Here's his preview on the SW19 showpiece as the Championships begin. He says: “The top 5 players in the world are the top 5 seeds at this year's tournament. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are seen as the form players coming into Wimbledon while Andy Murray was struggling with a hip injury last week but insists he's fit to defend his title.
It’s been a difficult year for the Brit and his hopes of becoming a three time Wimbledon Champion look to be diminishing but then again we don’t exactly know what the injury is like so we will need to see how he is on court.
Novak Djokovic is a shadow of his previous self but it was highlighted by me last season that a decline was imminent. He really is struggling to keep his work life and home life separate with the TV cameras following him everywhere for the documentary he is doing. Family life along with playing and directing/producing was always going to spell trouble for the one-time world No.1.
Roger Federer on the other hand has had a new lease of life. He has had the French Open off to help his Wimbledon preparations but can we really rely on a 35yo?
Rafael Nadal has been the biggest surprise coming back from injuries to get to what looks an end of year No.1 and of course winning the French Open again but he isn’t as good on grass for all the great player he is.
There are plenty of players with good grass-court stats but none I can seriously recommend for the title. Milos Raonic is a player I have stated on this site as someone who will never win a Slam, I maybe should have said he won’t win more than one because anybody can win one Slam title. I still don’t think he has the right temperament to do it.
There are so many players coming into this tournament with fitness worries. The young generation coming through are good and there are a few. I have previously said on this site how highly I rate Taylor Fritz but he is more for the future.
I have also been impressed with Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov, the latter interests me to advance far in this tournament. Khachanov impresses me when he doesn’t hold back and just goes for it.
Some of this was written before the draw was made and the Tennis Gods have been extremely kind to Andy Murray and he probably couldn’t have picked himself an easier route to the final so at the odds now available I am willing to take a chance on Murray’s fitness because if he was declared 100% fit now then he would be a very short priced favourite.
Johnb says: Probably described as the most open tournament for years but then again open tournaments mean take advantage of the bookies' poor knowledge.
My first selection is someone I wasn’t even contemplating backing until I saw how she played her last tournament. In fact it looked like she would never play tennis again after suffering a horrific injury to her playing hand. At the end of last year Petra Kvitova had her left hand slashed open in an attempt to stop a burglary at her home when she fended off the attacker who had a knife to her throat.
She says she still can’t feel two of her fingers but in all honesty it’s a miracle she can even hold a racquet let alone play or even be competitive. What I like about her and you can see it in her tennis now is that she is playing for the enjoyment it gives her. But will it be the same in a Slam, will her fitness hold out and will she still be able to play to the levels she had before on what is her favoured surface?
As for her reaching the high level of tennis I think yes but for the other points we will have to wait till she is on court but at 5-1 I think she is a worthy favourite. Her grass court hold/break percentage is a big 123.0% with her holding serve percentage of 86.8% and her breaking serve percentage of 36.2%.
Grass is definitely Kvitova’s most favoured surface and even after her quick return from that horrific injury I can see her going deep into this tournament and even winning it. Her forehand has a short backswing as her raquet doesn’t go past her back shoulder which helps her take the ball early and is good for going down the line with flat shots and could be seen as her biggest strength.
Her backhand is very strong and she takes the ball early with a lot of power which pressurises opponents. She is very comfortable coming to the net to finish points off. Being a lefty helps her serve as it takes opponents time to adjust to the serve, at Wimbledon watch for her sliced serve out wide followed by a down the line forehand, you will see that combo a lot from her and it is very effective.
When returning serve it helps massively to take the ball early which requires a short backswing and as I said earlier that’s what Kvitova does extremely well. Another positive for her taking the ball early is it gives her opponent less time to think, it pressurises them and after she hits a good shot expect to see her advance to the net. Kvitova is an aggressive player with all the tools for grass.
My second selection is a player I backed at the French Open at 100-1. Normally I wouldn’t back a player so quickly after winning their maiden Slam as it normally takes a player time to recover from the emotion of winning but with Jelena Ostapenko it’s different. She is somewhat quite unique and has a great future, some people will remember me tipping her last season as I thought from what I saw in her playing style and more importantly her shot selection and her attitude all stood out to me.
Ostapenko’s forehand is faster than Andy Murray’s for a start, at the French Open her average speed for forehands was 76mph compared to 73mph for Murray. One of the things I like about her is how she goes for the lines as much as she can. It doesn’t matter what point it is, the first or the last, and it doesn’t matter where her opponent is she just wants to hit those lines which is making her opponents work harder than they would in other matches.
Some people criticise her because of the amount of shots she misses but that’s her all or nothing game with the French open as a perfect example. In the final Ostapenko hit 54 winners and had 54 unforced errors. As I say she will bombard her opponent with line shots then all of a sudden she will change direction with a powerful winner, she uses the whole court.
Other players that have a chance are Karolina Pliskova, Angelique Kerber, Simone Halep, Coco Vandeweghe and possibly Johanna Konta
But another player I like and this is also for the future is a player I have tipped up on numerous occasions, at the same age as Ostapenko but from Estonia is ANETT KONTAVEIT. She has all the markings of being a natural grass court player and like Ostapenko, Kontaveit is also an aggressive player, she has yet to win a match at Wimbledon in three previous visits but she is dangerous and capable of going far, she has taken the scalp of two top 10 players, Number 6 Garbine Muguruza 2-6 7-6 6-1 & World No.1 Angelique Kerber 6-4 6-0
Johnb's Best Bets (men's)
- KAREN KHACHANOV to win quarter 2 22-1 (1pt win)
- ANDY MURRAY to win tournament 6-1 (1pt eachway)
Johnb's Best Bets (women's)
- PETRA KVITOVA to win tournament 5-1 (2pts win)
- JELENA OSTAPENKO to win tournament 6-1 (1pt eachway)
- ANETT KONTAVEIT to win tournament 40-1 (0.5pts eachway)
- ANETT KONTAVEIT to win quarter 2 10-1 (1pt win)
- JELENA OSTAPENKO to win quarter 3 6-1 (1pt win)