Wimbledon is the most traditional grand slam and in many ways that’s to be admired. At SW19, you won’t find weird-coloured courts, dodgy advertising or Ed Sheeran songs pumping from speakers.
However, one tradition that could do with a change is the men’s singles champion. Since 2003, only four blokes have lifted the trophy and I’ll bet that you can guess their names.
While we have had (some) breakthroughs in other slams, the All England Club has been dominated by the usual suspects. Will we have a new winner in 2019? It’s possible but unlikely, especially when you get a look at Roger Federer’s draw.
As for Rafael Nadal, winning Wimbledon for a third time looks unlikely due to a horror draw. The Mallorcan might have to topple Nick Kyrgios, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem and Roger Federer just to make the final!
30 years ago in Tel Aviv, Jimmy Connors claimed the last title of his illustrious career. It was his 109th gong on the men’s tour, still an Open Era record. In capturing the Halle Open title for a 10th time last week, Roger Federer moved a shade closer to Connors’s record. The 37-year-old is only seven titles behind the legendary American and playing as well as ever. Can he edge nearer with a ninth Wimbledon trophy? Well the draw couldn’t have gone better.
Federer will start against world no.87 Lloyd Harris and should cruise past Noah Rubin or Jay Clarke in the second round. Lucas Pouille, Richard Gasquet, Borna Coric and Jan-Lennard Struff are good players but it would be a massive shock if any of them prevented Federer from reaching the second week. The Swiss maestro could also get a very winnable quarter-final against Kei Nishikori or John Isner. A semi-final showdown with Rafael Nadal or Dominic Thiem looks to be the first match that he will fear.
Because of Federer’s fantastic path to the final, and Nole’s slight drop in form, I’m putting the world no.1 as second favourite. The four-time champion started the season well in Melbourne but had a disappointing spring and fell just short of the final in Roland Garros.
I’d certainly expect the 32-year-old to make the business end this fortnight but it won’t be easy. The Serb will face Philipp Kohlschreiber – who’s already beaten him this season – first up. Djokovic could then meet rising star Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarters. If the defending champion is a bit off form, those rising stars can hurt him.
The Austrian made the fourth round of Wimbledon two years ago and can do better this fortnight thanks to a prolonged rest after Roland Garros. Thiem has a very tricky opener against 2017 semi-finalist Sam Querrey but the rest of his draw is decent. If he survives the big-hitting American, the 25-year-old is more than good enough to make the last eight where Nadal or Cilic could await.
The Greek prodigy made the fourth round of Wimbledon last year and is a better player 12 months later. At the end of June, Tsitsipas already has two titles and has beaten both Federer and Nadal. The 20-year-old starts against Thomas Fabbiano and is playing well enough to beat the likes of Ivo Karlovic (2nd round), Kyle Edmund (3rd round) and David Goffin (4th round). Djokovic in the quarters would be a blockbuster tussle.
Grass is clearly Wawrinka’s worst surface but he is a two-time quarter-finalist at SW19. Stan The Man could take advantage of the most open quarter of the draw which has Alex Zverev and 2018 finalist Kevin Anderson as top seeds. Wawrinka will start against Ruben Bemelmans and is in much better form than Milos Raonic (3rd round) and the fit-again Anderson (4th round).
Yes, the 22-year-old hasn’t shown us his best form at the slams. But he has a great chance to change that streak with a favourable draw. Zverev will play world no.108 Jiri Vesely first, followed by Pablo Cuevas or Damir Dzumhur. Benoit Paire (third round) and Feliciano Lopez/Karen Khachanov (fourth round) would be tricky but it could be a much worse path for the world no.5.