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ATP Awards of the Week: Federer, Murray highlight first week of Wimbledon

July 5, 2021
Roger Federer smiles and waves to the crowd.

Photo : AELTC/Jed Leicester

Welcome to the ATP Awards of the Week. Every week from now until the National Bank Open, we will be highlighting the best and worst from the previous week on the ATP Tour.

Please note that these were written during play at Wimbledon on Monday and may or may not reflect the results from the day of publication.

For many fans, Wimbledon is the high point of the tennis season, and week one of the 2021 Championships did not disappoint.

There were epics, upsets, drama and great rallies galore. It was everything fans could hope for.

With Manic Monday threatening to shake everything up, let’s take a minute to look back on a fantastic first week at the All-England Club with our ATP Awards.

Performance of the Week: Roger Federer

Ok, so maybe not his best Wimbledon performance of all-time, but the eight-time champion reached the second week at the All-England Club for the 18th time this week.

Despite his lack of play over the last year or so, the Swiss has looked pretty good with comprehensive wins over Richard Gasquet and Cameron Norrie, the latter of whom was coming off a finals run at the Queen’s Club.

Sure, Federer got bailed out by the slippery grass in round one, but considering what he is doing at age 39 (and 11 months), it is pretty darn impressive.

Match of the Week: Wimbledon second round – Andy Murray d. Oscar Otte 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2

Speaking of impressive, how about Andy Murray’s return to the All-England Club?

The two-time champion had not played at his home event since hobbling off the court in 2017. Multiple surgeries and a metal hip later, the Scot returned to Wimbledon this week with a pair of dramatic wins.

The second of those two, his second-round encounter with qualifier Oscar Otte, will likely go down in Wimbledon lore as the Scot looked down and out trailing two sets to one. But a closed roof and a partisan crowd helped carry the favourite son to an improbable comeback victory.

The match was full of drama and high-quality hitting. Murray’s clever shot-making and dogged determination were on full display as the two duelled for nearly four hours under the Centre Court lights, with Murray eventually clinching the victory with a vintage lob winner.

With the raucous crowd behind Murray, being sent into a frenzy with every point the Scot won, you are unlikely to see an atmosphere like that again any time soon at the All-England Club.

Surprise of the Week: Nick Kyrgios

Normally, training and preparation, especially match preparation, are supposed to be keys to success in not just tennis, but all professional sports. And really life in general. You are not supposed to be able to just show up to an event having not played in months, with minimal practice and actually contend.

Well, clearly nobody told Nick Kyrgios.

Despite having not played since the Australian Open, the Aussie showed up to Wimbledon with minimal preparation and still managed to steal the show, upsetting Halle champion Ugo Humbert in an epic round-one encounter ending 9-7 in the fifth set.

He then followed it up with straight sets win in round two before dominating the opening set of his third-round encounter with Félix Auger-Aliassime.

That is perhaps where his lack of preparation caught up with him, as Kyrgios sustained an abdominal injury late in the first set of that match and was eventually forced to retire at one-set all.

Still, most would tell you that Kyrgios had no business getting out of that first-round match given his lack of match prep. But he did it. The Aussie remains on of the great enigmas in this sport.

Unforced Error of the Week: Slippery grass

Fortunately, the men’s tournament did not suffer the loss of a star the way the women did, but it has been nerve-wracking to watch the Championships this week given that there has been a nasty fall in almost every match.

While the All-England Club denies there is anything wrong with the grass, the players are not buying it. A number of them, including Murray, have come out and said the courts are more slippery than usual.

Is it a result of two years’ grass growth with the cancellation last year? An effect of climate change? The cause is not clear, but it is pretty obvious to any observer that something is a little off with these courts.

On the men’s side, it was probably most dramatic when Adrian Mannarino had Federer on the ropes in round one, but eventually had to retire after a fall.

In a way, it has made the tournament more intense viewing in a very macabre way. Every step could be the last one of the match.

Upset of the Week: Frances Tiafoe d. Stefanos Tsitsipas – Wimbledon R1

When the draw came out, there was no denying that Stefanos Tsitsipas had a tough draw.

Grass has never been his surface and Tiafoe had a great June on the lawns. The Greek also had not played in several weeks.

But the French Open runner-up/third seed going out in straight sets in round one? That was certainly unexpected.

Full credit to Tiafoe, the American very much earned the victory. He brought his big hitting and blew Tsitsipas off the court.

Still, it was surprising to see the Greek put up so little resistance. Someone not familiar with the game would have been forgiven for thinking that Tiafoe was the seed and Tsitsipas the journeyman.

Canadian Performance of the Week: Shapovalov

After struggling at the All-England Club as a pro, Denis Shapovalov re-found the comfort on grass that saw him win the 2016 junior Wimbledon title.

The 22-year-old reached his first quarter-final at the All-England Club, second major quarter-final overall, with some impressive performances.

After narrowly avoiding a first-round exit with a five-set win, he won his Centre Court debut in dramatic fashion with a straight-sets beatdown of Murray, silencing the home crowd in the process. He then followed it up with a dominant win over 2019 semi-finalist Roberto Bautista Agut.

Shapovalov was not just the most impressive Canadian this week, he was one of the most impressive players all around.

Under the Radar: Big match Marton

Only one unseeded player reached the quarter-final at Wimbledon, that being Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.

The world number 48 is a bit of an enigma. For most of the season, he is almost a non-entity. He only has one title to his name, that being back in 2018, with three total final appearances. He has also never reached the quarter-finals of a Masters 1000 event and has never been ranked inside the top 30.

And yet he has reached the last sixteen three times at Slams in his career and then went one better this year at the All-England Club, reaching his maiden major quarter-final.

He did not do it the easy way either, knocking off seeded opponents in three of his four matches, including a fourth-round upset of fifth seed Andrey Rublev.

None of these wins got a lot of attention, and he is unlikely to score another scalp in the next round against Novak Djokovic, but it is still an impressive run for a guy who tends to bring his best to the slams.

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