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Who will win Wimbledon 2012? Preview and Predictions
- Michael Giovannetti
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The Wimbledon Mens Singles Championship starts on the 25th June, with 128 players competing on the grass courts of the All England Club, London. Last year it was Novak Djokovic who triumphed to capture his maiden Wimbledon title, and thus set his name amongst the legends of the game who have won the oldest tennis tournament in the world.
Among the other contenders that will be discussed in this hub is the recent French Open champion and runner up in 2011, Rafael Nadal, who will be looking to add to his two previous Wimbledon titles. Five time champion Roger Federer will also be determined to demonstrate that he still is able play his best tennis and win more grand slams. The chances of the flamboyant Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and British World No. 4 Andy Murray will be discussed, as they both attempt to win their first grand slam title, with Murray aiming to become the first British winner of Wimbledon in the open era. The potential outsiders for the tournament will also be discussed as they look to upset the odds and win this year's Wimbledon.
After triumphing over Rafael Nadal in last year's Wimbledon final, the World No. 1 continued to dominate the grand slams by winning the US Open later that year, and capturing his third Australian Open at the start of this year. It has been an extremely impressive rise to the pinnacle of the game by the Serb; from a position where he was seemingly a level below Federer and Nadal, his remarkable season in 2011 enabled him to eclipse them and firmly establish himself as the one to beat in the grand slams. Last year he remained unbeaten until the semi-finals of Roland Garros, winning an incredible 41 matches in a row. The Serb got the better of his main rival, Rafael Nadal, throughout the season, his power and athleticism meant that he could cope with Nadal's aggressive groundstrokes and outplay him in a way which the Spaniard had never experienced before. Djokovic ended the year with a six nil head to head record over Nadal, and crucially triumphed over him in two grand slam finals, as well as the final of the Australian Open early this year.
Prior to his win at Wimbledon last year, his best previous performances were semi-final appearances in both 2007 and 2010. His win in 2011 illustrates the step up he has made, and despite his defeat to Nadal in his first French Open final this year at Roland Garros, his form and recent grand slam record means he rightly should be regarded as the favourite to retain the Wimbledon title in 2012.
Djokovic winning his first Wimbledon title
The Wimbledon champion of 2008 and 2010 won a record breaking seventh French Open title at Roland Garros this year, denying Novak Djokovic the opportunity to become the first player since Rod Laver to hold all four of the grand slams simultaneously. Despite arguably being the best clay court player of all time, Nadal's style of play was not as suited for Wimbledon's grass courts in his initial appearances at the All England Club; it took him a few years to adapt to the quicker grass courts before he could break Roger Federer's hold on the trophy in 2008 and win it for the first time, ending Federer's run of five Wimbledon titles in a row.
In 2011, Nadal struggled immensely against Djokovic, and he failed to beat him over the whole season. As a consequence of the dominance of Djokovic, in the off-season prior to this year, Nadal made a change in his racket to try and generate more power, and attempt to gain the upper hand over Djokovic once again; he was able to get the better of Djokovic on his favoured clay courts of Roland Garros, and it will be interesting this year to see how these changes impact upon his performance on the quicker grass courts at Wimbledon.
The 16 time grand slam winner enters this years Wimbledon as the third seed, with his last grand slam triumph coming back in the 2010 Australian Open. Federer has displayed his best tennis at Wimbledon over the years, winning the tournament 5 times in a row between 2003 and 2007, and also winning in 2009. The Swiss feels at home on the grass courts, and he will be looking to add to his tally of 6 titles, and thus equal the record of 7 Wimbledon titles that Pete Sampras holds.
The 30 year-old's consistency in grand slams is astounding, having now reached 32 consecutive quarter-finals. This year he lost in the semi-finals of the first two grand slams, and his form has been largely impressive, holding a 39/6 win/loss record. In his traditional pre-Wimbledon warm up tournament in Halle, he saw of the challenge of promising youngster Milos Raonic, however, he unexpectedly lost out in the final to wildcard Tommy Haas in two sets. He will be eager to show he still has the ability to win grand slams at the age of 30, and with grass courts playing to Federer's strengths, Wimbledon is likely to represent his best chance of getting the better of the likes of Nadal and Djokovic.
A first Grand Slam for Murray?
The hopes of the British public will once again rest on the shoulders on the World Number 4 as he bids to win his first grand slam and become the first British winner of Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936. At the tail-end of last year he enlisted the help of 8 time grand slam winner Ivan Lendl in order to try and attain that elusive grand slam title. The move to appoint Lendl as his coach seemed to pay dividends at the first grand slam of the year in Australia, where despite losing a dramatic semi-final against Djokovic, it was a match that could easily have gone in Murray's favour. The Scot even admitted after the game that it was one of the best matches he ever played. He showed he could go toe-to-toe with the World Number 1 and must have gained confidence despite the defeat.
He has not quite had the best run of form since the Australian Open, with a quarter-final exit at the French open marking the end of a largely disappointing clay court season in which he was hampered by a niggling back injury. He lost to Nicolas Mahut in the first round of the Queens tournament, his first grass court tournament, however, he has become very consistent and accomplished in progressing to the latter stages of grand slams, and the quicker courts of Wimbledon will suit his game much more than clay courts. He even stated himself that losing to Mahut in the first round could be a blessing in disguise, as it allows him to rest and prepare fully for the tournament. Murray has made the semi-finals at Wimbledon in each of the last three years and has subsequently shown that he can deal with the pressures of playing at Wimbledon.
Tsonga's time to shine?
After almost prevailing over Novak Djokovic in the quarter finals of the French Open, the mercurial Frenchman comes into this tournament in good form. His game is suited to grass courts, with his big serve and forehand enabling him to finish off points early. Last year he came back from two sets down to record a shock win over Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, before losing out in the semi-finals to the eventual winner, Djokovic. He also reached the final of the Queen's tournament prior to last year's Wimbledon, illustrating his pedigree on grass courts.
Outside of the the top 4 he seems the one most likely to contend for the title, however, there is an injury concern hanging over him after he fell at the Queen's tournament and sprained his finger. Initially it was feared it could be broken, but these fears were allayed after scans revealed it was a sprain. If his injury clears up then he could be a major threat, especially if he can repeat his serving performance of last year, where he recorded the most aces of any player in the tournament.
Berdych to go one better than 2010?
Tomas Berdych - The Czech World Number 7 has established himself as a top ten player over the past couple of years, and in terms of his grand slam performances, his performances at Wimbledon have been the most notable; performing brilliantly in Wimbledon 2010, reaching his only grand slam final to date after beating both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, before losing out to Rafael Nadal in the final. He possesses a big serve and groundstrokes that can overpower opponents, especially on the grass courts of Wimbledon. He could very well be a dark horse for the tournament, and if he reaches the quarter finals again, it could well be a repeat of the 2010 quarter final match up against Roger Federer.
John Isner - The 6foot 9inch American uses his height to great effect, as he arguably has the best serve in men's tennis at the moment. On grass courts, his serve acts as a formidable weapon, making it extremely hard for opponents to break serve, whilst putting more pressure on their own serve. He will be a player that the favourites will definitely want to avoid.
Marin Cilic - The former grand slam semi-finalist enters Wimbledon in good form after winning the Queen's tournament in dramatic circumstances, after David Nalbandian was disqualified for kicking an advertising board and injuring a line judge. His big serve is a major asset, especially on grass. However, his best performance at Wimbledon is the 4th round, and he has surprisingly lost in the 1st round three times in his five appearances, including the last two years, and will subsequently be determined perform better this year.
Milos Raonic - The world number 22 is one of the rising stars of the game, and was named the ATP newcomer of the year last year. The 21 year-old has the characteristics of a good modern day grass court player, with a big serve and powerful groundstrokes. In the grass court tournament in Halle, he pushed Federer all the way in the quarter-finals, narrowly losing out in a third set tie-breaker. He has yet to make it past the fourth round of a grand slam, however, he is improving year on year, and this could be the grand slam where the Canadian makes a real impression in the latter stages of the tournament.
Tommy Haas - At 34 years old, the German is very much one of the veterans of the ATP tour. However, his career has been dogged by injury and even at the twilight of his career he has shown he can demonstrate high quality tennis that can even trouble the best players in the world. This was exemplified in Halle - the pre-Wimbledon warm up event for many players - where he beat quality players like Tomas Berdych and Phillip Kohlscreiber to set up a final against Roger Federer, in which he brilliantly beat the 6 time winner of the tournament in two sets.This was no fluke however, he won the Halle tournament back in 2009, beating Novak Djokovic in the final, and then proceeded to reach the semi-finals of Wimbledon showing that he is very comfortable on grass. However, it will be an extremely tough ask for him to reach the latter stages of the tournament this year; he is unseeded and will need to beat several top players if he wants to emulate that semi-final performance of three years ago.
Juan Martin Del Potro - The huge Argentinian is a grand slam winner after winning the 2009 US Open, yet his career has been hampered by injuries that have restricted him to only four Wimbledon appearances. His record is not particularly impressive, losing in the 2nd round three times, and his 4th round appearance last year represented his best result at Wimbledon to date. Grass is probably his weakest surface, nonetheless, he has made the quarter-finals of the first two grand slams of the year and will be confident of putting in an improved performance this year if he can remain injury free.