Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the 2018 grass season.
Welcome to the little interlude of the tennis season that’s known as the grass season.
We’ve harped on this plenty of times over the weeks, months and years we’ve been writing this column, and you don’t need us to tell you because this is hardly a surprise, but the tennis season is a sprint every competitor must run over a marathon distance. There’s barely ever a break and it lasts a whopping 11 months.
And in the middle of it all stands the little oasis of grass, where traditions and the aura of decorum reign supreme.
This year, the grass season goes from June 11 to the end of Wimbledon on July 15. There’s technically the Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open in Rhode Island after Wimbledon but, like, come on. It might as well not exist, because what’s after Wimbledon?
So yeah, all told it’s about five weeks. What can we expect from the 2018 edition of these five weeks?
Different kingdom, but a king all the same.
For Roger Federer, the grass season is literally greener than it is for clay. The Swiss has long lorded over the surface, not quite to the extent that Rafael Nadal has over his clay kingdom, but still very extensively. Already, his performance at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart last week has ensured him a return to World No. 1, so it’s all gravy from here. Over the past few years, Federer has basically sit out the clay court season in order to better focus on grass, and he’s hoping this continues in 2018.
With Stuttgart, it may just be a week but so far, so good.
What some people don’t get who complain about Federer no longer playing on clay is that he has played plenty on clay in his career and that if he had maintained that pace, that career might already be over. The longer Federer is in the game, the better it is for the game
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) June 16, 2018
Maybe a young Canadian crashes the party?
There’s not really a but coming, but we’ll give you one regardless as Federer is nearing on 37 years of age and he presumable can’t do this forever. Maybe this year someone else overtakes him, maybe it’s a Milos Raonic, who tends to go as far as his serve takes him and who rides it to a (likely) loss in a final against Federer.
Or maybe it’s a different Canuck altogether?
The Denis Shapovalov show hits London
Lost in the rise of the latest Canadian wunderkind last summer was the fact that, really, Denis Shapovalov didn’t do squat right up until crashing the Montreal Rogers Cup party. His game is custom-made for grass and he has enough charisma to last him tow lifetimes; it’ll be fun to watch him remind everyone at the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club that it’s okay to smile once in a while. (We’re teasing because we love you, England.)
Will Garbine Muguruza please show up?
Garbine Muguruza’s results at the year’s first two Grand Slam tournaments tell the story of her 2018 season so far: a second-round loss in Australia to go with a semifinal berth in Paris for the Spaniard attest to what’s been a rather uneven first five months. Muguruza is well positioned to use the momentum of her Roland Garros semifinal and transition to grass, and she’d better find a way indeed: all grass roads lead to London, where she is the defending champion.
Say hello to @Simona_Halep‘s new friend, Coupe Suzanne Lenglen!
— WTA (@WTA) June 10, 2018
What does Simona Halep do now?
The Romanian finally, at long last, has won a Grand Slam title and can now carry on living her best life. Now that she has one major, will she add another, and another and another? Will the monkey on her back finally move on to someone else? Can Simona Halep change the future of Romanian tennis?
Instead, we ask: does it even really matter? We’re already on the record saying that her then-lack of majors shouldn’t have tainted how we saw her career up to this point, that her legacy should have been secure from simply being ranked World No. 1.
Just as it was fascinating to see her quest for a first major, it will be to see just as fun to watch her carry on. Women’s tennis is now her world, and we’re just living in it.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG