June 23, 2015
Only days to go now, and with the excitement already building, the question on everyone’s lips is: who will win Wimbledon?
It’s easy to single out the favourites, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams, because they are such clear world number ones right now.
But does that mean they will win Wimbledon? Serena has only won the tournament once in the last four years, Djokovic twice.
And here’s the thing: we don’t actually think Novak will do it this year.
No disrespect to the awesome Serb intended – and he might well prove us wrong. No home bias intended either, when we say that our tip for the men’s singles title this year is…Andy Murray.
Ridiculous, isn’t it?! Djokovic has beaten Murray on the last eight occasions, the Brit seems to have a mental block against Novak these days. Just when he seems capable of victory, Murray’s mind seems to disintegrate and his game follows.
It’s frustrating, it’s maddening, it’s baffling. So why should it be any different this time? Why on earth would we predict that Murray will end that woeful run and take his second Wimbledon title? First of all, hidden away in the seemingly one-sided recent head-to-head statistics is a key sub-plot: Murray has won both their matches on grass – the Olympic semi-final and the 2013 Wimbledon final. Not only did he win both, he did so in straight sets.
Then there was Murray’s warm-up form at Queen’s, which was irresistible, and his comment after the final that he is playing even better than he did in 2013. If the Scot plays to his full potential at Wimbledon, he is more than capable of taking down Djokovic once more on Murray’s favourite surface.
Two factors are working against him, however. The first is what appears to be an inferiority complex against Djokovic of late, a feeling that no matter what he does, he can’t win against the best player in the world. Murray needs to confront that complex and banish it forever.
Secondly, Djokovic will be that little bit more motivated following the heartbreak of Paris. A career Slam slipped through his fingers, stolen by the pugnacious Stan Wawrinka. Novak won’t want to be denied another Slam any time soon, because that French Open final must have hurt him big-time.
What it also showed the world, though, is that Djokovic is beatable if you bring the right fighting spirit to a match and don’t stop confronting him until the battle is won. Murray would be very foolish indeed not to have learned from what Wawrinka achieved with a truly positive mindset.
Of course, it could be that neither Murray nor Djokovic become champion, in which case something very touching could well happen, because Roger Federer will have a chance to take an eighth Wimbledon singles title, even though he is pushing 34. The Fed showed at Halle that you can never write him off and he has the cool nerve of an assassin when forced into a corner.
If we were to pick a new winner, we would say that Milos Raonic or Wawrinka might have the best chance. Rafa Nadal will want to make an impact too, after being blown away by Novak on clay a few weeks back. But it could be someone else, no one knows, and that is of course the beauty of sport.
We do tip the favourite, Serena Williams to take the women’s title, if only because Petra Kvitova, twice champion in the last four years, has been suffering with a sore throat and hasn’t had an opportunity to play on grass. But Serena is sometimes strangely vulnerable, as Sabine Lisicki showed a couple of years ago.
Victory for Serena and a 21st Slam would make for a remarkable spectacle though, and anyone present could say they saw something historic.
If you’re looking for an outsider among the women, how about Sloane Stephens? She defeated Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 7-5 at Eastbourne to show that she can bring her scintillating game to grass too. The women’s singles is marvellously unpredictable, as Marion Bartoli’s 2013 triumph proved.
So don’t think for a moment it’s a forgone conclusion that the Wimbledon champions will be the world number ones, Djokovic and Williams.
The drama will soon unfold, the so-called experts will probably be humbled by a host of surprises once more, and we will gasp at the sheer theatre of it all.
Book your seats now, because we can only be sure of one thing – Wimbledon 2015 will be an incredible experience.