I was thinking the other day about all the things I miss about the “Great British Summertime” and, for reasons I couldn’t work out at the time, tennis’ oldest tournament came to mind. As the covers come off for the second week of Wimbledon 2019 and I looked at the last 16 draw just this morning it struck me.
There’s no Brit to follow. Well, at least follow until his/her inevitable crash and burn in the quarter- or semi-finals… and this was somehow refreshing.
The British condition
This perennial disappointment in British tennis – especially on grass, which should be our wheelhouse – is part of what makes a Brit a Brit, as far as I’m concerned, and perhaps it is the absence of this figure in Wimbledon 2019 that is as newsworthy (for me, at least) as the tournament itself.
NOTE: I’m well aware that Andy “Muzza” Murray won the men’s singles in 2016, thereby invalidating our right to maintain such mediocre expectations. But that was Trump and Brexit year, which I’m pretty sure never actually happened, so I’m willing to write it off as just another terrible nightmare.
Anyway, let’s leave “Henman Hill” for a moment and get back to Centre Court…
Men’s singles tournament
The surprising news from the men’s side is that only 4 players from the world’s top 10 have made it through to the fourth round (last 16). Shock first round exits for Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas – world ranked four, five and six respectively – were followed by the world numbers eight, nine and ten – Kevin Anderson, Karen Khachanov and Fabio Fognini – falling at the third round stage.
This leaves Kei Nishikori (current world number 7) as the only player flying the flag for the top 10 outside of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who all play their quarter finals matches today.
Ladies’ singles tournament
In the ladies’ competition, the state of play is as follows… six of the top 10 have survived the first three rounds of the competition. The most notable casualty was second-seed and world number two, Naomi Osaka, who got thumped in straight sets in the first round.
Other notable losses included Angelique Kerber – current world number five – in the second round and Kiki Bertens and Sloane Stevens – ranked four and nine in the world respectively – in the most recent round of 32.
Elsewhere in the tournament, Captain Charisma (Murray) and Serena Williams team up in the mixed doubles second round against the event’s fourteenth seeds, and all eyes will be on this unlikely duo (at least unlikely in my opinion).
Meanwhile, Andy’s brother, Jamie Murray, and his playing partner, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, have a tall task before them today in the form of third seeds Mate Pavic and Gabriela Dabrowski.
Who will win Wimbledon this weekend?
As intriguing as the other competitions are, realistically all you and I are interested in are the predictions for the men’s and women’s singles events. So here, they are, according to the bookies…
The bookies make Novak Djokovic the odds-on favourite at 4/5, followed by both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at 7/2.
On the face of it, Djokovic looks destined to walk away with the title for the fifth time and retain the trophy in the process. But what about Federer and Nadal? Surely you can never count them out, especially since both rise to the occasion and produce their best tennis when it matters the most… I guess we will have to wait and see.
In betting terms, the women’s draw is not such a foregone conclusion. Ashleigh Barty is the marginal favourite at 5/2, edging out Karolina Pliskova at 7/2, while seven-time singles winner Serena Williams is at 11/2. Meanwhile, world number six Petra Kvitova could be a good outside bet at 7/1.
Barty claimed the French Open title (winning the final 6-1, 6-3) back in early June, making her the first Australian in 46 years to win the event and confirming her as the number one women's player in the WTA rankings.
Her rich vain of form and fighting spirit make her the player to beat coming into Wimbledon 2019, although many will be nipping at her heels to claim the prestigious title and try to overthrow her reign at the top of the world rankings.
Whatever the outcome, we are guaranteed some great tennis at Wimbledon 2019 and some excellent head-to-heads on both sides of the draw.
Personally, I’d love to see Roger Federer lift the men's title (for perhaps the last time, although he doesn’t seem to age like the rest of us!) and the aforementioned Ashleigh Barty in the women’s competition.
Do you agree with me? Who would you prefer to see win Wimbledon 2019? Let me know in the comments below and enjoy the rest of the week’s grass court action!