Wimbledon Preview

The Tab previews the main contenders and ones to watch in this year’s Wimbledon.

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Wimbledon: the Low-Down It’s that time of the year again. Strawberries and cream, Pimm’s, dashed British hopes and the manicured lawns of the All England Lawn Tennis Club. 13 days of tennis, 256 entrants in the singles alone and 19 courts may make the tournament seem daunting, but never fear, here’s the Tab’s guide on what to watch out for at this year’s Wimbledon.

Men’s Favourites

Roger Federer – No.1 seed. 6 times champion. 16 grand slams in total. The stats go on and on and suggest that the Swiss Magician is the man to beat at Wimbledon. He’s still the favourite for the title, but there has been a worrying loss of form of late. This Wimbledon may be make-or-break in terms of this chapter of Federer’s career.

Rafael Nadal – The permanent thorn in Federer’s (and every other player’s) side and current world no.1, it would be unwise to rule out Nadal for the title. However, some less than convincing performances at Queens’ and his own admission that he has struggled to adapt to grass again suggest that Nadal may not fare as well as in previous years.

Andy Roddick – A-Rod can be considered something of a Wimbledon veteran now. Having been a finalist 3 times, it is arguable that he deserves a title, especially after last year’s heroic performance and this makes him a favourite. Very few will have a desire to win Wimbledon equal to Roddick’s, making him a genuine contender.

Dark Horse

Lleyton Hewitt – Hewitt is in stunning form, beating Federer in Halle a week ago, and has a excellent grass court pedigree, winning Halle, Queens’ (multiple times) and Wimbledon. He has a reasonable draw and should beat Djokovic based on recent performances, giving him passage into the second week of the tournament.

One to watch

Robert Kendrick vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – This is my pick of the first-round matches. Both are serve-volleyers with immense flair and touch and with Tsonga ever the showman, this should be a great match to watch.

Women’s Favourites

Justine Henin – Henin has made a stellar comeback to the tour after a period of retirement and Wimbledon is the one grand slam she has not won. She has openly stated that winning the title was one of the reasons for her return, and with her obvious ability, she is undoubtedly one of the favourites.

Serena Williams & Venus Williams – Where would Wimbledon be without the Williams sisters? Between them they have accounted for 8 of the last 10 Wimbledon titles, with Serena taking 3 and Venus taking 5. Despite this, Serena is the bigger favourite of the two, as she is the world no.1 in singles and doubles (w/Venus) and has proven time and time again that she is a dominant force in women’s tennis. Venus, on the other hand, whilst being lower in the rankings, has won Wimbledon from similar positions before and will pose a serious threat to her sister.

Dark Horse

Sam Stosur – Finalist at the recent French Open, Stosur’s ability to play doubles has never been in question but it is only in the last year or so that her singles form has started to blossom. Possessing many styles of play, as well as the ability to volley well, Stosur has the sort of game that could take her deep into the tournament.

One to Watch

Laura Robson vs Jelena Jankovic – The plucky Brit (sort of) against the no.3 in the world. Its the sort of scenario that fans dream of. Last year Robson showed that she had the game for the big stage by taking Daniela Hantuchova to 3 sets and maybe this year she may go a step further.

A match to hear, however, will come from Serena Williams vs Michelle Larcher De Brito, the former famous for her grunting and the latter booed off court at last year’s French Open due to excessive noise. To those within range, the sounds from this match will resemble a poorly made adult film rather than a tennis match.

British Chances

Andy Murray – Murray has been given a kind draw for this year’s Wimbledon, one in which he will not meet any real threats until the 4th round, where he would be projected to meet Sam Querrey, recent Queens’ champion. This is exactly the kind of draw Murray needs to build form and confidence, and despite his recent slump, it is not optimistic to think he can reach the semi-finals again this year, though going beyond that will take the sort of form we saw at the Australian Open, if not better. He opens against Jan Hajek on Tuesday.

The Rest – With no English male players in the draw for the first time in the tournament’s history, British hopes in the mens’ competition rest on Murray and Jamie Baker, who may win a round or two, but will have to play his best tennis to do so. In the womens’ competition, Britain is well represented with 6 players. Of these 4 potentially and 2 probably (Anne Keothavong and Elena Baltacha) would win their first round, but they will all struggle in their second rounds. Baltacha has the best draw, facing Marion Bartoli, who, despite being seeded, is struggling for form this year, in the second round, but it would be hard to predict any of Britain’s women going beyond the third.