Intrigue Beyond the Clouds

For ten days it seemed like every match took two or more days to complete, not exactly the best way to hold fan interest. Put aside debates about installing roofs, or playing on the middle Sunday, three intriguing stories are brewing as the fortnight reaches its pinnacle.

On the men’s side of the draw, the two favorites are on a collision course for yet another Grand Slam finals match up, but the intrigue stems from the extremely diverse paths through the tournament. Roger Federer, who shockingly lost a set in today’s quarterfinal triumphant, timed the weather well, advanced to the quarters thanks to an injury withdrawal, and had almost a week of rest between matches. Meanwhile, mother nature, and an unsuspecting opponent, wreaked havoc with Rafael Nadal, pushing his third round match to five sets over the course of four days thanks to rain. Nadal followed the five set victory, with another dramatic five setter that saw him comeback from two sets down. Think wear and tear would slow him down think again. On the fifth consecutive day Nadal seemed to gain strength, winning in straight sets to advance to the semis.

With American Andy Roddick falling in disappointing fashion, a recurring theme in Grand Slam tournaments, another finals appearance seems inevitable for the modern day grass court king Federer. Nadal still has work to do, with No. 4 Novak Djokovic waiting in the semi’s, but he is one step away from setting up a dramatic rematch. Sunday would mark the seventh straight day for Nadal, some sort of record I am sure. A second straight Winbledon final would solidify the burgeoning rivalry. A Nadal win, in the tournament Federer owns, similar to Nadal in Paris, takes it to the next level.

The woman dealt with the same weather issues, but none endured the suffering of Nadal. Following the footsteps of her sister’s Australian Open run, standing in the finals is three-time champ Venus Williams. The 31st seed entered the tournament after battling numerous injuries the past few years, essentially falling off the map of women’s tennis. We all know the talent of the Williams sisters, and 31st seed or not, Venus is a threat to win any given day if she plays her best. The Cinderella script is all but finished, as top seeded Justine Henin fell to Marion Bartoli today, meaning Williams will be the favorite to win, despite the low ranking. A fourth Wimbledon trophy would put her in elite territory, not to mention the unbelievable comeback story.

Finally, Breakfast at Wimbledon is the number tennis event. The time of day, the tradition and properness of the All-England Club, the legendary match-ups between the grass court greats, and best of all, Bud Collins behind the mic. Sunday marks Collins last Wimbledon. Debate still lingers on if NBC is firing him, or if it is mutual, but needless to say Collins is a tennis institution. The indistinguishable voice, the grandfatherly bow-tie, and an encyclopedia of modern day tennis history. Bud Collins is to Wimbledon what Vin Scully is to baseball, Keith Jackson to college football, and Pat Summerall was to pro football. Though not nearly as popular in the states as the major sports, Wimbledon is a great event, and the live coverage of the championships just makes sense. Bud Collins helped make it an NBC institution. He will be missed and deserves a great send off.

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