The All England Club will open it’s doors to the best players on the planet next week for a tournament that, at least on paper, is up for grabs for any of these five players.
The Novak Djokovic Dynasty appears to have come to halt, and a couple of veterans in the shape of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have picked up the first two slams of the year, just like they did in 2010. And 2009, and 2007 and 2006…you get the picture.
Andy Murray is no mug on the grass and will get the benefit of being top seed in London, while sleeping giant Milos Raonic is sure to have his time in the sun soon enough.
Listed in order of the bookmakers favourites, here they are…
Best result at Wimbledon: Champion – 2003-2007, 2009, 2012
2017 grass court results: Mercedes Cup – R2, Gerry Weber Open – winner
The ageless veteran just seems to get better with time. Federer fans were put through a five-year wait for his 18th Grand Slam title, which came in Melbourne earlier this year.
Since, Federer has been superb in his shortened schedule. Back-to-back Masters 1000 titles at Indian Wells and Miami proved he really was back to his best on hard court. Opting out of the clay court season altogether, the Swiss Maestro got a shock at the start of what could be his last grass court season with an early exit at the Mercedes Cup.
But Federer corrected that with a near flawless display to pick up his record ninth title at the Gerry Weber Open last week, without so much as dropping a set. Going into Wimbledon, Federer is in red hot form…
Best result at Wimbledon: Champion – 2013, 2016
2017 grass court results: Aegon Championships – R1
The defending champion arrives in London with much of the shine taken off his superlative 2016 season.
Last year, Murray reached the final in Melbourne and Paris before notching up his third grand slam title in Wimbledon, dropping just two sets. The Scot’s year culminated in grabbing that world number one spot Djokovic had held onto so tightly for so long. The experts thought 2017 would be his year, but it has been far from it, with just one title and several early exits.
Now, Murray arrives in London rather undercooked after a straight set first round loss to the lesser known Jordan Thompson at Queen’s Club. This is a venue Murray has traditionally used as a Wimbledon warm-up and is a five-time winner.
Can he bounce back from that? Given his talent on grass and his status as crowd favourite, I’m confident Murray will have a strong tournament.
Best result at Wimbledon: Champion – 2008, 2010
2017 grass court results: N/A
The King of Clay put all his focus on the clay court season, playing in no less than five events on the red stuff this year, far more than anyone else on this list.
And it certainly paid off. The Spaniard won three consecutive titles before putting a 15th grand slam feather in his cap at his beloved Roland Garros. Such was Nadal’s dominance on his favourite surface that he notched up an outstanding 29-2 win/loss record.
But, can the Manacor native translate that form onto the slippery grass courts on London? As it is, he has chosen to sit out the start of the season, no doubt to recuperate from his clay court exploits.
Wimbledon as a priority seems to have fallen by the wayside for the veteran, who has not gone past the fourth round since 2011. But given his form in 2017, this could be the year to curb that trend.
Best result at Wimbledon: Champion – 2011, 2014, 2015
2017 grass court results: *Currently playing in Eastbourne
Interestingly enough, it was Djokovic’s shock loss to Sam Querrey at the 2016 Wimbledon Championships that appeared to start his slide from top of the pops to world number four.
Since then, the Serb has won just two titles, which is down right abnormal considering he’d picked up 18 titles in 2014 and 2015 combined. Oh how the mighty have fallen…
Personal issues, problems with motivation and an injury have all been cited as reasons for the slump in form, which lead to him firing his entire coaching staff in the effort of a fresh start. As such, the legendary Andre Agassi will be in Djokovic’s corner for Wimbledon.
Djokovic’s talent is still there – no doubt – and he has a chance to ignite his inner fire at this week’s Aegon International where he is the only top ten player. A win for Djokovic at Eastbourne would do wonders for the former world number one’s mental status. Watch this space.
Best result at Wimbledon: Final – 2016
2017 grass court results: Aegon Championship – R1
Steady results in the grand slams over the last four years have seen Raonic force his way into reckoning and many have picked him to be the next first-time winner on the biggest stage.
However, the big-serving Canadian has not had the best 2017 whichever way you cut it. Raonic has reached just two finals and both of them were at ATP 250 level, where his opposition was not the strongest. Additionally, like Murray, Raonic arrives off the back of a first round loss at the Queen’s Club.
Despite relatively poor results, Raonic has the serve to go all the way at Wimbledon. It was this weapon that took him to the 2016 final, only faltering against a superb Murray.
Raonic is undoubtedly a handful on the slick surface, winning 82% of his first serves on grass, the highest percentage of any player here. If he gets that right in London, Raonic could very well break his grand slam duck.
Stan Wawrinka seems to fly permanently under the radar. Here is a player that is a three-time grand slam winner and he barely makes the news. The world number three’s sole title of the year came on the hard courts of Geneva but make no mistake, the Swiss Ace performs when it matters, reaching the semi-finals in Melbourne and the final in Paris.
Another sleeper in the men’s draw is Marin Cilic, whose powerful serve also enjoys the bouncy grass surface. The former US Open winner is coming off a runner-up finish at Queen’s Club and semi-final appearance at the Ricoh Open the week before.