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Wimbledon 2017: Big Four in contrasting form – assessing top seeds

Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal have had less than ideal preparation, and Novak Djokovic is yet to recapture his best form ahead of Wimbledon. Roger Federer is aiming for a record eighth title

tennis Updated: Jul 01, 2017 16:51 IST
Defending champion Rafael Nadal appears set to need something special to retain his title at Wimbledon.
Defending champion Rafael Nadal appears set to need something special to retain his title at Wimbledon.(AFPD)

Roger Federer is bidding to win a record eighth Wimbledon title, while other seeds enter the year’s third major in less convincing form.

Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal have had less than ideal preparation, and Novak Djokovic is yet to recapture his best form.

It may give the likes of Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic or Milos Raonic a chance at the All England Club.

Read | Wimbledon 2017: Novak Djokovic seeks answers after decline and fall

We take a look at how the top 10 seeds, and a few others, are placed.

1. Andy Murray (GBR)

The defending champion appears set to need something special to retain his title at the All England Club. Murray suffered a shock first-round loss at Queen’s before pulling out of an exhibition match due to a hip injury. He is a two-time Wimbledon champion and has reached at least the quarter-finals in nine straight years, but his form has dipped and his preparation has been far from ideal.

Read | Ivan Lendl confident Andy Murray will be fit to defend Wimbledon title

2. Novak Djokovic (SRB)

Like Murray, Djokovic has so far endured a year below what he would expect. The Serbian has Andre Agassi in his team again as he bids for an unlikely fourth Wimbledon crown. His shock third-round loss to Sam Querrey last year, when he was aiming for a third straight title, marked the beginning of what has been a form slump, with Djokovic rarely looking like himself since.

3. Roger Federer (SUI)

Good luck stopping a fit and firing Federer as he targets a record eighth Wimbledon title. The Swiss has made a spectacular return from injury in 2017 and won the Australian Open – his 18th major title – to begin the year. Another Halle crown, including thrashing Alexander Zverev in the final, showed Federer was again ready to star on his favourite surface. Having joined Pete Sampras and William Renshaw on seven Wimbledon titles in 2012, he is well-placed to move clear of the duo.

4. Rafael Nadal (ESP)

Like Federer, Nadal has recaptured some of his best form, culminating in a record 10th French Open title. While his clay-court season was typically spectacular, Nadal opted to skip Queen’s to rest. A two-time Wimbledon champion, that decision will make it tough for Nadal. Since making the 2011 final, he has failed to go beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon.

5. Stan Wawrinka (SUI)

The man for the big occasion, Wawrinka reached the semi-finals at Melbourne Park and decider at Roland Garros, but was unable to turn either into his fourth major title. Wimbledon is undoubtedly his weakest grand slam. It is the only major he is yet to win, and he has never reached the last four. It would take a turnaround in fortunes on grass for Wawrinka, quarter-finalist in 2014 and 2015, to complete the career Grand Slam.

6. Milos Raonic (CAN)

Raonic’s wait for a major breakthrough continues, but it was Wimbledon last year when he went closest to claiming his maiden slam. The Canadian reached his one and only major final before suffering a straight-sets loss to Murray. His year so far has been decent, but a first-round loss to Thanasi Kokkinakis at Queen’s was a blow in his preparation. He has also added doubles champion Mark Knowles to his team, replacing Richard Krajicek.

7. Marin Cilic (CRO)

The Croatian has quietly put together a solid 2017 and his preparation has included reaching the Queen’s final after making the last four at ‘s-Hertogenbosch. Cilic’s serve appears a greater weapon than previously, and the 2014 US Open champion has reached three consecutive Wimbledon quarter-finals. The question remains whether he can take the next step, having been beaten by Federer (2016) and Djokovic (2014 and 2015) at that stage in recent years.

8. Dominic Thiem (AUT)

Thiem appears on the verge of a major breakthrough, but that seems unlikely to come on grass. The Austrian has a 2-3 win-loss record at Wimbledon, and his preparation has included losses to Robin Haase and Ramkumar Ramanathan. A two-time French Open semi-finalist, Thiem has never been beyond the second round at the All England Club.

9. Kei Nishikori (JPN)

Another whose best results have been away from grass, Nishikori retired from a second-round match at Halle due to a back injury. Persistent injuries have troubled the Japanese star, whose best result at Wimbledon is twice reaching the fourth round (2014 and 2016). With limited preparation and an injury concern, his chances of winning a first major at this event appear slim.

10. Alexander Zverev (GER)

Of those seeking a first major title, Zverev looks the most likely. The talented German reached the semis at ‘s-Hertogenbosch and made the final at Halle, although Federer taught him a lesson in the decider. Zverev is still yet to shine at a major – his best run has been to the third round three times, including Wimbledon last year – but this shapes as a good chance to change that.