On the latest edition of the Beyond the Baseline Podcast, host Jon Wertheim previews Wimbledon 2019 with former Wimbledon champ and current Tennis Channel commentator Lindsay Davenport. The pair discusses the top storylines surrounding the tournament, including the timing in relation to the French Open; the dominance of the Big Three and why it will likely continue at the All England Club this year; the quirks of playing on grass, particularly at Wimbledon, and how the village and area surrounding the tournament impact the players and the tennis; the finances and expenses of a tennis player; and more. Ahead of the draw release, Wertheim and Davenport also make their picks and predictions for the men's and women's draws and 2019 champions.
Jon Wertheim: The first time I went to Wimbledon I was like: This is crazy. You're used to hotels and courtesy cars and a certain sort of life on the road. When you go to Wimbledon, people have houses and you see everyone on the main drag and there's you know, Milos Raonic eating breakfast across from me. It's very different than your conventional tour context, right?
Lindsay Davenport: It's like no other tournament. Obviously, we always talk about the grounds and they're so historic, but it is weird that it seems like the tennis world invades this little village for almost four weeks a year. A lot of the players get there early and their just living the most I think normal life of anywhere on the road, where I would say more than three quarters of the players are in private housing and going to like the local stores and the markets. I mean we see all these pictures of Rafa at the Wimbledon village grocery store. But it's true. You walk through the village and you’re a tennis fan, you’re going to see just about every single player out there.
JW: So my question to you is: What impact does it have? It's a great change of pace.
But what is the impact of that on the competition? I mean that to me is such a different circumstance and such a different set of surroundings than your tour event. When Rafa is making dinner and going down to Tesco because they've you know run out of breadcrumbs for his fried fish. What's the impact of that on the tennis tournament?
LD: You know it's funny because I think for the players that are homebodies or get homesick or whatever, I think it's huge for them at Wimbledon. I think of a player like Kvitova who doesn't strike me as like the big city type. She loves Wimbledon because it's a small little village and she can have her family stay with her and someone could cook food, whether that's her or somebody else.
And it's just it seems like a much more simple kind of existence. I don't know if that's the right word but it's not five star hotels in one of the biggest cities. Obviously London is 45 minutes away but I think it really benefits these players. Rafa loves having his family there and stays in a big house with everybody. I think that the players, for the biggest tournament of the year, are pretty relaxed because they're so close to the site. There's no traffic issues, there's nothing like that. They have their families if they want them there. I think the players are pretty happy with how it goes there.
JW: It's like summer camp for tennis. For the men: give me one winner. I should say we’re doing this before the draws come out. I feel like just so much stuff goes on in the course of 14 days. Everyone likes predictions, it's part of being a sports fan, but nobody stops to say: there's going to be a scheduling malfunction. And Dominic Thiem is going to have to play four straight days and one of them is going to be against Djokovic, where it's really dubious that the match was called…. There’s so many things that go on.
LD: In other sports you're calling most likely, not always, but one game. You know when its coming. You can look up the weather for that day. The injury report comes out the day or two before. And now we're asked to predict something in like 16 days. I mean who would have thought last year the roof with Novak and Rafa—are they going to keep it close the next day on a sunny day? Crazy stuff happens.