The most prestigious tennis tournament of the year will begin on Monday. The draw was released today at 10am and there are quite a few interesting 1st round and potential 2nd round match-ups! Two of the semi-final spots will be very wide open as Federer has struggled with injury this year and Wawrinka has never advanced past the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.
However, I struggle to get excited about the future of the ATP as I don’t believe any of the next generation will be good enough to beat Djokovic or Murray in Slams in the next 5 years and the Djokovic vs. Murray match-up is one of my least favourite across both the ATP and WTA tours.
Anyway, let’s take a look at the top 8 seeds…
(1) Novak Djokovic
Wimbledon previous best performance: Champion (2011, 2014 & 2015)
Wimbledon 2015 performance: Champion
2016 Grass form (W-L): N/A
Outlook & Prediction: Djokovic has been so dominant over the last 18 months and rarely loses in any tournament before the final. He completed the Career Grand Slam by winning the French Open last month, which I thought he was never going to accomplish. Even though I have never been a fan, I do believe that he is the GOAT. However, I think that winning a 5th Grand Slam in a row is even beyond him and so I predict he will lose in the final to Andy Murray.
(2) Andy Murray
Wimbledon previous best performance: Champion (2013)
Wimbledon 2015 performance: Semi-Final
2016 Grass form (W-L): 5-0 (Champion – Queen’s)
Outlook & Prediction: As Nadal and Federer have started to decline and Wawrinka has yet to produce an amazing run in 2016, Murray has strongly cemented himself as the best player behind Djokovic. He has looked increasingly closer to adding to his Slam tally and did very well to reach the final at the French Open despite being stretched to five sets in his first two matches. Reuniting with Lendl will give him extra intimidation factor that I believe is the main asset that a ‘supercoach’ can provide (and Lendl is as intimidating as they come!). This with his convincing defence of his Queen’s title should enable him to win his 3rd Grand Slam title in just over two weeks.
(3) Roger Federer
Wimbledon previous best performance: Champion (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 & 2012)
Wimbledon 2015 performance: Runner-Up
2016 Grass form (W-L): 5-2 (Semi-final – Stuttgart & Halle)
Outlook & Prediction: 2016 hasn’t been a great year for Federer and I am pretty confident that it will be his last year on tour. I do hope he retires as I thought he should’ve done at the end of 2012 because I didn’t think he would win another Slam again. I worry that his legacy won’t be as great now due to only winning one Grand Slam title in the last five years. Federer’s performances tend to dramatically worsen when he has struggled with injury (like in 2013); due to being so injury-free throughout his career he isn’t used to dealing with this type of adversity. His performances in Stuttgart and Halle weren’t promising and as he has lost before the quarter-finals in at least one major each year since 2013, I predict an early exit at Wimbledon 2016, most probably in the 4th Round.
(4) Stan Wawrinka
Wimbledon previous best performance: Quarter-final (2014 & 2015)
Wimbledon 2015 performance: Quarter-final
2016 Grass form (W-L): 0-1 (1st Round – Queen’s)
Outlook & Prediction: Wawrinka’s form leading up to a major tends to be irrelevant, as he doesn’t play with nearly the same intensity in other events as his rivals but always performs relatively well in the Slams. However, grass is definitely his weakest surface and he hasn’t got the easiest draw with a potential 2nd round match against Juan Martin Del Potro. Nevertheless, I think Wawrinka is a reliable player in big events and should pass any tests in the first four rounds without too much trouble; however, I don’t ever see him advancing past the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.
(5) Kei Nishikori
Wimbledon previous best performance: 4th Round (2014)
Wimbledon 2015 performance: 2nd Round (Withdrew with injury)
2016 Grass form (W-L): 1-0 (2nd Round – Halle (Withdrew))
Outlook & Prediction: Nishikori has probably been the biggest disappointment for me out of the next generation as his Slam performances don’t live up to his consistency in regular tour events. This for me is unacceptable as it is much harder to be upset when playing over five sets. His career path reminds me of WTA players such as Agnieszka Radwańska and Simona Halep because when they reached their first Slam final, everyone thought they would go on to win a Slam in the future but now I don’t think any of them will ever reach another Slam final. Nishikori has never reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and I don’t expect that to change in 2016. He is consistent enough to make the second week but I doubt that he has the quality to advance past the 4th round on his weakest surface.
(6) Milos Raonic
Wimbledon previous best performance: Semi-final (2014)
Wimbledon 2015 performance: 3rd Round
2016 Grass form (W-L): 4-1 (Runner-up – Queen’s)
Outlook & Prediction: I have been pleasantly surprised by Raonic in 2016 as he seems to be consciously adding more into his game, recently getting help from McEnroe to be more imposing. I think that Raonic would have made the final at the Australian Open if he hadn’t had got injured against Murray and is one of the next generation that I could actually see win a Slam in the future. With an easier draw I could have easily seen Raonic reach the semi-finals but unfortunately he is seeded to play Djokovic in the quarter-finals and a 0-7 H2H record isn’t very promising.
(7) Richard Gasquet
Wimbledon previous best performance: Semi-final (2007 & 2015)
Wimbledon 2015 performance: Semi-final
2016 Grass form (W-L): 0-1 (1st Round – Queen’s)
Outlook & Prediction: Gasquet has really raised his game in the Slams in the past year reaching the quarter-finals or better in his last three Grand Slam appearances after spending most of his career losing in the 4th Round. He is very good at beating the players you expect him to beat but he still struggles to compete with the top players in big matches, although this is an issue for the entire ATP tour. Like Raonic, I could’ve seen him reach the semi-final but he is seeded to play Murray in the quarter-finals and I think it will be similar to their contest at the French Open.
(8) Dominic Thiem
Wimbledon previous best performance: 2nd Round (2015)
Wimbledon 2015 performance: 2nd Round
2016 Grass form (W-L): 7-1 (Champion – Stuttgart, Semi-Final – Halle)
Outlook & Prediction: Thiem has been the surprise package of 2016 for me already winning an incredible 47 matches and four titles this year! His grass court form this year has been equally impressive, as I didn’t think this surface would suit him. I expected a slight dip in form after a fabulous run to the semi-finals at the French Open. It is possible for him to equal this result at Wimbledon but he has a rather tricky opener against Florian Mayer who beat him in the semi-finals of Halle just last week. I think he should come through this match but he is likely to have to beat Alexander Zverev or Tomas Berdych in order to match his seeding. As he has only won one match at Wimbledon previously in his career, I don’t think he is ready for a deep run at SW19 just yet and will probably fall in the last 16; he is definitely a player to watch for the future.
QFs: Djokovic v Raonic, Simon v Cilic, Zverev v Wawrinka, Gasquet v Murray
SFs: Djokovic v Cilic, Zverev v Murray
Final: Murray d. Djokovic
This draw is unique because people seem more excited about who will make the semi-finals in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, as opposed to who will win the tournament. Inevitably, it is difficult to look past Djokovic and Murray reaching the final based on recent form but I could really see either of them being victorious and would expect a closer match than their finals in Melbourne and Paris. In the end, I have gone in favour of Murray as I think Lendl will give him the edge to topple Djokovic in a Slam for the first time since 2013. Having said that, I have gone against Djokovic to win in the last four Grand Slams and look how that turned out!