Wimbledon Tennis 2015: Predictions and Early Title Favorites

Lindsay Gibbs@linzsports Featured ColumnistJune 25, 2015

Wimbledon Tennis 2015: Predictions and Early Title Favorites

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    Pool/Getty Images

    With a full three weeks in between the French Open and Wimbledon this year instead of the typical two, it seems like we've had to wait forever to kick off The Championships. I haven't known what to do with all of this extra time!

    I'm kidding, of course. There's barely been time to recover from Stan Wawrinka upsetting Novak Djokovic in the French Open, and now here we are getting the all-whites bleached for the All England Club.

    The draws haven't been made yet—that will happen on Friday morning—but that doesn't mean we can't start looking ahead to the most majestic fortnight in tennis.

    Here are some predictions and a rundown of the favorites for the 2015 Wimbledon crown. 

The Under-21 Crowd Will Fizzle out Quickly

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    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    There's been a lot of talk in tennis lately about the New Generation. It's been going on in the women's game for a while, with Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys and Eugenie Bouchard breaking through, and recently there have been some younger men making waves.

    I'm not talking about the guys in their mid 20s like Grigor Dimitrov and Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic. Nope, think even younger.

    Twenty-year-old Nick Kyrgios made waves at Wimbledon last year, upsetting Rafael Nadal and making it to the quarterfinals, and 18-year-old Borna Coric has climbed all the way to No. 39 in the world with wins over Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal already in his pocket.

    Another 18-year-old, Alexander Zverev has has been making strides, as has Kyrgios' fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis (19).

    These guys are the faces of the future for sure, but I don't expect them to make a splash at Wimbledon this year. Kyrgios has just split with his coach, Coric hasn't found his footing on grass yet and the others are just too unpredictable at this point.

Petra Kvitova Will Lose Early

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    Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press

    Petra Kvitova and Wimbledon is usually just a match made in heaven. The Czech lefty has won two of the last three Wimbledon titles, and she'll try to add one to that in a couple of weeks.

    Unfortunately for lovers of her first-strike, zone-friendly game, I don't predict that she'll even make it through the first week.

    You see, as talented as Kvitova is, she's also extremely streaky. Additionally, health problems have often gotten in the way of her career, which makes her recent withdraw from Eastbourne this week due to illness even more worrisome.

    She hasn't lost before the quarterfinals of Wimbledon since 2009, but I think that second-week streak will come to an end this year. She'll be the queen of grass again, but her inconsistency will doom her in 2015.

Lleyton Hewitt Will Have 1 Last Magical Wimbledon Moment

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    Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

    Sadly enough, this year we will have to say goodbye to one of the grass-court greats of his generation, Lleyton Hewitt. The Aussie will continue to play on Tour until the Australian Open next year, which makes this his Wimbledon swan song.

    The 34-year-old won the title back in 2002, but has only made one semifinal and three quarterfinals since then. In the past four years he hasn't even made it past the second round.

    But grass is a surface that always brought out the best in Hewitt's game, and I predict that there's at least one last firework left in the can, be it a nice run to the second week or merely a first-week five-set thriller.

    This is Hewitt, after all. The guy just loves to compete.

    "Yeah, amongst all of the players and stuff, I mean, he will be remembered as being just a fantastic competitor," Andy Murray said when discussing Hewitt's legacy, as reported by the AAP (via Sydney Morning Herald). He hated to lose."

Someone's Slump Will Be Snapped

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    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    There have been a few high-profile players caught in alarming slumps this season: Eugenie Bouchard, Agnieszka Radwanska and, recently, Simona Halep.

    Well, I'm going to predict that one of those players makes it to the semifinals. Wimbledon has a way of reviving seasons, and since all three have good memories on the lawns at the All England Club, I think magic will be in the air.

    Bouchard made it all the way to the Wimbledon final last year. So although the 21-year-old hasn't won back-to-back matches since March and just withdrew from Eastbourne with an ab injury this week, the quickness of grass might be just what she needs to stop overthinking everything.

    Radwanska has looked unsure of herself all season, but the 2012 Wimbledon finalist has played better so far this grass season, and there's reason to hope it will continue.

    Halep, meanwhile, has lost early and meekly at the last three Slams, causing many to question her competitive fire. But she's still ranked No. 3 and made the semis here last year, so counting her out would be foolish.

The Players Formerly Known as the Big Four Will Rise Again

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    Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

    Did you hear that rumor about the Big Four of men's tennis being done? Well, forget about it—they might not be quite as dominating as they once were, but these guys are still dangerous, particularly at Wimbledon.

    I predict Rafael Nadal will have his first good showing at Wimbledon since 2011. After all, he has had more rest since the French Open and he won his first grass-court title since his '11 Wimbledon crown two weeks ago in Stuttgart.

    Andy Murray has also been in good form on grass so far this year, as his Queen's Club win shows, and he'll be one of the favorites after the form he showed all season, particularly on his least-favorite surface, clay.

    And, of course, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have a great chance to meet back in the Wimbledon final this year for a repeat of last year's saga.

    Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic have shaken things up over the last year, but this Tour still belongs to the big names, and so does this tournament in particular.

Maria Sharapova Will Make a Deep Run

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    Ben Curtis/Associated Press

    It's been 11 years since Maria Sharapova broke through and turned the tennis world upside down by upsetting Serena Williams and winning Wimbledon.

    And, even more strangely, it's been a full four years since Sharapova even made it to the quarterfinals of the All England Club.

    Since making the final back in 2011 where she lost to Petra Kvitova, Sharapova has lost in the fourth round to Sabine Lisicki in 2012, the second round to Michelle Larcher de Brito in 2013 and the fourth round to Angelique Kerber last year.

    The grass is no longer Sharapova's best surface, but that doesn't mean she's not still dangerous. Now seemingly healthy after struggling with nagging illnesses and injuries all season, look for Sharapova to live up to her No. 4 seed and make a huge impact on the draw.

The Early Favorite for the Men Is...

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    Ben Curtis/Associated Press

    It should be no surprise that according to Odds Shark, Novak Djokovic is the man to beat at Wimbledon, at 5-4 odds.

    It's pretty easy to make a case for the No. 1 to defend his title here on the grass. After suffering from a shock defeat in the French Open final to Stan Wawrinka, he should be eager to bounce back. And really, nobody on Tour is as resilient as Djokovic.

    Djokovic has been freakishly consistent at majors over the past few years: He hasn't lost before the quarterfinals of a major since the 2009 French Open. In that span he's managed to make it to 20 Slam semifinals, 14 Slam finals and win seven major titles, giving him eight in all.

    It should help that the spotlight will be off of him this tournament. The weight of a Career Slam is not on his shoulders, and the British press will be busy with Andy Murray and Roger Federer, giving Djokovic a small breather.

    That should help him relax, play his best tennis, and potentially win his third Wimbledon title. 

The Early Favorite for the Women Is...

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    Ben Curtis/Associated Press

    Brace yourselves for another bold pick from Odds Shark: Serena Williams is the favorite to win Wimbledon.

    Really, it's hard to make a case for anyone but Serena right now. The 33-year-old phenom is 32-1 on the year with three titles, including the French Open and the Australian Open.

    For the first time in her career she has a shot to win the Calendar Slam, and although she's trying to downplay how much that achievement would mean to her, it's hard to believe that's not a motivating factor.

    “I don’t know how this sounds, but it’s not on top of my list,” she said, as reported by Douglas Robson for the Washington Post. “My list right now is to do well at Wimbledon. And then my list is to do well at the U.S. Open. And then Australia.”

    Serena has lost before the quarterfinals at Wimbledon the last two years, but it's easy to see her bouncing back this year and keeping the best season of her illustrious career going.

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