Defending Wimbledon champion Andy Murray will be a dark-horse contender heading to the All England Club this summer following his exit from the 2014 French Open.
Murray fell to Rafael Nadal 3-6, 2-6, 1-6 in the semifinals, losing a chance to face Novak Djokovic in the final match on Sunday.
Beating Nadal on clay is one of the toughest tasks in tennis, but losing in such dominant fashion is disappointing for Murray.
Although Murray must be considered a threat to repeat in London, he can't be considered the favorite based on how far he's fallen over the past year.
Currently ranked No. 8 in the world, the 27-year-old Scotsman hasn't won a singles title since Wimbledon 2013 and has struggled to return to form following back surgery last fall. What's more, Murray hasn't fared well against the top players in the men's game.
Since defeating Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final last summer, Murray is a combined 0-6 against players currently ranked in the top six.
On top of that, Murray hasn't reached a tournament final since his breakthrough at Wimbledon.
Beyond Murray's on-court struggles, his split with former coach Ivan Lendl is also an important factor to consider. Murray announced in March that the two would part ways following two very successful years together, and Murray has yet to find a replacement.
In early May, Murray admitted that it was an issue, per The Telegraph's Simon Briggs: "I need someone who can motivate me and get me learning and improving again."
Since Lendl's departure, Murray's results have been disconcerting to say the least.
He reached the quarterfinals at the Miami Masters, but was no match for Djokovic. In April, Murray suffered a crushing straight-sets loss to Fabio Fognini in Great Britain's gut-wrenching Davis Cup defeat at the hands of Italy. Then, after a month off, Murray began what ultimately turned out to be a forgettable clay-court campaign, which he began by bowing out of the third round at the Madrid Open, per Tennis View Magazine:
Andy Murray has gone 10 tournaments without reaching a final since winning Wimbledon 10 months ago.— Tennis View Magazine (@TennisViewMag) May 8, 2014
While the switch to Wimbledon's speedy grass will provide new opportunities for Murray, there's no guarantee it will cure what ails him in terms of inconsistency and spotty confidence, which Murray addressed in the spring, per ATPWorldTour.com (h/t Sky Sports):
I've played some good stuff, some bad stuff, but hasn't been consistent. Some days I've felt good and then the next day not so.
Played OK at the Australian Open, Acapulco, Miami and the next six weeks will tell me where I'm at. The aim at the start of the year was to get back fit and healthy and I'd like to be playing my best tennis by the French and then Wimbledon.
And with seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer showing massive improvement in 2014 and Stanislas Wawrinka joining the elite list of Grand Slam winners, the competition certainly won't make things any easier for Murray.
Where he winds up in the draw will obviously impact his chances, but following his most recent defeat at Roland Garros, it's difficult to argue that Murray is anything more than a dark-horse threat to make a deep run at Wimbledon this summer.
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