Wimbledon player grades
Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova: A-plus. With questions swirling about their mental fragility in tough moments and penchants for mid-match walkabouts, both answered the call to win their second Wimbledon titles.
Their resilience was tested. For his part, Djokovic needed five sets to get past Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals, he nearly was pushed to five sets by Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals and he was forced to a fifth set by Roger Federer in the final after having a match point and serving for the title in the fourth. Djokovic's last victory, as Federer said, was "well deserved," with the Serb regrouping from a devastating fourth set to break Federer in the final game. Djokovic, now back at No. 1 for the first time since last September, didn't downplay the importance of the result, calling his seventh Grand Slam title "crucial" after three consecutive losses in major finals.
On the women's side, Kvitova's test came far earlier in the tournament. Her third-round match with Venus Williams featured only two breaks of serve and three break points, and the high-octane hitting foreshadowed Kvitova's play for the rest of the tournament. Kvitova, who was two points from losing in the second set, escaped 5-7, 7-6 (2), 7-5 in 2½ hours, breaking Williams for the first time in the last game of the match. The 24-year-old Czech didn't lose a set from there, highlighted by a 6-3, 6-0 demolition of first-time Grand Slam finalist Eugenie Bouchard.
Djokovic and Kvitova both won their first Wimbledon titles in 2011 and their second in '14. "I need to ask her to keep winning," Djokovic joked.
Roger Federer: A. You couldn't ask more of Federer. He breezed through a cushy early draw, withstood a hot start from Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals and rolled past Milos Raonic in a potentially tricky semifinal. After failing to break Djokovic's serve in the first three sets of the final, Federer rattled off the final five games of the fourth. The wobbles in the final set were slight but noticeable: He had 0-15 on Djokovic's serve more than once and should have converted the next point for 0-30. And, of course, his last service game was a mistake-filled disappointment.
Yes, this may have been Federer's best chance to win his 18th major and record-setting eighth Wimbledon title. Yes, he'll be 33 next month. And, yes, as the final showed, he probably needs to catch the likes of Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in a slight dip in form to pull out best-of-five matches. In three majors this year, though, he's reached a final and a semifinal (the Australian Open). As long as he keeps giving himself chances to win the big titles, don't count him out.
Eugenie Bouchard: A-minus. The 20-year-old survived the toughest section of the draw after Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova fell before the quarterfinals. She didn't lose a set until the final, beating two top-10 players in Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep. She looked (and sounded) like she would win the Wimbledon title in just her sixth Slam and only two years after winning the junior crown. Then she ran into the Kvitova buzz saw and was off the court in 55 minutes. Credit Bouchard for taking it on the chin and admitting that she was comprehensively outplayed, though I'm mystified why she didn't drop back and try to play more defense. Still, Kvitova would have beaten anyone based on her form on Saturday, and this was another massive steppingstone for Bouchard, who moves up to No. 7 in the rankings.
Nick Kyrgios: A-plus. The 19-year-old Australian wild card infused a sleepy men's tournament with energy. He played exciting, fearless, precocious tennis to knock out top-ranked Rafael Nadal, a four-set, fourth-round victory in his Centre Court debut that came five days after Kyrgios saved nine match points and erased a two-set deficit against No. 13 seed Richard Gasquet in the second round. Kyrgios smacked 312 winners, including 128 aces, in five matches. A 78-spot jump has boosted Kyrgios to a career-high No. 66, putting him in position to get into tour-level tournaments.
Venus Williams: B-plus. As SI.com's Jon Wertheim tweeted, can we give Venus the runner-up trophy? The 34-year-old was the only woman to take a set off Kvitova and match her power hitting and serving. This wasn't the best of Venus, but it was the best we've seen in years and offers hope that she's not finished being a factor in major events.
Serena Williams: D. Where do we even begin? Maybe it was wrong to make Serena the prohibitive favorite, but history was on her side. The last time she capped a disappointing start to the season with a shocking early loss at the French Open, she went on to basically win everything in sight for nearly two years. But this year's quick exit at Roland Garros (where Garbine Muguruza sent Williams packing in the second round) didn't trigger a turnaround, as Serena lost to Alize Cornet in the third round at the All England Club. Serena is 26-5 with three titles this year, but the No. 1 hasn't advanced past the fourth round of a major. This is a player who has made at least one Slam final in 12 of the last 13 years.
If only another dismal showing at the Slams were the sole talking point of her tournament, though. Serena's bizarre behavior during her doubles match continues to confound be worrisome. No one outside the tight-lipped Williams team seems to know the full story of why Serena took the court dazed and confused and completely unfit to play. We just hope she's OK.
Grigor Dimitrov: A. A straight-set victory over the defending champion and crowd favorite is impressive, even if Andy Murray wasn't nearly at his best in their quarterfinal. Dimitrov, 23, will lament his inability to convert three sets points in the fourth-set tiebreaker against Djokovic, but there's no doubting that the new No. 9 is fast becoming a legitimate threat at the biggest events.
Milos Raonic: A-. The 23-year-old Canadian needed to beat only one seed (No. 10 Kei Nishikori) to make the semifinals (though his quarterfinal opponent, Kyrgios, was certainly playing like one), and he acknowledged that he didn't handle the moment well against Federer. But the big-picture takeaway is that Raonic has followed his career-best quarterfinal result at the French Open with a career-best semifinal result at Wimbledon. He's inched up to No. 6.
Lucie Safarova: A-minus. The solid baseliner's Slam breakthrough has been a long time coming. The 27-year-old has always had the all-around game to contend, but Wimbledon marked her first semifinal berth at a major and only her second quarterfinal appearance. She challenged Kvitova early in their semifinal but faded in her fifth consecutive loss to her countrywoman this year.
Maria Sharapova: C. It was another average Wimbledon for Sharapova, who has gotten past the fourth round just once in the last eight years. She showed her trademark fight against Kerber, saving six match points before losing 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-4 in two hours and 37 minutes.
Victoria Duval: A. The 18-year-old American was attempting to qualify for Wimbledon when she learned that she had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. And yet, she played on. Duval won two more matches to earn a spot in her first Wimbledon main draw and then outfought No. 29 Sorana Cirstea in three sets in the first round. As a result, Duval -- who burst onto the scene by upsetting 2011 champion Sam Stosur at the U.S. Open last year -- has cracked the top 100 for the first time, at No. 92. A tremendous effort from a young woman with an infectiously bubbly spirit. She'll be stepping away from the game to undergo treatment; her management company, IMG, says her prognosis is good.
Andy Murray: C. It took a British man 77 years to win a Wimbledon singles title. Did people really think it would take only one year to win another one? Murray's title defense was never going to be easy, but he clearly came out surprisingly flat against Dimitrov. He still hasn't made a tournament final since Wimbledon last year, and he's fallen to No. 10, his lowest position in six years. But the good news for Murray is the pressure of the last 52 weeks is off. Now he can get back to work.
Rafael Nadal: C. Nadal essentially shrugged in reacting to his loss to Kyrgios. What can you do when a guy fires 37 aces among 70 winners in four sets? But dropping the first set in all four of his matches was a worrying trend for Nadal, who hasn't been to the quarterfinals since 2011.
Sloane Stephens: D-plus. With a first-round loss to Maria Kirilenko, Stephens' streak of making at least the fourth round of majors ended at six. The 21-year-old American, who is only 17-15 this year, has tumbled out of the top 20 (No. 22) for the first time since her breakout run to the 2013 Australian Open semifinals. Expect changes in the Stephens camp soon.
Li Na: C-minus. The Australian Open champion is in a tailspin. Losing in the third round to Barbora Zahlavova Strycova isn't as bad as it looks on paper; the Czech made the final of a grass-court tune-up in Birmingham, England, and went on to beat Caroline Wozniacki to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals. But the loss of coach Carlos Rodriguez is the bigger and more worrisome blow. Li, 32, knew for a few months that there was a possibility that Rodriguez's Beijing academy duties might pull him away, but she may not have thought it would actually happen. Now the man who made her believe she had more great tennis in her is gone and she's coming off two bad losses at the majors. Critical times.
Simona Halep: B-plus. The Romanian is closing in on Li's No. 2 ranking after her semifinal run -- a dramatic improvement from first- or second-round losses in her first three appearances. An early-match ankle injury against Bouchard didn't help, but count this as another positive step for Halep, who has been to the final eight of all three majors this year after failing to advance past the third round of any of them in her first 13 attempts.
Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci: A. Congratulations on the career Grand Slam, ladies. The Italians became the fifth WTA team to complete the feat.
Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil: A. A Canadian did walk away a Wimbledon champion, but it wasn't Raonic or Bouchard. It was Pospisil, who teamed up with Sock to beat Bob and Mike Bryan in five sets in the final. Sock, 21, is the third-youngest man in the Open era to win a doubles title and a mixed title (the 2011 U.S. Open with Melanie Oudin) at the Slams.
Bob and Mike Bryan: B-minus. The Bryans have gone from completing a non-calendar Golden Slam a year ago to holding none of the last four majors. They've also been stuck at 98 titles since April -- a five-tournament drought that is like an eternity for them, given their lofty standards.
U.S. boys: A-plus. Noah Rubin, an 18-year-old who trains at John McEnroe's academy in New York, became the first American to win the junior title since Donald Young in 2007. He defeated another American, Stefan Kozlov, 16, who was born in Macedonia and raised in Florida, in the final, while a third U.S. player, 16-year-old Taylor Harry Fritz of California, also advanced to the semifinals. Kozlov has climbed to No. 2 in the junior rankings.
Fabio Fognini: F. Clownish and temperamental behavior is one thing. Bullying umpires and tournament supervisors is another. It's cowardly to tee off on people who can't fire back at you, as Fognini did while racking up $29,500 in fines for unsportsmanlike conduct, racket abuse and poor language.
Benoit Paire: C. After a first-round loss, Paire told the French media that he hates the tournament and couldn't wait to leave. His comments, while jarring, were also refreshing. Wimbledon has crafted this aura that it can do no wrong and that it's heaven on earth for fans and players. I didn't mind hearing someone say, Eh, not my cup of tea.
Feliciano Lopez: A. He was the only Spaniard to play particularly well on grass this summer. And, yes, that includes you.