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As we sidestep the World Cup for just a few minutes. Another prize is on offer. The premier grass tennis tournament in the World. Wimbledon. Wimbledon is awash with tradition, showmanship, it transfixes a nation into tennis experts for two weeks in July. Recently we’ve been blessed in the last 10 years with numerous British success stories, from Jonathan Marray, becoming the first British men’s doubles champion since 1936. Coupled with that Joanna Konta run to the semifinals last year. Lastly, who could forget the great Sir Andy Murray’s historic Wimbledon triumphs in 2013 and 2016. Unfortunately, as Murray has withdrawn yesterday it leaves us with the opportunity to cheer on a new British champion. So, as the start of this wonderful tournament begins, I check out the British runners and riders that are leading our charge this year.
What a stellar year Kyle Edmund has enjoyed so far. A maiden Grand Slam semifinal in Australia. A career-high world ranking of No.18, a victory over the supreme Novak Djokovic in Madrid and he is now the current British No.1. A remarkable rise, but one that isn’t a surprise for a player who has found his feet on the grand stage. Looking to press on and prove it wasn’t just a fluke in Melbourne. In his new role as British No.1 there will be added pressure upon this young man’s shoulders, but one I believe he can overcome.
Great Britain’s golden girl at Wimbledon last year as she swept all before her and reached the semifinals. Giving the SW19 plenty to cheer about. This led to her reaching a career-high No.4 in the world. It is somewhat of an understatement that since her heroics last year, Konta’s form has rather nosedived since that day. Numerous first-round exits followed and a drop down the ranking. However, a recent final at the Nottingham Open suggests she is finding form at just the right moment, so let’s not count against her going one better than last year.
Somewhat of an unknown quantity a couple of years ago. However, in February this year, Norrie earned selection for the Davis Cup team for the first time for Great Britain’s World Group first-round match against Spain. He recorded the biggest win of his career in his first match, coming from two sets down to defeat world No.23 Roberto Bautista-Agut in five sets. The match played on clay being the first Norrie had played on this surface since 2013, remarkable. He may be a massive outsider, but don’t count against him potentially causing a shock or two.
A career that somewhat plateaued since her breakthrough year at Wimbledon in 2015. Watson beat former world No.5, Daniela Hantuchová, to make it into round 3 for just the second time in her career, guaranteeing her a payday of £77,000. She was then pitted against the world No.1, Serena Williams. At one stage two points away from winning, but Williams held on to win the third set. Her early promise may not have materialised. Nonetheless, this is a player who is confident on grass and with the backing of a nation behind her, who knows.
As his brother pulled out yesterday, I thought it would be wise to add another member of the Murray clan who has also won multiple Grand Slams, Jamie Murray. A four-time Grand Slam champion in doubles, he could make it five at Wimbledon this year. Murray senior; a doubles specialist again being partnered with Brazilian Bruno Soares. Two slams together already and a ranking of No.5 should give them confidence at Wimbledon this year. So could the stage set for another Murray to dominate Wimbledon yet again?
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BY - George Tipper
2 July 2018