Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 1 of the 2021 Wimbledon.
Welcome to Wimbledon for a special edition of the special major.
Oh sure, all Wimbledon editions are special ones—at least, that’s what the event directors would have us believe. It’s the lone and unique Grand Slam played on grass, it’s the oldest major, it oozes tradition, etc. etc. Yeah, we know. But in this case it’s true: we’re having the first Wimbledon in two years since last year’s edition was cancelled due to the pandemic, so this year’s edition is technically special.
Because this year, we are going back where the grass, as they say, is always greener.
Remember the Wimbledon traditions?
May we ask you what is your favourite ridiculous tradition at the year’s third Grand Slam? For our money, we’ll always roll with the all-white dress code that Wimbledon imposes on the competitors but this is by no means the only choice here. You could point to the tradition of eating strawberries and cream while on-site at Wimbledon, but we feel like this is just a local culinary preference and there is no harm done. There is also the decision to have absolutely no visible sponsors on Wimbledon courts, but truly this is probably a good change. Likewise, the dress code for umpires and ball boys and girls is preposterous but it’s no match for the code they force players to adhere to.
So yeah, let us know if you have a favourite pick for the best (read: worse) Wimbledon tradition in the comments below. The right answer is the dress code for the simple reason that there’s absolutely no reason for it, and that it adds nothing to the event. But maybe it’s not your pick. Let us know below.
Day 1 preview
As for now we’re moving to the day 1 preview. You can find below the three matches we’ve identified as the day’s most significant ones and why we think you should watch. The entire day 1 schedule is here.
Centre-Court: Sloane Stephens vs Petra Kvitova  (Second match of the day)
We’re quite far removed from the heyday of Petra Kvitova’s run through the Wimbledon singles draw at the beginning of last decade, when she won two titles and made two quarterfinals in four years. That said, this isn’t to say that she hasn’t done well since coming back from a wrist injury: she’s made the Australian Open quarterfinal and Roland-Garros as recently in 2020. And now she gets to play Sloane Stephens in the first round. Tough.
Centre-Court: Andy Murray vs Nikoloz Basilashvili  (Third match of the day)
We’re highlighting this one more as a theoretical exercise than for anything we might actually see on Centre-Court. Nikoloz Basilashvili has never really done anything worthy at Grand Slams, to say nothing of how he’s behaved off-courts: a year ago, his former wife charged the Georgian with domestic violence. Standing in his way will be the artist formerly known as Andy Murray. The 34-year-old Brit will be playing in front of his home fans and, like, sure maybe that could motivate him. Or something. Just watch Murray play, because who knows how long you might have the chance to.
Court No. 3: Philipp Kohlschreiber vs Denis Shapovalov  (Fourth match of the day)
It seems like every day now, Denis Shapovalov’s big Grand Slam break could be happening. After a quarterfinal at last year’s US Open, the moment feels ripe—and what a better time and place than on the royal Wimbledon grass? That said this is a tricky first round matchup. Because while Philipp Kohlschreiber may be a wily 37-year-old veteran, pushing and maybe beating a player like Shapovalov is precisely the kind of match the German has built his career on.
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