It’s late June, which to tennis fans can only mean spotless white outfits set in motion against freshly mowed grass at the Centre Court. Ah yes, old chaps, it’s time for Wimbledon!
And after last year’s epic final, in which Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer in five sets, the spectators want more than their traditional strawberries and cream.
The usual dessert will be served (the vendors go through about 23 tons, or more than 2 million berries, and 1,820 gallons of cream each year!) but the competition might not be the same. Nadal will not set foot on Centre Court this year. Instead he’s resting his knees and probably looking forward to the U.S. Open at the end of August. If he’s ready to play by then, he could make a run at completing his own career Grand Slam.
If Federer wins at Wimbledon this year, as many expect he will do, he will become the most successful professional tennis player of all-time, surpassing Pete Sampras with 15 career Grand Slam singles titles. But if Federer wins Wimbledon this year, he will have done so without facing his greatest potential challenger and the world’s Number 1, Rafa Nadal.
So who can challenge Federer at Wimbledon?
I’m looking to the Andy’s – Roddick and Murray.
Murray, from Scotland, is the home-crowd favorite and only has two top-seeded players in his bracket: Gilles Simon and Fernando Gonzalez, neither of whom has quite mastered the grass surface. Murray is 5-0 on grass this year and 29-8 in his career. Plus, the Brits really want to win at Wimbledon. Their last men’s title came 73 years ago, in 1936. They’re the Chicago Cubs of tennis!
Roddick could also have a breakout performance. He’s made it to the Wimbledon finals twice, in 2004 and ’05, but he lost to Federer on both occasions. His only grand slam was at the 2003 U.S. Open. He has so much power in his swing that his crushing groundstrokes and his serve (the fastest in professional tennis) make for some impossible bounces on Wimbledon’s grass. Roddick also has a good draw. He’s already made it to a third round match against Jurgen Melzer. Roddick is 8-0 against Melzer in his career.
The most intriguing contender, though, is still Murray. Although they’ve never played each other on grass, Murray holds a 6-2 advantage over Federer in their career match-ups—an impressive edge over the man many consider to be the greatest of all time.
And while you’re practicing your best British accent (“That serve was simply brilliant, I tell you!”) and indulging in strawberries and double cream, check out the emerging American star, Jesse Levine. He’s made it to the third round after a huge first round win over Marat Safin. The left-handed 21 year-old may be undersized in most match-ups, but Levine has great speed and endurance, which is crucial on the quick Wimbledon courts. He will next face Stanislas Wawrinka. If Levine advances, he could play Murray in the fourth round.
Check back soon for more Wimbledon updates, and some thoughts on the women’s draw!