Friday, July 6, 2012

On Wimbledon and tennis dominance

I'd like to first congratulate Andy Murray on becoming the first British man to reach a Wimbledon final since 1938, way back when Neville Chamberlain was espousing appeasement on the European continent. Yeah, it's been a while. And if you know anything about me, you'll know that I've got some familiarity with long sports droughts.

Of course, Murray has his sights set a little higher, hoping to become the first British champion since 1936. He'll have to beat Roger Federer to do so, and as former Sports Illustrated journalist Joe Posnanski points out, that'll be a feat that's easier said than done.

Wow. That is some serious dominance. In case you were wondering, the one outlier was the 2009 U.S. Open, in which Argentine Juan Martin del Potro beat both Nadal and Federer to take the title. He hasn't reached another grand slam final (or even a semifinal) since.

For comparison's sake, over in golf land, there have been a staggering 19 different major winners since '06, including guys like Louis Oosthuizen and Keegan Bradley. Only four players (Tiger Woods, Padraig Harrington, Angel Cabrera, Phil Mickelson) have won multiple majors during that time, none more than Woods' 4.

Notably, Federer and Nadal also won the final 3 grand slam titles in 2005, making it a run of 28 out of 29 for the group. They've also garnered 15 runner-up finishes since '06, meaning that three men have combined for 77% of the 52 available spots in the last 26 grand slam finals. Only 8 other players have even reached a final since '06, and 5 of those 8 made only one--such is the dominance of the Fed/Nadal/Djoko triad. (The three men who have made multiple finals? Andy Roddick and Robin Soderling with two each... and Andy Murray, now appearing in his fourth.)

Simply put, the dominance of the current tennis kings is unmatched by anything in golf or tennis history--Nicklaus/Palmer, Agassi/Sampras, Connors/Borg/McEnroe, nothing comes close. The only thing that's even in the same ballpark is the reign of Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen (toss in Gene Sarazen if you want)... but that was a different era (and sport) entirely.

So let's enjoy this current tennis era for what it is, and realize that a win by Murray on Sunday would not only be historic--it would be almost miraculous, breaking the British drought in what is perhaps the unlikeliest of decades. Go Andy.


No comments:

Post a Comment