Top 3 Potential Future Wimbledon Champions
The big four in the men’s game are not yet on their last legs, but this year’s Wimbledon offers a glimpse into the future and the potential to see a new champion.
Roger Federer will turn 34 in August and is entering the autumn, maybe even the winter, of his career, while the 29-year-old Rafa Nadal is yet to rediscover his best form after suffering with injury and illness in the second half of 2014. Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, meanwhile, are both aged 28, and that means there will soon be a Grand Slam gap for the younger brigade to fill.
Here, we take a look at three players who are in the best position to eventually succeed the old guard and shake up the betting odds to become Wimbledon champion:
One half of tennis’ apparent golden couple with Maria Sharapova, Dimitrov is in danger of seeing his off-court activities overshadow what happens on court. However, there is no doubting that Dimitrov has the talent and all-round game to become a Wimbledon champion. Indeed, he was the junior champion at the All England Club in 2008 and seven-time winner Pete Sampras is his idol. 2014 showcased just why Dimitrov can make the transition from junior to men’s champion at Wimbledon. He won at Queen’s in the build-up to Wimbledon after beating Feliciano Lopez in three sets in the final, with each set going to a tie-break. At Wimbledon, he destroyed defending champion Andy Murray 6-1, 7-6, 6-2 in the quarter-finals. The way Dimitrov overpowered Murray that day was one of the best performances in the tournament in recent years. In the semi-finals, Dimitrov lost in four to Novak Djokovic, with the last two sets both going to tie-breaks. Consistency is Dimitrov’s biggest issue at present and he suffered a surprise defeat by Gilles Muller in the last 16 in defence of his Queen’s Club title. At 24, he is getting to the point where he needs to be a regular contender at Grand Slams.
The star of the 2014 tournament, Kyrgios made full use of his wild card entry to reach the quarter-finals. He beat Richard Gasquet in a five-set thriller in the second round and then his booming serve dismantled Nadal in the fourth round. He subsequently lost in four sets to Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals. Having risen 200 places in the rankings in the past 15 months, Kyrgios has made rapid progress and he reached his first ATP Tour final in May at the Estoril Open. He has lost to Murray at both the Australian and French Opens this year, and he fell at the first hurdle at Queen’s when beaten in straight sets by Stanislas Wawrinka. He has shown his win over Nadal last year was no flash in the pan as he also beat Federer in Madrid earlier this year. He has struggled with an elbow injury and has picked up something of a reputation as a ‘bad boy’. But it’s refreshing to have a livewire character in tennis and, at just 20, he has time on his side to fulfil his undoubted potential.
Like Dimitrov, Raonic is 24 and also had grass-court king Sampras as an idol growing up. At 6ft 5ins tall, Raonic has the size and stature to make a real impact on grass, even if all six of his career titles to date have been on hard courts. He reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year having previously not gone beyond the second round in three attempts. But, following his win over Kyrgios, he was beaten in straight sets by Federer in the last four. He then lost in a record-breaking marathon five-setter to Kei Nishikori in the US Open before being beaten by Djokovic in the quarter-finals at this year’s Australian Open. At Queen’s this year, Raonic lost in three sets to Gilles Simon, again at the quarter-final stage. He missed the French Open after undergoing a minor operation on a pinched nerve in his foot. Raonic has also struggled with thigh and ankle injuries over the past 12 months. He has a very similar profile to Dimitrov in terms of having the talent to win a Grand Slam, but he has yet to attain the consistency of the top players and he also needs to stay fit. If he does that, then he can become the first Canadian to win the men’s singles at Wimbledon.