Previewing The Championships

Just two days from the start of the world’s greatest annual sporting event tennis players and fans from around the globe are gathering to pay homage at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Andy Murray will open proceedings in the cathedral of tennis, Centre Court, at 1pm British Summer Time on Monday.

Now the draws have been made we have some clues as to who The Championships may unfold.

Gentlemen’s Singles Preview

Projected Round of 16:

Murray-Pouille

Tsonga-Wawrinka

Nadal-Muller

Nishikori-Cilic

 

Raonic-Zverev

Dimitrov-Federer

Thiem-Berdych

Monfils-Djokovic

 

The Frontrunners:

Roger Federer – At 35, five years since his last triumph at Wimbledon (over Andy Murray) improbably the Swiss maestro is once again the favourite for the tournament. How strong a favourite depends on who you listen to, but given his age it would be unwise to bank all your chips on him winning a record-breaking eight title. Still, no one thought he could ever win the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup in January either.

Rafael Nadal – Seven years since his last Wimbledon win, six years since his last final and a string of early losses to triple digit ranked players, Nadal comes in with lowered expectations. Yet, he’s reached both major finals this year, just completed his most dominant Roland Garros run since 2008, when he went on to break through Federer’s palace doors in the greatest match the sport has ever witnessed. If he can survive the first week when the grass is slicker he’ll be very dangerous again.

Andy Murray – Limping in practice on Friday, a torrid 2017, an early loss at Queen’s, the signs are not good for the defending Champion. However, he had an impressive run to the semi-finals in Paris and was just a tiebreak away from another final there, and he always plays his best on the green lawns of SW19. He is in the better half of the draw and if the hip injury is okay, expect him to go deep, maybe all the way.

Novak Djokovic – The 12 time major Champion’s woes started at Wimbledon a year ago when he lost in stunning fashion to Sam Querrey just three weeks after becoming the first man since Laver in ‘69 to hold all four major trophies at once. His lopsided loss to Dominic Thiem in Paris last month seemed ominous for his motivation and state of game, but he has just reached the final in Eastbourne, will have Andre Agassi in his box again at Wimbledon and the All England Club has often provided him with redemption in the past.

Best of the Rest:

Marin Cilic – The Queens Finalist and former US Open Champion almost took out Federer last year in the match of the tournament. No one doubts he has the game to win Wimbledon, whether he has the mentality is the big question.

Alexander Zverev – The young German has a huge game and even though Federer taught him a quick lesson in grass court tennis in the Halle Final he remains one to watch. Unproven over best of five sets so far, but he has the right weapons to win Wimbledon and it seems more a question of when rather than if he will win a major.

Stan Wawrinka – Ignore Stan at your peril, but he has never thrived on grass, suffered an early loss at Queens and may still be bearing scar tissue from his beat down at the hands of Nadal in Paris.

Grigor Dimitrov – Enjoying his best season since his breakout in 2014, Dimitrov has the tools to go deep at The Championships and comes off an impressive run to the final at Queens.

Feliciano Lopez – No one expects the Spaniard to take home the trophy, but fresh off his title at Queens he may do damage, and could pull off an upset over Djokovic if they meet in the fourth round.

Early Loser:

Milos Raonic – last year’s finalist has had a miserable year with injury problems and loss of form, do not expect a repeat performance this year.

Nick Kyrgios – Really should win Wimbledon one day but has not looked fit this month.

Dark Horse:

Gilles Muller – The number 16 seed looked good at Queens and has performed well on grass before, in the Nadal and Cilic quarter, if they disappoint he could be the surprise semi-finalist.

Prediction:

SF: Murray d. Cilic, Federer d. Thiem

F: Federer d. Murray

 

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Ladies’ Singles Preview

Projected Round of 16:

Kerber-Muguruza

Radwanska-Kuznetsova

Pliskova-Pavlyuchenkova

Mladenovic-Wozniacki

 

Cibulkova-V.Williams

Ostapenko-Svitolina

Konta-Kvitova

Vesnina-Halep

 

The Frontrunners:

Jelena Ostapenko – The 20 year old broke through in stunning fashion win her first major and title of any kind in Paris. She toughed out wins playing fearless tennis through the fortnight and grabbed her chance at history from a set and a break down in the final. She didn’t appear to feel pressure and looked in good form in Eastbourne this week, which bodes well for Wimbledon. Following up a debut major win is always tough but Ostapenko seems to have the mentality to avoid a letdown.

Karolina Pliskova – The Czech World No.3 is one of five players who can leave the tournament as World No.1. She has the perfect game for grass, impressed in a run to the semi-finals in Paris on her worst surface, and now is as good a time as any to ascend to the top of the game.

Petra Kvitova – Fresh off a run to the title in Birmingham in only her second tournament back after the horrific knife attack she suffered in December last year Kvitova, the 2011 and 2014 Champion, looks motivated. Given her historic inconsistency and lack of recent match play an early loss would be no shock, but nor would a third title, her serving and first strike looks as good as ever, if not better in her comeback.

Garbine Muguruza – Muguruza has had a difficult 12 months since defeating Serena Williams to win her first major in Paris last year, but her run to the quarterfinals there this year and performance in Birmingham did indicate she may be turning a corner. The 2015 finalist undoubtedly has the weapons to go all the way here, and with the 1994 winner Conchita Martinez coaching her for the fortnight may have the right support team as well.

Best of the Rest:

Venus Willams – One of only two former Champions in the draw, Williams the five time holder of the Rosewater Dish knows how to win here. However, she is 37 and hasn’t won at Wimbledon since 2008, but over the last year she has performed her best at the majors, including her improbable run to this year’s Australian Open final.

Angelique Kerber – Like Murray, Kerber has struggled as No.1 this year, but grass suits last year’s finalist’s game and she looked good in Eastbourne this week, if she is to turn her season around this may be the most opportune place to do it.

Radwanska, Wozniacki, Mladenovic, Svitolina – The other prominent contenders and possible winners are more numerous than on the men’s side. SW19 should favour the bigger hitters like Mladenovic, but Radwanska and Wozniacki have both shown the ability to play very well on grass and Svitolina has had a great 12 months.

Early Losers:                            

Simona Halep – The world No.2 could leave Wimbledon as World No.1 but her loss in the French Open final was tough to take and she has a history of early losses.

Johanna Konta – Long overdue proper recognition from the British public, but she suffered a nasty fall in Eastbourne and withdrew with a spinal injury, it’s a very quick turnaround to be fit for Wimbledon and her confidence on the grass may be hit.

Dark Horse:

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni captured the world’s attention again in her run to the Australian Open semi-finals, don’t rule out a deep run from the 1999 SW19 semi-finalist, she has the perfect game for fast surfaces.

Prediction:

SF: Pliskova d. Muguruza, Kvitova d. Ostapenko

F: Pliskova d. Kvitova

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