10 Biggest Questions Heading into Wimbledon
The French Open provided a lot of excitement this year, but Wimbledon is already setting up some heart-racing storylines.
The women’s side is always a mess, but will the Williams sisters restore balance to the chaotic system?
The twists and turns of the Grand Slams of tennis are what make them some of the best sporting events in the world. Here is a list of the ten biggest questions heading into the 2011 Wimbledon.
10. How Will Novak Djokovic Rebound After His First Loss of the Season?
Djokovic showed tennis fans some of the best tennis ever played over a sustained period of time. He beat Nadal three different times, and his only loss was to arguably the greatest player of all-time, Roger Federer.
It will be interesting to see if Djokovic has lost the confidence that he had before the French Open and how the halt to his winning streak will affect his performance at Wimbledon. Djokovic has been to the Wimbledon semifinals twice in his career, 2010 and 2007. He lost to Tomas Berdych in straight sets last year.
The good thing for Djokovic is that he prefers a grass surface to clay. He won 11 times and lost only twice last year. His style allows himself to play offensively when he wants, making him very difficult to beat. At the French Open, he was afraid to come to net, and that cost him the match against Federer.
9. Can Roger Federer Win Another Grand Slam?
Some experts are ready to say Roger Federer is done; but he hasn’t really shown any decline despite being 29.
In the French Open final he outplayed Nadal in the first set. But the Spaniard eventually got in Federer’s head, which led to a collapse. If Federer had to choose a surface to win a Grand Slam, it would definitely be grass. He has won six Wimbledon championships.
Since 2003, Federer has failed to grab the Wimbledon title only twice. Last year, he lost to Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals, and in 2008, he lost to Rafael Nadal in a five-set, back-and-forth, thrilling final. What makes Federer so great is his ability to adjust to opponents. He doesn’t have one particular game and his shot-making abilities are unmatched.
8. How Will the Williams Sisters Play?
Venus and Serena seem to always take extended leaves of absence from tournament play, but the breaks don’t seem to hurt their performance.
They can’t really be compared to any other women on tour because the Williamses are so much better than everyone else. Since 2000, only two women have won Wimbledon other than the Williams sisters (Amelie Mauresmo in 2006 and Maria Sharapova over Serena in 2004).
In that span, Venus has won five Wimbledon championships and Serena has won four. Serena, ranked 25th and 29 years old, is more of a threat than Venus, ranked 32nd and 30 years old, because she is a better all-around player and has more power.
There’s no question these two will make an immediate impact, and no one will want to face them.
7. Who will be the Dark Horse?
There aren’t too many dark horse candidates for the men, but Richard Gasquet has the game to win it all. His one-handed backhand is one of the best in tennis, and his play recently has shown why he was such a touted prospect. He did make it to the Wimbledon semifinals in 2007, losing to Roger Federer.
On the women’s side there are many players to choose from. But if Serena or Venus are on their A games, few other women have a chance. Petra Kvitova is probably the best bet. She made it to the Wimbledon semifinals last year, beating Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets, but losing to Serena. Kvitova also lost to Li Na in the French Open this year. Kvitova plays with a lot of power and is a very good baseline player.
6. How Will the Americans Do?
The women’s side really has only two players who can win it all—Serena and Venus.
The American men, however, are looking awful. An American hasn’t captured a Wimbledon men’s title since Pete Sampras won it in 2000. It is sad to say, but the Americans don’t have much hope.
Mardy Fish played very poorly at the French Open, losing to Giles Simon in straight sets; and Andy Roddick didn’t play, but is quickly learning that having a serve can’t win Grand Slams.
Everyone is making a big deal out of 19-year-old Ryan Harrison. After all, he took Robin Soderling to four sets this year. At the end of the day, what matters is if you win or lose, and he lost. He is just like a Donald Young or a Sam Querrey. America hypes these young guys, but unfortunately they don’t turn into anything. Maybe in another 10 years America will have a great tennis player, but it’s not looking too good right now.
5. How Will Li Na Fair Now That She Has a Grand Slam Title?
Li Na is a better grass court player than she is on clay. In fact, clay is arguably her worst surface, which is why her success at the French Open was so surprising.
Tennis is a mind game, and last year after Francesca Schiavone won the French, she sort of fell of the map for a little while. Not only that, on the heels of her 2010 French Open victory, Schiavone was routed in the first round of last year’s Wimbledon to Vera Douchevina, a player who nobody had heard of before or since. Li's best results at Wimbledon were in 2010 and 2006, when she reached the quarterfinals. Look for Na to have some opening round jitters this year.
4. Which Matches Should People Look Forward To?
There is always that one match when the draw comes out that pops out at you. For example, Novak Djokovic having to play Juan Martin Del Potro in the third round of the French this year was a great matchup. That was equivalent to a semifinal or quarterfinal matchup, and there was some great tennis.
This year someone good will likely have to play Venus or Serena early because their seedings are so high.
The men have some pretty good players in the top-25, and the later rounds will be something to watch. Of course fans would like to see a Djokovic vs. Nadal final or Nadal vs. Federer matchup, and that is still likely.
3. Will There Be Another Marathon John Isner/Nicolas Mahut Matchup?
With sports you never know what can happen. In the Mahut vs. Isner match, the final score was 70-68 in the fifth set. That’s like a basketball score. What makes tennis so unique is that in all Grand Slams except the U.S. Open, all fifth sets are played out, no tie-breakers.
It will be difficult to have another 70-68 match, but there is sure to be an eye-catching fifth set somewhere in the tournament.
2. Can Anyone Challenge Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic?
If there is anyone out there who could give these guys problems, it probably is Richard Gasquet or Juan Martin Del Potro.
Del Potro hasn’t been past the second round at Wimbledon, but he is still young at 22 years old. Del Potro is the type of player who gives Nadal a lot of trouble because he isn’t bothered by Nadal’s spin.
Del Potro has also won his last two matchups against Roger Federer, both in 2009. It’s scary how good Del Potro can be because of his height and movement; and tennis hasn’t really seen anyone like him.
Gasquet has a chance to give Nadal, Federer and Djokovic trouble because he can hit with the best of them. His only flaw is that he is a head case and sometimes he gives up when there is still plenty of time to come back.
1. Will Andy Murray Win Wimbledon?
Over the last couple of years, this question has been asked so many times it is starting to get annoying. Murray will not win Wimbledon this year.
He, like Gasquet, has a lot of talent, but feels too much pressure. Murray should be ashamed of the way he played at this year’s French Open against Viktor Trioicki. After every point Murray lost, he smacked his racquet as hard as he could against his shoes and even even breaking one. He smacked his racquet on the net multiple times, even throwing it once.
In addition, he was screaming at himself and his box. He had a temper tantrum on the court. All of these antics just showed why he can’t win a major tournament. He is too much of a head case. Also, Murray doesn’t have a winning record against any of the big three in grand slam matches. Federer is 2-0 never losing a set, Djokovic is 1-0 never losing a set, and Nadal is 4-2. It doesn’t look good for Murray, or Great Britain or Scotland for that matter.