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Monday, July 22, 2024, 1:37 pm

Monday, July 22, 2024, 1:37 pm

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Among favourites, the Big Four are not for the first time in 20 years.

Among favourites, the Big Four are not for the first time in 20 years.
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With the world tennis circuit undergoing a generational shift, Wimbledon 2024 has begun. There isn’t a Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer because the latter is on a lengthy farewell lap without stopping at SW19. Federer retired. Arriving in London with damaged bodies, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, both 37, are nearing the twilight of their professional careers. While Murray had his back surgically repaired just a few days ago, Djokovic is recuperating from knee surgery. Only Murray and his brother Jamie will compete in doubles at what is expected to be his final Wimbledon match.

As a result, it is possible that the chokehold that the “Big Four” had created by winning 19 of the 20 editions between 2003 and 2023 will be relaxed.

For the first time since 1996, neither of the renowned Williams sisters will be competing among women. Venus and Serena finished as runners-up eight times and won 12 singles titles since 2000. Serena hasn’t played since September 2022, while Venus hasn’t since March 2024. They were hardly on a winning streak in the year or two before their most recent games.

Nevertheless, their overall excellence has been so great that every grass-court career is evaluated against them.

When it comes to naming the tennis greats of the future, Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz has made the most convincing assertion. He defeated Djokovic in five thrilling sets to win his second Major, Wimbledon, in 2023 as a 20-year-old (US Open 2022, the first). This past month, he advanced even farther by winning the French Open. Jannik Sinner, the tall Italian who won the Australian Open in January and has methodically ascended to the top of the singles rankings, is not far behind. The 22-year-old, who placed quarterfinal and semifinal in his last two Wimbledon appearances, demonstrated his ability to contend on the slick courts by winning his first-ever grass-court championship in Halle, Germany.

However, Sinner’s credentials will be put to the test as early as the second round when he plays Matteo Berrettini, the 2021 national team and the epitome of a grasscourt player. There are several women vying for the position of succession, whereas men seem to transmit the baton with ease. Iga Swiatek, a five-time Slam champion, is without a doubt the best, but she still has room to improve on the grass court. Coco Gau·, the second seed, is most successful in the fourth round of Wimbledon, having first advanced there as a 15-year-old qualifier in 2019. Furthermore, the field is open following the withdrawal of third-seeded and two-time semifinalist Aryna Sabalenka.

 

ABHISHEK VERMA


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