Wimbledon 2012: Down to Two

The Championships at Wimbledon, or simply Wimbledon, started just about two weeks ago and has been a good tournament so far. It got even better today, with the men’s semi-finals being completed at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Southwest London. Now, I’ll admit I haven’t been watching as much of this tournament as I have in past years, but today’s semi-finals had all the intrigue that the sport of tennis could ask for and more. Four men began the day in contention to win the oldest tennis tournament in the world and two men, the #2 ranked player in the world the Swiss Roger Federer and the #4 ranked Scottish Andy Murray, remain with a chance to play Sunday morning for the Grand Slam title.

For people who don’t watch too much tennis, Wimbledon is considered by many to be the most prestigious tournament annually. It is to tennis what the Masters and Augusta National are to the golf world. It’s a big deal. The beautiful grass courts and impressive scenery both at the All-England Club and in the surrounding areas owned by very wealthy individuals is really a sight that anyone who loves to travel (whether you enjoy sports or not, and if you are reading this I hope you do) needs to check out at some point in their life. I had the chance to attend Wimbledon in 2008 with Florida State University’s International Sport Management program and it’s one the experiences that I’ll never forget. Of course Federer, Murray, Novak Djokovic, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga were there on business today, but I bet you even they appreciate the atmosphere involved in such a fantastic tournament that exemplifies all that is right with the sport of tennis.

Roger Federer celebrates. (Rebecca Naden/PA)

The first semi-final match of the day showcased Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. This was also the most highly anticipated match of the tournament so far, with Djokovic currently residing atop the ATP ranks. Unfortunately for Djokovic he was thoroughly outplayed by his competitor today as Federer beat him handily (6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3) under the roof on Centre Court to advance to his 8th career Wimbledon final (he is 6-1 all-time so far). Should Federer win on Sunday he will retake the world #1 ranking from Djokovic while also equaling the legend Pete Sampras’ record of 286 weeks as the top ranked player. After the match, Federer said, “there’s obviously a lot on the line for me in terms of winning here, the all-time Grand Slam record, world number 1. I’m also going into that match with some pressure, but I’m excited about it. That’s what I play for.” True words of a champion.

Today’s second semi-final match wasn’t as fascinating to a neutral fan of the sport, but it did involve the “hometown” boy in Andy Murray. Murray, who while born in Glasgow, Scotland now calls London his home. All of Great Britain treats Murray as one of their own, and minutes after today’s match ended with Murray defeating the Frenchman Tsonga 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, called the victory “great news” and added that he will be watching the match on Sunday and will be rooting on Murray and that he wishes him the “best of luck”. After seeing how the whole territory gets behind Murray, it makes me wonder why Americans are not like that with our stars, though I guess you could say that all the Tiger Woods fans were just as rabid when he was dominant in the past.

Again, as someone who appreciates tennis but doesn’t follow it as closely as I probably should, this final match on Sunday is about as good as it gets. You have Roger Federer looking to make history, while some local kid tries to stop him to win his first ever Grand Slam title. Federer and Murray have met 15 times in the past, all on hard courts, with Murray holding the slight 8-7 advantage, but playing on grass is a separate animal. The most recent encounter between the two was in the 2012 Dubai final where Federer was victorious, but come Sunday morning none of that matters. Each player will have to play their best if they want to raise the silver gilt cup trophy and pocket over a million British pounds, not a bad pay day for a few hours out on the court.

Andy Murray has some pressure on him as the local guy. (Photo courtesy of tennisearth.com)

The men’s Wimbledon final is at 9 AM EST on Sunday morning (ESPN) and I encourage you to check it out whether or not you are a fan of tennis. There are plenty of storylines that I didn’t even get into with this entry and I’m sure that if you decide to tune in to this match you’ll probably gain a significant amount of respect and admiration for these guys laying it all on the line to be crowned the champion of Wimbledon. And if you are so inclined, the women’s final is tomorrow morning at 9 AM also, pitting Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland against Serena Williams of the United States, which should be a great match in its own right. Enjoy the tennis, folks.

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