Monday, 27 June 2016

Wimbledon is here !

Wimbledon starts tonight Australian time, which probably means a two week break from Londoners having to water their gardens.  However, it will require a persistent precipitous period to outdo wet weather presented by Paris as accompaniment for Roland Garros just a few weeks back.

Two players entering SW19 on highs are Steve Johnson, winner at Nottingham over Pablo Cuevas, and Dominika Cibulkova who won her first grass court title at Eastbourne at the expense of Karolina Pliskova.

If conditions allow enough time for play,  defending Novak Djokovic will grace Centre Court on Day One, as will former multiple Wimbledon winner and defending runner-up Roger Federer.  Straight sets wins for both will be the only acceptable results in their respective opening matches.  Reigning French Open title holder, Garbine Muguruza has her Round One match scheduled in between Djoker and Fed, and more of an upset possibility surrounds it - or so opponent Camila Giorgi likes to believe, based on a 2–1 career record. However Garbine is better now - Wimbledon finalist and Roland Garros winner better - and the losses to the Italian were in 2013 and 2014.

The opening day showcases another former Wimbledon winner - 5 time champ Venus Williams.  Other Grand Slam title winners on court will be Ana Ivanovic, Francesca Schiavone (Roland Garros 2008, 2010), Samantha Stosur (US Open 2011) and Angie Kerber (Australian Open 2016)

Now to my predictions for the tournament:

Until this year the Women's Singles has usually been about one woman and any sentences or paragraphs pretending otherwise were mere padding.
2016 is different and significantly so.  Serena Williams still starts all conversations regarding who may win the whole thing, but as second seed, 2015 finalist, and Serena's conqueror in Paris a month ago, Garbine Muguruza is not just a serious contender for a semi final berth, or even another final.  The Venezuelan born Spanish heroine is a genuine threat to become the first woman apart from Serena to complete the Roland Garros/Wimbledon double in the same year since Steffi Graf in 1996.

A probable third round clash with Lucie Safarova, a semi finalist in 2014, is a hurdle at which Garbine must not stumble, but it is the semi final which will be the most fascinating.  It could a battle with one of either fourth seed Angie Kerber, fifth seed Simona Halep or ninth seed Madison Keys.  I am forecasting a Muguruza v Keys semi final, especially following the win by Keys in Birmingham.

The other semi final will, in my opinion be contested between Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova, winners of the last two Wimbledons.  It will require a lift in form from Petra but she is a different player on grass and I believe that she can defeat Belinda Bencic in a fourth round match should they reach that far.  Aga Radwanska should be the quarter final opponent for Kvitova and the Czech power game may be too much for the 2012 finalist.
Serena Williams will reach the semi final, but not by the route most are predicting.  I predict that her quarter final opposition will come from 27th seed Coco Vandeweghe after the American defeats both 6th seed Roberta Vinci and 11th seed Timea Bacsinszky.

I forecast a Williams v Muguruza repeat final and Williams to equal Graf's 22 Grand Slam titles with another Wimbledon triumph.

The men's draw on first reading does not offer the same variety of possibilities, even allowing for Djokovic not winning, which appears remote.
Andy Murray should cruise into the round of sixteen where he may meet Nick Kyrgios.
Kyrgios has a history - albeit a short one - of lifting his standard at the big events and his Roland Garros effort was creditable before running into a red hot Gasquet.

Although he lost to Raonic in the first round at Queens Club, where Murray claimed the chocolates for a fifth time,  Nick could cause the Scot headaches. 
Gasquet has the game for grass, as his semi final appearances in 2007 and last year prove.  He is seeded to meet Murray in the quarters if Kyrgios is dealt with by Andy.  Another worry for Scotland, to add to Brexit.
However I do believe Murray will manage to make his way to his third GS out of three for 2016 and it will yet again be against Djokovic.

Djokovic is seeded to play Ferrer in the fourth round, and while the Spaniard is still terrific on clay and a warrior on hard courts, his ability on grass is not in the Serb's class.
Raonic is probably the quarter final troublemaker for the world number one - he was runner-up to Murray at Queens Club and when serving well is near impossible to return against.  Except this is Novak and he only needs a few chances to exhibit his skills as the best returner in tennis.
Federer is seeded three and expected to make the semi final against Djokovic.  Losing the past two Wimbledon finals against the top seed will motivate the seven times winner to try that much harder, but injuries and resultant lack of match practice haven't helped and a final for Federer would be a surprise.

Another Djokovic/Murray final, as in Paris this year, as in Melbourne this year, and for the second time at Wimbledon - Murray won the last time in 2013.

I am picking the favourite to win and take his fifth successive Grand Slam title - a feat not even achieved by Rod Laver.

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