Our thoughts on Wimbledon 2016.
The sun is shining, the courts are green, and Novak Djokovic has won four Grand Slams in a row—welcome to the Wimbledon Championships 2016, the most coveted title in all of tennis. Many a terrific potential storyline awaits at the end of the next two weeks: Djokovic could win his fifth Slam in a row, Federer could win No. 18, Serena could tie Steffi Graf in Grand Slam count, and a new champion could be crowned. No matter what, history will be made. Without further ado, our thoughts on Wimbledon 2016.
Give Me A Bold Prediction For Wimbledon 2016
Jonathan D’Rozario, Head Tennis Writer: I’ve been waiting patiently a whole year to write this, so nobody burst my bubble, but I think Roger Federer is either going to win the whole damn thing or at least take down Djokovic on his way to another finals loss. Call me crazy, but Federer has made the finals the last two years, and has the benefit of having rested during the clay season (more or less) and played two warm up grass tournaments (he lost, but there are benefits even in those).
If he plays Djokovic, which is more likely than not, he gets to play him in the semi-finals, a stage in which, historically, he has performed better (4-2 in semifinals going back to 2014 versus 2-7 in finals), and he has a relatively easy draw (no dangerous lurkers like Zverev). If he can get to the semifinals, he’s two good days away from number 18. Not a guarantee, but a definite possibility, and anyone ruling out the arguably greatest grass court player of all time is making a mistake, in my opinion.
Alex House, Tennis Contributor: The NextGen will truly arrive. There will be plenty of opportunities for the future stars of tennis to make an impact, and maybe even a deep run. Taylor Fritz has what could be a gripping first-round matchup with Stan Wawrinka. Nick Kyrgios will have a chance to seize his moment in a potential showdown with crowd favorite and the savior of British tennis in Andy Murray.
Alexander Zverev, though, will represent the young crop of talent with a trip to the quarterfinals. The 19-year-old has shown poise beyond his years, boasting big wins against ranked players, none bigger than a returning Roger Federer at the Gerry Webber Open. He has surged through the rankings and is ready to be tested at the Gentlemen’s Club.
Dominic Thiem is at his peak right now and is still climbing up the rankings, and along with an always dangerous Tomas Berdych, there will be burdensome obstacles for the German to overcome. Despite a difficult draw, there is no questioning Zverev’s talent, and Wimbledon is the perfect place for it to be showcased.
Evan Selzer, Tennis Contributor: Of the women’s top ten seeds, only three will make the quarterfinals. I think that Serena, Muguruza, and Madison Keys all have a good chance to reach the quarters, but look for a large number of upsets for the rest of the top women.
Gaurav Shastri, Tennis Contributor: A player outside the top 15 will make it to the semifinals.
Who Is The Player To Watch?
JD: I would have to say Alexander Zverev. The young gun has taken Federer out of the Halle warm-up tournament, and has a terrific ground game and a monster serve. This could be the stage for him to make his stand. Also, keep an eye on Juan Martin del Potro. He may not make it past the third round, but it’ll be nice just to see him out and about.
AH: Nick Kyrgios. I said it during the French Open, and I will continue to say it until he breaks through: this could very well be the venue of Kyrgios’ triumph. His resurgence has stalled a bit, but he remains on the cusp of being a perennial Grand Slam contender. It is all about taking the next step for him. He has yet to overcome the difficult draw that presents players outside of the top ten, but after pushing world No. 7 and Queens runner-up Milos Raonic in a hard-fought three-setter, he is primed for that elusive marquee win on the grand stage.
I still think an in-form Murray will be too much, but a gutsy, tournament-stealing five-set performance will mark his transition into a legitimate force in majors to come. He may not make a deep run, but all eyes should definitely be on the player loaded with potential and personality.
ES: Dominic Thiem is still the player to watch. Despite favoring clay, he won a warm up tournament on grass, beating Roger Federer in the process. He has had an unbelievable season so far and is ranked in the top 10 for the first time going into a Grand Slam. It will be interesting to see if he can handle the pressure of his success on tennis’ biggest stage.
GS: It’s got to be Federer. Most likely one of the last chances he’ll ever get to win another major on what is for sure his best surface. There’s nothing he has to lose, as he’s already the greatest player of all time. He’s going to be out there looking to have fun, and fun Fed is the best Fed.
Is Djokovic Going To Win All Four Slams This Year? If Not, What Will Happen?
JD: I’m inclined to say no, only because no player has ever won six slams on the trot (what he would have won if he wins both Wimbledon and the US Open 2016). Two Slams, as simple as they might look right now, are no guarantee, especially when the last two Slams are his relatively worst Slams (the AO is easily his best surface and Slam, and he’s been the best clay court player on the planet for a while). I think either Murray steps up, Federer hits a new high, if only for a match, or a newcomer enters the fold and shocks the world.
AH: Novak Djokovic is simply in a league of his own. Murray threatened his dominance on the clay court season, but became his full-blown self in the French Open Final, the Serb vanquishing him in four sets. Murray, once a semi-form of kryptonite for Djokovic in finals matches, winning both of his slams against him, is now a perennial punching bag for the man seeking tennis immortality. He remains Djokovic’s primary competition, with one of the kings of Wimby in Roger Federer likely not being 100 percent after an injury-marred spring.
Djokovic, however, will not falter, likely playing with more confidence and drive than ever after finally claiming victory in Roland Garros. He will win Wimbledon and complete the four-piece puzzle at the U.S. Open, thus bringing to light the question of not only if he is the greatest in this top-heavy era, but also if he is in fact the greatest to ever swing a racket.
ES: This was my bold prediction at the beginning of the year, and I am sticking with it. In all likelihood, Novak Djokovic is going to get the Calendar Slam this year. There is no one who can consistently challenge Djokovic, especially in best of five set Grand Slam matches. As long as he stays both physically and mentally healthy, he will take the two remaining Slams this season.
GS: Yes. His (obviously) weakest Slam is the French, and he’s already gotten through that. There’s nobody in the world who can beat him at his A-Game, so the rest of the competition will have to hope he beats himself. And, frankly, I don’t see that happening.
Will Serena Williams Break Steffi Graf’s Grand Slam Record?
JD: Yes. We live in a age of media when every loss is amplified and that player’s future is predicted before they walk off court. Serena has made two Slam finals, she lost to the better woman, and suddenly she might never win a Slam again? On any given day, on any given court, she is the best female player in the world, and my money is on her to tie and break Steffi’s record in the next year.
AH: Serena will break the record by winning each of the next two Grand Slams. She will reach the pinnacle of women’s tennis, and if she chooses, having nothing left to accomplish but winning all four major titles in one year, she can ride off to the sunset with a story-book ending at Flushing. It is certainly feasible, at least the part of her running the table. Nothing has really changed. She instills intimidation into all of her opponents except Muguruza, who has always embraced the lofty task of upending Serena. People who think Serena is losing her edge will be proved wrong as she solidifies herself as the most decorated champion in tennis. It is hard to believe that losing two straight Slam finals would be labeled a decline, but it says a lot about Williams’ reign on top that any consistent vulnerability she exhibits startles fans. She will regain form on the strength of her unmatched power and, much like LeBron James recently did, show everyone that this is still her game.
ES: Serena only needs two more Grand Slam titles to break Steffi Graf’s record of 22. Though she hasn’t won a Slam for a full year now, I think the odds are that she will break this record. Serena is still by far the best player in the women’s game right now, and until someone else can beat her consistently, she can still win Slams.
GS: No doubt about it. Wouldn’t be even a little surprised if Serena took two to four Slams for the next few years.
SW16: Serena Or The Field? Djokovic Or The Field?
JD: Serena and the men’s field because I can name three players who could give Djokovic a hard time and can’t for Serena.
AH: Both Djokovic and Williams will win. The field is becoming increasingly stronger in the women’s game and possesses more of a threat than ever to dethroning Serena. Garbine Muguruza’s French Open win was the first time I had a genuine feeling that there could be a new star emerging. Consistency is hard to come by in the women’s game, with several major winners proving to be flukes or one-hit wonders following their feat.
Muguruza will have immense pressure to prove that she is an exception to that rule. Williams is still championship-bound and is a player whose unrelenting grit and power should allow her to bounce back. Djokovic is lapping the field right now, with only Murray being a serious contender after having several showings against the Serb this year, including a win in Rome. Federer gave Djokovic a ferocious fight in last year’s four-set final and briefly convinced many that he could actually be hoisting the cup one more time. He is not in top form, though, due to his recovery from back surgery, and should fall in four sets to the current best in the world.
ES: For the men, I’m sticking with Novak Djokovic. His level of play and consistency is a step above anyone else on tour, and I find it difficult to predict a loss here. For the women, I’m also going to pick Serena over the rest of the field. She has not won a Grand Slam since this tournament last year. I think she will be determined to break her Grand Slam drought, and when Serena is focused, she is unbeatable. Additionally, the grass courts increase the effectiveness of her serve, her biggest weapon. At her best, there is no player whom I can pick to stand against her.
GS: The only person that can apparently beat Serena is Muguruza. So I’ll take Serena. Djokovic. 100%.
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