For the past two weeks, many of the top players made their way to London to play grass tournaments to prepare for biggest grass court tournament, Wimbledon. With the return of the “big four” in the top seeding, along with the wide-open women’s game, Wimbledon will be filled with questions and storylines. Here are three of them.
3. Can Venus regain glory at Wimbledon?
As the whole tennis world knows all titles in the women’s game is up for grabs. Although Venus is by no means the overall favorite she is one of the favorites to win it all. Venus is a five-time champion at Wimbledon. Last year Venus made it all the way to the semifinals before losing to Angelique Kerber. Venus is having a consistently year on the tour this year. Besides making to the Aussie Open finals, Venus has gone deep in five out of the eight tournaments she played. There is no reason to suspect that Wimbledon will be any different.
Venus loves the grass and the grass loves her. The grass amplifies Venus strengths (serve, powerful groundstrokes, volleys). Venus also knows how to move on grass, which some players have trouble with. The transformation of Venus when she takes Centre Court is like no other the sport has seen. The confidence kicks in, the groundstrokes become consistent and the overall play of Venus goes to another level. Considering that Venus is already playing solid tennis, it stands to reason that the transformation will happen again.
The biggest thing that Venus has going for her at Wimbledon, like the other WTA players, is that little sister is out of the game pregnant. With Serena out, Venus will have all the freedom, motivation and belief to know that if she plays her best she will have a good chance to take home her sixth Wimbledon title.
It will not be easy for Venus. There are quality players like two time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová and returning former number one and two-time grand slam champion Victoria Azarenka, who will be looking to impose their game on the grass. But if Venus remains focused and plays her best the title can be hers.
2. Is Wimbledon where Andy Murray or Novak Djokovic turn it around?
To be fair to Murray, although he has struggled this entire season, he did have a solid French Open. Murray made it to the semifinals where he lost a thrilling tough five set match to Stan Wawrinka. With that said there are still some concerns.
Murray won 11 straight matches on grass so it was surprising to see him lose his first-round match to young Aussie Jordan Thompson at the Aegon Championship. Murray then cleared up some of that shock when he pulled out of another grass court tournament the following week citing a hamstring injury. Although Murray’s camp would eventually say the withdrawal was precautionary, it is something to pay attention to at Wimbledon. If Murray isn’t at full strength is hard to believe that he will be able to win seven matches in a best of five format.
However, if Murray is healthy then the defending champion will obviously be a threat to win it all.
Unlike Murray, Djokovic has yet to really prove that he has turned his season over. Last year Djokovic entered Wimbledon holding all four grand slams, something that had not been done since Rod Laver in the 1960s. This year Novak enters with no grand slams. As if that is not bad enough Djokovic has made one grand slam final in his last three appearances and that was at last year’s US Open.
Though it appeared that Djokovic was finally regaining some of his mojo back on clay, he made it to the finals in Rome, that was wiped away when he lost in the quarterfinals to young Austrian Dominic Thiem. It wasn’t exactly that he lost, though he did have a lopsided head to head win record over Thiem, it was how he lost. He lost to Thiem in straight sets, being unable to win a single game in the third set.
Due to that lost and poor play throughout the entire season, Novak entered a grass court tournament before Wimbledon. The last time Novak entered a grass tournament prior to Wimbledon was way back in 2010. So, it seems that Djokovic is unsure of his game.
It is hard to predict what Djokovic will do at Wimbledon. Though he is a three-time champion there and is fully capable of winning, this season has been quite the struggle. Novak to turn it around has made moves that many consider to be panic moves. Firing his entire team, now entering a tournament before Wimbledon and even hiring former top player Andre Agassi (though many believe it was a smart move). This is all to say that no one knows where Novak’s head is right now. It only takes one tournament to turn things around and thought it might not seem likely it is quite possible that this is where it happens for Djokovic.
1. Will Roger Federer win his eighth Wimbledon title?
At this point it is silly to ask the question, can Roger win Wimbledon. Roger has won Wimbledon seven times and is one of the most dominant grass court players to ever play. Roger has been a force this season, winning the Aussie Open and the two biggest American hardcourt titles. Rafa, who has looked scary to almost everyone on tour, has looked clueless the last two meetings he’s had with Roger.
Federer skipped the entire clay court season for two reasons. One because he knew how unstoppable Rafa would be on clay and the second and most important is to be at full strength for his beloved Wimbledon. Wimbledon is always Roger’s best chance to win a grand slam and though winning the Australian Open was a surprise, winning Wimbledon wouldn’t be.
Roger had some worried when he lost his first match on grass to good friend Tommy Haas but then quickly dispelled any doubts by winning another grass court tournament the following week in dominant fashion.
With the way Federer has played so far, this season combined with his overall greatness on grass it is hard to envision someone else holding the trophy two weeks from now. Sure, there are dangerous players who have the skills and belief to beat Federer but if he plays his best they might as well being engraving the name Federer now.
Wimbledon starts this Monday.