The Guardian (Nigeria)

How the men, ladies fared at Wimbledon

- By Jacob Akindele

THERE was no Champions Ball this year for Novak Djokovic and Ashleigh Barty because of COVID- 19 induced restrictio­ns. The traditiona­l Grand Finale is a black tie event at which the gentlemen’s titlist would dance with the Ladies’ champion among invited guests at the Guildhall London. In 2019, Novak Djokovic danced with Simona Halep of Romania. The 2021 champions, however, departed the United Kingdom basking in their historic individual achievemen­t over a fortnight.

There were 164 men and 164 women, who vied for the singles’ title and many others, who competed in the other events. In retrospect, the tennis fiesta was a chronicle of dreams attained or shattered. Djokovic achieved his dream to equal the 20 Grand Slam titles of his arch- rivals, Federer and Nadal. Barty won her maiden title, forty years after a fellow Australian, Evonne G o o l a g o n g - C a w l e y . However, Roger Federer’s quest for his 21st Grand Slam ended in a quarterfin­als loss to Ugo Humbert of Poland, while Serena Williams’ quest for a record tying 24th major title ended after a slip on the grass- court in the first round. We learned the effectiven­ess of the slice against the sluggers of these days.

Canada’s Denis Shapovalov expressed the hope that Berrettini could defeat Djokovic in the finals because of the Italian’s slice backhand. Ironically, Shapovalov might have defeated Djokovic in the quarterfin­als had he attempted a few slice shots to compliment his awesome power game. Aryna Sabalenka could have reached the finals if she did not attempt to hit the covers off the balls, even when she had an empty court.

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