Waiting in the wings
Gerry Williams looks at the men's draw and wonders if tomorrow's stars are ready to step up at Wimbledon...
Last Updated: 18/06/10 2:07pm
Dust down your racquet, put on your whites and head down to your local tennis court because Wimbledon fortnight is upon us!
Yes that's right the sun is shining, strawberrys and cream are in high demand and while Henman Hill is now a distant memory, spectators will no doubt be making the most of Murray Mound!
And once again this year Sky Sports' very own Gerry Williams will be keeping you up-to-date with all the goings-on from SW19 in his daily blog from Monday.
Gerry has been a tennis journalist and commentator for over 40 years and he will be our eyes and ears at this year's tournament.
In his first piece he assesses the main contenders for this year's men's title and those who could cause an upset...
After yet another epic final at Wimbledon last year between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick, I don't believe the men's event can fail to excite this year.
Not just because we have a British player in Andy Murray who is obviously in with a chance of winning the tournament, but because there are so many good players.
There are some people who believe we could see a changing of the guard beginning and I feel that could well be the case soon - but not this year.
The usual suspects
Roger Federer: In my opinion Roger Federer is the best tennis player that has ever lived.
I think he could go on for as long as he wants, and he will enter SW19 this year aiming for his seventh Wimbledon Singles title which would equal Pete Sampras' record. So if he needs any other motivation, which he probably doesn't, then that will be one of the things driving him.
That said one of these days Federer will walk onto the court with something bothering him, maybe nothing particularly important, but it will irritate him and he is going to get into a really tough five-set match, he'll get a bad call, he'll have blisters and he will say to himself 'do I really need this anymore?'
And when this happens, and when he begins to lose that little bit of motivation, even the best tennis player in the world will start to become a target and a decline might begin.
Rafael Nadal: He may have already won Wimbledon, and he may well go on to win it again, but I don't see Nadal as a great grass court champion at Wimbledon.
He is possibly the greatest clay court player ever and he has put his knee injuries from last season behind him and is naturally one of the favourites.
His game is all about immense physical exertion, muscle and he has a mind which is as tough as nails.
Having essentially always been a clay court player - the way he has adapted his game to grass over the last couple of years is something which I don't think anyone had expected, including me.
Andy Murray: I think Andy has a real shot at winning Wimbledon this year, but if he doesn't I'm sure he will within the next 10 years.
When you analyse his game he can do absolutely everything. He can hit the top spin with weight, he can volley, he can hit the slice, he can hit it flat and he doesn't have a bad serve either.
He's a terrific tennis player and if I was a coach I would use footage of him to show my players the right way to play shots, especially his drop shot which has become a formidable weapon.
If you were being picky you might ask for a bit more weight on his serve and a slightly better serve-and-volley instinct, but he really is a wonderful player.
My only concern for him at the moment is that he looked worried about his knee at Queen's and not just because he was sporting some blue strapping on it.
It may not be a hindrance physically but it could be mentally if it's playing on his mind. There were a couple of occasions where he played a shot and then immediately grimace and that bothered me a bit.
Novak Djokovic:As I mentioned before there are some people who are talking about a changing of the guard and Novak Djokovic is amongst a list of players who could precipitate that.
Along with Marin Cilic, Juan Martin Del Potro and Murray, he is a player that can win on grass at the highest level. The only question mark over him would be his physical endurance under the most severe test.
There have been several occasions when he has had to retire and so his fitness is the only concern I have with him.
Marin Cilic:The Croatian is another player who is really good on grass and you wouldn't expect someone to come from his part of the world and be such a natural on it.
I don't think people really realise that some of these players have hardly ever played on grass. At most they will play on it for a couple of weeks leading up to Wimbledon, but you cannot adapt to a completely different surface that quickly.
It is partly a mental issue but it is also very much a technical problem. You need to reduce the swing of your racket because the ball comes through low and shoots and a lot of your shots will be blocking shots.
You must re-model your game to serve and volley, but some people like Cilic and his compatriot Goran Ivaniseviæ are just naturals.
I am constantly being asked if Andy Murray can win Wimbledon this year, and my answer is yes he could - but I wouldn't tip him to.
I'd expect him to win at least a couple of Grand Slams between now and the end of his career, but he is probably more likely to win the US and Australian Opens because I think hard courts suit him even more than grass.
I also think he has shown by getting to the final of both the US and Australian Opens that when he's away from Wimbledon he's able to be himself a bit more.
If there is going to be a surprise winner I think it might be Andy Roddick. He really should have won Wimbledon by now and I think he's been rather unfortunate in that Roger Federer has been around at the same time as him. His game is ideally suited to Wimbledon grass, he usually plays very well here and as long he still has the drive, which judging by his results he does, he could cause an upset.
So many factors will come into this including luck with the draw, but for me Federer is the best player so it is difficult to look past him.