With summer well on its way, it is nearly time for the most prestigious tennis grand slam – Wimbledon. Always an exciting tournament, this year’s men’s singles has the potential to be the most memorable since wildcard Goran Ivanišević won the title in 2001.
The unstoppable force of Roger Federer, Wimbledon’s ‘resident’ champion since 2003, will be looking to make history by beating Björn Borg’s record of five consecutive wins at SW19. However, Rafael Nadal will be doing his best to stand in Federer’s way by scoring his first Wimbledon title, after two successive runner-up positions.
Though Federer will be the firm favourite, Nadal will be hot on his heels given his recent run of form on clay. On the strength of Nadal’s previous performances (he has reached the Wimbledon final twice, in 2006 and 2007) and his impressive recent form (he claimed victory over Federer at the final of the French open) bookies are tipping him as a serious contender for the title. While Federer has laid claim by winning the Halle Open in Germany, Nadal has been equally impressive in winning the Artois Championship in London.
Federer’s defeat in Paris was the world number one’s third loss in a row against Nadal, and with the legendary Björn Borg coming out to publically back the Spaniard for victory at Wimbledon in 2008, he must be confident of going one step above his previous placements. Other genuine threats to Federer’s crown come from the up-and-coming Serbian, Novak Djoković, who won the Australian Open in 2008, and America’s Andy Roddick who has reclaimed his unstoppable form. Some tennis experts are tipping Djoković as the main contender against Federer, but at the age of twenty, he may still be a little too young to clinch the title in 2008.
One of the most distinctive characteristics of Wimbledon is that the matches are played on grass (the only of the four Grand slam tournaments where this is still the case) and this should be bared in mind when hypothesizing about the eventual winner. Djoković remains inexperienced on this surface compared to his counterparts. Having many years experience to draw on, Federer is probably the most confident, with a winning streak of 57 matches on grass – but Nadal is capable on any surface and poses the biggest threat for the Swiss. What’s more; having reached the final twice before and with such a close match in 2007, Nadal may be able to draw on past experiences and go one better this year. However, Federer is not a man to be underestimated and with a place in tennis history at stake (plus the small matter of the £750,000 prize money) you’d be foolish to write him off as the main contender for the title.