Wimbledon 2019: Biggest stars to watch at SW19, headlined by the evergreen Roger Federer
With Wimbledon on the horizon, we profile the biggest names on display and assess their chances of winning the most prestigious prize in tennis.
There are two ways you can go when it comes to assessing Roger Federer’s current status within the men’s game.
Either you look at the fact that he has not won a Grand Slam, or indeed reached a Grand Slam final, for 18 months now, and suggest that he is far from the force he once was.
Alternatively, you could say that to be winning Grand Slams at all at his age and even being involved in a conversation about potential winners pre-tournament is testament to his enduring quality.
Either way, this is Wimbledon, and no one has won it more than Feds. Last year he disappointed, losing to Kevin Anderson in a rare quarter-final collapse, but you can never discount the Swiss master on grass.
What will be interesting will be seeing how playing the French Open effects Federer’s preparation.
It’s the first time in recent years he has not skipped clay season, claiming the rest is better for his chances of shining at Wimbledon. Will he prove himself right or wrong this year? Its tough to bet against him.
The world number one is coming off his first Grand Slam defeat in 27 matches after Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals of the French Open.
That defeat put paid to his hopes of holding all four majors at once for a second time, and it will be fascinating to see how he bounces back from that.
Wimbledon last year was the scene of his rebirth after a tough couple of years in the wilderness as he battled an elbow injury.
He is sure to be keen to retain his trophy and cement his spot at the top of the rankings, and will certainly go into the tournament as slight favourite to successfully defend it.
For all Nadal’s brilliance at Roland Garros, where he recently secured his 12th title, he has struggled to go the distance at Wimbledon of late.
Of course, the Spaniard has already won it twice, so he has little to prove in SW19. Grass court tennis is not his priority, and that’s perfectly fine.
However, his last final was a massive eight years ago, and it has always appeared that, to Nadal, Wimbledon has been about putting a tick in a box for the benefit of his legacy rather than any real genuine passion.
Will he be a contender? Of course he will. On his day, Nadal can beat any player in the world on any surface, most of them probably with his eyes shut.
However, by the same token, it would probably be a little bit of a surprise if he did actually win it.
There is absolutely no hiding the fact that Serena Williams is just not the force she once was. Injury, motherhood and, probably most importantly, age looks to have caught up with her.
Williams isn’t playing the amount of tournaments she has done before, with injury restricting her to just a handful this year.
That seemed to affect her at Roland Garros, where she lost to Sofia Kenin in the first week.
However, a massive disclaimer is required here, isn’t it. Last year it was a similar story for Williams in terms of struggling for fitness and court time ahead of Wimbledon, yet we all know what happened.
Just to remind ourselves, to rolled up at SW19 and powered herself all the way to the final, so discount her at your own peril.
Osaka has been a fascinating figure to follow in tennis. She appeared to come from nowhere last year, first winning Indian Wells and then claiming the US Open crown.
What struck you about Osaka more than anything was her seemingly unflappable mental resolve.
Even when the legendary Serena Williams was imploding opposite her at Flushing Meadows, she remained unnervingly calm and focused, and was able to take full advantage.
The then won the Australian Open too to climb to the top of the WTA rankings, and she at that point she was looking unstoppable.
However, the brighter her star has shone, the more vulnerable she has seemed.
With Osaka, her greatest enemy is her own ambition. When she had nothing to lose, when she was the underdog, she was almost robotic in her brilliant efficiency, singularly focused on the opportunity to achieve.
Since hitting the top, though, she appears to have become consumed by the pressures of what she has to lose.
Going into Wimbledon, she has no real pedigree on grass, so it’s tough to see her as a real favourite to add to her growing Grand Slam haul, but perhaps that’s exactly what brings the best from her.
When it comes to the WTA, Simona Halep is the real ace in the pack. She may not always turn up when needed, but when she does, she tends to produce a winning hand.
She is probably the most versatile of the women on tour and arguably the toughest to put away due to her sheer athleticism and ability to get herself round the court.
She has come close at Wimbledon before, reaching the semi-final stage in 2014, so we know that she can do it there and, even though her recent form has not dazzled, that has rarely proven to mean much when it comes to the Romanian’c chances of performing.
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