Reginald Brace: Six decades in, and still in awe of Wimbledon’s ability to surprise

Kyle Edmund has improved markedly, according to YP tennis correspondent Reginald Brace (Picture: PA)
Kyle Edmund has improved markedly, according to YP tennis correspondent Reginald Brace (Picture: PA)
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This is my 58th Wimbledon. It would have been 59 but for a bout of ill health last year which interrupted a sequence which means absolutely nothing to anybody other than myself. Anyway, service is resumed…

Sometime it is the little things which lodge in the memory. My most vivid recollection of two years ago for example is of my car being embedded in a muddy corner of the media car park, defying valiant attempts by the AA to haul it free.

Novak Djokovic on day six of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis  Club(Picture: Steve Paston/PA)

Novak Djokovic on day six of the Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis Club(Picture: Steve Paston/PA)

Yes, it rained in 2016.

Little rain this year of course. Just tropical heat, which made the air-conditioned press centre a welcome haven. Plus one or two attendant problems, like an invasion by flying ants. They were all over the place and contributed to the early downfall of Caroline Wozniacki, seeded second in the women’s singles.

Wozniacki asked to be sprayed with insect repellent after the fluttering invaders nibbled her ears and wriggled into her mouth. I can’t recall an incident like it, and furthermore, the irritants won as the discomforted Danish player led what developed into an avalanche of defeated women’s seeds.

Then there was a curious exchange in Saturday’s clash between Yorkshire’s rising star Kyle Edmund and Novak Djokovic, three-times Wimbledon champion who is struggling to regain his former eminence.

Off the court Roger Federer confirmed his status as the game’s master interviewee. Lucid, amusing and multi-lingual in English, French and German he actually makes media conferences enjoyable, which is no mean achievement.

Reginald Brace

In the fourth set Edmund saved a break point with a desparate lunge at a drop shot. Or did he? Replays indicated that he hit the ball on its second bounce. Furthermore he lost hold of his racket, ran into the net and the ball flew wide anyway. Inexplicably he was still awarded the point.

A curious decision, to say the least, and certainly one for my memory book.

Happily it did not have a crucial effect on the outcome as Djokovic continued to reinstate himself as one of the game’s most resilient competitors.

By the same token the result did nothing to damage Edmund’s status as a rising player in the upper echelons of the game.

Reginald Brace is covering his 58th Wimbledon for the Yorkshire Post (Picture: PA)

Reginald Brace is covering his 58th Wimbledon for the Yorkshire Post (Picture: PA)

Your venerable correspondent has been recording the Beverley player’s Wimbledon progress since the outset. After witnessing four successive defeats in the first round I concluded that his physique was good and the shots were there but a lack of confidence could sabotage the crucial breakthrough.

In 2016 I intoned that he was almost there. Now he has developed into a formidable player with a ferocious serve and a monster of a forehand drive guaranteed to exert pressure on any opponent. So, although Edmund was unable to echo the feats of our footballing ambassadors in Samara he did enough to indicate that there would be glory days ahead.

Off the court Roger Federer confirmed his status as the game’s master interviewee. Lucid, amusing and multi-lingual in English, French and German he actually makes media conferences enjoyable, which is no mean achievement.

The Swiss master continues to captivate on court as well, as he progressed silkily to the fourth round.

Rafael Nadal is pounding away ominously at the foot of the draw and Serena Williams, defying recent motherhood and advancing years, continues to be a rumbustious presence in a wide-open women’s draw.

Another sweltering week ahead, apparently.

But please, no flying ants.