With less than a week to the start of Wimbledon, we preview the most prestigious slam on the tennis calendar; Wimbledon at SW19, London.
The attendees will be a who’s who of past, present and future tennis greats as Roger Federer looks to win his 8th Wimbledon title, Andy Murray looks to retain his crown, and Rafa Nadal looks to kick on from his own triumph at Roland Garros and close in of Federer’s record of 17 grand slam titles.
As the clay court season comes to an end all of the above plus a whole lot of others will start to filter into the UK with hopes of adding a Grand Slam title to their respective repertoire of trophies. The tennis world has a few budding examples of potential Grand Slam winners with, for example, Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic, and Kei Nishikori, future stars in the making and well within the ATP’s top 20 players for the past year. All solid performers and at least 4th round material. Depending on the seeding, all should avoid the big guns till at least the 4th round.
Grigor Dimitrov, fresh from his victory at the Queens Club, is a good outside bet this year at Wimbledon and is a consummate player on all surfaces. The 22-year-old Bulgarian beat Feliciano Lopez after saving match point on Sunday to win his first grass court title.
All tennis pundits, ex pros, and current tennis stars rate the exploits of this very talented Bulgarian and the potential next in line to break the top 4. Who knows, a solid showing a Wimbledon could kick-start an era just like Federer’s over 10 years ago. In any case the big 4 are poised to meet in the semi finals but on past tournaments at Wimbledon this is not a foregone conclusion.
Dimitrov is definitely at the right age and most importantly he is coming of age in tennis terms. Also, Andy Murray only losing his first match on grass since 2012 at Queens must be a contender for a second Wimbledon title. Andy may not light up the media world with his personality but he’s a solid performer at Wimbledon and will go far if not all the way in 2014.
With the recent appointment of Amelie Mauresmo as his coach a few eyebrows were raised but being a multiple slam winner in her own right, she will surely add something new to the armour that Murray already has. Since Ivan Lendl left earlier this year,
Murray has gone backwards, 3 months out in late 2013 hasn’t helped either, but maybe this breath of fresh air could rejuvenate his season and point it in the right direction and towards a Wimbledon title.
Then there are the other three; Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic. It will be hard to say that any of these won’t make the final, the three are masters of their craft and with Nadal in blistering form – despite a second round exit at Halle – hopefully he can have a decent showing at Wimbledon and go further than he did in 2013. The Spaniard is due a positive tournament considering his past injury concerns and poor showing at SW19 in recent years. His defeat in the first round to Lukas Rosol last year had the whole media world scratching its heads in disbelief but the sheer power of his always lights up the tournament and with that unique hooked fore-hand of his he will hopefully be there come the final.
His constant take-no-prisoners approach with a barrage of shots on-towards his opponents, its no wonder his body has given in at times. The way he literally fights for every point is a real joy to watch and let’s hope he is over the worst of his injury scares.
Also with Novak Djokovic, a consistent performer in recent years at Wimbledon, surely we will see him reach at least the semi-finals. The pure athleticism of his always lights up the tournament and he’ll be looking to add to his Wimbledon title of 2011.
Furthermore, who can forget the ‘Fed Express’ Roger Federer? The last couple of years, except 2012, have seen him exit earlier than expected but few would bet against him at Wimbledon, especially with his history, and fresh from winning the grass court title, his 7th, at Halle last Sunday. He is in form but most importantly the right frame of mind coming into Wimbledon. He will definitely feel pumped up and ready for another assault on the men’s draw this year. Maybe the Swiss star has one last slam up his sleeve, only time will tell.
The women’s draw may throw up a surprise or two this year. British no.1 Laura Robson will sadly miss this year through injury and will instead head up a stellar cast of pundits for the two weeks at Wimbledon on the BBC. Normally, it’s the two big hitters Maria Sharapova or Serena Williams, who are the ones to beat this year but others have a chance and with 2012 finalist Agnieszka Radwanska, though in dreadful form of late – a fantastic athlete with terrific groundstrokes, she really needs a positive tournament to ignite her own season after losing in the first round at Eastbourne this week.
Victoria Azarenka, who missed the French Open through injury, will be looking to beat her second round exit at Wimbledon last year at least. Another eastern European, Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, who like the German Sabine Lisicki, saves her best for Wimbledon, will look to build on past tournaments and reach week two.
Li Na or Sam Stosur, other hard hitters, have a sort of Jekyll & Hyde association with Wimbledon. Maybe this year is their year. Unfortunately, it’s usually the ladies side that throws up the big seed casualties more often than the men’s side. The same can be said for Roland Garros too, so an early exit for a couple of the top ten seeds may shake up the draw before the 4th round.
Also, an honourable mention must go to the form player over the last 12 months, Simona Halep. Fresh from her Roland Garros final loss to Sharapova she will be fancied to win her first Grand Slam this year. Furthermore, Ana Ivanovic, who only won her first grass court title at Edgbaston last Sunday, normally makes an early exit at Wimbledon but she will be confident, just like Federer, of a successful two weeks. Her best appearance at Wimbledon was a semi-final appearance in 2007 and her best since has been a 4th round in 2009 and 2012.
Overall Wimbledon, as always, promises to deliver and the two weeks perfectly fit into an already eventful action packed summer of wonderful sport that will have millions of willing fans glued to the action from all corners of the globe.
Liam Cairns, Pundit Arena.