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Bopanna, Sharan bow out as Indian challenge ends at Wimbledon

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New Delhi: The Indian challenge at the Wimbledon Championships ended with both Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharan knocked out of their respective categories.

13th seeds Bopanna and Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka lost 4-6, 4-6 to the Kiwi-German pair of Artem Sitak and Laura Siegemund  in one hour and 13 minutes in the mixed doubles second round.

Left-handed Sharan and his Chinese partner Yingying Duan lost 3-6, 4-6 to British duo of Eden Silva and Evan Hoyt in 62 minutes. Silva and Hoyt had knocked out Leander Paes and his Australian partner Samantha Stosur in the first round.

Later in the men’s doubles pre-quarters, Sharan and Marcelo Demoliner of Brazil fought their hearts out in a gruelling battle before losing to top seeds Lukasz Kubot  of Poland and Brazilian Marcelo Melo. The unseeded pair lost 5-7, 7-6(8), 6-7(8), 3-6 after three hours and 18 minutes.

Opinion

Wimbledon Championships: Mighty rewarding, brutally unforgiving

Karthik Swaminathan

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2019 Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia acknowledges the crowd after his victory over Roger Federer in the final at the All England Club. Photos: Twitter @wimbledon

Simpson’s paradox on display as Novak Djokovic denies Roger Federer in a major final yet again to collect a fifth Wimbledon crown and a 16th Grand Slam.

Toronto: Some quips, as they say, do not age well. And then there are some which do not age well in the ‘right’ way. A little confounded? Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

Following a straight sets loss to a chap called Roger Federer at the 2009 Western & Southern Open, Cincinnati, the beaten man bemoaned, “Yeah, unfortunately I was born in the wrong era. Roger and Rafa [Nadal] are two—maybe one of the best players that ever played this game. Roger for sure is.”

It will soon be exactly a decade since that quote. In August, to be precise.

Our man in focus now has 15 more Grand Slams and 29 more ATP Masters 1000 trophies. He has also notched up 260 (and counting) weeks as the World #1. And in his imperious march to tennis monopoly, there were a couple of seasons like 2015 and 2011. Enough said.

Roger Federer squandered two championship points to settle for the runner-up prize at the All England Club.

From lamenting his fate to lording over the competition. Novak Djokovic is easily the best player of this decade and can already stake his claim to being the greatest of them all. Now, perhaps, you realise why the aphorism referred to in the beginning didn’t age well in the ‘right’ way.

Sunday’s final on Centre Court, SW19, pitted the same protagonists from ‘that’ Cincinnati final nearly ten years ago. While they have indeed faced-off many a time in the interim, this was another of those instances which a 22-year-old Serb might have grieved over.

And why do we say he might have grieved or regretted? Here’s a look at the salient numbers from the match, in other words, statistics that follow every tennis match:

A cursory glance might lead the vagrant onlooker to believe that Federer won yet again. Why not? This was the stadium where the soon-to-be 38 Swiss had tasted success oh-so-many times. And furthermore, the stats seem to indicate he fared better in each metric.

Yet, as it transpired, it was the World No. 1—now a wise 32-year-old—who won Wimbledon’s longest gentlemen’s singles final 7-6 (5), 2–6, 7–6 (5), 4–6, 13–12 (3).

Be it from the data above or with the advantage of hindsight having watched the watch, one could say with a small amount of conviction that Federer could have triumphed in either straight sets or in four sets. Operative word: could.

Despite being down a break in the decider, the second seed levelled and broke again to serve for The Championships. Up 8–7, two unreturned serves saw him reach 40–15 thereby bringing up two match points. And then things went downhill. Eerily, there were parallels to Super Saturday at Flushing Meadows, New York, in 2011 when Djokovic famously hit a first-serve return that was “heard around the world”. Only this time, on the second championship point, it was a stinging cross-court forehand pass against a rather indecisive approach from Federer.

Of course, unlike that U.S. Open semifinal, the match did not end in a blur. Instead, the Swiss fought gamely and—perhaps poetically—the pair played out Wimbledon’s first deciding set tiebreaker at 12–12, a rule-change that came into effect this year.

Federer would win more four more games and 15 more points, overall. He would also have the better percentages in key metrics such as aces, first and second serve points won, return points won, and at the net. And for someone who hasn’t been the best at converting break points, he had the upper-hand there too. Still, he lost.

Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton hands over the golden trophy to 2019 champion Novak Djokovic.

In short: Simpson’s paradox. A phenomenon in probability and statistics, in which a trend appears in different sets of data but reverses (or disappears) when these sets are combined. Or in even more lucid terms, losing despite scoring more points.

For all the eloquence one may choose to wax, or the statistical anomalies outed—like it or not—life and sport are influenced a lot by the small print.

You know, an inconspicuous matter of text you see in your insurance papers—or any agreement or contract—that comes back to bite you when you file a claim or check for your rights. Oh of course it’s all about ’em fine print: the proverbial asterisks and Terms & Conditions!

And coming back to our gentlemen of the moment, there definitely was one thing that Djokovic did better than Federer and it cannot be captured by vanilla numbers. ‘Mental game’, which is not quite measurable right away, becomes easier to comprehend when you figure in application at key moments.

In the three sets that decided the match in favour of the defending champion, tie-breakers to be specific, Djokovic won 21 points to Federer’s 12. Even more tellingly, in those 33 points that were played over the three tie-breakers, Federer made 11 unforced errors. And Djokovic? 0. Clutch as it gets. Game, set, and match. Ecstasy for the victor, agony for the vanquished. Sport.

FAST FACTS

  • For the first 2 hours and 47 minutes of Sunday’s final, Djokovic couldn’t even get to break point on Federer’s serve. In the next forty-odd minutes, he would break three times
  • Djokovic improves to 4–0 in deciding set tie-breakers against Federer
  • Djokovic also improves his five-set match record to 30–10, while Federer drops to 30–22; the Serb has never lost to the Swiss when their match has gone to a decider
  • This was Djokovic’s fifth Wimbledon triumph and he becomes the fourth man in the Open Era to win at least five titles at the All England Club, joining Federer (8), Pete Sampras (7) and Bjorn Borg (5)
  • Djokovic became the first man since Robert Falkenburg (1948, d. John Bromwich) to win Wimbledon after saving match point(s)
  • This decade has seen only two five-set Wimbledon finals (2014 and 2019); both involved the same pair, and both resulted in a Djokovic win over Federer
  • Djokovic has now won 10 of the last 12 Grand Slam finals that he has taken part in; both defeats came to Stan Wawrinka
  • Federer has now lost 11 Grand Slam finals, drawing level with Ivan Lendl for most such defeats
  • This was the 22nd time that Federer lost a match where he had match point
  • This was the 36th time that Federer lost a match with Simpson’s paradox in effect; in other words, he won more points overall and was yet resigned to a defeat

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Djokovic beats Federer in longest final to win Wimbledon

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It was novak Djokovic's fifth title at Wimbledon.

London: Novak Djokovic claimed his fifth Wimbledon men’s singles title here on Sunday, beating Swiss veteran Roger Federer 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 13-12 (3) in the final. It is the 16th Grand Slam title for the 32-year-old Djokovic, who is ranked no.1 on the ATP rankings.

World No. 3 Federer has won 21 Grand Slams and was chasing a ninth title at Wimbledon.

The final was the pair’s third meeting in the title match at the All England Club. Djokovic has won all of them, in 2014, 2015 and 2019.

Djokovic won the first set via tie-break but Federer raced to victory in the second. The Serb won all three tie-breaks in the match, including the last one which was the first ever tie-break in singles history at Wimbledon.

Federer and Djokovic have played each other 48 times already, with the latter holding a 26-22 head-to-head edge.

This is also their 16th showdown at a major tournament – the most between any two men in the professional era – and Djokovic leads that count 10-6 so far.

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Halep brushes aside Serena to lift maiden Wimbledon title

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Simona Halep defeated Serena Williams 6-2, 6-2.

London: Seventh seed Simona Halep crushed eight-time winner Serena Williams in straight sets to win her maiden Wimbledon title here on Saturday.

The 27-year-old Romanian took only 56 minutes to upset the 37-year-old Williams 6-2, 6-2, thus winning her second Grand Slam title after the French Open victory in 2018.

Williams, who won her first Wimbledon title in 2002, found it hard to cope with the fast-moving Halep, making a total of 26 unforced errors against three by her rival.

Halep fell on her knees with her arms raised to the sky in celebration. It was just her second victory over the 23-time Grand Slam champion in 11 meetings. The first one came in 2014.

“It was the best match I have ever played. I had nerves. My stomach wasn’t well before I came out on court. But I just concentrated on doing my best. It was my mum’s dream. She said when I was 10 that if I want to do something in tennis, it is to play in the Wimbledon final,” Halep said.

“I have changed my game a bit to win more matches on grass and this year I felt that I could do more with the ball. I cannot wait to get back next year,” she said in front of a packed crowd in the Centre Court.

Williams, seeded 11th this year, said, “She (Halep) literally played out of her mind. When a player plays that amazing, then you have to take your hat off and say well done. I’ve got to keep trying, keep fighting and enjoying the sport,” the American said.

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