Wimbledon – Monday 25th June until Sunday 8th July 2012

It’s no secret that this is probably the piece I’ve been most looking forward to writing this season. My inaugural piece on the greatest tennis tournament in the world.

Wimbledon has arrived. Home hope Andy Murray will once again shoulder Great British expectation on his Scottish shoulders and in all honesty, he is probably hoping the English national side remain in Euro 2012 for as long as possible, to allow the column inches to be dominated by their shortcomings, rather than his own. Casting football to one side, Murray comes into the All England Championships in fairly mediocre form. Losing all three matches on the grass is hardly ideal preparation for the tournament fourth seed and whilst he assures the media and fans alike that peaking at the major tournaments is what matters, the lack of court time on the green stuff has to be a concern.

Much has been made of Murray’s apparent horror draw but I would anticipate at least a fifth successive last sixteen appearance. First up for Andy is Russian Nikolay Davydenko, a player who few would argue is in decline. Once ranked as high as number three in the world, Davydenko has never tore up any trees at SW19, indeed failing to make it past the fourth round in ten attempts, six of those efforts resulted in an opening round elimination and I’d expect that to become seven efforts from eleven. The next couple of opponents for Murray could be big-serving types in Ivo Karlovic and Kevin Anderson who both undoubtedly present realistic challenges for the Scot, although I’d expect Murray to rather enjoy such matches, given his strengths in returning serve.

In my opinion, Murray’s biggest challenge will come in the last sixteen against either big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic or Queen’s champion Marin Cilic. Both players serve as big as the likes of Karlovic and Anderson so Murray will certainly be ‘tuned up’ for each eventuality. Cilic and Raonic both have a lot more in their armoury than merely a big serve and will undeniably trouble him. It is at this point I expect Murray to bow out of Wimbledon and can’t put him up as a likely winner this fortnight. Given Murray’s section of the draw is perhaps the most likely from where a player outside the top four seeds will emerge, I would think that Milos Raonic could be the man to reach his first Grand Slam semi final and looks a decent ‘Back To Lay’ proposition for the tournament

It must be said that six-time champion and this year’s third seed Roger Federer has been handed a rather nice draw. Looking at the seeded players in Federer’s section, the likes of John Isner, Janko Tipsarevic, and Mikhail Youzhny are likely to conspire to eliminate one another during the first week of the championships and whoever takes their place against Federer in the last eight will have more than earned their spot although because of their earlier exertions, I can’t see any of the aforementioned players causing him too many problems. He should therefore progress to a last four meeting with defending champion Novak Djokovic where he will have more of a chance than a couple of weeks back at Roland Garros. Many experts believe Federer has another Grand Slam in him and it wouldn’t surprise me if it came at Wimbledon. For that to happen this year however, he would probably need to defeat Djokovic and Nadal back-to-back, a feat I can’t truly envisage occurring over the next two weeks.

Taking all of the above into account, logic points to a repeat of the 2011 final where the top two seeded players square off for yet another classic encounter. Rafael Nadal has certainly got a tougher draw than both Djokovic and Federer but should advance to his sixth SW19 final. Rafa’s participation in the Sunday showpiece two weeks today is certainly no foregone conclusion. Potential clashes with German Philipp Kohlschreiber who he lost to in Halle, compatriot and fourteenth seed Feliciano Lopez, and last year’s semi finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga demonstrate what Nadal has on his plate during the course of this year’s tournament.

Rather unoriginally then, my prediction for the final is yet another Djokovic/Nadal meeting and who can blame me? The pair have been a class above just about everyone else on tour this year and I see no reason why we shouldn’t be enjoying the two meeting once again for the 34th time, fourteen days from now. If I had to commit to just one name as a headline pick, who better than the top seed, defending champion, and world number one.

Main Selection – Novak Djokovic @ 2.72
Back to Lay Selection – Milos Raonic @ 48

Day 1 Multiple
Ruben Bemelmens @ 1.56
Juan Monaco @ 1.56
Andreas Seppi @ 1.57
Janko Tipsarevic @ 1.71

Odds: 5.82

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