With the French Open now over, thoughts inevitably turn to Wimbledon where Scot Andy Murray is likely to have a golden opportunity this year. Despite the incredible achievement of Rafa Nadal yesterday, with his record eighth title at Roland Garros following his emphatic win against fellow Spaniard David Ferrer, the King of Clay is likely to start as only fifth seed because of his lack of tournaments played due to knee injury. This means that Nadal, favourite and Word Number 1 Novak Djokovic and defending champion Roger Federer may all end up in the same half of the draw with Murray and Ferrer in the opposite half, providing the Scot with a major advantage over the course of the tournament.
A further positive for Murray is that his back injury has now been resolved, vindicating his decision to miss the French Open this year. The World Number 2 acknowledges, however, that he needs match practice to catch up on the competition, and intends to play at Queen’s on Wednesday. “The conditions at Queen’s are perfect,” Murray says. It’s a great setting and the Centre Court is really good, so it’s perfect preparation. I’ll be short of matches. I’ve done enough training over the last 10 days or so. I actually did a big training block after Monte Carlo, so some of that should still be in there too. It’s just matches that I’ll need. Normally, coming from the clay court, I’d be match tough, just not used to the surface, whereas this year I won’t be match tight but at least I’ll have had 10 days on the grass.”
Murray will certainly be facing some tough opposition at the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club where likely opposition include Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Juan Martin del Potro, Tomas Berdych and Marin Cilic, the 2012 Champion. He has two championship titles – won in 2009 and 2011 (the latter against Tsonga) – but will certainly want to wipe last year’s opening round defeat from his memory.
Once his time at Queen’s is over, Murray will turn his attention to Wimbledon where he will start as third favourite, despite the probable advantage of the seedings for his draw. Bookmaker BetFred offers odds of 4/1 that the 26-year-old will clinch the Grand Slam title that he has been close to winning for the last few tantalising years –with participation in three semi-finals in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and then the final itself last year where he was defeated by Swiss Roger Federer in four sets.
Rafa Nadal is second favourite, at odds of 3/1 from the same bookmaker, although the Spaniard intends to rest after the hard-won French Open and has downplayed his chances of winning on grass. “I won’t play a tournament before Wimbledon, so that’s not the ideal situation before a grand slam like Wimbledon that is on grass and the conditions are very different. It’s the tournament that is more unpredictable for that reason. But I am going to try to arrive in good shape to Wimbledon. And if not, I am going to look about the rest of the season. Because I’m in a good position, even if I don’t play a good Wimbledon. That doesn’t mean I am not going to try, because I am going to try 100% to be ready for there and to play good tennis there.” Nadal won at Wimbledon in 2008 and 2010. Despite his assertions, he remains a major threat to Murray this time round too.
From Murray’s perspective, though, Serbian Novak Djokovic is his major rival just now. The 26-year-old has dominated men’s tennis for several years, and was semi-finalist twice at Wimbledon in 2010 and 2012, winning the title against Nadal in 2011. The ATP World Tour Player of the Year in 2011 and 2012, Djokovic enters Wimbledon as favourite with bookmaker Ladbrokes offering odds of 15/8 that he will lift the trophy again. Djokovic started the 2013 season in great style, winning the Australian Open for a third consecutive time, but since then he has had a few ups and downs. Most recently, he was defeated by Nadal in an epic four hours and 37 minutes match in the French Open Semi-Final and he will be eager to assert his dominance at Wimbledon where the grass courts suit his style of play.
Andy Murray has the game to win at Wimbledon and the draw for the 2013 Championship is likely to favour him. If he can conquer his mental demons, we can look forward to some excellent performances from Britain’s Number 1 during the two weeks of Wimbledon, from 24 June to 7 July 2013.