Wimbledon 2017: Aiming for immortality
Pristine surfaces, the all-white dress code and, most importantly, world’s best tennis players all striving for one of Tennis’ most prestigious prizes: The Wimbledon Championships promises all these things to the sport’s die hard enthusiasts.
"There's a certain beauty and majesty to Wimbledon - the elegance, the way the grass looks on TV"
The quote above by seven-time Grand Slam champion John McEnroe perfectly sums up the visual delight that is Wimbledon Championship. Pristine surfaces, the all-white dress code and, most importantly, the world's best tennis players all striving for one of sport's most prestigious prizes.
This year too, Wimbledon returns with the promise of enthralling Tennis lovers all over the world with all the top players in inspired form. With the contest wide open, any one of the top favourites has a chance of walking away with the men's singles title. Here's analyzing how each of the favourites might fare this time around.
Roger Federer: It has been 12 months since his season was shut down in the wake of a devastating semi-final defeat. But this year, Roger Federer returns to Wimbledon as a favourite to capture a record-breaking eighth title and become the tournament's oldest champion. The Swiss superstar, who turns 36 in August, stunned critics who had written him off as yesterday's man when he had gone down to Milos Raonic in five gruelling sets on Centre Court in 2016. The loss forced him off tour for the remainder of the year to rest a knee injury, leaving his Grand Slam title count on 17 where it had been since 2012. Fast forward a year, and Federer is poised to break the tie for seven Wimbledon titles he shares with Pete Sampras and take his career tally at the majors to 19. With eternal rivals Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic in slumps of varying lengths and degrees of seriousness, and Rafael Nadal fretting over whether or not his knees will bear the stress of grass courts, it is Federer in the box seat. Federer, who captured a fifth Australian Open in January, will go into Wimbledon buoyed by a ninth title on the grass of Halle. His final demolition of Alexander Zverev, 15 years his junior and a player seen as his natural heir, came just a week after he marked his return from a 10-week break by losing in the first round in Stuttgart. It was his first defeat in an opening round on his favourite surface since his shock loss to Mario Ancic at Wimbledon in 2002.
Rafael Nadal: Like Federer, Rafael Nadal has also experienced a resurgence in form after the well-documented injury woes he has suffered over the past few years. A wrist injury suffered at Roland Garros last year forced him to withdraw mid-tournament, and it was serious enough to rule him out of Wimbledon, a tournament he has won twice, in 2008 and 2010. However, the Spaniard will arrive at the All England Club with his best chance yet of winning for the third time, and if past history is anything to go by, then he could find himself again hoisting tennis' holy grail on July 16. The 'king of clay' has had a bittersweet experience when it comes to grass courts, but he will have gained a lot of confidence from winning the French Open for a record tenth time this year after critics had written him off. The latest triumph took him to 15 Grand Slam titles, one more than Pete Sampras and three more than Federer. He may be struggling with age and might have lost some power in his muscles, but as he showed us recently, it would be foolish to count Nadal out of contention.
Andy Murray: The current defending Wimbledon champion and the number one ranked tennis player in the world has had a horrid start to the season. Before last year's tournament, he had won 33 matches and lost only six, helping him reach two Grand Slam finals and win a Masters title in Rome. This year, Murray has won 21 contests and lost nine, while the French Open is the only Grand Slam or Masters tournament where he has reached the quarter-finals. The Scot's start to the grass-court season has not been ideal – he lost his only match on the surface so far this year. Murray, 30, won the Queen's title before both Wimbledon triumphs, but this month he suffered a surprise first-round defeat against Australian world number 90 Jordan Thompson at the Aegon Championships. There are also concerns about his fitness, after he suffered an injury scare when he pulled out of an exhibition match.
Novak Djokovic: Of all the above mentioned favourites, no one has suffered a more spectacular fall from grace as Serbian Novak Djokovic. It is hard to believe that this time a year ago, Djokovic was on top of the tennis world. The Serb had just achieved the 'Nole Slam' – not only completing his Grand Slam set but also becoming the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four major titles simultaneously. He was also leading the rankings with twice as many points as then-second ranked Andy Murray had accumulated, and it was hard seeing Djokovic getting knocked off his Grand Slam perch. Flash forward to the present, the 30-year-old is mired in the worst slump of his career, having surrendered all four Grand Slam titles and dropping out of the world's top three for the first time since 2009. He fell in the third round of Wimbledon last year, but rebounded to reach the US Open final where he lost to Stan Wawrinka. At the Australian Open this year, he suffered a second-round upset to Denis Istomin, and was knocked out in the quarter-finals of the French Open by Dominic Thiem. His struggles with form all year resulted in him breaking tradition – his current participation in Aegon International being the first time since 2010 he chose to play a warm-up tournament on grass. The Serb has a good chance now to start earning some precious ranking points, as he has only a third round appearance from last year to defend. It's an opportunity Djokovic will hope to take with both hands, as he attempts to prove to the Tennis world that he still has what it takes to win another Grand Slam title and that he is not yet a spent force.