By Josh Kramer
We are less than a day away from the best tournament in all of tennis. London is the place to be in sports these days. First there is Wimbledon. Then there is the Olympics. Out of the four major tennis tournaments, Wimbledon holds the most historical significance and is widelyy considered the most prestigious tournament of them all.
The last nine Grand Slams have been won by one of two men. They also happen to be the current number one and number two ranked players in the world. Ironically, the last player not named Nadal or Djokovic to take home a Grand Slam championship has won at the All England Club on six different occasions (Federer). Lastly, 28 of the last 29 Grand Slam titles have been captured by Djokovic, Nadal, or Federer.
Champion: Novak Djokovic
Last year at this very event, Novak Djokovic clinched the number one ranking in Men’s tennis. He finally lived up to the hype and silenced the critics. Grass has never been the best surface for Rafa, as we learned last year when Djokovic dismantled the Spaniard in four sets. After letting Rafa finally return the favor at Roland Garros a couple of weeks ago, do not expect Novak let this golden opportunity slip through his fingers. In two weeks, Novak Djokovic will have captured his sixth Grand Slam Championship.
Contenders: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray
As if it is a mystery who the contenders are these days. The “Fantastic Four” have dominated the ATP for the better part of four years now. Roger Federer is arguably the greatest grass-court player in the history of tennis. Rafael Nadal has won here on two occasions, while Andy Murray is not only the crowd favorite, but he also has reached the semifinals each of the past three years.
Dark Horse: Andy Roddick
Yes, Andy Roddick. I know most of you probably think I am crazy to even mention the Americans name in my preview. Andy Roddick is old, but he isn’t dead yet. ARod has seen his fair share of success at the All England Club in his day, reaching the finals on three different occasions. In addition, he has put his shocking first-round exit at Roland Garros far behind him, having captured a title in the AEGON International tune-up this past week. Over the past seven years, the only person not named Djokovic, Nadal, or Federer to take home a Grand Slam was Juan Martin del Potro. Therefore, Roddick along with any player not ranked in the top three is truly a dark horse.
Let the riveting Nancy Drew novel continue. Women’s tennis is like March Madness, only all year around. It appeared Azarenka had brought a semblance of order to the WTA tour, then stepped in Maria Sharapova. I am done trying to figure out this wild and crazy WTA tour that has produced six different champions in the last six Grand Slams, and instead I will just embrace it.
Champion: Maria Sharapova
This would seem to be the most logical pick. Therefore, I will probably regret making it. Sharapova seems to have regained her championship form and has really played lights out all year long. She is 36 and 5 on the year, went to the finals at this tournament last year, and of course won at the All England Club back in 2004.
Contenders: Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova, Caroline Wozniacki
Most were shocked to see Azarenka exit Roland Garros in the fourth round. Do not count on that happening again. She has gone 38 and 4 on the year with four tournament victories for a reason. Also, Azarenka made it to the semifinals here last year. Kvitova is of course the defending champion at Wimbledon, and Caroline Wozniacki is due for a deep Grand Slam run. Wozniacki drew heavy criticism when she was ranked number one. Now she is ranked number seven and the pressure is off.
Dark Horse: Serena Williams
I never thought I would see the day in my lifetime when Serena Williams was the dark horse for any tournament. But after her first opening round exit ever at a Grand Slam, Williams has demonstrated some serious vulnerability. Despite her embarrassing first-round exit at the hands of Virginie Razzano, Williams has still won 12 Grand Slam titles, including four at the All England Club. Not to mention she still has a very impressive 27 and 3 record during 2012.
It is time for the best event in tennis to begin. The grass of the All England Club will take center stage the next two weeks.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.