Wimbledon 2018: Top 9 contenders for the men's title

The Championships, Wimbledon - The oldest tennis tournament in the world

Wimbledon, the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament and Grand Slam, starts in less than a week on July 2, 2018. This will be the 141st year of the tournament, further cementing its legacy in the history books.

The Big 4 have ruled at Wimbledon lately, winning all The Championships since 2003. Roger Federer leads the way with 8 titles, followed by Novak Djokovic with 3, while Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray have won it twice each.

This is expected to be the first Grand Slam of 2018 where all the Big 4 will participate. Murray sat out the Australian Open and French Open due to his hip injury while Federer chose not to play at the French Open.

This time, however, the Big 4 are not the collective favourites. We have many young players knocking on the Grand Slam doors with Alexander Zverev and Nick Kyrgios leading the pack. Marin Cilic has become a bona fide Grand Slam threat while others like Kyle Edmund, Hyeon Chung and Dominc Thiem have performed well at recent Grand Slams. We also have the returning Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic who would like to make an impression.

Let us take a look at some of the contenders in the men’s draw and their chances of lifting the Wimbledon trophy.

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal will look to become a 3-time champion

Just like 2017, Nadal tore up the claycourt swing this year, winning 4 tournaments including the French Open. But after the conclusion of Roland Garros, Nadal complained of fatigue and withdrew from the Queen's Club Championships; he hasn't yet confirmed his participation at Wimbledon.

Since 2012, Nadal has not advanced past the 4th round at the All-England Club. But he is a 2-time champion and 3-time finalist so he definitely has the tools to win.

The Spanish bull will give a challenge to whomever he plays. However, considering his lack of success on grass in the recent past, it is hard to imagine him reaching the finals.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic is a 3-time champion

Djokovic made his return to tennis in March after his elbow surgery in January. He has shown good progress in the last two months, reaching the semi-finals of the Rome Masters and the quarter-finals of the French Open.

He has had a strong start to the grasscourt season with a run to the final in the Queen's Club Championships, on the back of a first win against a Top 5 player in almost 18 months. The Serb will be a dark horse at Wimbledon and should have a good run but considering his recent form, it will be a surprise if he reaches the final.

Andy Murray

Andy Murray is a 2-time champion

Murray made his return to tennis after almost a year at the Queen's Club Championships in a losing effort against Nick Kyrgios. Considering his lack of match play, the Scot made a strong impression by winning the first set convincingly before losing the second set in a close tie-break and the third set 7-5.

Currently ranked No. 156, Murray will face a tough draw at Wimbledon and it would be a big achievement if he advances past the third round.

Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic is the 2017 finalist

Last year’s finalist and 2018 Australian Open finalist has made a superb start to the grasscourt season by winning the Queen's Club Championships - having also reached the final in 2017.

Cilic has shown great improvement on grass and will be looking to better his 2017 campaign, where he lost in the final to Roger Federer.

Nick Kyrgios

Nick Ky
Nick Kyrgios - Can he go all the way?

The tempestuous Australian has shown an improved temperament this year and has played some fine tennis. He has reached the semi-finals of two Wimbledon warm up tournaments - the Stuttgart Open and the Queen's Club Championships.

Kyrgios has the tools to go deep in the tournament and fits the dark horse bill perfectly.

Alexander Zverev

Alexander Zverev

Zverev’s best showing at Wimbledon is reaching the fourth round last year. He has not had much grasscourt practice this year, losing in the first round at Halle. But considering the improvements he has shown this year, he can be considered as a dark horse.

Other young players like Dominic Thiem, Denis Shapovalov, Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov have not shown much success on grass. Kyle Edmund and Hyeon Chung made great strides at the Australian Open by reaching the semi-finals, but they don't have much experience on grass either.

The youngsters may do well in the early rounds but it is difficult to see them going far in the draw.

Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic

EntLefter caption
Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic have both returned from injury

Stan Wawrinka has been a pale shade of his former self after his return from knee surgery and is currently ranked No. 263. His best showing at Wimbledon has been the quarter-finals, which he reached on two occasions.

Milos Raonic, on the other hand, is the 2016 Wimbledon finalist. The Canadian made a strong start to the grasscourt season by reaching the final of the Stuttgart Open, but withdrew from the Queen's Club Championships due to a muscle strain in the right pectoral.

Judging by the current situation of both Wawrinka and Raonic, it is unclear how far they can progress at Wimbledon.

Juan Martin del Potro and Grigor Dimitrov

Juan Martin Del Potro and Grigor Dimitron have not had much success at Wimbledon

Juan Martin Del Potro and Grigor Dimitrov have both reached the Wimbledon semis in the past: Del Potro in 2013 and Dimitrov in 2014. However, they have not had much success on grass apart from those runs.

Even though this has been one of the best ever seasons for the Argentine, do not expect him to go past the third or fourth round. As for the Bulgarian, a deep run seems unlikely considering the meek fashion in which he folded against Djokovic at Queen's last week.

Americans Jack Sock and Sam Querrey are dangerous floaters, especially Querrey who was a semi-finalist last year and a quarter-finalist in 2016. Another American, John Isner, is always dangerous on grass because of his serve. These three can create upsets in the draw but it would be a surprise to see them going all the way.

Roger Federer should be fired up to win his record extending 9th Wimbledon title

Similar to the Australian Open, Federer is the surprising odds-on favourite to retain his title. The career renaissance he has experienced in 2017 has carried over to 2018.

The Swiss ace made a great start to the grass court season by winning his first Stuttgart Open. He entered the Halle Open as the 9-time champion and was expected to become a 10-time champion. However, while he looked impressive in Stuttgart against a slew of high-quality opponents, he appeared shaky throughout the Halle tournament.

Federer had some long matches at Halle with many sets going into a tie-break. He was eventually beaten by Borna Coric in the final, with fatigue probably playing a significant role.

He now has an entire week to rest and recuperate so that he comes back fresh to challenge for a record-extending ninth Wimbledon title. The Swiss maestro will really need to pick up his game if he hopes to defend his title.

That said, after looking through the field and their recent grasscourt experience, Federer appears to be the best choice to lift the trophy for the ninth time. Again, this is remarkable considering his age (he will complete 37 years in August).

As long as he stays fit and does not have too many lengthy matches before the final, the Swiss maestro will do whatever he can to win his 99th title at his favorite tournament. It will take a real special performance from his opponent to deny him.

If Federer does win, it will be his first successful Wimbledon title defense since 2007.

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Edited by Musab Abid
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