Get your Pimms primed, stock up on strawberries and cream, it’s that time of year: Wimbledon is nearly upon us.
The most British of British traditions save the State Opening of Parliament, Wimbledon is a cornerstone of sport in this great country – I use the term ‘great’ loosely in the wake of Brexit, but that’s enough on that.
So without further ado let us get into it and tackle the big question that you all want answered: “Will Andy Murray be British this summer?”
Well one thing is for sure, all eyes will be on Murray as he bids to add to his two Grand Slam titles. Despite losing to Novak Djokovic in the French Open and Australian Open finals earlier this year, Murray can take solace in the fact he defeated the Serbian maestro in straight sets in the Wimbledon final just three years ago.
The Scot also added an unprecedented fifth Queen’s Club title in this year’s Wimbledon warm-up, defeating Milos Raonic in the final 6-7, 6-4, 6-3. This is a great omen for Murray, he came from behind to beat Marin Cilic at Queen’s in 2013, the tournament that preceded his sole Wimbledon triumph.
Best odds: 3/1 with SkyBet
As for the man himself, Mr Djokovic, well you’d be hard pressed to find any athlete on the same level as form as Novak. It goes without saying that he will be the man to beat this year, as is the same at every tournament.
The 29-year already has three Wimbledon titles to his name (2011, 2014, 2015) and will be looking to add a fourth as he aims to hold all four Grand Slams in the same calendar year.
If the top seed were to meet Murray in the final (as is scheduled if the two get through their draws), it would be a record-equalling eighth Slam final meeting between two players.
Djokovic heads to the championships as the first man since Jim Courier (in 1992) to win the first two majors of the year and is the red hot favourite to add to his collection of 12 Grand Slam titles.
Best odds: 5/6 with paddypower
Now, you can’t talk about Wimbledon without talking about the greatest of all time, Roger Federer. Only four men have won the title at SW19 in the past 13 years – Federer, Murray, Djokovic and Rafael Nadal – and with Federer being ranked at number three and with a decent draw, don’t be surprised to see him reach the final.
We all know how good Federer has been and still is. But at the ripe old age of 34, does the Swiss native have what it takes to compete for one more Grand Slam? Well with the best backhand in the game in his repertoire, anything is possible.
Best odds: 16/1 with SportingBet
There’s been a lot of talk about Milos Raonic in the build-up, with the big-serving Canadian being seen as the main man away from the ‘top three’ who could challenge for the title.
Personally I think he has a great shout. I tipped him to do well at last year’s tournament, but he flattered to deceive with a third round exit to Nick Kyrgios, this year could be the one for Raonic I feel.
The 25-year old Canadian has yet to win a Grand Slam title but with the performances he’s displayed this year he’s proved to many that a victory is surely just around the corner.
Statistically speaking he’s one of the strongest servers in the Open Era, winning 91% of his service games to rank third all-time.
This stat can’t be ignored, as a strong serve-volley game has proved time and time again to be a huge weapon on the grass at Wimbledon, in particular for his now-coach John McEnroe – one of the best serve and volley players ever to have played.
Best odds: 18/1 with paddypower
Away from those four though, one player I haven’t mentioned is World no. 5 Stan Wawrinka.
Wawrinka’s record at Wimbledon is abysmal, this being the only grand slam where he has yet to advance past the quarter-finals. However, he did come close last year when he lost to Richard Gasquet in a thrilling five-setter.
His only grass court tournament since Roland Garros saw him suffer a first-round exit at the hands of Fernando Verdasco at Queen’s, so don’t expect much.
Best odds: 40/1 with bwin
Among those that are expected to do well include former finalist Tomas Berdych, and French Open semi-finalist Dominic Thiem.
Berdych has reached the quarter-finals at both the Australian and French Open’s but has endured some mixed form recently, first suffering a humiliating double bagel defeat against David Goffin in Rome and more recently dropping his first match in Halle to Marcos Baghdatis on either side of the French Open.
But his best odds of 150/1 with bwin suggest the market is well and truly against him.
Dominic Thiem is emerging as one of the players to watch this season following an impressive first half of 2016 which has seen him defeat Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer en route to titles on clay and grass respectively.
It came on either side of reaching the semi-finals of a grand slam tournament for the first time, where he lost to Novak Djokovic in straight sets at the French Open.
If you fancy a flutter on Thiem, you can get decent value on him at 50/1 with Betfred.
No matter what happens though, it is sure to be yet another two weeks of emotional rollercoasters and changing nationalities, and that’s just for Andy Murray.
That does it for the men’s draw, stay tuned for the women’s draw preview in the next couple of days.