This article was produced in association with bet-at-home as part of our coverage ahead of Wimbledon. Bet-at-home are offering a matched bet of up to £50 on Wimbledon here.
Wimbledon is nearly upon us, and there could be some amazing stories to be told. Michael Graham runs us through the narratives to watch for.
Stan Wawrinka has, in many ways, a tough legacy to gauge.
The has been around a long time, won three Grand Slams, the same as Andy Murray, and risen to as high as third in the world at one point.
However, he probably isn’t regarded quite at the same level as the fabled ‘big four’ of Murray, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic.
That said, he is also regarded higher than the best of the rest of his other Grand Slam-winning contemporaries such as Juan Martin del Potro, Marin Cilic et al.
In many ways, Wawrinka is a victim of his era. Without even one or two of the big four in his way, it is certain the lovable Swiss schemer would have many more major titles to his name and he in the discussion regarding the best we’ve seen.
The last two years have been a dark time for Wawrinka too as injury has seen him plummet down the rankings. He looked back to his old self at the French Open, though, so maybe those days are finally behind him.
If they are, and he can somehow pull off a Wimbledon triumph, it would be a sporting underdog story for the ages – and could be well worth using one of the bet-at-home Wimbledon special offers for.
The most likable man in tennis overcoming injury to win Wimbledon from nowhere in the twilight of his career to complete the career Slam… Yes, that would be special.
It’s fair to say that since dazzling at the Australian Open in 2018 to tease that Britain may have a tennis star for the post-Murray era, Kyle Edmund has failed to really deliver.
He’s a perfectly decent player and has made more than commendable career progress over the last couple of years, but there is no real sense of magic to him.
That comes down to two different things, really, that are actually one and the same. Firstly, he is not Andy Murray. There is no shame in that, of course, but the reality for Edmund is that expectations are high in British tennis right now.
The second issue for Edmund is that he simply lacks that fire and edge that provided the emotional engagement of Murray’s career.
Every time Murray played, no matter the occasion, he was so emotionally expressive that you couldn’t help to be drawn into the battle with him. Its not all about talent, in the end, it’s also about entertainment. Murray inspired. Edmund does not.
Johanna Konta definitely feels like she’s closer to delivering some British romance at Wimbledon this year. She has reached the semi-finals before and she’s in great form heading into the tournament.
The worry regarding Konta is whether she can do it when the pressure is on, and she is yet to prove she can – and with bet-at-home only seeing her as the seventh favourite, it could be a long-shot.
Either way, British tennis fans are pretty desperate for some positive narrative right now, and both Konta and Edmund will have the opportunity to achieve sporting immortality.
Neither Roger Federer nor Serena Williams have won a Grand Slam for a while now. In fact, Federer’s triumph at the Australian Open in 2018 was the last time it has happened for either of them.
And, for some reason, we find ourselves surprised and almost judgmental about that. I mean, How dare these two paragons of our era not win major titles with understated and graceful ease?
Sometimes we forget, though, that we are talking about two 37-year-olds here. For them to be even competing at this level of elite sport at their age pretty much amounts to an afront to science and sense.
Should either win Wimbledon this year, and do not write it off no matter what you do, isn’t something that should be simply taken for granted. It would be an incredible narrative.
For Federer, it would be a ninth Wimbledon crown, and would see him become the oldest man to ever win a Grand Slam title – but despite his age, he remains bet-at-home’s second favourite prior to the event.
Currently, that record is held by Ken ‘Muscles’ Rosewall, who was 37 years and 63 days old when he won the 1972 Australian Open title at Kooyong, beating Mal Anderson in straight sets in the final.
Rosewall won three Grand Slam titles in total after the age of 35. He is a little-known name in the history of tennis, but you can bet your bottom dollar that Federer will be well-aware of the record.
For Williams, it’ all about equaling that Margaret Court record of 24 Grand Slam titles. She’s been stuck on 23 for a while, but there is no better place to make history than Wimbledon.
For all we talk about the established elite names in tennis, the fact is that it’s also a bit of a golden er for young talent.
Marketa Vondrousova has just played in her first Grand Slam final at the age of just 19, and 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova may even eclipse her in the coming years, and she may just want to start now.
Sadly, another of the breakthrough teens won’t feature, after Bianca Andreescu pulled out with a shoulder injury.
In the men’s draw, Felix Auger-Aliassime has all the tools anyone could ever want as a tennis player, and Stefanos Tsitsipas is, right now, even better.
Wimbledon loves an underdog, and Boris Becker’s win as a 17-year-old in 1985 is still the stuff of legend, almost to the point that people forget he successfully defended it a year later as an 18-year-old, which may actually be the greater achievement.
Wimbledon is, as history proves, a place where instant legends are born, and it’s about time we had another.
Nearly time to grab the popcorn for King Richard.
“Best performance of the tournament,” says Djokovic.
Marketa Vondrousova assured of a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Already assured of one Olympic medal, Belinda Bencic gunning for a second.
“Without pressure there is no professional sport,” says Novak Djokovic.
“I apologise for the nonsense that came out of me,” wrote Fabio Fognini.
“I feel crushed after today’s loss. Sport can be brutal,” wrote Andy Murray.
Final four confirmed for the Tokyo Games.
Novak Djokovic should not put pressure on himself to win at Tokyo Games.
An entertaining return to action from Nick Kyrgios.