Wimbledon lessons in 100 sentences
LONDON -- Well that was one humdinger of a fortnight, was it not? The top seeds were gone before business had really begun and some low seeds hung around a lot longer than we thought. It is what it is. Nonetheless, each major is its own nasty bird, and this year's Wimbledon Championships were no different.
From Novak Djokovic's heart-pounding win to the bizarre chain of events in the Serena Williams doubles fallout, these two weeks told us a lot about the state of today's tennis game -- for better or for worse.
But perhaps the most interesting manifestation from all the madness came via all the crushing serves that were a real chore to break. So much so that the first set of the fourth-round tilt between Stan Wawrinka and Feliciano Lopez produced the 100th tiebreaker of the tournament. Amazingly, this is the first time in the history of Grand Slam play that that number has been hit.
Sticking with the centennial theme, here are the top 100 storylines from this year's event in ... 100 sentences:
1. A tough start for 2011 US Open winner Slammin' Sammy Stosur, who was bounced in her opening match.
2. At least another former major champion, Victoria Azarenka, won a match before losing in the second round.
3. As did Ernests Gulbis, who fell in his second match after a swift run to the French Open semis.
4. A bad day for Gulbis, but on the bright side, he now has a lot less money to gamble away.
5. Although, to be fair to Gulbis, he said his gambling allegations were "b-------" and that we the media "can write that."
8. But at least Murray left the tournament in good spirits, unlike eccentric Frenchman Benoit Paire.
9. After losing his opener, Paire said, "Simply, I hate Wimbledon, and I'm glad to leave as soon as possible."
11. But the Italian who made the most noise was firecracker Fabio Fognini, who was fined $27,500 for knucklehead behavior.
12. And then there was Bernard Tomic, also one of the wayward boys of tennis and a quarterfinalist here three years ago, who was booted out of Wimbledon in the second round.
13. For his efforts, Tomic will drop out of the top 100 when the ATP rankings are released Monday.
14. Tomic, still only 21 years old, at least has plenty of good years left in this game.
15. Unlike 37-year-old Jamie Delgado, who competed in his record 23rd consecutive Wimbledon Championships.
16. More impressively, Delgado didn't just play doubles with partner Gilles Muller -- he coached the Luxembourgish player too.
17. But Muller ran into Roger Federer in the second round, and that was the end of that dream.
18. With his run to the final, Federer has now ended the dreams of no fewer than 61 different players in his 16 years at the All England Club.
20. But Murray didn't dignify Wade's comment with a response, even though she once called the Scot a drama queen.
24. Long doesn't begin to describe Lydon Sutcliffe, the skyscraping 7-foot-1 groundsman known around the Club as -- you guessed it -- "the tall man of Wimbledon."
25. Legend has it that Sutcliffe is a popular figure around here, as is another tall guy, 6-foot-10 Ivo Karlovic, but he had a short stay in London, losing to Canadian qualifier Frank Dancevic in a straight-sets first-rounder.
26. It only got worse for the Karlovic, who, on his flight back home, tweeted that "someone next to me was passing gas the whole time."
27. Karlovic then went on to accuse the guy in orange shorts to his left for producing the funk.
28. Given those orange shorts, Captain Smelly Pants obviously wasn't competing at Wimbledon -- unless he was able to somehow circumvent the crackdown on white clothing this year.
29. That meant no colored wristbands, undergarments or socks.
31. For Raonic, who reached the semifinals, the ceiling is sky high.
32. And speaking of ceilings, this happened to be the five-year anniversary of the Wimbledon roof.
33. Would you know, the roof was first closes this season on the first Thursday of the tournament so Federer could finish off Muller.
35. Although Nadal generated some controversy by taking 25 seconds between serves against the Czech -- when the rule clearly states 20 seconds is the limit.
36. Of course, that saga dovetailed into whether tennis would ever implement a shot clock.
37. Chances are the decision-makers aren't ready to go in that direction quite yet.
38. But One Direction that remained undeterred this fortnight was showcasing celebrities, including ... Niall Horan, who made a Wimbledon appearance.
39. Fans flocked to see the musician, who signed autographs at St. Mary's Walk.
40. Including the now famously single Caroline Wozniacki, who said the highlight of her day was taking a selfie with Horan.
41. Not to be outdone, Grigor Dimitrov was all by his selfie eating breakfast this past Thursday morning at the Brew up in Wimbledon Village.
42. The next day, he promptly escaped firecracker Alexandr Dolgopolov in five sets.
43. Hats off to the Bulgarian star, who has garnered fame outside his tennis prowess because of his choice in women.
44. As we all know, we're talking Sharapova, who now has her very own Sugarpova store in the village.
45. It's pretty sweet, if you know what we're saying, unlike Li Na's tennis game, which went wildly off track.
46. The Chinese star fell to Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, who snapped an awful 0-24 streak against top 10 players in the third round.
47. That's a crazy stat, but not as crazy as the one Lleyton Hewitt set by playing in his Open-era record 42nd five-set Grand Slam match.
48. Although Hewitt lost that match to 2013 semifinalist Jerzy Janowicz, which was a disappointing end for the 2002 champ.
50. When it became so dark that even the Hawk-Eye review system stopped functioning, Berdych vented his frustration until the match mercifully ended at 9:38 p.m. local time, the latest outside-court finish ever at the All England Club.
51. But for Cilic, it was sweet redemption for a guy who withdrew from Wimbledon a year earlier citing a knee injury, though it was widely speculated he had been suspended for doping.
54. Make that three years and counting since Venus has reached the second week at Wimbledon.
55. And you can make the two years and counting since sister Serena Williams has made the quarterfinals.
56. After winning the first set 6-1 in their third-round clash, Serena was stunned by Frenchwoman Alize Cornet, who now has beaten Williams twice this season.
57. If you're doing the math, that's three major appearances and not a solitary quarterfinal appearance to Williams' name this season.
58. Unlike Zahlavova-Strycova, who reached her very first Grand Slam quarterfinal (in her 33rd try) without dropping a single set.
59. However, Janowicz, a grass-court stalwart, unexpectedly lost three sets in a disappointing third-round loss to Tommy Robredo.
60. French Open semifinalist Andrea Petkovic also fell in the third round, a dreary end for the German who is finally healthy.
61. Not at dreary as middle Saturday in which inclement weather stopped play for more than six hours on the outer courts and wreaked havoc with the schedule.
63. But ultimately, the delay postponed the inevitable, and Keys announced she was too injured to continue her match and withdrew.
64. She then announced she would check out of the game for a couple weeks to rehabilitate.
65. And though Keys checked out for a while, the Czechs sent four women to the fourth round of a major for the first time in the Open era.
66. That's a whole lot better than the Americans, who failed to send a man or woman to the round of 16 for the first time since 1911.
69. Wozniacki then joined Radwanska as Super Monday victims, and after the match the Dane was none too pleased with the pace of play and said her opponent was taking too long between points.
70. And then just a couple hours later, Tsonga failed to keep pace with top-seeded Djokovic, and the Frenchman fell in three.
71. That was nothing compared to what happened to the two French Open champions a day later, when both Sharapova and Nadal lost.
72. Sharapova, perhaps the most resilient player in the game, saved six match points before falling to Angelique Kerber in the fourth round.
73. Just as the dust was settling from that upset, Nadal was knocked around by the 19-year-old swashbuckler Nick Kyrgios in four sets.
74. The upstart Aussie, who smacked 37 aces, caused quite a stir around the All England Club with a performance that harkened back to the days of a young Boris Becker.
75. That stir was nothing compared to the distressing exit by Serena Williams, who was so disoriented she couldn't serve a ball over the net in doubles.
76. Rumors ran rampant, but the official word from the club was that Serena had been suffering from a viral illness.
77. One player who was not feeling queasy at all that day was Wawrinka, who unloaded 31 aces on Lopez to advance to the quarterfinals and set up a date with countryman Federer.
78. The Slam King took down the defending Aussie champ in four sets to reach his ninth Wimbledon semifinal.
79. That is eight more than Raonic, who navigated to his first final four with 39 aces in a win against Kyrgios.
80. Also advancing to his maiden major semifinal was the Bulgarian Dimitrov, who shellacked defending champ Murray in three sets.
81. Afterward, Murray said he had a lot of work to do because the young guns are finally beginning to live up to their potential.
82. One guy who showed flashes of his enormous potential was Cilic, who took Djokovic to five sets in the quarterfinals before bowing out.
83. Not to be outdone was Eugenie Bouchard, the only player on the WTA who has reached all three semifinals this season.
84. She faced off against Simona Halep, the French Open runner-up, in a scintillating semifinal that the Canadian won in straight sets.
85. This set up a clash with Kvitova, who surpassed fellow Czech Lucie Safarova in the other semifinal.
86. Kvitova, who had just four total match wins since the 2011 Wimbledon, finally found her form again.
87. The women's final would feature two diametrically opposite players, but the matchup was the first time two players born in the 1990s squared off for the championship.
88. Although young was the central theme in the women's final, the 32-year-old Federer was busy becoming the third oldest player to ever reach the Wimbledon final with a thorough thumping of Raonic.
89. Against the Canadian wunderkind, Federer failed to drop serve a single time and needed just more than 100 minutes to advance.
90. With his win, Federer reached his ninth final at the All England Club and extended his own record.
91. In all, semifinal Friday was a remarkable day, one that set up a scintillating final between Federer and Djokovic -- the first time they met in a Grand Slam final since the US Open seven years ago.
92. For Kvitova and Bouchard, it was their first major meeting in a finale, though we can only hope any future meetings are more competitive after the Czech's dominant 6-3, 6-0 win.
93. The match lasted only 55 minutes, the shortest Wimbledon final since Steffi Graf beat Monica Seles 6-2, 6-1 in 1992.
94. Kvitova earned a cool $3 million for her stellar two weeks of work -- the richest payday in women's Slam history.
95. Vasek Pospisil and Sock also had a nice payday after a stellar two weeks, capped off by a 7-6 (5), 6-7(3), 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 win over the Bryan brothers in the men's doubles championship.
97. But not nearly as exciting as Djokovic's 3-hour, 56-minute, five-set win against Federer, which earned him his second Wimbledon title.
98. It was more heartbreak for Federer, who on this exact day six years ago, lost to Nadal in what is arguably the greatest match of all time.
99. But more euphoria for Djokovic, who will again take over the world No. 1 ranking.
100. That accomplishment, however, pales in comparison to the Serb's seventh Grand Slam title, which ties him with John McEnroe and Mats Wilander among others.