The third Grand Slam of the year is upon us as the Wimbledon Championship is set to begin Monday at the All England Club in London. The big four (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray) all appear reasonably healthy and ready to compete.
These four have utterly dominated the tennis world for well over a decade now and are showing no signs of slowing down. Since 2005, only three other men outside of the big four have hoisted a major championship trophy. These four have also combined for an astonishing 15 Wimbledon titles over their careers and are surely the favorites to reign again in 2018.
The Big 4 are not as strong as they once were
Looking past the big four, we have the three Grand Slam champions who have managed to crack through during the big four era mentioned above. They have the best chance outside of the big four and will be competing to capture their first Wimbledon titles.
Marin Cilic, a finalist at Wimbledon in 2017 and again at the Australian Open this year, will definitely be a large threat once again. Fresh off an impressive grass court victory at Queen’s Club, Cilic looks poised for another deep run at Wimbledon.
Juan Martin del Potro has enjoyed a resurgence in 2018 and has climbed his way back into the top five. He is one of three players to defeat Roger Federer this year and is no stranger to the big stage, having defeated both Federer and Nadal at Grand Slams in the past.
Stan Wawrinka has not played his best tennis in 2018 following knee surgery, but the three-time Grand Slam champion is still capable of doing some serious damage. Wawrinka needs just a Wimbledon trophy to complete his career Grand Slam and could be a dangerous competitor if he is able to get through the first week.
There are Dark Horses ready to break out into Grand Slam glory
Following the big four and former champions, we begin to enter the unknown as we are left with an entire field of players in search of their first Grand Slam titles. Of this field, I believe there are a few dark horses who may finally be ready to breakthrough. These players are not high on anyone’s radar but have enough skill to challenge for the title if all the stars align for them during the fortnight in London.
Since reaching the quarterfinal at the Australian Open and the final in Rotterdam, Grigor Dimitrov has seemingly hit a wall. He has played only one tournament on grass, losing to Djokovic. Despite this, the former Wimbledon semi-finalist will be seeded sixth at this year’s tournament. This should offer him favorable matchups for the first couple of rounds and allow him to settle in. He has excelled on the grass in the past and if he is able to regain some of that form, he may be a player to watch out for.
While more commonly associated with off court antics than on-court play, Nick Kyrgios is a captivating player to watch. He has quietly had an impressive grass court season, reaching the semi-final in both Stuttgart and at Queen’s Club. If Kyrgios can limit the mental lapses and avoid unnecessary distractions, he undeniably has the speed and power in his game that would allow him to flourish on Centre Court.
— Nicholas Kyrgios (@NickKyrgios) June 23, 2018
While he may be in the midst of passing along the Canadian Tennis torch, Milos Raonic still has something to prove. The 2016 Wimbledon Finalist has been plagued with injuries throughout his career but appears rested and ready to compete. With perhaps the most powerful serve on tour, highlighted on his run to the Stuttgart final just a few weeks ago, Raonic can be a punishing opponent to face. He does not have the best speed but his groundstrokes have developed immensely over the past few seasons. If he can stay healthy and serve well, he could have a real chance to compete for the title.
Anticipation runs through the hearts of tennis fans around the world. The table is set for Wimbledon to start. What will captivate us this year on the grass of SW19?