Arguably the pinnacle of all tennis competition. Wimbledon comes back round again with an increased lack of predictability to its competition.
Usually – the suspects in line contain Novak Djokovic, current holder and world number 1 Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych, Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer.
All have had ups and downs this year, suggesting this may be the most finely balanced instalment of Wimbledon in years.
Djokovic and Murray have tended to scrap for the titles one way or another – they have won the past four titles between them. On top of which, at least one of them has appeared in the final every year since 2010.
But Djokovic has had a year worthy of being a storyline in a soap opera. A four set loss to Wawrinka at the summit of the US Open set off a chain of events that included a straight sets loss to Roberto Bautista-Agut in Shanghai, and a 5-set loss to Denis Istomin in the fifth round of the Australian Open. Things culminated in a dispatch of his entire coaching staff in what he called “shock therapy”. As he teams with Andre Agassi for the next chapter, he is still awaiting any proof his therapy is working.
Murray, at 30, admitted earlier this month that he cannot compete at the highest level for much longer, but his pragmatism is transparent, and he should have little difficulty navigating to the quarter finals at least.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the two ageless wizards that seem set for another forage into fairytales. Fresh from victory at the Halle Open and French Open respectively, the two are very much on the heels of Murray to claim the trophy. Federer in particular will be recharged and ready having sat out the clay court season.
On the heels of this typical quad of front-runners lie Wawrinka, Berdych, and Grigor Dimitrov. The dark horses themselves who usually provide a good battle or two along their way. Wawrinka in particular will look to make this tournament count. Gallantly knocked out by the Federer fairytale of Australia, he had bitten back with strong runs in Indian Wells and in France. Dimitrov, a disappointing season thus far for him, with early defeats Stuttgart and Miami yet he has retained his ranking of 11th going into the tournament. A former winner at Queens, and semi-finalist in 2014, Dimitrov is a dangerous watch on these courts.
The outside runners during this tournament will have their eye on a shock. None more so than Alexander Zverev. The young German is widely heralded as the future dominant force in world tennis. He collected mass plaudits for his performances in the Halle Open, making the final, and beating Djokovic to win the Open in Italy.
Nick Kyrgios may have had his season curtailed by injury, but he is still very much one to watch. His doubles showing of late has indicated his talent on court remains one of great interest. A beastly serve has flattened even the best, and he has provided more than a glimmer of how good he can be at SW19, reaching the quarter finals in 2014.
The aforementioned troop will head an enormous pack looking to get their hands on the men’s prize. Asking this humble writer though; the head believes Murray will retain his crown. The heart – Federer has one more golden chapter to read out.