As Wimbledon 2018 kicks off, the former British men’s number one Tim Henman selects his six favourites amongst this year’s male players… With Andy Murray absent after a prolonged injury, will Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal tussle for victory? Is Novak Djokovic going to return to form?
With eight Wimbledon men’s singles title under his belt, Roger is undeniably the greatest ever men’s Wimbledon champion. He looks so confident and comfortable on grass that I’m backing him to retain his title and make it nine this year. Roger knows his own body better than anyone and skipping the clay court season last year seemed to rejuvenate him when he returned to playing on grass. He’s done the same thing this year and you shouldn’t bet against the same result.
Kyle has a real opportunity to take centre stage. I don’t agree that the pressure of being British number one at Wimbledon will have an adverse effect. Kyle’s a top 20 player and knows how to handle pressure. I think the extra attention could spur him on to new heights. His confidence has rocketed and he’s continued to mature and improve. He’s never got into the second week at Wimbledon before, but that’s well within his grasp this year.
Rafael Nadal, 32
What is Rafael Nadal’s Wimbledon seeding?
Which country is Rafael Nadal from?
Why does he stand a chance?
I make Rafa a very close second favourite to Federer. His recent record at Wimbledon isn’t brilliant — he hasn’t made it past the fourth round since 2011. But he’s been so unlucky, having faced opponents who played out of their skin against him. Last year it was Gilles Müller and before that Dustin Brown and Nick Kyrgios. Something about Rafa seems to bring out the best in his opponents. He also often finds the transition from clay to grass has an adverse effect on his knee, but if he can stay fit, I can see him pushing Roger all the way.
Novak’s had issues on and off the court in the last few years but has got his game back on track. After his defeat at the French Open a couple of weeks ago he said he wasn’t sure he’d ever play on grass again, but you can put that down to a heat-of-the-moment outburst. He has great know-how on grass and I expect Wimbledon to bring out the best in him. After a few injury problems he’s also pain-free for the first time in a long while so expect to see the old Djokovic. For that reason I put him right behind favourites Federer and Nadal.
ELIMINATED – Nick Kyrgios, 23
What is Nick Kyrgios’ Wimbledon seeding?
Which country is Nick Kyrgios from?
Why does he stand a chance?
Outside the top four, Nick is the most gifted tennis player out there. He’s got a huge serve, an aggressive game style and he’s a big shot-maker. He’s an incredible natural talent and so entertaining to watch, but he needs to improve physically and mentally. He has a tendency to lose focus and concentration and that’s where he lags behind the others. Nick hasn’t got past the last 16 since beating Nadal in 2014, but I’d really like to see him deliver this year. If he can put it all together, expect fireworks.
This year’s Championships are held from Monday 2nd July – Sunday 15th July and air on the BBC