The Serbian defeated Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) in the Sunday final, en route his 13th Grand Slam title.

Novak Djokovic is finally back to the winning ways. This victory comes after his long spell of injuries, which kept him off the court for an entire year, and off the podium for two. His last title came at Roland Garros in 2016. While the tennis world was dedicating it’s attention to Roger Federer’s reincarnation, the Serbian master was slowly looking to find his way back to the court. He started playing tournaments, big and small, keeping off the limelight, just to mark a comeback of this magnitude.
And what a comeback this has been.

He had been playing every major tournament this year. Starting with the Australian Open, he was giving it all against every opponent, but to no avail. He was crushed in the Italian Open semi-finals at the hands of Rafael Nadal. Later Marin Cilic got the better of ‘Djoker’ in the Queen’s Club Championship final. But his fans, in the haze of all these disappointments, could see the gleaming signs of resurgence. Novak was hitting his forehands like always, holding his grounds to tackle the best of serves, and gliding across the court in his trademark style. They believed that a championship point was around the corner. They were right.

However confident his supporters had been, Novak himself was not expecting this prestigious title,more so against the Nadals and Federers of the game, nevertheless, the self-belief, which saw him win 12 slams in the times of absolute Rafa-Federer dominance was still there. “I did not expect to be back in the top shape already here in Wimbledon so quickly,” Djokovic said after the match. “If you asked me after Roland Garros, I would probably maybe doubt that. At the same time, there is a part of me that always believes in my own abilities, believes in my own quality of tennis, what I possess. Whenever I come to the tournament, and a Grand Slam especially, I believe I can have a good opportunity to fight for the trophy.”

The victory on Sunday was anything but a challenge for Djokovic. Anderson had certainly given it his best, and  it shows in the quarter final marathon against Roger Federer and the semis showdown against John Isner, but in the final he looked out of gas, while Novak had saved his best for the ends. The champion breezed past his opponent in his very own fashion, reminiscent of his heydays. By the time Anderson could chart his dominance in the third set, the game was all but over.

After the game, once again he ate the legendary Centre Court grass, this time he even found it sweet.

Throwback? Rightly so.


Feature Image Credits: Sky News

Nikhil Kumar
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The Swiss master marks a perfect ending to the 2017 Grass court season with a resounding victory over Croatian Marin Cilic in a 101-minute display of his extraordinary class and supreme elegance, in a tournament which shall widely be regarded as the finest of his career.

“He is playing better than ever,” observes Boris Becker in an interview, minutes after the match. There is no talk of vintage Federer this time. No reminiscences of the his ‘strongest in the sport’ forehands, sharp backhands and almost supernatural footwork and agility of the 2005s, no anecdotes of the time when he was at the top of the rankings for a record period of 302 weeks, or when he won at the All England Club consecutively for five year. He wafted across the hallowed Centre Court across the fortnight, almost like poetry swaying from one end to another, like the summer breeze reigning all over the court and hitting the ball to places unprecedented to the opponent with pinpoint precision. This is the rise of an all new Federer, with the same grace and allurement but the best ever techniques, fluidity, temperament, techniques and, above all, the hunger to win.  As the three generation of Federers bore witness to the culmination of one of the finest runs in the tennis history, Roger further consolidated his claim as the greatest sportsman of all time, not only on the lawn tennis court as he became the first person after Bjorn Born to have won the Wimbledon without having dropped a set across the tournament.

The final was just an extension of the flawless game he had played across the tournament. Marin Cilic looked a man with a purpose, but with his game imposingly compromised under the shadow of the talismanic presence on the other side of the court. The long serves and forehands were nowhere to be seen, with just one ace in the entire match. He only succumbed to his foot blister, and metaphorically to the Swiss master’s greatness, as Federer gradually crushed the Croatian under his relentlessness, with commanding backhands, demoralising with his regular detours around the net and breaking Cilic’s serve with an ironical brutality. He hit as many as 23 winners to demolish the Croatian resistance 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. His eyes were always on the trophy, right since his first unseeded opponent and right through Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych, as he assailed their resistances, Cilic only a continuation of the routine proceedings.

This is no resurrection. This is just development. This is just how the almost superhuman of beings redefine the perceptions of perfection, and the world becomes a bit luckier to bear witness to their miracles. As for now, we can not help but fathom what magic is he going to conjure next. What after his 20th Grand Slam at US Open this year? What after he has played beyond 40?



Feature Image Credits: Sports Illustrated


Nikhil Kumar

[email protected] 

There is an ancient Wimbledonian saying, mostly untranslatable but it goes something like “If chance made you a woman and you want to be a champion of Wimbledon, you gotta have big boobs. And blond hair. And body of some Amazonian jungle goddess from a hormonal teenager’s fantasy. If you are a man, you just gotta play well.” As the time passed, this sacred law has been withheld by generations of long legged Sharapovas and Mladenovics who have marched on and have become famous for their “supermodel looks”, their winning one title after another notwithstanding. Yes, that’s why female tennis players were allowed to play professionally in the first place, to look like supermodels giddying around on the court. Why didn’t they just get Kate Moss to do all that?

In a world where feminism is a dirty word and where cracking sexist jokes are the in thing to do, sports were thought to be the great equalising force, a place where only talent and tenacity were the criterion to achieve greatness. Where not having the male member dangling between your legs was not supposed to be a handicap, a handicap which would underscore the rest of a woman’s life. But the silent sexism in sports all these years long, followed by the recent examples of not-so-silent sexism show how even in the supposed gender non-discriminating arena of athletics, the old ugly face of sexism persists.

The Bartoli vs. Lisicki women’s single match was one of the most famous this season and for all the wrong reasons. It would be expected that after winning the match, Bartoli would either be appreciated for her skills on the court or panned for the same. She was after all an athlete who had just won a major title. But the backlash that followed had nothing to do with the game but something so completely unrelated to the sport that it boggles the mind as to how people could connect the two. While single digit IQ levelled Twitter warriors had a field day branding her “undeserving” of the title because of her looking the way she does, the BBC commentator, John Iverdale jumped into a retelling of an imagined conversation between Bartoli and her father/coach, where the latter supposedly tells his daughter how she was “never going to be a looker” and because of which she had to be extra “gritty” in her game.

Another incident following Andy Murray winning the men’s single reflects on the retaining power of the audience of matters related to women in sports. After the win against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, the British media went on to celebrate Murray as the redeemer of the British nation. Headlines like “A win after 77 years” crowded the newsstands. What went unnoticed until later was that in between Murray’s win and Fred Perry’s 77 years ago, three Britishers had already won singles titles in the tournament. The fact that those three were female gave the media the right to go into memento mode and forget about the past winners since Perry. Of the three, Virginia Wade was the most celebrated after her win 36 years ago. The other two were Annabel Croft and Laura Robson, who won the Girls’ singles in 1984 and 2008 respectively. The fact that people could just forget such achievements seem especially cruel after knowing what Wade said in an interview after her historic win, “You never forget how it feels to win Wimbledon.”

The incident involving Bartoli drags to the limelight the sexist practices that tournaments like Wimbledon are still preserving. While the male player is supposed to spend his time and resources on bettering his game, any digression being scrutinised and criticised by the media and the commentators alike, the female player is expected to only keep up the Disney Princess appearance.Such trivialization gains from the patronising attitude towards sportswomen in general, which leads to further breeding of such sexist understanding in the succeeding generations. This completes the circle where however much may the sportswoman achieve, at the end of the day her worth is decided by men on how pleasing she is to their eyes.

The Tumblr post by Public Shaming cataloguing the insensitive outcry on Twitter over how Bartoli was undeserving of her title because of how she looked showed just how wide spread sexism is. People who would not usually watch Tennis matches, let alone interested in women’s sports, would air their opinions on just how much they were offended by her winning the match and how much they wanted Sabine Lisicki to win. What goes uncommented upon is how equally insulting this is for Lisicki too, whose right to win the title was appropriated because of her looks and not by the fact that she had reached the finals in the first place.

In the Indian context, Sania Mirza was made popular more for her appearance than her skills, which reflected in the national love and obsession with her remaining constant, irrespective of her form on-court, from the start of her career to her marriage to Shoaib Malik, when she suddenly “betrayed” the nation by marrying a Pakistani. In contrast, no one cares about how Mahesh Bhupathi or Leander Paeslook on or off court. Their game matters, in case of Mirza, only her looks.

While on the topic of Wimbledon, another sexist practise that goes uncommented upon is the way female players are referred to in the tournament. While the names of the male players are used to refer to them respectively, the married female players are referred to by the names of their husbands. You may be Plain Jane off the court, but when you are trying to win a game on the merit of your own skills, independent of the dis/name of your husband, you will still be known as Mrs. John Doe. The fact that as recent as 2010, a female player was referred to not by her own name but by her husband’s should be infuriating enough. Queen Victoria might have had her last breath more than a century ago but the crooked notion of gender politics of her times still continues to survive to this date.

The least we could do is acknowledging the fact that sexism does exist, even in sports, something a lot of people feel uncomfortable accepting.

And until then, we could only yearn for a time and place when people would judge a person’s worth by the thoughts that crowd their mind and the deeds that come to pass by their hands and not the clothes they happen to wear.


The lush green grass, the early morning look of the courts, the white dress code, world’s best players all ready to fight it out  and the charm of the best Grandslam that seems to have engulfed the masses. Yes, it’s Wimbledon time of the year again. For some of us, it’s sheer joy to witness some classic tennis every year on those courts. For some others, rivalries are renewed. It’s the age old division of die heart fans into two camps- Federer  v/s Nadal , yet only a few can refute the tension and the excitement that ensues a Federer-Nadal final at Wimbledon.

And this year happened to be no different. With hopes that high and enthusiasm reaching new levels, we were all set to go all out and root for our tennis champions. But soon enough, those hopes were to be shattered. The string of improbable exits began with Rafael Nadal who had to exit the first round as world number 135 Steve Darcis pulled off one of the biggest successes of his career. This gave a sense of jubilation to the Federer camp which now seemed to have an upper hand. But no sooner, they too were slumped to a shock with the Seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer being stunned by the 116th ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round of Wimbledon.

Well, just when we thought things couldn’t get worse and probably there’s still hope the tournament lost six former No. 1 players on Wednesday: Sharapova, Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki, and Ana Ivanovic among the women and  Lleyton Hewitt amongst the men.

What was to come more recently was yet another Wimbledon shocker and tragedy with Serena Williams joining the growing list of marquee names eliminated early at this wild and unpredictable championship.

While some of us have called this one of the worst Wimbledon Championships the world has witnessed, there is always a brighter side. With Djokovic and Andy Murray being the last hope for a lot of us, we should perhaps not underplay the immense potential this tournament brings out every year in terms of discovering new talent and for all you know there might be a lot of new Nadals in the making. So for that and the love of tennis which is just unmatched  when it is played at this Grand Slam which has its own charm, let’s keep our fingers crossed  and still be glued to our television sets.

Image Credit: Wimbledon 2013 official website