Del Potro appeals as a possible ‘saver’

June 24th, 2017 | Ian Carnaby's Sports News

I have sounded so confident about Andy Murray where Wimbledon is concerned that there should be an update following his surprise exit at Queen’s – something that probably stopped the sponsors in their tracks.

He is going through an awkward spell and this was a strange performance against a qualifier, given his return to form in France. The only thing that disappoints me with Murray is this constant berating of himself (and indeed his camp) when things start to go wrong. They can’t help from up in the box and he would do well simply to get on with things.

As regards the bet at Wimbledon, I’d stay with him though there is no need to increase the stake. Just to set one or two things straight, Murray is the best player in the world and went through a sustained period last year when even turning out against him looked a waste of time. He is a natural grass court competitor and there is time to sort out a few things between now and the start of hostilities.

John McEnroe is a welcome presence on television but he is not short of opinions and not all of them should be regarded as gospel. Saying that Murray is in the top four but still lags behind the other three is only true when it comes to titles won and certainly does not apply to their present ability. Federer and Nadal have both been magnificent players and Nadal is still more than capable, especially on the surface at Roland Garros. But neither is quite as good as before, and neither will win Wimbledon. Also, it is unlikely that Djokovic will scale the heights again because he does not have their temperament or burning desire. Personally, I doubt that he will ever beat Murray again in a tournament that ‘matters’ to them.

If I were looking for a long-priced outsider as a saver bet in SW19 I’d have a close look at Juan-Martin del Potro, who is not fazed by grass and, at his very best, is capable of matching the big names. Never forget that he took Djokovic to five punishing sets in the semi-finals when Murray won his first Wimbledon crown – a gift under the circumstances and one of the bets of all time, not that the British press was ever going to consider Djokovic’s physical and mental exhaustion as a factor.

Del Potro’s wrist has been a worry for a long time but he seems to be over the problem now and, if he is ever to shine on the biggest stage, it will need to be soon. However, MURRAY is still the main bet to be around when it counts in a couple of weeks’ time.

The women’s tournament is almost impossible to call, though it might be argued that a resurgent Petra Kvitova looks in fine fettle and, as a dual winner, must be taken very seriously. There is more joy to her game following the horrific attack which might have ended her career and she will have many supporters. However, it will take a huge mental effort against any one of the several young players staking a claim and I cannot see her going all the way.

SIMONA HALEP may atone for the lapse in Paris when she seemed to be on her way to the title, though of course she has to readjust to grass. There have been times when you could almost see the self-confidence draining away, with the coach on his knees by her side, trying to lift her despite Halep staring into the distance but she looks more mature now and capable of talking herself around when the going gets tough. I think she is probably the best player (just), but it will not be easy.

Johanna Konta looked to be on an upward curve but has levelled out and wears the expression of one who has quickly scaled the heights, exciting everyone along the way, only to realise how hard further progress is going to be. She cannot be backed with any confidence at Wimbledon but undoubtedly has the ability if her self-belief is intact.

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