‘The Championships’: 2017 Wimbledon Preview
Iron the all whites, prepare the strawberries and cream and pack the umbrella just in case, it’s Wimbledon time again.
Tennis fans are blessed to be living during an era with so many greats.
The Big Four domination in men’s tennis has been so emphatic that Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka have won 47 of the last 49 Grand Slams.
Meanwhile, the ladies side has opened up with Serena Williams’ absence. Twenty-year-old Jelena Ostapenko took full advantage by recently winning the French Open. Will there be another maiden champion, or will the usual firm prevail?
(Prices quoted from Pinnacle Sports who offer excellent odds and limits)
Andy Murray ($4.73)
The hometown hero enters as one of the favourites at the All-England Club. His game is based on defence and forcing his opponent to hit extra balls. Murray’s greatest offensive strength is his consistency. He doesn’t give up easy points and can hit winners on either side. Murray has had some surprise losses this year, including a first up loss at Queen’s, but played well in Paris. He is the defending Wimbledon champion and if he stays mentally focused, he will be thereabouts.
Roger Federer ($2.93)
Federer returns to the tour, after missing the clay season, in the hope of prolonging his career. It was a studious decision. Federer has adjusted his game in recent years. He hits a harder ball and aims for shorter rallies. It paid dividends earlier this year when he won the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami and Halle just last week. Federer’s body and age was meant to slow him down, but he’s still mixing it with the best. Remarkable.
Rafael Nadal ($5.09)
Nadal clinched his tenth French Open without dropping a set. He now moves to London, where he won in 2008 and 2010. Nadal still has a lethal forehand. His topspin and accuracy is sublime. Combine that with his foot speed and resolve and it makes him dangerous. He will be hoping to avoid his rival, Federer, who has had his measure three times this year.
Novak Djokovic ($5.98)
Twelve months ago, Djokovic completed a career grand slam and was on top of the world. Since then he has had some early Grand Slam exits, including a lifeless exit at the French Open. Djokovic’s fall is as much mental as anything. He was once a fearer defender who rarely made unforced errors. His best is good enough, but we haven’t seen it for some time.
Stan Wawrinka ($29.89)
Wawrinka is coming off an all-round French Open performance. He beat Murray, Cilic and Monfils, before losing to Nadal in the final. His form has been solid this year, without being spectacular. His backhand is still at the top of his game and his serve is strong. Grass is not Wawrinka’s favourite surface. Winning looks a big ask, but if his serve is on and he is still around at the pointy end, who knows.
Juan Martin Del Potro ($100.63)
The big Argentine arrived when he beat Federer in the 2009 US Open Final. Since then his career has been plagued by injuries. He missed the Australian Open earlier this year, but has shown he can still trouble the best with his powerful forehand. While other outsiders might be a safer bet to make the quarters or semis, Del Potro is one of the few that can beat the best.
Australia’s Best Chance
Nick Kyrgios ($26.90)
Everyone knows Kyrgios’ talent, but what about his consistency? He exited the Australian Open and French Open in the second round, yet beat Djokovic twice this year and pushed Federer all the way. He has questioned his own preparation and application. With that said, if it all clicks, his forehand can lead him to big victories and take him deep into the tournament.
Karolina Pliskova ($6.06)
Pliskova had shown talent, but it took last year’s US Open for her to impact the Grand Slams. She made the final and has followed that performance with the quarters in Australia, and the semis in France. She has one of the biggest serves in the game and backs it up with power and aggression. Her consistency has improved in the last twelve months.
Johanna Konta ($17.01)
Konta put the disappointment of another first round exit at the French Open by making the final in Nottingham. She has consolidated her top ten ranking this year, largely thanks to her serve and power. Her game should be suited to Wimbledon, but she has never made it to the third round there. Will she threaten in front of her home crowd?
Petra Kvitova ($5.60)
The Czech played her first match on the tour this year at the French Open, after a horrible home invasion saw her injured. The only positive was it was a hand injury and she got miles into the legs. She recently won at Birmingham in her first tournament on grass. The lefthander has won at Wimbledon twice before, but is she match conditioned to win again?
Garbine Muguruza ($14.42)
Muguruza has drifted outside the top ten after reaching world number two last year. She is explosive and hits big shots, but her consistency within games can bring her undone. On her day she can beat anyone, but she has not made a final this year. There are better options in an open field.
Jelena Ostapenko ($9.45)
Ostapenko announced herself with her first Grand Slam title at the French Open. Before that, the young Latvian reached the final in Charleston and pushed Pliskova at the Australian Open. Combine belief with her powerful groundstrokes and accuracy, and there is no reason why she can’t do it again.
Agnieszka Radwanska ($44.51)
The 28-year-old started the year well by making the final in Sydney, but has not carried on since then. She doesn’t mind Wimbledon, having made the round of 16 the last three years, including a semi-final appearance in 2015. Things would need to go right, but at least there is no Serena.
Australia’s Best Chance
Gavrilova will shoulder additional patriotic hopes after Stosur’s withdraw due to a hand injury. She is a fighter and loves the battle. She does not have the size, power and weaponry compared to the best players, but will scrap for every point.
(Pinnacle Sports will be covering every match of the tournament)