Wimbledon 2019 Preview

If you’re a tennis fan, the next two weeks will usually be the best 2 weeks of your year. Wimbledon is starting and this year, there is even more excitement, controversy and anticipation than in any recent years.

The big controversy to come out this week was over the unique seeding system that Wimbledon uses. For every other Grand Slam, seedings are purely based on World Ranking, but at Wimbledon, the system also takes into account recent grass court performance. Because Federer won the ATP 500 in Halle last week, his seeding was bumped up to 2 (his ranking is 3) which meant that Rafael Nadal, coming off the back of yet another triumph at the French Open, was seeded third. Nadal thought this to be unfair, but many have defended Wimbledon’s system of deciding seeds, saying that players highly ranked players who are uncomfortable on grass are often knocked out early, causing an imbalance in the draw. For example, Dominic Thiem has a particularly poor record on grass for a top 4 player and is often eliminated in the early stages at grass court tournaments, so has been demoted to 5thseed, while last year’s finalist Kevin Anderson has been promoted to 4th seed.

Going into Wimbledon, there is much for British tennis fans to be optimistic about. Johanna Konta is the biggest hope in the singles draws, having made a Grand Slam semi-final on what is considered to be her weakest surface on the clay in Paris. If Konta can do that on her least favourite surface, what can she achieve on her favoured grass? Andy Murray is back at Wimbledon having missed last years tournament due to injury. Murray will play in the men’s doubles with Pierre-Hugues Herbert and will face Marius Copil and Ugo Umbert in the first round. Copil and Umbert are not doubles specialists so this is a test that Murray and Herbert, who hold 7 Grand Slams in singles and doubles combined between them, will be expected to come through.

In the men’s singles, Kyle Edmund, Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans and Jay Clarke are all in the main draw and have all been drawn against relatively beatable opponents. Jaume Munar and Federico Delbonis, who play Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans respectively, are both much more comfortable on a clay court, while Evans opponent Denis Istomin has not been playing his best tennis in recent months. Jay Clarke will face a tough test from fellow youngster Noah Rubin, who is ranked just a few places below Clarke in the world rankings. However, Rubin is perfectly capable on grass and breezed through qualifying for the loss of just 2 sets.

The question on many people’s lips is: Who is the favourite to win? It is almost impossible to guess who will win the Women’s title as this changes almost every year, with 5 different champions in the past 5 years. Angelique Kerber goes in as defending champion but was brushed aside in the Eastbourne final by a very impressive Karolina Pliskova, who is certainly a contender. Naomi Osaka has been impressive in recent Grand Slams and is in the mix, as well as Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova and new World Number One Ashleigh Barty. On the men’s side, the overall favourite to win is Novak Djokovic, as World Number One and defending champion. However, Federer looks in much better form going into Wimbledon than he did last year and has played less tournaments in the lead up to Wimbledon (Federer opted to skip Stuttgart) and is my personal pick for the title. Rafael Nadal has won Wimbledon twice in his career and did make the semis last year, so cannot be counted out either. However, Nadal has been handed a brutal draw and could face the ever-dangerous Nick Kyrgios in Round 2. On grass, on a big show court, there is no doubt that Kyrgios would be the favourite to win that match.

Written by Emre Saridogan