It’s winter in Australia, as evidenced by a balmy 17 degrees today in Sydney. You can imagine the nights are getting a tad chilly, down to a low of 7, this essentially means if you’re staying up during the night watching the tennis on the hallowed turf of Wimbledon these next two weeks you’d better be doing it either by the fireplace in the lounge room or under cozy electric blankets in bed.
Another option is to settle in with a hot toddy, so in the spirit of keeping warm during long winter nights watching the big show, lets preview the Ladies and Men’s events. Last year’s Champion Garbine Muguruza is having a pedestrian year with a 21/11 match record and one title at a lower level event in Mexico, the Spainard showed life at the French Open making the semi’s before losing to eventual Champion Simona Halep but her grasscourt form is patchy with a 2ndround loss in Birmingham last week. A few routine early round matches could play her into form.
The player in the hottest form right now is Petra Kvitova with 5 titles already this season, the latest being last week in Birmingham. The Czech has a WTA leading match record of 37/7 and is playing this week in Eastborne. Kvitova has already won Wimbledon twice and she’ll be hard to beat.
The new French Open Champion Simona Halep finally removed that grand slam monkey and can now breathe a little easier. The world number 1 isn’t playing any lead up grass events, instead opting to rest and celebrate a deserved Paris victory. The Romanian has pedigree at Wimbledon with 2 QF’s and a Semi in previous years, now that the pressure is off another deep second week run looks likely.
As always Serena is never far from the conversation, we last saw the 7 time Wimbledon Champion unfortunately defaulting from a blockbuster 4thround against Maria Sharapova at the French Open with a pectoral injury, now the American has been given the all clear and by this time tomorrow will know if she is being seeded at this year’s event with a protected ranking due to spending time away from the game because of her pregnancy, her current ranking is 183.
Regardless of where Serena ends up in Saturday’s draw the grass suits her game perfectly, obviously she knows how to win at Wimbledon and the speed of the surface compliments her strengths, big serving and short first strike points, the lack of matches could be a factor though, she is 5/2 this season.
As far as the Aussie’s go Ash Barty is definitely the most likely to make some noise, this is the 22 year olds best surface and suits her all court game as evidenced by winning the Nottingham event two weeks ago where Jo Konta lost her marbles in the final, I expect Barty to at least make the second week. Other players who could be there on finals weekend, Australian Open Champion Wozniacki, French Open runner up Sloane Stephens or 5 time Wimbledon Champion Venus Williams.
The last 7 Grand Slams have produced a different Champion starting at the 2016 US Open with Kerber, Serena, Ostapenko, Muguruza, Stephens, Wozniacki and Halep. This suggests a ‘whoever gets hot at the end’ scenario, which also suggests it’s anybody’s to win. As always its who deals with pressure the best, I’m going for Petra Kvitova, 5 titles and a 37/7 match record this season is hard to ignore, she’ll win her 3rdWimbledon.
Let’s move over to the Men. All eyes turned to Roger Federer after Rafa Nadal won his mind bending 11thFrench Open. The last 6 Grand Slam’s since the 2017 Australian Open have gone Federer, Nadal, Federer, Nadal, Federer and Nadal.
Now it’s Roger’s turn but after last week I’m not so sure. The tournaments at Queens and Halle have proven one thing, Wimbledon will be no coronation for the Swiss.
After winning Stuggart the week before Federer was a clear favourite going into Halle, an event he’d won 9 times previously, but Borna Coric spoiled the party taking out Federer in the final in 3 sets. Federer looked edgy, got a warning for ball abuse in his semi final victory over Dennis Kudla and saved 2 match points in the second round against Frenchman Benoit Paire. He also talked about feeling the pressure after his Australian Open victory over Marin Cilic earlier this year.
This Wimbledon is still Federer’s to lose but I would not be surprised if we get a surprise defeat for the Swiss somewhere along the way. The Cilic defeat over Novak Djokovic at Queens Club tells me two things, Cilic is a player nobody wants to face at Wimbledon, he made the final last year although cracked under the pressure but grass suits his game perfectly, big serve and flat groundstrokes.
Also, Djokovic is definitely working his way back into form and will be formitable these next two weeks. He has reunited with coach Marian Vajda and his elbow troubles seem to be behind him, he did make a run to the French Open Quarter Finals but even though he suffered a shock loss to little known Italian Marco Cecchinato he’s been winning matches, he could come in as the 17thseed and nobody will want to see him in their part of the draw.
Rafa Nadal has been resting and practicing on the grass back in Mallorca, the draw will mean a lot more to the Spaniard superstar, if he stays away from natural grasscourters in week one he could make a finals run, if he doesn’t expect another early Wimbledon exit after a grueling clay court season.
On the local front Andy Murray made a return to action last week at Queens losing a marquee round one match up with Nick Kyrgios. It’s a welcome return for the Scot after being out for 12 months with hip problems. The 3 time Grand Slam winner is in Eastbourne this week where he defeated Stan Wawrinka overnight in another first round blockbuster but it’s still not decided if Murray will even play Wimbledon, he’ll make a decision this week after seeing how the hip pulls up.
As for the Aussies Bernie Tomic is battling through Qualifying and Nick Kyrgios will likely cause a ruckus, and I do mean that literally, he’s made two semi finals in back to back weeks in Stuttgart and Queens whilst also being heavily fined for lewd behavior at Queens. You never know what you’ll get from Kyrgios, serious one set, half hearted the next, if a serious Kyrgios shows up at Wimbledon he could cause major damage.
Other dangerous floaters would be John Isner, Del Potro and Milos Raonic but I’d be surprised if we get a winner outside of Federer, Cilic, Novak or Rafa. If Djokovic ends up in Federer’s or Rafa’s section of the draw I’d say be on upset alert because I could easily see Novak taking out Roger or Rafa in a 4thround or Quarter Final. This to me feels like the recent Roger and Rafa domination at the Slams will come to an end and I see Djokovic as the player who makes a move, he already has won 3 Wimbledon’s and has shown me enough the past month that he is nearing his peak, he will win a 13thGrand Slam.