It comes round so fast. It only seems like yesterday we were previewing the most famous Tournament in Tennis for 2015. Well, the 2016 Championships are almost upon us and the sports loving eyes of the world will be focussing their gaze on the SW19 postcode area of London – or Wimbledon to give it a more familiar name. The only remaining Grass-court Grand Slam will see the first serve open the tournament on 27th June, with the big finale for the Men’s Singles declaring Game, Set and Match on July 10th.
So who’s in the running this year? What’s the form book telling us? And more importantly can Andy Murray overcome the likes of Novak Djokovic and replicate his Olympic and 2013 Championship successes? Read on for our analysis of the main contenders and their chances in the world’s best Tennis Tournament… The last decade has seen both Men’s and Women’s Tennis dominated by some big names. They seem to be a cut above any of the other opposition. Here are the ones to watch – in both the men’s and women’s singles tournaments. There’s an often overlooked incentive to be that good – prize money for Wimbledon in 2015 totalled nearly £27million.
Britain is lucky enough to count Andy Murray as part of that select group – although for quite some time in his early career it looked like he might fall yard short of the very, very best. So let’s start with England’s favourite Scotsman. Credit to him for working at it and getting the right team of people around him to break into the big four. He’s coming into the tournament off the back of an impressive showing at Roland Garros in the French open – although perhaps still lacking that killer instinct and belief having been beaten by Djokovic in the final. He’s also ‘between coaches’ having parted company with Amelie Mauresmo in May. Let’s hope that’s a good thing for him.
Widely regarded as the best player on the current tour, Djokovic has won 12 Grand Slams. That may be 2 less than Nadal and 5 less than Federer, but he’s younger and those are across a wider range of surfaces. He’s also coming off the back of another French open win over Murray. It was a pretty convincing display – winning three straight sets after losing the first. It also means he now holds all four Grand Slams together – the first player to do so since 1969.
Whether Murray will raise his game and take the fight to Novak remains to be seen. But you’d have to say, given Djokovic’s current form, that would be a tall order.
Roger Federer could almost be described as Wimbledon’s favourite son. That’s because he’s equalled the greatest number of Championships won in the Men’s singles – with the great Pete Sampras (throughout the 1990s), and William Renshaw (through the 1880s) who still holds the record for greatest number of consecutive wins – at 6. Some pundits say Fed is getting too long in the tooth to win again – as his performance in 2015 against Djokovic wasn’t quite up to his previous form and he lost in four sets.
Never discount him though. He’s the king of comebacks and just when he’s been written off as over the hill, he seems to be able to bounce back.
Nadal is joint second with Pete Sampras for the greatest number of Men’s single grand slams but been plagued by injuries for the past few years. With 14 a piece, only Roger Federer heads them, with his world record 17. And whilst – like Federer – many pundits were beginning to suggest he’s in the twilight of his Career – there’s been somewhat of a Rafa-resurgence in past few months. He’s a clay court specialist (he’s won the French open at Roland Garros a staggering 9 times), but has been no slouch on grass either – with victory at Wimbledon twice – in 2009 & 2010 – as well as being runner up three times. Another former world no1, Rafa will certainly be looking to make amends for his first round exit in 2015.
The Williams Sister’s
It’s one of the most famous rivalries in Tennis – siblings Serena and Venus have won 10 Wimbledon Championships between them.
Still the world number one, you’d have to say the 5 time champion is favourite again in 2016. Serena’s world ranking is a full 1600 points clear of her nearest rival – Garbine Muguruza – although the Spaniard currently has the upper hand psychologically having beaten Ms Williams in the final of the French Open at Roland Garros. Grass is a different surface though, and Serena has shown her class before. You’d be taking a chance if you bet against her making the final in 2016.
Venus William’s currently ranks 11th in the world – but the former world no. 1 has won at Wimbledon 5 times so never discount her. She was eliminated in the fourth round at Roland Garros, but that was her best performance in the contest for 6 years – so perhaps her trajectory is up. At 36 Venus is the oldest woman in the field – so it’s admirable that she’s still hovering around the top ten. Both sisters are firm favourites of the Wimbledon crowd too – so that will undoubtedly lift her game.
Ms Murguruza beat Serena Williams in the French Open final, but clay is quite a different surface to grass. The Spaniard is the world number 2 and at just 22 years old is one of the exciting prospects threatening to lift Serena’s crown. In fact, some pundits even described her as heir apparent after her French success. She’s 6ft, so an imposing opponent and 3″ taller than Serena. She made the final in 2015, but was comprehensively beaten by the younger Williams sister in straight sets. Maybe she’s learnt from that for 2016 and is heading to her first Grass Grand Slam victory.
Seeded 2nd for Wimbledon in 2016, Radwanska will be keen to emulate her 2012 performance when she was runner up in the final – to, yep, you’ve guessed it, Serena Williams. Ms Radwanska was a semi-finalist in Australia, but crashed out of the French Open in a rain-affected tournament, and was scathing about the organisers for allowing play in drizzle hit conditions, with a clay sodden ball. At least at Wimbledon – on Centre Court at least – they can close the roof.
Whether you have been lucky enough to get tickets – or if you’re going to enjoy ‘The Championships’ somewhere else – let’s hope it’s a classic. Here’s to strawberries and cream, Pimms on the lawn and some world class grass-court tennis.