Will Novak Djokovic win Wimbledon?
Novak Djokovic is favourite for Wimbledon, World No. 1 and a former SW19 champion. However, the Serbian will step onto the hallowed turf of the All England Club on the back of a relatively (by his standards) poor clay court season.
Nole failed to win any of his three attempted clay titles in 2013, crashing out in the second round of the Madrid Masters (6-7, 7-6, 3-6 to Grigor Dimitrov), in the quarter-finals of the Rome Masters (Tomas Berdych 6-2, 5-7, 4-6) and in the semi-finals of the French Open (Rafael Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 7-6, 7-9).
While this is a strange blip for the world’s best player, it’s important to remember that clay court results are a poor indicator of grass performance. After all, the difference between the two surfaces is as big as it gets on the ATP. That said, even with these results, Novak’s win record for the last 52 weeks on clay is 81% – six percent higher than his 75% on turf.
And despite an unbeaten run on grass in 2011, his career record on grass is 77%. Therefore could his dominance on hard courts (87% career win percent) be colouring people’s views on his Wimbledon chances? This phenomena is called the “halo effect”, and can be read about in more detail here.
Djokovic will also be up against two singles players who won here last season – Roger Federer at Wimbledon, and Andy Murray during the London Olympics.
Will Rafael Nadal win Wimbledon?
There was a big question mark over Rafael Nadal at the start of 2013, but he’s proved even his most vehement doubters wrong since his return to action.
The Spaniard has reached the final of every competition he’s been in since his recovery from a knee injury (and then a stomach virus which further delayed his recuperation), and even picked up a Grand Slam title for his troubles.
But can his success carry over to grass? Nadal has only played one tournament off of his favoured clay since his return, the Indian Wells Masters. However, he won this and dispatched Roger Federer, Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin Del Potro en route.
On grass, the Spaniard has only played twice in the last 52 weeks, thrashing topaz Bellucci 6-2, 6-3 before crashing out to Lukas Rosol 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. He also lost to Philipp Kohlschreiber in 2012, while his only other grass match was a win over the 58-ranked Lukas Lacko.
However, grass is a less physically demanding surface than clay, with shorter points and lower bounces, so while his form may be off, at least there’s an increased chance that his body will make it out of Wimbledon in one piece.
It’s also important to remember that despite a horrendous ace percentage in his 2011 Wimbledon run, Nadal still made the final and took a set off Djokovic 6-1, despite only hitting aces 6.1% of the time (it was as low as 4.8% against Mardy Fish two rounds previous).
One factor in Nadal’s favour is that if he can get past everyone else, he holds by far the best head-to-head record against the other Big 4. He’s 20-15 vs. Djokovic, 13-5 vs. Murray and 20-10 vs. Roger Federer. On grass, only Federer tops him (2-1), as he’s also 3-0 vs. Murray and 2-1 over Djokovic.
Will Roger Federer win Wimbledon?
If Nadal is the King of Clay, than Roger Federer is the God of Grass. Only the great Pete Sampras has won as many Wimbledon titles as Roger Federer, and he (arguably) wasn’t competing against rivals of the calibre of Murray, Nadal and Djokovic.
Conversation surrounds Federer’s ability to consistently play at the top level, but on grass he’s proven time and again that he’s still able to beat anyone.
Before Halle, the Swiss ace had a 92% win percentage on the surface over the last 52 weeks, higher than his all-court average over the same period (81%). In fact, this rate stands above his all-time grass win rate of 88%.
His last 52 weeks haven’t been easy, either. The 31-year-old has seen off challenges from Juan Martin Del Potro, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, all of whom he dispatched of in under five sets.
The recent Gerry Weber Open saw Federer dispatch an unseeded Mikhail Youzhny (6-7, 6-3, 6-4) in the final to equal McEnroe’s total number of competitions won.
Taking three sets to beat a World No. 28 on grass would normally be a warning sign for Federer, but the Swiss star has dropped a set in three out of his seven grass court meetings with the Russian. Federer also took three sets to overcome Tommy Haas (3-6, 6-3, 6-4).
Will Andy Murray win Wimbledon?
The current Olympic and US Open champion goes into Wimbledon with more confidence than ever before, having won his gold medal in SW19 almost a year previous.
Having pulled out of participating in the French Open due to injury, Andy Murray will undoubtedly have turned his attention to grass early in preparation for this year’s biggest competition.
Murray had to overcome Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (4-6, 6-3, 6-2) and Marin Cilic (5-7, 7-5, 6-3) to lift his third Queen’s title, giving the Scot some important competitive grass experience before Wimbledon.
The World No. 2 crashed out of the Queen’s club in his first match last year but went on to have his best grass season ever. Could he go one further this time? His odds have shortened dramatically since his win at Queen’s, now making him second favourite for Wimbledon.