The 2016 Wimbledon Championships kick off on Monday as Novak Djokovic looks to continue his domination over the Men’s game and pick up a fifth straight slam title on his march towards 17. Wimbledon is seen as the venue where Djokovic is most vulnerable but there is no doubt he is still a heavy favourite and the most likely winner.
Check out the full draw here: Wimbledon 2016 Men’s Draw
Djokovic’s run of straight slam titles began at SW19 last year with a victory over Roger Federer in the final. He begins his defence against home wildcard James Ward, one of three Brits to face a top 12 seed in the first round while there is a possibility that Kyle Edmund awaits in the second round. There are some competent grass players in the top quarter that may trouble Djokovic including Philipp Kohlschreiber and Nicolas Mahut. The former was defeated in three sets in the first round of Wimbledon last year while Mahut has a grass title this year and took a set off eventual Queens champion and second favourite Andy Murray.
The biggest of servers don’t actually cope all that well at Wimbledon these days but Kevin Anderson showed what a danger he can be when he took a 2-0 lead over Djokovic last year before losing in five. A 2-2 record on grass this year suggests he isn’t in the greatest of form though. Milos Raonic looks the only player with the potential to stop Djokovic before the semi finals. He made the final of Queens and really should have won after holding a set and break lead over Andy Murray before losing. The Canadian, who has teamed up with John Mcenroe this year, continues to improve and could be the one to spring a shock.
Last year’s losing finalist Roger Federer played some inspired tennis to make it to the final last year but there will be severe doubts about how well he can go this year after injury has seen him play very little since the Australian Open and saw him withdraw from Roland Garros. He has managed to compete on the grass in Stuttgart and Halle but given he went titleless in those 2 weeks, there is still a lot to worry about even if Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem are great talents.
Gael Monfils is another that comes into this tournament off injury, having not played since Rome. Kei Nishikori is the highest seeded player Federer could face in the quarter finals but has never made it past the fourth round. A Croatian quarter finalist is a strong possibility if Nishikori disappoints with both Marin Cilic and Ivo Karlovic well placed to take advantage with the former already a 2x quarter finalist at Wimbledon.
Stan Wawrinka, fourth seed due to Rafael Nadal’s early withdrawal, may well have a tough time in bettering his quarter final runs of 2014 and 2015 with a number of tough opponents possible between now and the quarter finals. Juan Martin Del Potro may not be totally ready but that could be a blockbuster clash depending on the Argentinian’s fitness levels.
Dominic Thiem was pegged by many as a future superstar but his rise is occurring much quicker than many expected with a French Open semi final and a Stuttgart title over the past month or so. Having played very little on grass, he was expected to struggle but the Stuttgart run showed he had no teething problems with two outstanding wins over Roger Federer and Philipp Kohlschreiber on his way to the title. If he can make it past former quarter finalist Florian Mayer (who beat Thiem in Halle last week) in round one then the route to round four looks very straight forward. Either Halle finalist Alexander Zverev or former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych seem the most likely options but the latter played just one warm up match for Wimbledon – losing in straight sets to Marcos Baghdatis.
Having lost to Djokovic at four of the last six grand slams, it seems fair to say that Murray is second favourite by default as the majority of his recent slam losses have come once he faces the clear top player in the world and three of them have come in the final. However it was an inspired Roger Federer that defeated him at this event last year but neither him or Djokovic will be able to face Murray before the final. The 2013 champion comes into this event high on confidence after an impressive comeback win in the Queens final over Milos Raonic.
It would be very surprising to see Murray suffer an early loss, having not lost before the Quarter Finals since 2006. His run since then includes 2 finals and four semi finals. Nick Kyrgios will be fancied to spring a shock in a potential round four clash but he has not had it his way at all against Murray in their four past meetings, having won just one set in four matches including three that were in a best of five format.
John Isner as No.18 seed will have a tough time in outperforming his seed if recent history is anything to go by. The big serving American’s best runs here are in 2014 and 2015 where he made the third round. If he is to get any further he will likely need to beat a two time semi finalist in Jo-Wilfried Tsonga while Richard Gasquet as seventh seed will not want to see his ranking take too much of a hit with semi final points to defend. Gasquet made it that far last year after coming out on top in one of the best matches of the tournament, winning 11-9 in the fifth set against Stanislas Wawrinka.
As the tour remains it’s current state, it is hard to predict anything other than a final which sees the top two compete once more. Djokovic is rightly a favourite especially when you consider his utter dominance over his most likely opponent with a 13-2 record since Murray memorable won the Wimbledon final in 2013.
Djokovic def. Federer
Murray def. Thiem
Djokovic def. Murray