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At the Net: Federer & Serena are king and queen of Wimbledon, again

12:45 PM, Jul 9, 2012   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - They now have 12 Wimbledon singles titles between them, as Roger Federer and Serena Williams are the newest (but not new) titleholders at The Championships.

Federer became a men's-record-tying seven-time champ at the All England Club by outdueling British hopeful Andy Murray on Sunday, while Serena equaled her big sister Venus by capturing her fifth title with a predictable victory over third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in the ladies' final on Saturday.

This also marked the third time that Federer and Serena have garnered Wimbledon titles at the same fortnight (2003, 2009 and 2012).

The 30-year-old Federer padded his men's record with a 17th Grand Slam title by nailing down his first major championship in 2 1/2 years. And in the process, the Swiss legend triumphantly returned to the top of the men's rankings, supplanting Australian and U.S. Open champion Novak Djokovic.

The elegant Federer upset the powerful Serb in the semifinals last week on his way to tying Pete Sampras and William Renshaw with his seventh Wimbledon crown. Federer also matched Sampras' record of 286 weeks at No. 1.

Federer set yet another men's record by appearing in his eighth Wimbledon final (7-1). His only loss in that stage of the tournament came against Rafael Nadal four years ago in what many consider to be the greatest tennis match of all-time. Perhaps you do as well.

The 30-year-old Serena, meanwhile, captured Grand Slam singles title No. 14, which is good enough for fourth place among the Mount Rushmore of women in the Open Era (since 1968). Only Steffi Graf (22), Martina Navratilova (18) and Chris Evert (18) have piled up more majors than Serena over the last 45 years.

Obviously, there's something to be said for the 30-somethings here.

Djokovic failed in his attempt to repeat as Wimbledon champ and also lost his No. 1 ranking in the process.

Just last month, the swashbuckling Serb was within one match victory of holding all four Grand Slam titles. And now, just a month later, he only holds half of the Slams and has fallen to No. 2 in the world. Proof that it's a cruel world ... at least in terms of tennis.

The 25-year-old Djokovic managed, however, to reach a ninth straight Grand Slam semifinal -- the longest current streak in the game.

The defending women's champion at the Big W was Czech bruiser Petra Kvitova, but it was guaranteed she would come up short this year when the left-hander gave way to Serena in straight sets in the quarterfinals.

The French Open superman that is Nadal headed to Wimbledon 2012 as the favorite, but he crashed out mightily in the second round, where he was shocked by unheralded big-serving Czech Lukas Rosol in five sets under the roof on the famed Centre Court, which was covered on many occasions at this latest fortnight because of almost-daily rain in the London suburb. The 26-year-old Rosol was playing in the Wimbledon main draw for only the first time in his career.

For the record, Rosol lost to German Philipp Kohlschreiber in his next match.

Nadal had appeared in the final in his last five trips to Wimbledon, winning a pair of titles and finishing as a runner-up three times, including last year against Djokovic.

Djokovic and Nadal had met in a men's-record four straight major finals before last week. And this most-recent Grand Slam finale was played without either one of 'em.

Murray jacked up the home faithful by becoming the first British male to reach the Wimbledon final since Bunny Austin in 1938, but failed in his attempt to give the Brits their first men's champion there since Fred Perry way back in 1936.

Heading into next year, the British men's drought at the AEC will be at a robust 77 years. But who's counting?

Murray put up more than a good showing against the Fed, as he won the first set in the final and was up a break in the second.

Rain started to fall early in the third set, forcing a stoppage of play to close the roof over Centre Court. Once the roof was closed, the now-indoor conditions clearly seemed to favor the third-seeded Federer, who turned a seemingly even match into his, sending the fourth-seeded Murray home a sobbing, head-shaking loser.

At least Murray managed to capture a set in a major final for the first time in his career, as he failed to win a stanza in his previous three Grand Slams finales. He's now lost to Federer in three major title tilts.

Better luck next year, Andy.

The steady Radwanska, like Murray, made a bit of history last week, as she became the first Polish Grand Slam finalist in 73 years, or since Jadwiga Jedrzejowska lost in the women's title match at the French Championships in 1939.

Radwanska is now up to a career-high No. 2 in the world, behind only Belarus' Victoria Azarenka. The Pole would have become No. 1 with a stunning victory over the sixth-seeded Serena.

Meanwhile, fresh off her first-ever French Open title last month, Maria Sharapova headed to Wimbledon ranked No. 1 in the world ... but left at No. 3.

The tall Russian was considered by many to be the favorite to secure her first Wimbledon title in eight years, but no one told Germany's Sabine Lisicki, the 15th seed who easily ousted the top seed in straight sets in the fourth round.

The resurgent Sharapova was trying to reach a fourth major final in five tries, as the French Open champ was also this year's Aussie Open runner-up to Azarenka and last year's Wimbledon runner-up to Kvitova.

Sharapova became the 10th woman in history to complete a career Grand Slam with her big win at Roland Garros last month, and she was trying to become the first woman in 10 years (Serena) to capture the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year.

Azarenka jumped from No. 2 back up to No. 1 this week despite failing to reach the final. The Belarusian star was stymied by Serena in straight sets in a quality semi last week.

The 22-year-old Azarenka had been No. 1 for most of this year until Sharapova displaced her last month for a few weeks.

Strapping Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga saw his way into a second straight Wimbledon semifinal, but the 2008 Aussie Open runner-up failed in his attempt to land in a second career major final when Murray got the best of him in four sets.

German lefty Angelique Kerber continues to impress on the WTA, as she quietly reached her second Grand Slam semifinal in 10 months. Unfortunately, she was unable to overcome a determined Radwanska in Wimbledon's final four.

Kerber is now a career-high No. 7 in the world.

Also, reigning women's U.S. Open champ Sam Stosur bowed out in the second round, while surprise French Open runner-up Sara Errani was sent packing in the third round at the AEC and the five-time winner Venus exited the Wimbledon draw in the first round for the first time in 15 years.

And this marked the final Wimbledon for Kim Clijsters, who will retire from tennis (for a second time) following the August/September U.S. Open. The Belgian wife and mother succumbed to Kerber in the round of 16 last week.

The four-time major champion and former world No. 1 Clijsters never made it into a Wimbledon final, posting semifinal finishes in 2003 and 2006. She'll take a crack at a fourth U.S. Open title later this summer.

All of these great players will be right back at the All England Club in a couple of weeks, as the tennis portion of the London Olympic Games will be held at the most famous tennis venue on the planet.

Will Federer and Serena prevail again on the hallowed lawns?

 

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