Wimbledon preview – gentlemen’s singles
The All England Lawn Tennis Club opens its doors for Wimbledon once again and four names are likely to compete for the men’s title.
The top four in the men’s draw will dominate the headlines and the winner is likely to come from the band of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray. The last player to win outside of the top four rankings was a pony-tailed Rodger Federer in 2003, then ranked fifth.
Roger Federer: best-price 5/1 with Sportingbet
Federer seems to have been blown away by the baseline play of Nadal and Djokovic over the last two years and Federer lost in the final in his last pre-Wimbledon event in Germany. Beaten by Tommy Haas, who hadn’t beaten the Swiss in over a decade, Federer goes into Wimbledon knowing that a win would see him equal Pete Sampras’s record of seven titles at SW19.
Novak Djokovic returns after winning his first Wimbledon in 2011 and he starts as favourite with the bookies, priced at 13/8. After challenging Nadal in the French to be the first player since Rod Laver to hold all four grand slams, Djokovic will want to bounce back from the defeat sharply. Djokovic did manage to take a set off of Nadal in the French final, no mean feat, and had Nadal panicking after winning eight successive games at one point only for a rain delay to cancel that momentum. The Serbian managed to usurp Nadal last year, who was beginning to look like he might dominate at Wimbledon, as Federer did in the mid noughties.
Rafael Nadal: best-price 5/2 Paddy Power
Nadal returns to Wimbledon with a heavier racket, a significant change, bought on to help him compete with the flat ball hitting that Novak Djokovic can produce. A change undertaken with the long-term in mind, Nadal looked excellent in the Australian, eventually losing in the longest ever Grand Slam final and only dropped one set en route to another Roland Garros title. With six good months practise with his new racket, Nadal will hope to make amends for a timid defeat in 2011.
Andy Murray: best-price 10/1 with Sportingbet
Andy Murray still remains desperate for that elusive first Grand Slam win, and although grass is not his favourite surface, the Scot has reached the semi-finals for three successive years. Question marks over his fitness were not dispelled after Murray revealed his surprise early exit from Queens’ could give him more time to prepare for the start of Wimbledon. With a favourable draw Murray can easily make the final and having beaten all of the top four on Tour events, he will be hoping to compete and claim his first slam.
Andy Roddick: best-price 200/1 with Sportingbet
A crowd favourite, Andy Roddick, has hinted that this year’s competition may be the last time that he competes at Wimbledon. The three-time finalist at SW19 (losing out to Rodger Federer on each occasion) has had a torrid start to 2012 and is without a competitive victory for three months. Age seems to be catching up with the American and injuries are affecting the former world number ones game. If this does prove to be Roddick’s last tournament he will want to go out with a bang and the faster courts at Wimbledon may help him do that.
After impressing in the French Open, David Goffin, was awarded one of eight wild-cards for the gentlemen’s competition alongside 2002 champion Leyton Hewitt. 21-year-old Goffin made it to the last 16 at Roland Garros before taking a set of Rodger Federer in a four-set loss and the Belgian held parity with Federer for swathes of the match. Leyton Hewitt also returns to Wimbledon and after a series of injuries he will be hoping to repeat his most recent run in 2009; when he made it to the quarters only to suffer a five-set defeat to finalist Andy Roddick. Both are long shots but anyone who likes their tennis would put a few quid on these two; they’re 750/1 to go all the way this year with Ladbrokes.