A Swiss, a Serbian, a Spaniard and a Scotsman walk into a club...
Tennis: Wimbledon 2017 Preview
The Aegon Championships at Queen's proved little help in judging who might make an impact at the All England club this year. With all respect to Feliciano Lopez, his maiden Queens title would not suggest he will be threatening the big guns next week.
Halle, however, may have provided our clearest indication yet that Roger Federer could be ready to add to his 7 Wimbledon titles and continue his remarkable year.
His dismantling of Alexander Zverev in under an hour in the final of the Gerry Weber Open included some sublime tennis, as well as the frequent use of drops shots and heavy backhand slice which unsettled his talented young opponent. The Sporting Blog office actually backed Zverev for Wimbledon some 3 months ago at 40/1... in hindsight he might not be quite ready to make the step up.
So what of Federer's nearest rivals for the title? Both Nadal and Murray were expected to progress at Queens and get their grass court games honed for the big one. Nadal however pulled out citing the need for rest, and Murray was the first round victim of Australian Jordan Thompson. So, not too much to go on there.
They will both be playing at the Aspall Tennis Classic at Hurlingham in order to get some valuable match practice in on the grass, but Nadal is definitely in form and looks to be slightly ahead of Murray at the moment...but it is Wimbledon.
The bookmakers make Djokovic the 4th favourite at 6/1. The Serbian has not had the best year by his own high standards, and changes to his entire coaching team have provided an unwelcome distraction to the normally laser focused Djokovic. He is headlining the men's draw at Eastbourne this week and we'll keep an eye on his progress there, but the form of Nadal and Federer may be too much this time around.
From the chasing pack there are some useful grass court players in Tsonga, Alexander Zverev and Milos Raonic. Marin Cilic will provide anyone a tough test and there is the mercurial Stan Warwrinka who on his day plays as well as anyone mentioned above.
However everything points to fan favourites Murray, Federer and Nadal slugging it out for the Wimbledon title. It will be interesting to see how the draw works out; Murray will undoubtedly be the Number 1 seed but the seeding system adds 100% of points earned on grass courts in the previous 12 months to the players current tally. This means Federer will definitely be amongst the top 4 seeds.
Here's hoping for 2 blockbuster semi-finals.