Tennis

Monday Digest: Djokovic, Rybakina rise above at Wimbledon

Somehow, history is always made at Wimbledon.

It seems fitting for the game’s oldest, most famous event whose entire identity is wrapped up in its history. And yet somehow it is incredible how year after year, it never fails to disappointment.

There were many different kinds of history made at this year’s Championships, most starkly on finals weekend with the victories of two players at very different phases in their careers.

Here’s what you need to know.

In Case You Missed It: Djokovic, Rybakina re-write the history books.

After the final result at the French Open was essentially what everyone expected before the tournament started, at least the same was only half true at Wimbledon.

Many people expected Novak Djokovic to win his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title and the Serb did exactly that, beating Nick Kyrgios in four sets to claim the title. Djokovic had to rally from a set down in his last three matches at the event, including a two-set comeback in the quarter-finals against Jannik Sinner.

Djokovic joins elite company with his seventh Wimbledon title, tying Pete Sampras and William Renshaw for the second-most men’s singles titles at the All England Club. He also moves ahead of Roger Federer on the men’s Grand Slam singles titles list for the first time with his 21st major win.

If there was something unexpected on the men’s side, it was that Djokovic’s finals opponent was not Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard’s bid for a Calendar Slam came to an abrupt and unexpected end when he withdrew prior to his semifinal against Kyrgios with an abdominal injury after labouring through a dramatic five-set quarter-final thriller against Taylor Fritz.

Kyrgios, who was competing in his first Grand Slam singles final, was the first unseeded man to make a Grand Slam final in 14 years (since Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the 2008 Australian Open).

It looked quite early in the second week like there would be a first-time major champion on the women’s side when only two former Grand Slam singles champions reached the second week. That was then guaranteed when Elena Rybakina took out Simona Halep in the semi-finals, setting an a battle of first-time finalists with Ons Jabeur in the title match.

Rybakina not only took out the last major champion standing, but finished the job by getting her hands on the trophy, defeating the third seed in three sets to become the first person, male or female, representing Kazakshstan to win a Grand Slam singles title.

Even though she was not victorious, Jabeur made some history of her own, becoming the first Arab and the first person, male or female, from North Africa to reach a Grand Slam singles final. Jabeur, the third seed, was the only Top 10 women’s player to reach the quarter-finals.

Gabriela Dabrowski was the lone Canadian to reach the second week at the All England Club, although her stay did not last long as she and partner John Peers were beaten in the quarter-finals of the mixed doubles by Mate Pavic and Sania Mirza in a tight three-setter.

Another final for Victoria Mboko and Kayla Cross in a Grand Slam Juniors tournament! What a doubles team. 🇨🇦

Today was again not what they were hoping for, losing in a tough 6-3, 4-6, 9-11 match at @Wimbledon, but their time will come for sure!

Keep fighting. 💪💪 pic.twitter.com/ARNpGtUZIH

— Tennis Canada (@TennisCanada) July 9, 2022

The last Canadians standing were actually in the juniors, as Victoria Mboko and Kayla Cross reached their second junior Grand Slam doubles final of the year. They only dropped one set on their way to the final, where they lost 11-9 in a third-set match tiebreak.

Mboko also reached the semi-finals of the singles, losing to top seed and eventual champion Liv Hovde of the United States, who had rallied from a set down to beat Cross in the third round.  

What to Watch: Félix looks for strong grass finish            

Despite Wimbledon now being in the rear-view mirror, there is one final stop on the grass-court swing this week and it includes some Canadian content.

The 2022 grass season did not go as well for Félix Auger-Aliassime as in previous years, but the Canadian has a chance to end it in style in Newport where he is the top seed at the Hall of Fame Open, the lone grass-court event in North America on the ATP Tour.

Auger-Aliassime is in an Aussie-heavy section of the draw. He is guaranteed to play a man from Australia, either Jordan Thompson or Jason Kubler, who reached the last sixteen as a qualifier at Wimbledon, after his first-round bye and could meet eighth seed James Duckworth in the quarter-finals.

Third seed Alexander Bublik and eight-time grass-court titlist Andy Murray are potential semifinal opponents for Auger-Aliassime.

John Isner is the second seed. Auger-Aliassime’s Wimbledon conqueror Maxime Cressy is fourth and is in the bottom half of the draw.

This week is the only one on the 2022 ATP calendar with events on both grass and clay.

Some of the tour’s best are returning to the red dirt in Bastad, Sweden, including Roland-Garros runner-up Casper Ruud and world No. 8 Andrey Rublev for the 250-level Nordea Open.

Everything on the WTA tour is on clay this week with a pair of 250 events in Lausanne, Switzerland and Budapest Hungary.

Danielle Collins and Belinda Bencic lead the field in Lausanne, while Barbora Krejcikova is the top seed in Budapest.

Under the Radar: Another win for Shaw

Canadian wheelchair tennis star Rob Shaw has been on fire in 2022. After waiting three years for a title, the North Bay-native picked up his fourth victory of the season last week, claiming the title at the German Open Berlin.

Shaw was the top seed and beat Francisco Cayulef 6-3, 6-1 in the final. The Canadian only dropped one set in the tournament and only lost more than two games in a set twice on his way to the title.

The other strong result on the ITF circuit last week was Benjamin Sigouin reaching the doubles final at the M15 event in Waco, Texas.

He and American partner Max Kiger upset the second and fourth seeded pairs on their way to the final, where they lost 10-7 in the match tiebreak.

Another Canadian, Chih Chi Huang, reached the singles quarter-finals in Waco, losing to the eventual champion Adam Walton of Australia.

You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.



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