Can Andy Murray prevail at Wimbledon once again?
The betting for SW19 appears to be wide open. Roger Federer has been installed as marginal favourite for the 3rd Grand Slam of the season but all eyes are on Britain’s Andy Murray who is aiming to retain his Wimbledon title in 2017.
Murray prevailed in straight sets twelve months ago when beating Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 on Centre Court in last season’s final to secure the Wimbledon title in front of a partisan home crowd. The Scot hasn’t had the ideal preparations for this year’s prestigious event however with reports of an old hip complaint flaring up during recent practice sessions and an early exit from Queens, a tournament at which he regularly triumphs. He was beaten by the world number 77 Jordan Thompson with the Australian winning unexpectedly in straight sets.
He must bounce back immediately if he stands any chance of success on the hallowed courts and begins his defence against Alexander Bublik of Russia, ranked 146 in the world. The 20 year old has only played seven matches on grass courts at the top level and has been defeated in three of them. An expectant home crowd will hope to see Murray breeze through in straight sets with few signs of discomfort. Murray has been priced up at 1/20 for the match with the majority of bookmakers.
Murray, who turned 30 this year conducted his press conference 24 hours prior to the commencement of the tournament confirming he is fit enough and expects to reach the latter stages of the tournament. The World Number One, who has recently announced he is set to become a father for the second time hasn’t had an enjoyable 2017 which has included elbow complaints and a bout of shingles. He reached the semi-final of the French Open before crashing out of Roland Garros at the hands of Swiss powerhouse Stan Wawrinka. The World Number Three then lost tamely to Rafa Nadal in the final of the Paris-based slam.
The Scot barely put a foot wrong in 2016 but has already lost nine times this calendar year including on six occasions to players ranked outside the top ten. The erratic and unpredictable Fabio Fognini, Vasek Pospisil and Borna Coric have all got the better of him since the season commenced in January. He only lost nine times in the whole of the 2016 season. Murray admitted frustration at not being able to practice and train consistently ahead of the slam and admitted he’s just been trying to think positively in the week building up to the tournament.
Murray’s Possible Passage
If beating Alexander Bublik on Centre Court on Monday, Murray will face either Joao Sousa or the entertaining Dustin Brown in the second round. He could face nemesis Fabio Fognini in the third round whilst the unpredictable Nick Kyrgios is possible opponent in the Quarter Finals. Other dangers lurking in Murray’s half of the draw including young Frenchman Lucas Pouille, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and big-serving South African Kevin Anderson.
Previous conqueror Stan Wawrinka or Rafael Nadal could await in the Semi-Final with the possibility of a mouth-watering repeat of the French Open contest. Murray defeated both Nick Kyrgios and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga en-route to last season’s success. Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic have all been drawn in the opposite half of the draw and could be possible opponents for Andy Murray should he reach the final on July 16th.
Other Possible Title Contenders
Roger Federer has been priced up as the favourite for SW19 following his emphatic dispatching of Alexander Zverev at Halle in June. The Swiss player loves this tournament and his dedicated band of followers are sure to be in fine voice on centre court. He’s been out of action for a large chunk of the year however with injury but he could be coming into form at just the right time!
Rafa Nadal is another player who has overcome his fair share of problems in the last 12 months but excelled at Roland Garros in May. The ‘King of Clay’ is magnificent on his favoured surface but struggles on grass courts. He hasn’t played competitively on grass since 2015 when making an early exit at the hands of Dustin Brown in the second round.
Novak Djokovic isn’t having the best season but was successful in Nottingham beating Gael Monfils in the final. The Serb has been distracted by issues off the court and has re-arranged is coaching staff a number of times already. He has a magnificent record at this tournament however and returns to SW19 following his embarrassing exit at the hands of Sam Querry twelve months ago.
Stan Wawrinka reached the final of the French Open but continues to be plagued by inconsistencies. His only grass court appearance saw the Swiss player knocked out by eventual winner Feliciano Lopez in the first round of Queens last month. He rarely makes it beyond the Quarter-Finals of the competition but was sent home by a resurgent Juan Martin Del Potro last year.
Alexander Zverev is one a number of young pretenders who are threatening to gate-crash the top four. The inexperienced German was trounced by Federer at Halle but beat Novak Djokovic, John Isner and Milos Raonic en-route to the title in Rome earlier this year. He reached the 3rd round of Wimbledon last year before falling to Tomas Berdych.
Andy Murray has his work cut-out this year as he aims to retain his title at SW19. The Scot will be roared on by a vociferous home crowd but it might not be enough to overcome an injury-hit campaign. Murray is the master of overcoming hurdles and with Novak Djokovic suffering a dip in form, he should be expected to capitalise. Whilst he hasn’t been drawn in the same half as the Serb, he faces a number of difficult opponents who will offer stubborn resistance. However, Murray seems far from himself at the moment and he may come unstuck en-route to the final this year.