LONDON (Reuters) - Wimbledon can make a strong claim to be the greatest, as well as the oldest, of tennis’s major championships but the 2017 vintage will not go down as one of the finest produced at the All England Club.
For all the admiration for Roger Federer’s record eighth title and the appreciation of the exciting promise of women’s winner Garbine Muguruza, two one-sided finals were not what fans wanted to see.
Those finals did, however, typify a tournament that promised so much yet ultimately, for all its usual elegance and charm, failed to deliver the excitement and drama that sports fans expect.
Ticket prices of 155 pounds ($203.08) for the women’s final and 190 pounds ($248.94) for the men’s final can certainly be justified in the current entertainment market but the matches hardly brought bang for the buck.
In the showpiece men’s game on Sunday, Federer’s opponent, Croatian Marin Cilic slumped to a 6-3 6-1 6-4 loss, twice receiving attention from medical staff and afterwards saying he had been hampered by a blister.
A day earlier Venus Williams, searching for a sixth singles title at Wimbledon, lost in straight sets to Muguruza, meekly surrendering 6-0 in the second set.
The impression was that Williams had run out of steam - even if she admirably refused to make excuses or take credit away from the victor - and that was disappointing for those who had hoped to see the 37-year-old go to the wire against one of the sport’s brightest young talents.
The local fans had enjoyed a British victory last year with Andy Murray winning his second title but there was no ‘Murray Mania’ this year - with wear and tear also to blame for his demise.
The Briton came into the tournament under a cloud, facing questions about his fitness after a first-round exit at the grasscourt warm-up event at Queen’s.
Murray battled on but in his quarter-final defeat by American Sam Querrey he was clearly in pain and lost the final two sets in less than 47 minutes.
Perhaps the dominance of an older generation, with a record seven men over 30 in the second week, came at a price with the aches and pains of a grueling tour hampering too many.
Another of the ‘Big Four’, Serbian Novak Djokovic, also had injury, not a thrilling upset, to blame for his last eight exit as he retired, a set and break down in the second, with an elbow injury while facing Czech Tomas Berdych.
Those fans who opted for Rafa Nadal’s fourth round match with Gilles Muller were at least treated to a genuine upset with the Spaniard beaten by the inspired journeyman from Luxembourg in a five-set classic.
The women’s tournament brought many better contests - home favorite Johanna Konta’s second round battle with Croatian Donna Vekic was gripping, as was her quarter-final win against Simona Halep.
Muguruza’s comeback win over world number one Angelique Kerber in the fourth round, was a high quality encounter and set the tone for her run to glory.
But the Spaniard had it too easy in the semi against stage-struck Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova while Konta couldn’t mount a major obstacle to Williams.
The women’s doubles final was another disappointment though - Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina cruising to a 6-0 6-0 victory over the pairing of Taiwan’s Hao-Ching Chan and Romanian Monica Niculescu in a championship match that lasted 54 minutes.
Doubles fans did, however, get plenty of value for money with the men’s final which lasted four hours and 39 minutes as Poland’s Lukasz Kubot and Brazil’s Marcelo Melo beat Austrian Oliver Marach and Croat Mate Pavic in five sets, the decider being clinched 13-11 in an epic test of endurance.
They showed the staying power that, for one reason or another, too many lacked at this tournament.
($1 = 0.7632 pounds)
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Rex Gowar