Preview: Who are the contenders at Wimbledon 2011
The Wimbledon Championships begin in London this Monday and while the men’s title traditionally goes to one of the favourites, the women’s side appear much more open.
Nevertheless, here’s Sports Pundit’s opportunity to analyse who are the contenders for the crown.
Certainly, the women’s side is much more unpredictable, however the men’s title will be crucial in the race for number one this year.
Rafael Nadal (1st seed)
The current world number one won his crown last year and comes into this year’s tournament fresh from winning the French Open for the sixth time. Nadal will be looking to win his third Paris-London double in the past four years, which would be some feat.
However, Nadal was beaten in the quarter-final of the warm-up tournament at Queen’s Club by France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Nevertheless, the result won’t harm Nadal’s chances too much, rather it was an opportunity for a break. Despite being on grass, Nadal should still be feeling confident about Wimbledon although in his side of the draw he does have some potentially tricky opponents including Gilles Muller, Milos Raonic and last year’s beaten finalist Tomas Berdych.
Roger Federer (3rd seed)
The Swiss fought back in Paris with a tournament which will offer him plenty of hope ahead of Wimbledon. Federer was beaten in the final by Nadal, but his performance in the semi-final to dispose of Novak Djokovic was fantastic.
Federer lost to Berdych at the quarter-final stage at last year’s Wimbledon and will be desperate to make up for that this year, particularly given he’s yet to win a slam in 2011. The champion will be looking for his 17th Major although he could face some tough opponents along the way including John Isner and old foe David Nalbandian.
Novak Djokovic (2nd seed)
The Serb’s incredible 43-match winning streak came to an end at Roland Garros at the hands of Federer so he’ll be determined to get one back. However, grass is Djokovic’s least favourite surface and he opted to miss the warm-up tournaments as he looks to better last year’s semi-final appearance where he too lost to Berdych.
Djokovic has stepped up in 2011 and his Australian Open triumph is what he deserved. However, whether or not he can add to that Slam tally this year remains to be seen, but with his improved serve, return and shot-gun forehand there’s a chance things could click for him in London. His draw is tame, although Robin Soderling could be tricky should they meet.
Andy Murray (4th seed)
The local hope will have the weight of the nation on his shoulders this year and you fancy that’ll be difficult for him, given his mental struggles at Slam’s against top opponents. Murray has made semi-final appearances at both majors this year, but is still without a Slam title.
Murray’s defensive gamestyle means he should progress far at Wimbledon, but whether or not he can beat the top seeds is a huge question. Of course, he’ll have to get past some decent players too, with Marin Cilic and Andy Roddick (who beat Murray at Wimbledon in 2009) two potential dangers he may face.
There’s also a few outsiders who could pose a danger including Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Roddick, along with Chinese Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu who made the quarters last year and dominates the grass with his flat strokes. There’s also John Isner to look out for, although he incredibly has drawn Nicolas Mahut in the first round again, so he’ll be looking to avoid last year’s marathon match.
Caroline Wozniacki (1st seed)
The consistent Dane heads into Wimbledon still looking for her first Slam title. Of course, Wozniacki has 17 WTA singles titles but that major still eludes her. The bad news for her is she has bowed out at the past two Wimbledon tournaments in the fourth round which doesn’t bode well.
The world number one did make the semi-finals at the Australian Open earlier this year however she went out in the third round in Paris last month. Wozniacki wins a lot of titles, including Copenhagen earlier this month, but Wimbledon should be seen as an opportunity for her to justify her number one billing.
Mario Sharapova (5th seed)
The Russian, who surprised us all when she won Wimbledon in 2004 as a 17-year-old, heads into this year’s tournament with a good chance of winning the Slam.
Sharapova showed some good form in reaching the semi-finals of the French Open last month while she also won a WTA tournament in Rome in May. The powerful Russian looks fit and her strong forehand could be a major feature on Wimbledon’s grass courts in 2011.
Venus Williams (7th seed)
The 31-year-old American, who went down at the quarter-final stage at Wimbledon last year, has kept her commitments to a premium in 2011 which may work against her in London. On the other hand, she is an unknown and could be fresh.
Venus’ performance in reaching the quarter-finals of the lead-up Eastbourne was okay but there’s definitely plenty of work to be done if she’s going to win in London. However, having dominated Wimbledon over the past decade – with five crowns – she’s always a threat.
Serena Williams (23rd seed)
The reigning champion hasn’t played much tennis in 2011, since her health scare but she returns to London as one of the major dangers in the draw with a seeding of 23.
However, Serena’s form in the lead-up Eastbourne wasn’t convincing as she bowed out in the second round to Russian Vera Zvonareva. Nevertheless, Serena has made comebacks before, so there’s no doubt we won’t be writing her off just yet, particularly at Wimbledon where she’s won four times before.
There’s plenty more in the women’s side of the draw to keep an eye on, including third seed Vera Zvonareva who lost last year’s final to Serena Williams but recently inflicted some kind of revenge on the American at Eastbourne. Fourth seed Victoria Azarenka can not be ignored either, while French Open champion Li Na will be full of confidence.
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