Ah Wimbledon! The classiest sporting event since Sir Ian Mckellen played the Queen herself in a polo match, where the horses had mustaches and the ball was a half-pound diamond.
This year’s affair will see defending champs Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams return to the All England Club in hopes of treating the rest of the field like “the help.”
Djokovic should be in a chipper mood after finally completing his career slam at Roland Garros last weekend. Now the 12-time major winner looks to climb the all-time grand slam list, perhaps one day passing Roger Federer (17).
But if the 34-year-old Federer has another title under his belt, it would likely come on the grass of Wimbledon, where he has won seven previous times and was a finalist in the last two years.
For the women’s draw, Serena Williams finally looks mortal again. After a dominant run, winning four straight grand slams in 2014-15, she’s been bested in the finals twice to begin this year. Will she continue to get shut out in 2016? Let’s take a closer look at the favorites.
Novak Djokovic: 4/5
“Nole” finds himself in a career sweet spot; with Federer and Rafael Nadal past their primes, there is no true challenger to the Serb’s throne. He has just one loss in the last six grand slams (an upset by Stan Wawrinka in the French Open last year). So even though Djokovic’s game is more tailored to the hard courts, he’s still the prohibitive favorite.
Andy Murray: 3/1
The Scotsman is always under immense pressure in the UK’s biggest shin-dig, and it’s rarely produced a good performance. Murray was upset by Grigor Dimitrov (who?) in 2014, before being ousted by old-man Federer last year. He did end the British drought at Wimbledon in 2013 and his career numbers on grass are strong (90-17), but he’s still a tough buy in this spot.
Roger Federer: 8/1
If there’s ever a time of year to stick with the mighty Federer, it’s now. He’s been able to push Djokovic in the last two Wimbledon Finals, but simply ran out of steam in the end. It’s conceivable that, should he meet any other player on the final Sunday, he’ll be able to handle them. But is there any reason to expect a different outcome if a third straight meeting with Nole transpires?
Milos Raonic: 14/1
The hard-serving Canadian is still trying to reach his first Grand Slam finals, let alone win one. His game is best suited to grass, but maybe wait until next year to back Raonic.
Stan Wawrinka: 16/1
The middle child of Switzerland is worth backing as a decent long-shot in most tourneys, but Wimbledon is not one. He’s awful on grass (26-22) and has never advanced beyond the quarter finals.
Rafael Nadal: 20/1
If concerns about playing on grass don’t keep you away from “Rafa,” concerns about his wrist should. He was forced from his favorite tournament, the French Open, due to a lingering wrist injury; even if he can return, it won’t be at his best.
Serena Williams: 13/8
Williams has been so dominant in recent years, it’s easy to forget she’s 35 years old. Age alone isn’t reason to doubt arguably the greatest female athlete of all time, but it does make her vulnerable on days that her serve isn’t working, like during the French Open finals.
Garbine Muguruza: 6/1
The tennis world is buying into the emergence of this 22-year-old and with good reason. A smart player who will bend but not break, Muguruza could be a thorn in Serena’s side for the rest of her career. She doesn’t have a ton of experience on grass, but did make last year’s Wimbledon final. Will another year help her get over the hump?
Petra Kvitova: 6/1
A two-time Wimbledon champ, Kvitova hasn’t done much in the last two years, battling a bout of mono in 2015. Back at full strength, she certainly has the potential to turn some heads and climb back up the rankings.
Victoria Azarenka: 8/1
Another well-known name that hasn’t gotten much done in majors, Azarenka has had a quietly solid 2016, winning three ATP events including beating Serena Williams at Indian Wells in March. On grass, she’s 46-19 in her career, but has never advanced beyond the quarters at Wimbledon, and that came way back in 2008.
See you in two years Maria! While your game will fade, may your looks never.
(Photo credit: Katherine Shann (Originally uploaded to Flickr. Photo has been cropped.)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/])