the greater reason behind all the commotion is a bit of bad luck infused with the nature of grass court tennis and the grueling ATP tour schedule.

The gap between the clay court and grass season is very short. It really doesn’t give players a lot of time to properly make the switch. While everyone is in the same boat and make the best of the situation, a bit more time to adjust would go a long way in helping players feel more comfortable on the grass.

There were a few players who either didn’t play a grass court tournament before Wimbledon or got in very little match practice. It will be interesting to see the effect of an additional week being added to the grass court season from 2015.

One player who certainly isn’t complaining about anything is the new Wimbledon champion Andy Murray. Fans across the world, and especially in the UK, are celebrating the first British winner in 77 years. Murray played a terrific match, certainly saving his best tennis of the fortnight for the final.

Other than creating some edge-of-your-seat drama in closing out the match, Murray was on top of Djokovic from the first game. He was down at times – a break in the second and the third – but I think he had a little more motivation (if that’s possible) than Novak to win this particular title. He is a well-deserved champion.

My 2013 grass court season had its up and downs. I was happy to reach the third round for the first time in my career at Wimbledon. However, I was disappointed to come out on the losing end of a tough third round match.

My opening match was against Belgium’s Olivier Rochus. The match courts of Wimbledon are slightly faster than the practice courts at Aorangi. During the weekend before the tournament, each player is only allowed 30 minutes of practice time on the match courts. Thus a bit of an adjustment needs to be made in that first match. However, I felt I made the adjustment and got through quite comfortably against a slightly injured opponent.

My second round clash was a little trickier. Michal Przysiezny has been around for a while now and his style of play is suited to grass. I was down a break in the second set but other than that I was happy with the way I played. Having negotiated the first two rounds, I was content with the way I was feeling on the grass ahead of my third round encounter.

I was seeded 27th for Wimbledon, which meant that the first time I would play somebody seeded higher than myself would be during the third round. While there are no easy matches (as we all saw during the Championships) having a seeded spot does help protect you from playing the top guns in the opening rounds.

I have played Tomas Berdych a few times now, all at Grand Slams or Masters Series. As luck would have it, that trend continued at Wimbledon. It was our fifth encounter this year.

I got off to a good start, winning the first set and feeling quite comfortable the way the points were being played. I had an early opportunity to break in the second set but couldn’t convert. I felt this was a bit of a turning point in the match, as the momentum subsequently switched and he won the next two sets. I started playing better in the fourth and served for the set but I couldn’t close it out. He played his best tennis when it mattered most and took his chances better than I did.

While it always tough losing to any opponent; losing to the same person multiple times is even tougher. I knew facing Berdych would be a tough challenge but I don’t let past encounters interfere with my thought process. I see each encounter as an opportunity: An opportunity to challenge myself to overcome any obstacles.

Although Berdych has proven himself as one of the best players in the world, I believe that I’m getting closer to getting the better of him and will continue to work hard and be patient until that occurs.

Part of the reason Wimbledon is so special is because the grass court season is so short. I won’t play on grass again until next year.

While there is a lot of tennis to be played before then, I look forward to when the grass court season comes around again. I believe that my game is ever-improving on grass and by next year I’ll be a little closer to reaching the pinnacle of our sport – lifting the treasured Wimbledon trophy.

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