Arguably the biggest story of Wimbledon 2009, will be the absence of world number one and last year’s Wimbledon winner Rafa Nadal. A reoccurring knee injury has forced him to pull out of the world’s most prestigious tennis tournament.
“I’ve played with some problems in my knees for a few months but I always felt I’d try and try,” said Nadal. “You don’t know what your limit is, but I have now reached the limit.”
So with the favourite out, who now can now take advantage? Can Roger Federer claim a sixth Wimbledon title? Can Britain Andy Murray finally fulfill the nation’s aspirations and win a first Grand Slam on home turf?
The viewing audiences will be craving for a Federer v Murray final. It would be the darling of Wimbledon against the home favourite. It would certainly be a hard game to call, with Murray having overcome Federer six times out of the eight when they have faced each other.
Five-time champion Federer now enters the two week tournament as firm favourite to recover the title he lost last year to Nadal. Federer, for many tennis fans, is the best player to have ever graced the game. His array of shots and tenacious play has seen him succeed on all surfaces.
He won his first French Open title only a few weeks ago. In the process he equalled Pete Sampras’ record of 14 Grand Slams and completed an impressive career grand slam of his own: winning all four. Undoubtedly he will go in to his first round match against relative unknown Lu on cloud nine.
Murray has crept up the rankings and after impressive displays and numerous tournament wins, albeit mainly on the hard court surface, he has now risen to third in the world. With a variety of shots, he is not to dissimilar to Federer as he has no real weaknesses in his game.
Indeed Murray has proven he is one of the main title contenders for the 2009 tournament after being crowned champion of Queen’s Club, the warm up tournament for Wimbledon. With Rafa Nadal removed from the British number one’s half of the draw, he should theoretically have an easier path to the final.
Federer has expressed his admiration for the 22-year-old saying: “He definitely has a good chance at Wimbledon.”
“He handles pressure well and will be a great grass champion for the future.”
Novak Djokovic is another main contender for the title. The world number four already has one Grand Slam to his name, the Australian Open in 2007. He has reached a Wimbledon semi final, retiring against Rafa Nadal in 2007. Indeed he has retired in three of four grand slams, and has received much criticism as a result.
Andy Roddick, is a two-time Wimbledon finalist and as a four-time champion of Queen’s Club, he has proved he can win on grass. Currently ranked at number six in the world, the American, who boasts a massive serve, could prove a tricky opponent to stop.
Another hard hitting player is world number five, Juan Martin Del Potro. The Argentine has enjoyed victories over Nadal and Murray for the first time his career, not to mention pushing Federer all the way in their French Open semi final. In the form of his life, the 6ft6 south American should not be taken lightly.
Lleyton Hewitt has dropped down the ATP rankings, but could be a long shot for the title. The aggressive Aussie won the title in 2003 in a final against David Nalbandian in straight sets. The fiery Hewitt had a promising Queen’s Club Championship this year, and looks to be hitting some good form just in time for Wimbledon.
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BIOGRAPHY: Georginio Wijnaldum