Rusedski gave Metro.co.uk his predictions for Wimbledon (Picture: Getty/Amazon Prime Video)It’s that time of year again.
Tennis’ biggest stars are gathered in the British capital ready to battle it out for supremacy.
The players will learn their respective paths to glory on Friday morning, when the draw is officially made, with storylines set to flow throughout the All England Club over the following fortnight.
Ahead of the draw, former British No. 1 Greg Rusedski gave Metro.co.uk his rundown of how he thinks the tournament will pan out.
On the men’s side, few are looking beyond the old guard. The ‘Big Four’ have shared the last 16 Wimbledon titles among themselves but even in Andy Murray’s absence, most expect Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to fight it out.
Rusedski gives Federer, who is chasing a ninth title, the edge.
‘I still think it’s the “Big Three” this year,’ he said at the Aspall Tennis Classic. ‘Federer is my favourite. Rafa if he gets to the second week becomes dangerous and then Novak, defending champion. I see one of those three guys winning but with Federer with the slight edge at the moment.
Roger Federer has enjoyed great success at Wimbledon in the past (Picture: Getty)
‘Novak, you know, has been taking a lot of holidays this year since the Australian Open so that’s a little bit of a concern, I would have liked to see him play Queen’s Club but it’s hard to go against a man who has won three of the last four majors.
‘The younger guys obviously who I want to be impressed by at this tournament are [Felix] Auger-Aliassime – who has never won a match at a Slam but his potential is extraordinary, Stefanos Tsitsipas is the guy who for me has been pretty spectacular this year.
‘The nice thing with both of those players is there is still room for improvement but their mindsets are excellent. I don’t think they’re quite ready this year but next year might be their year. But I see really those three guys as the main three guys.’
Federer tumbled out at the quarter-finals stage last time around, throwing away a two-set lead against eventual runner-up Kevin Anderson in uncharacteristic fashion, but Rusedski believes he will come back stronger this year.
‘I think his preparation [gives him the edge],’ Rusedski added. ‘Last year he was undercooked. He didn’t have enough tennis and then he was on the grass courts a little bit too long.
Wimbledon winners since 2003
2003: Federer d. Philippoussis2004: Federer d. Roddick2005: Federer d. Roddick2006: Federer d. Nadal2007: Federer d. Nadal2008: Nadal d. Federer2009: Federer d. Roddick2010: Nadal d. Berdych2011: Djokovic d. Nadal2012: Federer d. Murray2013: Murray d. Djokovic2014: Djokovic d. Federer2015: Djokovic d. Federer2016: Murray d. Raonic2017: Federer d. Cilic2018: Djokovic d. Anderson
‘It’s all those little factors. I think he played great tennis at the French, I mean, the two sets I saw in the hurricane [against Nadal in the semi-finals], the tennis they played was quite incredible.
‘Most of us wouldn’t put the ball in the court and they actually made it an incredible match. I think that preparation for Federer, playing the clay court season just enough puts him in good stead as well as winning his 10th Halle.’
Calling a men’s winner is the straightforward part, but Rusedski views the women’s draw as wide open as ever, particularly with fitness doubts hanging over some of the obvious favourites.
‘The women are wide open,’ Rusedski said. ‘Ash Barty – what a story, you know, cricket in 2016 and now No. 1 in the world. At the French what I love about her, she got to the semis, got 5-0 up and loses it and says I’m not going to let this opportunity pass me by and she goes on to win the title.
‘That was really big mentally and then she gets to No. 1, winning the tournament last week was so, so impressive. So she goes in as one of the favourites.
Ash Barty is the new world No. 1 (Picture: Getty Images for LTA)‘Serena [Williams], if she’s healthy, is always in the mix. The question is: Is she healthy? Has she had enough tennis? We don’t know. You know she wants to win 24 majors. You put [Petra] Kvitova in the mix if she’s healthy, she’s won the title on multiple occasions. [Angelique] Kerber she’s won the title, no one is talking about her.
‘[Johanna] Konta, from a British perspective, just made semis in the French, she’s got to be in the mix having been in the semi-finals two years ago. So many different women who could possibly win this title and that to me is exciting because you don’t know what you’re going to get.
‘The younger generation as well. [Aryna] Sabalenka – she hasn’t had a great year. [Naomi] Osaka – is she going to re-emerge? I mean, there’s so many storylines and great things. I think this is the most open Wimbledon we’ve had on the women’s in a long, long time. To me that’s exciting.
‘The men, you can kind of call it right now because that younger generation is fractionally closer but isn’t quite there yet so that’s what makes the intrigue on the women’s game.’
Williams is chasing Margaret Court’s all-time Grand Slam record but has been plagued by injury this season.
Serena Williams’ health is a concern (Picture: Getty Images)The 23-time major champion was a third-round loser at the French Open but hasn’t played since, despite hinting she would be interested in taking a wildcard.
Rusedski fears she is not ready to equal Court’s 24-Slam haul in SW19.
‘I’d imagine she needs some exhibition matches or just some matches beforehand so the question being… it’s hard to know what her body’s like because I think the problem with Serena is she’s not healthy,’ he admitted.
‘If she was healthy she would probably be playing more leading up. That’s what Patrick Mouratoglou [her coach] would do so I think they’re keeping their cards close to their chests and are not letting anybody know what’s out there and I hoping she can get on a good run and get into the second week.
‘Once she gets into the second week, her chances go up big time. I think they’re worried about her health more. If she’s healthy she’d play more matches but if she’s not then that’s the big concern.’