The time has arrived when Tennis is not just a sport! Royalty, Tradition and Grass takes over the entire Tennis Cosmos for two week’s each year. The 2015 Championships started on Monday 29th July at 1pm when the defending champion Novak Djokovic walked out on the court to continue the custom that has been etched for the last 139 years. Be it the drilled movement of the ball kids or the tempting cream and strawberry, the famous white clothing or the historic royal box. The folklore of Wimbledon just inspires everyone. Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships is well underway!
Players arrive at SW 19 after toiling in the scorching sun in Melbourne and combating memorable battles on the red dirt concluding at Roland Garros. The lush green lawns will take over from crumpled clay. Pimple-soled shoes will be laced up and players will now focus on knee-bending, light footwork and sliced shots. Half-way through the season most of the players are exhausted and look spent but the prospect of playing on the grandest stage will re-energize them and infuse new life as they all will now be part of history.
Roland Garros recently finished and prior to the mega clay court event all eyes were on the 2 heavyweights – World No.1 Novak Djokovic and 9-time Champion Rafael Nadal. But neither of them failed to lift La Coupe des Mousquetaires as it was “Swiss Rule – Confoederatio Helvetica” in France as Stan Wawrinka hogged the limelight in Paris. The Swiss No.2 produced arguably some of the most breath-taking tennis one has ever witnessed as he demolished the Serb in the finals. Thus, Wimbledon 2015 has too many juicy storylines to offer.
Djokovic’s loss in Paris denied him once in a lifetime opportunity to add the Musketeer’s Cup and join the elusive club of men who have completed the Career Grand Slam. His defeat at the hands of Stan has removed the aura of invincibility that had surrounded him since the start of the season. All eyes will be on the Serb to comeback from the haunting beat-down. Can Nole 2.0 rise and rule again?
Roger Federer is fighting the only undisputed force in the entire universe – TIME & AGE. It has been almost 3 years (since 8-July-2012) when Roger last held a major aloft – Wimbledon 2012. He seems to be stuck on 17 and the once booming grand slam tally finally seems to be stalled. Will his wait for 8 end? Can be win No.18 and more or less tilt the debate for the GOAT in his favour (for the time being)?
Andy Murray seems to have come back to life. He looks better than what he was 2 years back when he ended the 77 year wait for a NATIVE Champion. Can he repeat 2013 and become the 1st Brit to win multiple Wimbledon titles since Fred Perry’s three peat (1934-1936).
What can we expect from Stan Wawrinka – Will he continue his onslaught or will inconsistency disturb him once again?
The second week promises to produce historic, awe-inspiring and astounding tennis on the green lawns at SW 19. Tennis fanatics across the world wait for the answers?
1. Can Novak Djokovic stand-up from his Roland Garros disappointment?
Novak Djokovic comes into Wimbledon 2015 on the back of arguably his toughest loss in his career. Stan Wawrinka denied him a place in Tennis History as the Serb faded against the Swiss in the French Open Final 3 weeks back. Djokovic, who managed to shake the monkey of his back by demolishing Rafa in the QF (0-6 against Rafa prior to that match), was left standing as Wawrinka produced some ruthless power tennis to knock the World No.1 in 4 sets.
The Serb finds himself in a similar situation like 2011. He was denied by another Swiss Roger Federer at the 2011 Roland Garros (ending the Serb’s 43 match unbeaten run). But Novak came roaring back at SW 19 winning his 1st Wimbledon title and in the process becoming World No.1 for the 1st time in his career.
In 2015, the patterns are similar as Nole 2.0 was simply outstanding in the first half of the season as he won his 5th Aus Open title (Open-Era Record) and followed it up by becoming the 1st man to win the opening 3 masters titles (Indian Wells, Miami & Monte Carlo). He just seemed unstoppable prior to the French Open.
The question now is how will Nole comeback? Will the defeat to Stan haunt him or can he roar back into form? He has made the Wimbledon finals thrice in the last 4 years (winning in 2011 & 2014; losing to Andy in 2013). Novak is perched at the top of the ATP rankings and will look for redemption at this year’s championships. He will also try to become the 1st man since Federer in 2007 to retain the title. An annoyed Serbinator is expected to come out all guns blazing!
PREDICTION – SEMIFINALS (Djokovic will fail to exorcise his demons as he loses to Wawrinka again).
STATSMETER – Novak Djokovic (SRB)
- Novak is 41-3 this season (winning the Aus Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo & Rome). He was on a 28 match streak prior to the French Open final loss.
- Novak’s career win-loss record on grass: 60-15 (80%). His record at Wimbledon: 45-8 (85%); champion in 2011 and 2014.
- Novak is on a 24 consecutive QF streak in majors (2nd best to Federer’s 36 in the Open-Era). He faces Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) in the 1R. Ironically, the German was the last man to beat Novak before the QF (2009 French Open; 3R).
- Djokovic is now 8-8 in slam finals (only 50%) after his loss to Wawrinka. Only Lendl has an inferior record than him (8-11). Also Novak is 3-6 in major finals since Aus Open 2012.
2. Will Roger Federer turn 8 and 18 this year?
1085 days and counting!! 8-July-2012 saw Roger Federer lift his 7thWimbledon trophy after getting the better of native son Andy Murray. He tied William Renshaw and Pete Sampras for the most titles at the All England Club extending his overall grand slam tally to 17. He fell to the ground in victory, roared and embraced the British Crowd with respect for his opponent and wept in front of his twin daughters. Since that momentous day the wait for 8 and 18 continues…
An old saying – the one undisputed force in our universe is “AGE”. The harder you try to stave it off; it more or less gets hold of everyone with its aggregated effects. Roger Federer whose Tennis is immortal is not immune to this ultimate inevitability.
Federer, who will turn 34 this August, is firmly approaching the twilight of his legendary career. He is not as dominant as he used to be and his on-court success in recent seasons is slowly declining. You can possibly feel that the reason for his success’ becoming sporadic is “Roger is no more in his prime”. The Swiss man still produces many flashes of wizardry from his famed RF Wilson Wand (be it the 90 square inch or the recently changed Wilson Pro Staff RF97). But over the last few seasons, those brilliant moments are diluted which can be attributed to his inconsistency.
This year’s Wimbledon perhaps shapes up as the last legitimate opportunity to add to his record grand slam tally. He’s coming into good form after winning Halle last week for a record 8th time (defeated an inspired Seppi in the finals in straight sets).
The hiring of Swede legend Stefan Edberg seems too have done wonders when it comes to the best-of-3 format. The Swiss is a staggering 76-11 in this format since hiring Edberg but when it comes to the best-of-5 format, Federer is just 31-7.
The main objective behind Edberg’s hiring was to aid Federer to further enhance the grand slam tally but the combination is still in search of a major title. He did manage to reach the Wimbledon final last year losing to Novak in another classic 5 setter (coming back from match point down in the 4th set to push it to a decided). The focus for both Federer and his million fans will now be winning Wimbledon for a record 8th time. Is this Roger’s last chance for glory? Only time will tell.
(Federer and Superstition – Born on August 8; the Swiss is believed to be obsessed with the No. 8. He wants to serve eight aces before beginning a match, wants eight towel rubs at the end of a set, sets up eight bottles of water courtside and carries eight rackets)
PREDICTION – SEMIFINALS (Scot Andy Murray will stop the Swiss Maestro in the SF; expect that match to be a classic 5 setter).
STATSMETER – Roger Federer (SUI)
- Roger is 34-6 this season (winning in Brisbane, Dubai, Istanbul & Halle). His victory in Halle saw him become the 3rd man to win titles at the same event (Rafael Nadal has nine Roland Garros titles and eight from Monte Carlo and Barcelona, while Guillermo Vilas has eight from Buenos Aires).
- Federer is 136-19 (88%) on grass overall; the best win-loss % on grass in the Open-Era. He is 73-9 (89%) at Wimbledon; only Borg (51-4; 93%) Sampras (63-7; 90%) have better win-loss % than Roger; champion in 2003-2007, 2009, 2012.
- Federer is 7-2 in Wimbledon finals (lost to Nadal in 2008 & Djokovic in 2014). He enjoyed a 40 match win streak at Wimbledon between 2003-2008 (Borg won 41 matches between 1976-1981). Also he won 65 matches on grass between 2003-2008 (until his loss to Nadal in the 2008 epic final).
- Federer is 9-0 in Wimbledon SF and has won 27 out of the 28 sets he played in this round (Djokovic pushed him to 4 sets in 2012 SF).
- The Paul Annacone – Federer combo had to wait 2 years to win a major. Federer hired Annacone in July 2010 and won Wimbledon 2 years later.
3. Will Andy Murray reign supreme at Wimbledon once again?
In 2012, Murray was standing on the opposite end of the podium. He had lost yet another grand slam final. The man who was tipped to become the 1st British male champion in the Open-Era was left stranded with tears in his eyes as he could not face the British crowd. He lost to Federer at the 2012 Wimbledon final. Then it was London Olympics 2012 at the All England Club and that was the beginning of good things for Andy. Murray went on win the Olympics (gold medal) and followed that up with his 1st Major win at the 2012 US Open.
Murray became the first British player since 1977, and the first British man since 1936, to win a Grand Slam singles tournament, when he defeated Novak Djokovic in five sets. This title made him the only British male to become a Grand Slam singles champion during the Open-Era. On 7 July 2013, Murray won the 2013 Wimbledon Championships, becoming the first British man to do so since Fred Perry, 77 years ago.
Switch to 2015, Murray seems to have recovered from the surgery (Lower back) that had hampered his 2014 season. The Scot seems to be in the best form of his life. He’s made a strong comeback this season with consistent results that had deserted him last year. To start the year, he reached the finals in Melbourne losing to World No.1 Djokovic in 4 sets. He went 15-1 on clay this season losing only to Novak Djokovic in the SF of the French Open. Also he managed to defeat clay court titans Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer for the 1st time in his career on the red dirt along with picking up his first 2 titles on clay (Munich & Madrid) thus proving that the Scot has comeback stronger & fitter.
With Wimbledon to kick off from tomorrow, Murray finds himself in the best for forms. He managed to win Queen’s Club for a record 4th time and now has Swede Jonas Bjorkman on his coaching staff along with Amelie Mauresmo.
The only major roadblock for the Brit is his Serbian rival Novak Djokovic. The Serb has not lost to the Scot since the 2013 Wimbledon Final and has already beaten Andy four times this season. (Aus Open Final, Indian Wells SF, Miami Final, Roland Garros SF). Novak seems to be in Murray’s head and can possibly be the only Achilles heel for Murray come this Wimbledon (Djokovic has won their last 8 matches).
His remarkable form this year has led to many believing that he can once again reign at SW19, where two years ago he became the first local man since Fred Perry in 1936 to triumph at the most prestigious Grand Slam tournament.
Thus, there is no reason why Murray cannot repeat the success he did twenty-four months ago as he seeks to win Grand Slam title number three. On the back of his impressive form so far this year, you can bet on it happening.
PREDICTION – CHAMPION (to defeat Wawrinka in the championship match; Murray’s seems to be playing his best tennis (in his PRIME!); expect the Scot to win Wimbledon for a 2nd time).
STATSMETER – Andy Murray (GBR)
- Andy is 41-6 this season (winning in Munich, Madrid, Queen’s). He managed to beat Rafa in the finals in Madrid and thus picking up his 1st victory against any of his fellow Big Four rivals since defeating Djokovic to win Wimbledon in 2013
- Andy’s career win-loss record on grass: 83-16 (84%); this is the 4th best win-loss % in the Open-Era on grass. His record at Wimbledon: 41-8 (84%); champion in 2013.
- Since his 1st round defeat to Frenchman Nicolas Mahut at 2012 Queen’s Club, Murray is 34-3 on the greens. Also Murray is 20-1 since his marriage to long-time partner Kim Sears (April’15) winning all his season titles after tying the knot.
- Murray is the only man in history to have won Olympic Gold and the US Open in the same calendar year, as well as only the third man to hold the Gold Medal and two majors on different surfaces (after Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal).
- Murray has made the QF of the last 17 majors he has entered (since 2010 US Open; although he missed 2013 French Open due to injury).
4. Can Stan Wawrinka upset the odds once again – Emergence of BIG 5?
Stan Wawrinka enters Wimbledon 2015 as a multiple grand slam champion. Two years back, Wawrinka was more recognised as Federer’s Davis Cup team-mate, gold medal winner with Roger at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and Swiss No.2. He was enormously talented but lacked the grace and poise that Roger had. Then he hired Swede Magnus Norman as his coach and rest as they say is history. Wawrinka is now a 2-time grand slam champion, an ATP 1000 Masters champion and a Davis Cup winner with Switzerland.
Having upset Novak Djokovic to win his second Grand Slam title at Roland Garros, Swiss number two Stan Wawrinka will be out to improve his record at Wimbledon, where he has yet to reach the semi-finals.
Grass has proven to be Wawrinka’s worst surface over the years, with his run to the QF at the All England Club last year being his best performance at the tournament following years of underperformance at SW19.
His preparations for Wimbledon took a hit when he went down to eventual finalist Kevin Anderson at Queen’s last week, thus leaving him short of any match practice ahead of what is historically his worst Grand Slam tournament. The only major issue with Wawrinka is consistency day-in & day-out which he still lacks at the highest level.
With QF points to defend this year, Wawrinka risks dropping back out of the top four, but if he was able to win the French Open twelve months after crashing out in the first round, then there shouldn’t be any excuses for him not to at least reach the semi-finals at the All England Club for the first time or possibly even go further. Can Stan repeat his heroics from Paris 3 weeks ago??Is he now part of a “BIG 5”?
PREDICTION – RUNNER-UP (to lose to Murray in the championship match; expect Wawrinka to now settle down in majors and put up a strong performance at SW 19; perhaps get the better of Novak in the SF).
STATSMETER – Stan Wawrinka (SUI)
- Stan is 30-9 this season (winning in Chennai, Rotterdam & French Open). He enters Wimbledon as the new entrant to the multiple major club (Roger, Rafa, Novak, Andy & Hewitt). Also he has atleast made the QF of the last 4 grand slams (only Novak and Andy have achieved this).
- Grass is Wawrinka’s worst surface. He has a 22-21 (51%) win-loss ratio on the greens. His record at Wimbledon is 13-10 (57%); best result – QF (2014; lost to Federer).
- In 2013, Wawrinka began working with new coach Magnus Norman. The Swede has made Stan mentally stronger apart from being a beast already and guided him to his 1st major SF at the US Open 2013 after toiling through 34 majors (main draw) without making the last 4.
- Wawrinka has managed to exorcise his demons against the Big 3. He ended momentous losing streaks against Djokovic (2014 AO; 14 match losing streak) and Nadal (2014 AO; 12 match losing streak) beating the Spaniard for the first time in 13 matches (having never won a set against him in 12 attempts). He managed to also defeat good friend Federer in the finals of the 2014 Monte Carlo Masters ending his 11 match losing streak against the Swiss legend.
- With his victory over Roger in the QF of the French Open, Stan is also only one of 3 players to defeat the each of the Big 4 in majors (Tomas Berdych & Jo-Wilfried Tsonga being the others).