The Wimbledon Mens’ Singles Preview
June 28th, 2015 | Marten Julian's Guest Contributor News
By Paul Day
Wimbledon, tennis’ most prestigious tournament, starts on Monday in the beautiful grounds of the All England Tennis and Croquet Club situated in London SW19. If you are lucky enough to enjoy a day at Wimbledon, it is a privilege to be able to watch some of the world’s best at such close range. You can literally stand at the side of all the outside courts and from there you get a much better sense of the speed of the ball and power of the shots. It’s a fantastic day out for all sports enthusiasts.
The grounds staff have prepared the courts to perfection. Twenty years ago, in my opinion, the courts were too fast and rallies rarely developed. With the advancements in equipment, coupled with the increasing strength of the players, the balls were being hit harder and the fast rebound from the court meant it was almost impossible for rallies to go beyond one serve and a volley. Matches were starting to be dull in my view. Today the courts are slower, the grass is mowed towards the net and it’s cut to exactly 8mm, all designed to slow the rebound slightly to allow the top players a chance to develop rallies.
There is sufficient grip between the ball and the grass surface for spin to take effect too, with topspin shots kicking off the surface while slice tends to check the ball. The courts still favour attacking players, the grass still plays faster than most other surfaces and players gain full advantage for attacking shots. All types of play can be competitive here these days but I still believe an attacking style is the one best suited for Wimbledon.
There is great strength in depth in the Mens’ Draw, with no easy passages through to the final stages of Grand Slam events.
This is excellent for spectators because we should see the top players in very competitive matches right from the very first day. The top three players in the world all come into Wimbledon in top form this year. Andy Murray won Queens and reached the semi-finals of the French Open on his least favoured surface, the slow clay courts at Roland Garros.
Federer won in Halle and Djokovic took a short rest after his excellent clay court season, in spite of his loss in the final at Roland Garros.
Nadal has had a lean year to date, struggling even on his favoured clay courts and lost early at Queens to Dolgopolov. Nadal is now ranked 10th in the world and he is seeded to meet David Ferrer in the last 16, before possibly meeting Andy Murray in the quarter final. Maybe I am biased because of my admiration for him, but I still hope he can recover his past form and challenge for Grand Slams. He trades at 26/27 for this tournament which I think properly reflects his current form but if he can play himself back into form, it may prove to be a big price. I still think he has a small chance, but he will need some luck.
Wawrinka played brilliantly in Paris. He was simply too powerful for all his opponents and won his first French Open. Even Djokovic was unable to withstand his barrage of power shots in the final. Wawrinka has long flowing shots and I am sure he will be competitive at Wimbledon, but I don’t think his style is ideally suited to the faster, lower bounce on the grass courts. He currently trades at 19/19.5 and I would prefer to lay him at these prices.
There are several dangerous younger players. Raonic, Kyrgios, Sock and Dimitrov are the four I would nominate as most likely to spring some surprises and prove dangerous if they can reach the later stages. Dimitrov has shown his enormous potential in previous years, beating Murray in straight sets last year, but he has been disappointing this season.
I am starting to question his application and mental attitude and I couldn’t recommend backing him at this time.
Raonic has been injured but he should have fully recovered for this tournament. He has a huge serve and powerful ground strokes making him extremely dangerous and difficult to beat. I still question whether he has the touch to reach the very top of the game and he currently trades at 50/55 which I think fairly represents his chance.
Kyrgios and Sock would be my preferred young players. Kyrgios has a big game, he’s confident and has great potential. He’s been given a tough draw, as Raonic probably awaits in the 3rd round possibly followed by Dimitrov. I hope Kyrgios comes through that section. He trades at 120/130 which may represent fair value.
Jack Sock is less well known. He is America’s hope for the future. His forehand is extremely powerful and the topspin he imparts exceeds the spin applied by Nadal. It is likely to take more time before he develops into a challenger at the top level, but he is one to note for the future. He is drawn to meet Federer in the 3rd round and I hope he will be competitive. He trades at 400 on Betfair in the winner market. It’s too much to dare to believe he can challenge but he will carry a few pounds of mine.
There are several other contenders who could challenge for the title, including Nishikori, Berdych, Tsonga and Cilic. I would rate Nishikori as the best of these, as he is gradually improving but he hasn’t shown any form on grass previously and seems friendless in the market. He is currently trading at 75/80 but I still think he should be watched closely.
Tsonga played well in Paris and at his best he has a chance. He has been injured but is hopeful of full recovery in time for this tournament. Berdych is in good form and has reached a Wimbledon final in the past but I doubt he has the class to win this year. Cilic won the US Open and can play at a very high level but his current form has been slightly disappointing.
In short, I don’t really think these players will win.
It’s no surprise that the top three players in the world ranking, Djokovic, Federer and Murray are the top three in the betting and the winner is probably amongst them. Federer has proven me wrong, as I thought his time at the very top had passed and he would slowly drift down the rankings. Far from it, He has worked on his game and developed an even more attacking brand of tennis that has given him a new lease of life at the top. He is currently ranked number two and Wimbledon represents his best chance to win another Slam to add to his record total. He moves really well and the quicker courts enable him to shorten the rallies rather than get involved in long power-hitting exchanges where several players can now get the better of him. He has a reasonable draw, set to meet Jack Sock in the third round and Berdych in the Quarters. He trades at 8.2/8.4, and although I would agree he has a chance to win, I would lay him at the price.
Andy Murray comes into the tournament with his confidence high. I love watching him, as he is constantly thinking in the rallies, changing the pace, changing the spin and using clever placement. His second serve is not good, and all too often he has to use his running speed and court coverage to defend after opponents attack it. I do complain his footwork isn’t good when playing attacking forehands and occasionally I think he can be slightly too passive for my liking but overall he is a great player. He has a tough draw with likely opponents, Seppi, Tsonga and possibly Nadal before he reaches his seeded position where a semi-final showdown with Federer is predicted. I believe Murray can beat all these opponents, but it will be tough. I fancy him to get through. In any Final anything is possible, but Murray has proven he can win and trades at 3.95/4, which I think is about right for his chance.
Djokovic must have been bitterly disappointed to lose in Paris, it’s the only Grand Slam he hasn’t won and after beating Nadal he looked a strong favourite before Wawrinka overpowered him in the final. In my opinion, Djokovic is an all-time great of the game, with the best service return. He is the most consistent player ever, with fantastic speed around the court, endless stamina and then add to that a clever tactical brain. It’s nearly impossible to find any weakness. On a slow clay court, maybe he has been shown not to have quite enough power, but this won’t be an issue on the faster grass courts. He doesn’t play well in very windy conditions, again this isn’t likely to cause a problem at Wimbledon, and finally he may not be quite as good in extreme heat.
Again you would say this is unlikely to be an issue in our climate, although it is worth noting that the final when Murray beat him was played on one of our hottest days.
Djokovic has a tough draw, Kohlschreiber, Hewitt, Tomic, Anderson are the most likely route to reach the quarter final where Nishikori, Isner or Cilic are the most likely opponents in the quarter final.
Possibly a rematch with Wawrinka in the semi final although this is difficult to predict since there are several players who could come through the second quarter.
There will be tough matches along the way for Djokovic, all these players are good. I think Dojokovic will take one match at a time and hewill beat all comers because he is a class above.
Murray would be his biggest test if they both reached the final, Murray could win but the most likely winner is Djokovic.
He currently trades at 2.46 / 2.48, it may appear to be a short price but the more I evaluate his chance of winning, the more I believe this price represents good value to back.
I believe Novak Djokovic is the best player in the world, and he has a great chance to win the tournament.
It will be a great festival of tennis – enjoy it all.
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