STARNBERG, December 21, 2017
When a tournament is as prestigious as Wimbledon, fans can be forgiven for looking so far ahead when the event remains months in the future. This season on the ATP tour promises to be one of its most intriguing, with the renewed supremacy of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal set to be challenged by eager players returning from injury as well as the continuing promise of younger stars. Wimbledon serves as the only grass-court slam, with the surface giving advantages to players who may lack weapons on the more common hard and indoor courts. Federer will always be the favourite for any Wimbledon that he enters, but the field around him promises to be full of players with a point to prove.
Source: Wimbledon via Facebook.
Federer cruised imperiously to the title last season without even dropping a set, in part an indictment of his outstanding form and in part a consequence of the absence of genuine contenders. Nadal was defeated by Gilles Muller, one of those players whose game is enhanced by the grass surface, in a match that will be remembered as one of the most engaging contests of the season. Novak Djokovic was beset by injury in his quarter-final clash against Tomas Berdych and subsequently retired. Home hopeful Andy Murray battled on against his injury, but a lack of fitness saw a emboldened Sam Querrey take the final two sets of the five-setter by a 6-1 scoreline.
Querrey eventually lost to Marin Cilic in the semi-finals, but the tall Croat was unable to reach the requisite peak level against Federer in the final to ever trouble the serene Swiss star. Cilic’s performance will most be remembered for his tears mid-match as a result of his acceptance that an injury would prevent him from bringing his top form; injury seemed to be the prevailing theme of Wimbledon 2017, but Wimbledon 2018 will hopefully be defined by the return of those players who suffered injuries in the last campaign.
Nick Kyrgios will be hoping he’s in the mood at Wimbledon. Source: Nick Kyrgios via Facebook.
Murray will always fancy his chances at the tournament at which both expectations and euphoria are higher. The home favourite is second-favourite to Federer in tennis betting odds with Paddy Power, with a price of 4/1 reflecting his traditionally high level on grass as well as the question marks that will hang over his fitness until he makes it through the clay-court swing unscathed. The usual suspects are forming the list of favourites, with Nadal, Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka completing the set of players who have genuine expectations to make it to the business end of every Slam.
Wawrinka is often unfancied at Wimbledon as a result of his mediocre grass record, and another look at tennis betting odds shows that punters are favouring the big servers Cilic and Milos Raonic who can benefit from the surface, as well as the hot prospects Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios. Zverev’s game is widely deemed suitable for claiming Slam titles, but the German has yet to convert potential into performance on the biggest stage. Kyrgios similarly has the weapons to defeat any contenders, but his temperament and fitness remain questionable. If the volatile Australian can channel his passions positively, a Kyrgios on form will be unstoppable. But with question marks over almost all of the top players in terms of either fitness or mentality, it will take audacity to predict against Federer storming to yet another Wimbledon title.