7 things we learned from thrilling Wimbledon Championships

Novak Djokovic celebrates defeating Roger Federer in the men's singles final match of the Wimbledon Championships in London. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

Finely manicured grass, royalty, English strawberries and cream, and heart palpitating tennis.

Such is the standard of the Wimbledon Championships, the sport’s oldest and most prestigious tournament.

With the action now complete from the All England Club, it’s time to reflect on the third grand slam of the 2019 season.

1. Roger and Novak play a match for the ages

What does it take to win a best-of-five match against Novak Djokovic?

Ice, meet Veins.

Djokovic captured an absolute thriller over tennis legend Roger Federer 7-6, 1-6, 7-6, 4-6, 13-12(3) in a four-hour-57-minute encounter with all the standard qualities of a Shakespearean piece — high-stakes atmosphere, heart-stopping tension, emotional pitfalls, and a looming tragedy to befall one of the two great men.

It was the first singles match to invoke Wimbledon’s new tie-break rule at 12-all, and it looked to be Djokovic who would succumb to defeat against Federer’s sublime shot-making.

Federer served for the title at 8-7 in the fifth, but Djokovic ruthlessly stared down two championship points, taking one approach and whipping a clutch forehand, cross-court passing shot.

After exchanging holds of serve, Djokovic gained the upper hand for a third time in a tie-break, closing on a Federer error on the forehand side.

Djokovic is the first player to win Wimbledon after saving championship points since Bob Falkenburg did it in 1948. He’s now seized four of the last five majors, and upped his total to 16, just four behind Federer’s all-time mark of 20 and two back of Rafael Nadal.

With the U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows six weeks away, it’s hard to imagine anyone stopping him.

2. Simona is no one-slam wonder

Simona Halep said she cleared her conscience and was finally able to play free of pressure last season after she hoisted her first grand slam title at Roland Garros.

Fast-forward to July of 2019 and she’s now a two-time major champion.

Halep delivered a 56-minute masterclass, defeating Serena Williams 6-2, 6-2. Her relentless counter-punching, clean shot-making, and court coverage proved overwhelming.

Serena offered effusive praise for Halep in defeat.

“I just think my opponent played unbelievable,” Williams said during her runner-up press conference. “When someone plays lights out, there’s really not much you can do.”

Thought often as women’s best clay court player, Halep is most definitely an all-surface threat, and at just 27 years old, one can anticipate she’ll add plenty more hardware to the trophy case.

As for Williams, she’s now reached the finals in three of the last five grand slam finals.

At her post-match press conference, she confirmed her intention to play the Rogers Cup in Toronto. She remains just one major shy of Margaret Court’s record of 24.

3. Serve up more Coco, please

It took two extraordinary weeks for Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff to become a global sensation.

First, the 15-year-old picked up three match wins and became the youngest player ever to advance to the main draw of Wimbledon.

If that wasn’t enough, she defeated her idol Venus Williams in the first round, brushed off Magdalena Rybarikova in straight sets, and saved two match points on Centre Court against Polona Hercog, rallying to win 3-6, 7-6, 7-5, and reach the round of 16.

While Gauff’s run was incredible, her successes were not by chance.

Just last season, she won the junior French Open in singles, captured the doubles crown at the US Open, and helped guide the American squad to a junior Fed Cup crown.

With experience competing at Patrick Mouratoglou’s academy in France, and match toughness on the big stage, Coco is a name we can expect to hear for years to come.

United States’ Cori “Coco” Gauff celebrates after beating Slovenia’s Polona Hercog. (Ben Curtis/AP)

4. Men’s #NextGen must wait its turn

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, and Denis Shapovalov have similar traits in the sport of tennis.

Each sit inside the top 30 of the ATP rankings. Each possess world-class talent and are under the age of 23. Each of them was dismissed at the All England Club in their first match.

Tsitsipas, while having proven himself on big stages this season with a round-of-16 win in Australia over Federer, and a Masters 1000 Finals appearance in Madrid, had a disappointing loss to Thomas Fabbiano.

Since winning the ATP World Finals at the end of last year, Zverev has slumped terribly, and exited in the first round to 124th-ranked Jiri Vesely.

Canadian Shapovalov dropped his fifth-consecutive match, falling to veteran Ricardas Berankis.

If the next generation is to truly challenge the Big Three in the coming months (or years?), they first must prove they can deliver consistent, deep runs at grand slam events.

5. Age is truly just a number

The men’s singles grand slam semi-finalists at Wimbledon had a combined age of 134 years, 160 days.

Federer and Nadal took the court in a four-set battle, sharing over 70 years.

Ten of the top 20 players on the ATP are over the age of 30.

With improved fitness regimes, daily physiotherapy, improved racquet technology and smart scheduling, tennis players are enjoying a longevity we’ve yet to see in the history of the sport.

6. Reliable Gaby is one of doubles’ very best

Singles results were a mixed bag for Canada at Wimbledon. Milos Raonic went the furthest, losing in the round of 16 to Guido Pella.

Felix Auger-Aliassime fell in the third round of action to Ugo Humbert of France. Shapovalov and Genie Bouchard both suffered first-round defeats.

Fortunately, Canada again had an excellent result in doubles from Ottawa, Ont., native Gabriela Dabrowski.

Dabrowski and partner Xu Yifan reached their first career grand slam final in the ladies’ draw, falling to Barbora Strycova and Su-wei Hsieh in the championship match.

Dabrowski returns to the top 10 in rankings Monday and has an extensive resumé that would suggest she’s not going anywhere.

She’s captured two grand slam titles in mixed doubles (French Open 2017, Australian Open 2018), has won two WTA Premier events (Miami 2017, Doha 2018), and is Canada’s anchor in doubles in Fed Cup competition.

7. Nick Kyrgios: Tennis’ Lightning Rod

Whether you love, hate, or simply love to hate him, Nick Kyrgios remains the most polarizing player in the men’s game today.

Fireworks were anticipated when Kyrgios was lined up to face Nadal in the second round at the All England Club. After all, Kyrgios had his coming out party at Wimbledon in 2014 when he stunned Nadal en route to a surprise round-of-16 appearance.

He also defeated Nadal in a testy affair in Acapulco back in February, using myriad tricks including an underhand serve (which he went back to more than a few times at Wimbledon).

Nadal prevailed on this occasion in four sets, but Kyrgios certainly fanned the flames, unapologetically rifling a forehand bullet right at his body.

Afterward, Kyrgios admitted his actions were completely intentional, and he won’t be sending any gift baskets to Nadal anytime soon for it.

“Why would I apologize?”, said Kyrgios after the match. “I mean, dude’s got how many slams, how much money in the bank account? I think he can take a ball to the chest.”

Fingers crossed for a friendly rematch between the two at Flushing Meadows?

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