Every year I get asked who I think is going to win? Unlike the French I have waited for the draw to come out before doing my preview, this could be costly to my reputation but I have simply been too busy with ‘busman’s holiday blogs’. I would like to add I didn’t do too badly at the French with my predictions and I’m just trying to give myself a get out clause if it goes tits up here……
I have actually ‘filled out the draw’ to give my predictions. A lot of people ask me with the thought of having a bet in mind. The heavy hitters should probably go with Roger Federer in that case as the Swiss looks to be back in the swing of things with his victory in Halle. It’s not that I don’t think Murray, Nadal or Djokovic can win, they certainly can but I would rather tip Federer up from what I have seen. I love Rafa but it’s very difficult to put him up without any grass form this year and not knowing how his body has reacted since the French. It’s too risky with his recent performances at Wimbledon, he hasn’t bounced back well from the French in a while. Defeats to Darcis, Brown and Rosol for example. Murray has been having problems with his hip and still doesn’t quite look back to his best despite major improvement at the French. I have fancied him three times, twice he went on to win it, I just don’t have that same feeling this time. Djokovic may have won Wimbledon three times and Eastbourne this week but I have always thought he is more beatable on the grass by and large as opposed to other surfaces. Federer looks to have the edge in his quest for an 8th Wimbledon title as he faces Dolgopolov, Tsitsipas, Tomic & Dimitrov (all good tests) before a quarter-final showdown with either Raonic/Sascha Zverev. He thumped the latter in Halle only a week ago and right now as it stands Sascha is more than likely his first big test! .If you are looking for a bigger price then maybe the doubts over Murray’s fitness might be beneficial to a Stan Wawrinka, Marin Cilic or Lucas Pouille in the Scots half of the draw. Stan actually has a rough looking draw with Daniil Medvedev then Tommy Haas (beat Fed in Stuttgart) this would be followed by Verdasco/Anderson and possibly Jo-Wilfred in the last 16. I don’t normally rate his chances on grass and I could regret this but I think this represents a great chance for him. Cilic also has a tough draw with Kohlschreiber first up but maybe these two need to be kept on their toes in draws and these encounters could mean they are on it from the word go. I will warn you I never call Stan right in these situations though! I am also expecting Gilles Muller to go well and he’s in Rafa’s section, he gave Cilic a good match at Queens after winning in ‘s-Hertogenbosch the previous week. Karen Khachanov should also go a few rounds in that same section. Pouille won in Stuttgart beating Feli Lopez in the final and he’s a pretty steady operator as I have mentioned many times before, the recent success on the German grass proves this. In Federer’s half of the draw, I would have to say Feliciano Lopez is the player I would consider to have a good chance of making the semi’s to face the Fed-Express. A runner-up in Stuttgart and then going one better at the Queens Club beating Marin Cilic. The Spaniard can be unplayable at times and will be hoping for hot conditions in SW London, a player that plays grass court tennis as it should be played. He loves serve/volleying, slicing and chip/charging his way to the net at any opportunity. As for Djokovic, he will be slightly concerned, to say the least about his possible third round match with Juan Martin Del Potro and the Spaniard can only benefit from this!
So, who do I think will win the Ladies in the absence of the 23-time grand slam champion? Good question, Karolina Pliskova has just won Eastbourne and now goes in as virtually joint-favourite with Petra Kvitova. If she serves well we all know she has a great chance here but I just think she might get beat. I don’t tend to like people playing 3 weeks in a row and after her success on the south coast that is what is required. I would rather take my chances with Kvitova out of the two. Twice a champion here already, she looked in good nick at Edgbaston and her experience could just tell when push comes to shove! Konta has a chance for sure but it’s very difficult to put her up with the injury doubts and she is due to face Kvitova in the last 16. If things are hunky dory and she can serve well expect a barnstormer against the Czech in the last 16. I have personally liked Venus Williams chances for some time, a major factor now will be how she deals with the news that broke on Friday. If she plays as she has this is the perfect surface for her, she loves the grass and this could well be her time again. Her form has been solid all season and lets’s not forget she was runner-up in Melbourne. Ashleigh Barty should also go well in this half even though she faces Elina Svitolina first up. Second seed Simona Halep is simply too beatable on grass for me and can be hit through with ease at times! In the top half, maybe Maggie Rybarikova will be the one to take out Pliskova? The Slovak has played really well on the grass again this year, winning Surbiton and Ilkley and also making the quarters of Nottingham. Unseeded Anett Kontaveit is also a serious operator and has proved on all surfaces that she is the real deal. The title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch a few weeks ago puts her in good stead here. A big breakthrough can’t be far away for this 21-year-old Estonian. She has the ability to blow opponents away and that’s pretty useful on grass! Lucie Safarova might well take advantage of a very open 1st quarter of the draw, she played well in Notts and Edgbaston. Couple this with the fact I don’t trust Kerber or Muguruza at the moment and this means this quarter is ready for someone to take it by the scruff! Svetlana Kuznetsova led Pliskova 4-1 in the decider this week so she also has claims. She also played some good stuff in the first set against Serena last year so we know she can play better than her form suggests on grass! A classy operator! Pre-draw I thought Kiki Mladenovic would go well but she will face Alison Riske or (the returning) Sloane Stephens and probably Coco Vandeweghe before the last 16. Coco is also someone I have a great deal of time for, this is an another competitive part of the draw though (Pliskova and Kontaveit are in this quarter as is Wozniacki). Great to have Sloane back out there though, it’s been too long!
Let’s see what happens.
Andy Del Potro