Wimbledon is one of the greatest sporting events in the entire global calendar and it never fails to serve up a dazzling blend of excitement, drama and debate. The world’s finest players are preparing to descend upon London for the tournament and they will battle it out for glory over two action-packed weeks. Home fans will not be able to cheer on Andy Murray, as he has no chance of returning from injury in time for the tournament, but several big guns will compete. Here are five players that stand out in this year’s men’s draw:
The Serb capped a magnificent comeback from injury at last year’s tournament as he swept Kevin Anderson aside in an extremely one-sided final. He followed it up by winning the US Open and the Australian Open and he sits comfortably top of the world rankings, so he is understandably the clear favourite to win this tournament.
Check out the Sporting Index spread betting news and you will see just how highly rated Djokovic is by the experts, and he has all the attributes to thrive once again at Wimbledon this year. He has an 87% win record there and he has lifted the trophy four times previously, so he should be full of confidence. The Serb also boasts a strong record against his main rivals: he is 25-22 against Roger Federer after winning their last three meetings, and leads Rafa Nadal 28-26. If you take away clay court matches, the surface Nadal specializes in, Djokovic leads the Spaniard 20-10 and he prevailed in a five-set epic between them here in last year’s semi-finals. He is now at the peak of his powers and he is the man to beat at this tournament.
The great Swiss has won this tournament eight times and it remains his happiest hunting ground, while the crowd adores him. He triumphed in 2017 and he was the favourite to defend his trophy last year, but Federer surprisingly crashed out at the hands of Kevin Anderson in the quarter-finals. His record at Grand Slams since then has been pretty average for a man of his sublime talents, and Father Time appears to finally be catching up with the 37-year-old. He lost to unheralded Australian John Millman at the US Open, to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open earlier this year and then Nadal took him apart in the French Open semi-finals last month. He is still the most successful men’s player of all time, but Nadal is now just two Grand Slams behind him and he will be desperate to secure a 21st at Wimbledon. However, his legs may betray him against a younger man once more.
Grass is Nadal’s weakest surface and his 81% win record at Wimbledon does not compare favourably to the 98% win rate he holds at the French Open. Last year’s surge to the semi-finals was his best showing since 2011, when he lost to Djokovic in four sets in the final. He has won this tournament twice before, but not since 2010. The clay court king will be expected to reach the latter stages of this year’s showpiece, but he is unlikely to trouble an in-form Djokovic unduly on grass. The Serb has not lost to Nadal on the surface since the 2008 Queen’s Club final and he would be the clear favourite if they were drawn against one another this year.
Former Wimbledon champion Boris Becker recently challenged the next generation to “show up” and start challenging for Grand Slam titles. The last 10 Slams have been won by Djokovic, Nadal and Federer, while exciting youngsters such as Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios have flattered to deceive. The brightest young star of the bunch could well be Greek prodigy Tsitsipas, who went to the Australian Open semi-finals earlier this year after vanquishing Federer. He is just 20 years old, but he is already up to sixth in the world rankings and he displays a level of calm and composure in big matches that betrays his age. Grass is his favourite surface and he claims to love Wimbledon, so he could light up this year’s tournament with his aggressive baseline play and impressive athleticism.
The home crowds will miss the opportunity to turn Wimbledon into Murray Mound this year, but they might just have a chance of cheering Edmund on in the second week of the tournament. The 24-year-old has been the British number one since March 2018 and he is now a mainstay in the world’s top 30. He reached the third round at Wimbledon last year, while his best performance came at the 2018 Australian Open as he reached the last four. He has won a title in Antwerp and he has previously between Djokovic, so hope springs eternal for British tennis fans.