There will really be something different about this Wimbledon – there’s a roof over center court.
Now it can rain, as it often does during the fortnight, and we’ll still be able to watch tennis. And, there will be much to see starting on Monday when Roger Federer seeks tennis immortality with a record 15th Grand Slam singles title.
Federer is an even money favorite at the Las Vegas Hilton, largely due to his win at the French and Rafael Nadal’s battle with tendinitis in both knees. Nadal pulled out of Queens Club, the grass court event leading into Wimbledon, and dropped to third choice at 4-1.
Andy Murray, the pride of England, won Queens Club and at 7-2 figures to be Federer’s toughest hurdle considering Nadal’s physical problems. Novak Djokovic at 7-1 is the only other player below 15-1 in the men’s singles.
Americans Andy Roddick and James Blake are really the only legitimate contenders from this country with Blake a remote 100-1 despite reaching the final at Queens. Roddick at 20-1 is always a threat with his big serve and does come off his best ever effort at the French Open.
On the women’s side, Wimbledon has been dominated by the Williams sisters. Serena is the slight 5-2 favorite over Venus, who is at 3-1. Maria Sharapova is next at 6-1, but just coming off shoulder surgery would do well just to reach the quarterfinals.
Dinara Safina, a shaky world’s No. 1, is at 8-1. Safina lost the French Open final to Svetlana Kuznetsova and is 0-3 in Grand Slam finals. Kuznetsova is a surprising 15-1 at the Hilton and certainly worth looking at as a serious contender.
Both Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic have fallen in the rankings since last year when each occupied the No. 1 ranking. Ivanovic, who just fired her coach, is 12-1. Jankovic is 15-1.
A rising star is Victoria Azarenka at 10-1. Azarenka had Safina in deep trouble in the quarterfinals of the French before serving difficulties cost her the match.
Another longshot that should go deep in the tourney is Samantha Stosur, who lost a close match to Kuznetsova in the French Open semifinals. Stosur, at a very underrated 50-1, is a doubles specialist with a big serve and volley game. The fashionable picks are Federer and Serena, but we’re different.
GT selections: Andy Murray (men), Samantha Stosur (women).
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Mark Mayer