Is Andy Murray ready to secure an elusive Wimbldeon victory? Andrew Castle sizes up the competition…
Anyone who writes off Roger because he’s reached the grand old age of 31 should think again. Especially as Wimbledon is his favourite tournament. Check the stats — he’s reached 36 consecutive quarter-finals or better at the majors. You mean he’s never been injured or got out of the wrong side of bed? And no player has ever been so inspired on the day to knock him down? How dare he be so brilliant!
When I commentate on Centre Court, and Roger walks out, there’s a murmur in the air; there’s the feeling that this is how tennis is meant to be played.
Janowicz is the best Polish player in 30 years. His world ranking has risen from 221 to 26 and he beat Murray at last year’s Paris Masters. He’s 6ft 8in — his parents were both professional volleyball players — but he has a wonderful touch as well as power. To top it all, he’s just 22.
This time last year, the Bulgarian player’s ranking was 87, and now it’s 28, and he beat Djokovic on clay in Madrid this year.
They call him Baby Fed as, like Roger Federer, he has every shot in the book. But Grigor is only now learning how to get the best out of his game, as it takes time to learn which shot to choose. On top of all that, he’s dating Maria Sharapova.
Last summer, there was a question mark over whether Rafa would ever play again because of a knee injury. But since February, he’s made nine finals in a row, and won seven of them, including his eighth French Open, and nobody has ever won the same grand slam eight times.
So with stats like Rafa’s and Roger’s, you can see the kind of era that Andy Murray has become a very important part of. Nobody is in the same league as the top four players.
Who are the rivals to five-time winner Serena Williams? Virgina Wade checks out the competiton…
Heather struggled with glandular fever this season, and you could say Laura Robson has more potential because she’s taller and hits bigger shots. But Heather, 21, has a fantastic attitude, and unlike Laura she naturally moves very well.
And her form in Wimbledon is good: in 2012 she reached the third round before losing to then world number three Agnieszka Radwanska. We always have high expectations for British players, but we must allow them to develop.
I have to make Serena the favourite. If she’s connecting well, she’s just incredible to watch. Her serve is so overwhelming, and her return can be brutal, too. It intimidates the hell out of you. Serena’s won five Wimbledon titles, and although she’s a year older, she’s in great shape.
More importantly, Serena’s enjoying playing at the moment: over the years she hasn’t always been so diligent. She’s had other interests. It’s much more fun watching her when she really wants to win and is applying herself.
Laura Robson, boy can she play well! We have to hope she gets a decent draw so she can push through a round or two and then cause the big names some trouble.
She always rises to the occasion: she took Sharapova to a tie break in the Olympics before beating Kim Clijsters and Li Na in the US Open.
She’s ready to pounce again, especially now she’s started working with Andy Murray’s former coach, Miles MacLagan. He’s got lots of experience with top players, and it could be very good for her. If a high-ranking player gets her early on, they will be terrified.
In the past, Belarusian Azarenka has looked unbeatable… until she plays Serena. Like Sharapova, Azarenka matches up pretty well against Serena with her groundstrokes.
The one thing she doesn’t have is the serve. I don’t think that will make for a predictable tournament. The French Open was exceptional: I didn’t know who was going to win between Azarenka and Sharapova in the semi-final. Azarenka played the better tennis throughout the tournament, but in the end Sharapova had a bit more resilience to make the final.
Sharapova hasn’t won Wimbledon since 2004. But it’s not the case that she’s not suited to the tournament; it’s just that the players she’s faced in the past have been too good. She has fantastic groundstrokes but she doesn’t have much in the way of options. She can’t slice balls and mix up the pace.
Sharapova has never done very well against Serena, because Serena eats up her serve. You can see how it makes Sharapova fret: she doesn’t know whether to go big on second serve, or whether to take a chance on first serve and be left vulnerable.
JOIN THE WIMBLEDON REVOLUTION
Thanks to the TV revolution of last year’s Olympics, the BBC will have more live coverage of Wimbledon in 2013 than ever before. A record ten live streams will show matches and up-to-date highlights from around SW19, ensuring that you never have to miss a point.
Live coverage begins at 11.30am every day this week on BBC2 (on Wednesday it starts at 11am on BBC1). The tennis continues either on BBC1 or BBC2 until at least 8pm (match timings subject to change). Also, from 1.45pm to 4.20pm both channels show live coverage. There’s an hour of highlights each evening at 8pm on BBC2. See listings for details.
Up to ten live streams are available to watch via BBC Sport Video Player. Go to bbc.co.uk/sport to access coverage from other matches as well as regular highlights packages. If you have a “connected” or “smart TV” and can access the internet through your television, you may also be able to watch these online streams on your TV through the BBC Sport app.
Press red when Wimbledon is on for up to three different streams, allowing you to watch other matches from the one shown in the main coverage.
The BBC Sport app is free to download for Apple and Android smartphone users. If you have a wi-fi or 3G connection you can watch the ten live online streams through the app. If you don’t have an Apple or Android phone you can access the BBC Mobile website and read live text commentaries as well as regular Q&As with Andy Murray.
John Inverdale and Shelagh Fogarty introduce live action and analysis throughout the day on Radio 5 Live, featuring commentary of all the main matches from 12—8pm. Radio 5 Live Sports Extra has additional coverage for the first eight days.