Inspiring a generation
Doubles stars Chris Eaton and Dominic Inglot will give hope to Britain's young players, says Gerry Williams.
Last Updated: 28/06/10 12:26pm
Some consider Wimbledon rather quaint in taking a day off in the middle of the championships. I'm not one who holds that view.
It gives us all, perspiring players and judgemental journos, time to take stock on Sunday's relative peace and quiet. Yesterday I found myself musing at how in just a few hours on Saturday British tennis has verged from calamity to cooing over three young heroes.
The first of course was Andy Murray, who is yet to drop a set and won a match on Centre Court which had the purists purring with contentment.
He beat the Frenchman Gilles Simon, a lookalike in style. This was no heartless He-Man stuff that some grumpy oldies will tell you the modern game is becoming, but a test of skill and technique of angles, patience, balance, speed and power just occasionally when required. It was a credit to them both.
A little earlier two of the emerging youngsters the Lawn Tennis Association is accused of incompetently failing to produce, caused an upset in the men's doubles which was truly shocking.
The best doubles team in the world, the top seeds and the defending champions Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic got their comeuppance. They were sent packing by (wait for it) Chris Eaton and Dominic Inglot - the first from a leafy Surrey village, his partner from London Town.
And so it's back to work today. Murray's task is more that of a lion tamer than a chess player, a skill shift of which he is capable of. He now faces Sam Querrey a 6ft 6in tall Californian who stands third on the list of ace servers behind Ivo Karlovic and Andy Roddick.
At 22 he's the youngest left in the draw and won the title at Queen's Club you may remember on his way here.
As for our new doubles heroes their task seems to me to be rather more than merely winning another match. Let me explain. Someone at the very heart of trying to navigate British tennis out of the doldrums said to me on Saturday that "most of our young players are achieving much less than their potential because they simply don't put that extra something into it."
Perhaps it needs our man Murray and an extraordinary result from Eaton and Inglot to demonstrate to a generation broadly denounced as no hopers that you CAN do it and that they should get on with doing it.
Finally a word today on Rafael Nadal who no longer appears to be a roaring lion. After Nadal's earlier stutter, now another one against a smart and persevering German Philip Petzchner. For whatever reason Nadal (with a bothersome knee) is suddenly vulnerable.
It makes our viewing in the second week more exciting, especially for a certain young Scot who seems to be his semi-final opponent if the draw serves as made.
A postscript, don't miss Serena Williams against Maria Sharapova, or Kim Clijsters against Justine Henin.
Williams and Sharapova are of course former champions here, while Henin and Clijsters have played each other ever since they were little toddlers in Belgium tennis. They have had wonderful careers since becoming international world travellers and then much too early retired from the game
It's a pity the draw has brought them face-to-face so soon this fortnight. They play very differently and Henin has won seven Grand Slam titles, but still not Wimbledon and Clijsters two - I'm not going to miss it anyway.