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HindustanTimes Tue,25 Nov 2014
Advantage, the rookies
Hindustan Times
New Delhi, June 27, 2013
First Published: 18:40 IST(27/6/2013)
Last Updated: 07:10 IST(28/6/2013)

"Tennis is the perfect combination of violent action taking place in an atmosphere of tranquility". Well, this year, the tranquil atmosphere of Wimbledon was broken very early in the championships with top seeds falling like nine pins.

If little-known Belgian Steve Darcis served a 109-mph ace against the fifth seed and former champion Rafael Nadal on the opening day to win the match, on Wednesday, it was the turn of the unfancied Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky's to halt defending champion Roger Federer.

And it didn't stop there. Sixth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga retired hurt while Marin Cilic (No 10) withdrew. In the women's singles draw too, there were major upsets: Victoria Azarenka (No 2), Maria Sharapova (No 3), Sara Errani (No 5) and Caroline Wozniacki (No 9) have been bundled out of the tournament.

Are we seeing an unprecedented shift in power in tennis? Is a new generation taking over from the likes of Federers and Serenas? Well, lower-ranked players have nothing to lose when they take on a 'big name' and they give their best. But, as they say, the devil is in the detail, and we must not overlook those and jump to conclusions.

Sharapova and Wozniacki both needed injury timeouts while Azarenka's nasty tumble on the first day took a toll on her. Tsonga too had a tough time with his injury.

However, this is not to belittle the efforts of the giant killers: Michelle Larcher de Brito from Portugal who defeated Sharapova and Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic who demolished Wozniacki respectively played beautifully, drawing every little ounce of their talent and strength to win their matches. It was their day. They played it right. As did Darcis and Stakhovsky.

It's been great going for the underdogs in Wimbledon, but it will still take some time for them to take over from the superstars of today.

At Wimbledon, when players walking out onto Centre Court they pass under these two lines from 'If' by Rudyard Kipling: 'If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, And treat those two impostors just the same'.

Nadal and Federer, both have passed under that board many times, will hopefully remember this and come back with renewed vigour next year.


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