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Wimbledon 2011 Preview

The most prestigious tournament in tennis got underway today, almost inevitably accompanied by rain. That has not, however, stopped some thrilling opening day action including home favourite Andy Murray labouring against Spain’s Daniel Gimeno-Traver. Every year Wimbledon comes around and every year the press here in Britain becomes obsessed with whether a British man can finally follow in the footsteps of Fred Perry and win a singles title at the All England Club. In Murray, the journalists and fans finally have somebody worthy of their boundless optimism, but can he finally go the extra mile and beat Nadal, Federer and Djokovic?

On the women’s side, the host nation has no such grounds for optimism, but this year’s tournament is one of the most open in living memory. Sport Report takes a look at the serious contenders.


Rafael Nadal (Spain)

World Ranking: 1

Seeded: 1

Best Performance at Wimbledon: Won (2008 & 2010)

Rafael Nadal has achieved an unbelievable amount for a man who turned 25 only two weeks ago. He has won every Grand Slam tournament (10 in total), an Olympic Gold Medal, won the Davis Cup three times and held the number one world ranking. The current world number one and defending champion is rightfully the favourite.


Rafael Nadal with Wimbledon Trophy (This image is the property of Getty Images)

Rafa, as he is affectionately known, is not as dominant on grass as he is on clay but the days of labelling him a clay court specialist are long gone. He is an extremely aggressive baseline player who relentlessly pounds the ball with a great deal of top spin and whilst this has brought him a great amount of success, his volley is underrated. This is a key factor at Wimbledon. As I write this, the Spaniard is already sitting pretty in the second round following a straight sets win over American Michael Russell. He was not at his best and there are question marks over his form following his recent early exit at Queens. It should not be forgotten though that it was only two weeks back that he sealed a sixth French Open title with an excellent display against the great Roger Federer. As ever, people are doubting Nadal’s fitness but then again, when have they not? The defending champion simply has to be favourite to retain his title, but it is far from a foregone conclusion.

Novak Djokovic (Serbia)

World Ranking: 2

Seeded: 2

Best Performance at Wimbledon: Semi-Finalist (2007 & 2010)

Quite simply, Djokovic is in the form of his life. He won 41 matches to start the season, winning seven titles along the way and looking sensational doing so. Every aspect of his game has improved: he is serving beautifully, returning well and his backhand and forehand are working like clockwork. The 24 year old Serb has Grand Slam pedigree having won the Australian Open earlier this year and in 2008. He is also a two-time US Open runner-up. In this respect he does not have the mental barrier that has proved such a problem for Murray, but it should be noted that SW19 has not been a happy hunting ground for Djokovic. He did reach the semi-final last year, but needs to improve if he is to go one better. For all the hype around his winning streak, he did lose to Federer at Roland Garos and these are the kind of matches he will need to win if he is to add Wimbledon to his list of tournament victories. Can he do it? You would be a fool to write him off.

Roger Federer (Switzerland)

World Ranking: 3

Seeded: 3

Best Performance at Wimbledon: Winner (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2009)

Simply put, the greatest player of all time. The Swiss has won 16 Grand Slam titles, including six at the All England Club. There is no doubt therefore, that he is a man for the big occasion. We know all about Federer’s game: accurate serve, formidable backhand, a forehand which is a work of art and a fantastic net player. He looked fantastic at the recent French Open where he lost in the final to King of Clay Nadal, but not before he gave the Spaniard a hell of a game. Between 2003 and 2007 the Fed Express was unstoppable at SW19, racking up five consecutive titles. He lost arguably the greatest match of all time in the 2008 final before bouncing back the following year in another epic final against Andy Roddick. Whilst he is still capable of beating anybody on his day, he is not the Federer of three or four years ago. However, class is permanent and if there is one word to describe him it is class. Whilst he may not be the shoe-in favourite, he is still very much in with a chance of making it seven Wimbledon titles.

Andy Murray (Great Britain)

World Ranking: 4

Seeded: 4

Best Performance at Wimbledon: Semi-Finalist (2009 & 2010)

When you look at Andy Murray’s game, you can see no reason why he has continually come up short in Grand Slam tournaments. A supremely fit athlete, Murray is one of the best returners in the game. Recent work in the weight room has added zip to an already accurate serve and at Queens last week; all cogs of his game seemed to be meshing beautifully as he won the tournament. The Scot has been somewhat unfairly written off as a failure in Britain, but that is a measure of his own success. He is the only Briton in history who has reached three Grand Slam finals and despite the fact that he lost all three, they are proof that he can compete at the very highest level. His mental strength is not up to scratch however and has let him down time and time again. He seemed overawed in his three final appearances and he has a tendency to become highly frustrated with himself when he makes mistakes. This causes him to lose focus and become his own worst enemy. If he is to end Britain’s wait, he will need to maintain a cool head.

In all likelihood, the winner will be one of the above four, although there is a possibility that a Roddick, Soderling or fit again Martin del Potro could spring a surprise.

Sport Report Prediction: Rafael Nadal to retain his title


The women’s competition is much less clear cut as it lacks a dominant player and is missing one of its favourites in Kim Clijsters who has been forced to withdraw with an ankle injury. There are however a few stand-out contenders.

Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

World Ranking: 1

Seeded: 1

Best Performance at Wimbledon: Fourth Round (2009 & 2010)


World Number One and Number One Seed Caroline Wozniacki (This image is the property of Getty Images)


The 20 year-old Dane is the current world number one and top seed for the tournament. This seeding has been criticised given Wozniacki’s past poor showings at Wimbledon. In fact she has underperformed at Grand Slams in general, apart from a final appearance at the US Open in 2009 (lost in straight sets to Clijsters). The youngster plays a predominantly defensive game and relies on an excellent two-handed backhand. She is unquestionably talented enough to win but can she make the step and actually deliver?


Li Na (China)

World Ranking: 4

Seeded: 3

Best Performance at Wimbledon: Quarter-Finalist (2006 & 2010)

The Chinese has become something of an overnight superstar having reached the finals of this year’s two Grand Slams. She lost the Australian Open Final to Clijsters but became the first Chinese woman to win a Grand Slam singles title at Roland Garos as she defeated defending champion Francesca Schiavone in straight sets. Na was however defeated in the second round at the AEGON International last week and this, coupled with an uninspiring record at Wimbledon, means there are question marks over her ability on grass courts. She is a superb baseline player but will need to improve her play around the net if she is to win at Wimbledon.

Serena Williams (United States)

World Ranking: 26

Seeded: 7

Best Performance at Wimbledon: Winner (2002, 2003, 2009 & 2010)

A four-time winner and the defending champion, Williams is one of the most dominant women’s players of all time. She has won all four Grand Slam events, so her pedigree is beyond doubt. When at her best, she is virtually unplayable: a monster server, highly athletic and capable of hammering the ball from the baseline. Serena won two Grand Slams last year but her current form is a mystery. In July last year, she stood on glass in a restaurant and required surgery. In March this year, she announced that she had suffered complications, namely a haematoma and life-threatening pulmonary embolism. Thankfully she is back to playing tennis, but has only played two matches since last year’s Wimbledon final. Can she produce some of the old magic? I fear the tournament may have come too early in her comeback.

Maria Sharapova (Russia)

World Ranking: 6

Seeded: 5

Best Performance at Wimbledon: Winner (2004)

Sharapova burst on to the scene at Wimbledon seven years ago when, as a 17 year old, she shocked defending champions Serena Williams to win the championship. She followed this up with a period of consistent quality performances and two further Grand Slam wins at the US Open (2006) and Australian Open (2008). Since then however, she has struggled with injury and a loss of form, falling off the radar somewhat. However, following a coaching change, she returned to the top 10 this year. The 24 year-old finished the clay season 12-2 and looked mightily impressive at Roland Garos before running into eventual winner Li Na. Sharapova is playing well and on her favourite surface may just repeat her 2004 triumph.

Sport Report Prediction: Maria Sharapova to win

Categories: Tennis
  1. July 2, 2011 at 4:41 pm

    Hi Richard,

    Good call on Kvitova. Thoroughly deserved her win today, although I think Sharapova will feel she could have played better, particularly with regards to all those double faults. It’s good to see Maria back to something like her best following the shoulders issues. Hopefully she can kick on now.

  2. June 25, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    I agree with your analysis of the tournament coming to soon for Serena. I think at present time Venus is playing the better Tennis and has the game time to go to the latter stages. One player who really impressed me considering her ranking is Sabine Lisicki. She won the Aegon classic at the beginning of the month and her performance against Li Na was amazing. Bartoli won the warm up recently and is also in form. As you said the tournament is very open this year with no real stand out icon.

    I really hope your prediction comes true, it be great to see Sharapova win again at Sw19. Adding to her win in Rome (May) one player you didnt mention here is Petra Kvitova? She’s won 3 tournaments this year already, ranked 8th and recently won the Madrid open.

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