The international big-hitters at British tennis tournament
Writing this before the first ball of the world’s oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament has even been served, it’s rather audacious to predict which players will reach the final rounds of the respective men’s and women’s tournaments at Wimbledon. Yet providing Centre Court hasn’t been completely washed away by this year’s unseasonably rainy weather, we’ll choke on our strawberries and cream if the following players aren’t gunning for the final this week.
Rafael Nadal Where to start? At just 25 years old, the top-seeded Spaniard is already regarded (along with rival Roger Federer) as one of the greatest players of all time. He has won no less than 10 Grand Slams (winning Wimbledon twice), as well as an Olympic gold medal. What’s frightening is that he promises he can only get better, though considering Federer’s mastery of grass and the current form of Djokovic, he’ll have to up his game to take the championship this year.
Andy Murray It’s Murray’s talent rather than his temperament that has won over the British public, who will be hoping the fiery Scot can overcome the odds, the hype and his own inner demons to claim his first Grand Slam victory. To do so at Wimbledon would be all the sweeter – no Brit has won the tournament in a quarter of a century. In the build-up to the tournament the number four seed was refusing to be drawn in by the media buzz, saying: ‘I’m not looking anywhere past the first match – it’s not worth it. There are tough matches everywhere.’ Nonetheless, we still expect him to feature in this week’s semis.
Novak Djokovic Described by Rafael Nadal as the ‘future of tennis’, number two seed Djokovic will be hoping to overcome his one-game losing streak (he lost to Roger Federer in the semi finals of the French Open after a 41-game unbeaten run) and claim the world number-one ranking by winning Wimbledon. There’s a chance that by the time you’ve read this his losing streak will have extended to two, but this is a very small chance indeed. Though Djokovic tips another Nadal-Federer final, the Serb’s irresistible ability and command of the baseline makes him a firm favourite.
Roger Federer It’s surprising that a man considered by many to be the greatest tennis player of all time is currently ranked as the world’s number three. Not that this will bother Federer much. The Swiss player has bigger fish to fry: if he wins this year’s tournament, he will match Pete Sampras’s record of seven Wimbledon titles. It’s perhaps unsurprising, then, that Federer likens playing at Wimbledon to being back home.
Li Na The 29-year-old has had quite a season, after becoming the first Asian player to win a Grand Slam singles tournament (the 2011 French Open). She’ll be hoping to maintain this form for Wimbledon, a tournament where she has already reached two quarter finals (in 2006 and 2010), and is seeded third this year. However, the last player to win Wimbledon on the back of success at Roland Garros was Serena Williams in 2002. ‘Of course, there is pressure, but I like it,’ says Li. ‘That can improve you a lot.’
Caroline Wozniacki If being seeded number one for Wimbledon and topping the world rankings comes with its pressures, then no one told Wozniacki. Though the great Dane has yet to win a Grand Slam, she’s the Wimbledon favourite this year thanks to her searing form, which has won her five WTA singles finals in 2011 alone. Whether she can transfer this form to the big stage remains to be seen, but we do expect to see her on Centre Court come July 3.