WIMBLEDON has had to make do with living in the shadow of the World Cup, but it has really kicked into life this week, with tournament favourites falling by the wayside all over the place.
Sadly, one of those was defending champion Andy Murray, who looked very much out of sorts as he departed the competition on Wednesday, losing in straight sets to Grigor Dimitrov.
Dimitrov was always going to be a dangerous opponent, but Murray had looked in top form on his run to the last eight, so while the result wasn’t necessarily a shock, the manner of his defeat was certainly a surprise.
A talking point from the championships has been Novak Djokovic’s complaint about the All England Club’s insistence on upholding the tradition of having no play on the middle Sunday.
It’s easy to see where he is coming from. Rain on Friday and Saturday threw the tournament out of kilter, leaving certain players with a lot of games to play in the second week, while others were unaffected.
That obviously isn’t fair, but tournament officials insist that having a day off gives the grass a chance to recover before the second week.
It sounds like an excuse, but I think it is fair to say that if at all possible, the All England Club would open its gates on the middle Sunday of the event.
The reason for this? Pounds, shillings and pence. If there was a chance to raise more revenue by doing away with tradition and playing on the middle Sunday, it would have been done years ago.
My solution would be to extend the tournament by a total of three days, playing every day for 16 days. Rather than beginning on a Monday, the championship could start on a Saturday, giving two days of extra weekend television coverage and gate receipts.
I would also have play on the middle Sunday, for the same reasons, but courts could still get a rest by simply not scheduling play on all of them every day.
Instead of taking a whole day off across the board, Centre Court could be allowed a chance to recover on the first Thursday, with Court Number One taken out of the schedule the following day, and so on.
Surely everyone would be a winner?
Teamwork overcomes individuals at the World Cup
THE World Cup has been fantastic, with plenty of goals and excitement, a theme that has continued into the knock-out stages.
What has struck me is the way that strong teams have overcome teams with outstanding individuals.
Cristiano Ronaldo, possibly the best player in the world, could not help Portugal beyond the group stages. You could also argue that England went into the tournament with better players than several of the sides who reached the last 16, but they have also been licking their wounds at home for the past week.
A lot has been made of the fact that English players aren’t getting a chance at Premier League clubs. It’s true, but at the end of the day, England went to the World Cup with a squad of 23 players, 22 of who are regulars in one of the best leagues in the world.
Compare that to Costa Rica. Before the tournament began, the only Costa Rican footballers I could have named were Fulham flop Bryan Ruiz and Paulo Wanchope, who retired years ago and is now part of the coaching team.
Six members of their squad play their football in the Costa Rican league, while only four of them play in England, Spain, Germany or Italy.
So how have they reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup, out-performing the likes of England, Italy and Spain? Quite simply, they have shown more desire and passion, while their coaches have also done an excellent job tactically.
They are not the only ones either. Algeria, Mexico and Greece all over-performed to reach the last 16, while man for man, you would probably pick English players ahead of many of Chile, Colombia and Uruguay players.
Lessons to be learned.