Novak Djokovic will open Centre Court at this year’s Wimbledon as is the custom at the event. The defending champion…
Novak Djokovic will open Centre Court at this year’s Wimbledon as is the custom at the event. The defending champion…
Stefanos Tsitsipas looks to continue his excellent 2019 with a strong run at Wimbledon this fortnight. The Greek is at a…
Naomi Osaka faces a tough test in her opener at Wimbledon, hoping to bounce back from the disappointment of her French Open…
Former World No. 1 Andy Murray is set to return to Grand Slam action at Wimbledon. And it’s more than just his fans who are happy to see the two-time singles winner at The Championships back on the hallowed grass, albeit on the doubles court.
“Everybody should be happy to see him back,” said two-time champion Rafael Nadal, the third seed. “He is one of the most important players of our sport in the past 10 years. It’s good news when we have the top players back. Most important thing, [I am] happy for him personally that he’s able to keep playing.”
Murray made his return at the Fever-Tree Championships at The Queen’s Club, where he triumphed alongside Feliciano Lopez. Murray then partnered Marcelo Melo at the Nature Valley International in Eastbourne, where they fell to eventual champions Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah.
And although Murray has made clear that he is alright if it doesn’t happen, the 32-year-old said that if he continues to progress, he wants to try to play singles again. It’s only been five months since Murray underwent hip surgery.
“Hopefully he will have the chance to keep playing in singles. But anyway, he’s able to enjoy tennis again without much pain, as I heard. That’s the main thing and the most important thing,” Nadal said. “I know how tough it is being injured, when you want to recover and you don’t find the solution… [I am] happy to see him on court again and enjoying [it].”
Nadal, who holds a 17-7 FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead against Murray, faced the Scot three times at Wimbledon (2008, ‘10, ‘11), winning on all three occasions. Although they won’t get to play this year, since Murray is only competing in doubles, Nadal couldn’t help but take a look at the two-time champion preparing for the grass-court Grand Slam next to him on the practice courts.
“He looks very happy practising,” Nadal said. “So happy for that.”
Murray and his partner, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, open their tournament against Marius Copil and Ugo Humbert. They could play No. 6 seeds Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor in the second round, and Andy’s brother Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski in the third round. But Murray is not thinking ahead, and he has not put more pressure on himself because of the early success in his comeback.
“I’m just happy to be playing tennis again really. I would like to do well when I get on the court. I play to win. I’m really competitive,” Murray said. “But… I didn’t know four or five weeks ago if I’d even be playing on the grass. Shouldn’t be expecting too much. But once I step on the court, I’ll be out there trying to win every match I play.”
Wimbledon history has proven that wild cards are far from space fillers in the draws.
From Marcos Baghdatis and Paul Jubb in singles, to Lleyton Hewitt and Jordan Thompson in doubles, this year’s wild card recipients will look to match some of the most unlikely runs in tournament history. ATPTour.com looks back at the five most memorable wild cards at The All England Club.
Goran Ivanisevic (2001 champion)
There wasn’t a dry eye in the stands when Ivanisevic completed his improbable run to the title. After three runner-up finishes (1992, 1994, 1998), injuries saw his ATP Ranking plummet outside the Top 100. Ivanisevic arrived as a sentimental favourite in 2001 with a 13-22 ATP Tour record over the previous 12 months.
But the Croatian caught fire once again, defeating Carlos Moya, Andy Roddick, Marat Safin and Tim Henman en route to the championship match against Patrick Rafter. Rain pushed the final to a unprecedented “People’s Monday”. Ten thousand tickets were given out by lottery to fans waiting in the queue, most of whom were vocal enough to give Centre Court the energy of a football match.
After more than three hours, Ivanisevic prevailed in a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 9-7 classic. He remains the lowest-ranked player (No. 125) to win Wimbledon and the only male player to win a Grand Slam singles title as a wild card.
“I think I’m dreaming. To touch the trophy is so great,” said Ivanisevic. “I don’t even care if I win another match in my life again. This is it. This is the end of the world.”
Nick Kyrgios (2014 quarter-finals)
A 19-year-old Kyrgios was awarded a wild card after winning an ATP Challenger Tour event on grass earlier that month in Nottingham. The Aussie put it to good use, rallying from two sets down to beat No. 13 seed Richard Gasquet in the second round before stunning second seed Rafael Nadal in the fourth round. His audacious shotmaking during the four-set victory made him the first male debutant to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals since Florian Mayer in 2004.
“It still hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Kyrgios after the match. “I was overwhelmed with every feeling out there. I turned to my whole box and just shared that moment with them.”
Kyrgios fell to Milos Raonic in the quarter-finals, but his run pushed him inside the Top 100 in the ATP Rankings and announced his arrival as a star player.
Juan Carlos Ferrero (2009 quarter-finals)
Injuries had pushed the former World No. 1 outside the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings, but he found his form again on the grass by reaching the semi-finals earlier in the month at the Fever-Tree Championships. Arriving on a wave of confidence, Ferrero matched his best result at this event by defeating No. 10 seed Fernando Gonzalez and eighth seed Gilles Simon to reach the quarter-finals.
Although Ferrero would lose to Andy Murray, he continued his run of form to re-enter the Top 20 that season.
Pat Cash (1986 quarter-finals)
The Aussie had already enjoyed plenty of success at The All England Club, having reached the singles semi-finals in 1984 and doubles final in 1984 (w/McNamee) and 1985 (w/Fitzgerald). But an operation for a herniated disc in his lower back limited Cash to three events in the previous 12 months. Just weeks before the tournament, he underwent an emergency appendix operation.
Once Cash stepped on the grass, his health woes and lack of match play were never a factor. The Aussie knocked out No. 2 seed Mats Wilander to reach the quarter-finals before losing to Henri Leconte. He also started what has now become a tradition of throwing headbands and wristbands into the crowd to celebrate his wins.
“To get a wild card at Wimbledon, then to pull out is not something you want to do,” said Cash to ATPTour.com. “My legs were gone [against Leconte]. It was out of my control, but I did make sure I was super fit moving forwards to ensure that if I got to the quarter-finals, I was ready and wasn’t in the situation again.”
The Aussie would return the following year to clinch his lone Grand Slam title over Ivan Lendl.
Frederik Nielsen and Jonathan Marray (2012 champions)
The only wild card men’s doubles champions in tournament history weren’t even supposed to play together. Marray was meant to pair with Adil Shamasdin, but they couldn’t get into the tournament on their ATP Doubles Rankings.
Marray and Nielsen’s dream run saw them defeat defending champions Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in the semi-finals before taking out Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau in five sets for the title. The win marked the first ATP Tour-level doubles title for either player and made Marray the first British men’s doubles champion at Wimbledon since 1936.
By winning a Wimbledon title, Nielsen also finished the job that his grandfather, Kurt Nielsen, nearly completed 60 years earlier. Kurt reached the men’s singles final in 1953 and 1955.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who has won 27 singles title on the WTA Tour, is writing a column for the BBC Sport website during the championships at the All England Club.
The 29-year-old Czech, who has not played since pulling out of the French Open in May with an arm injury, faces Tunisian Ons Jabeur in the first round on Tuesday.
I had some doubts about whether I would play at Wimbledon but my arm is better, which is great.
The tear in my forearm has been an unusual injury – nobody knows how it is going to be and how much time I will need to be ready again.
I had a few MRI scans during the period when I couldn’t hit and it didn’t show that it’s 100% ready but sometimes in our life, nothing is really ready!
I only held a racquet again a few days ago after hurting it the day before my match five weeks ago at the French Open. Before that I couldn’t do anything for a couple of weeks and was glad to just do something simple like holding a drink in that hand.
I’m happy that I hit on Saturday and I have no pain. That is really important.
After so many problems I’ve been through in my life already, which have been well documented, I think I feel my body more and I’m not as risky a person as I was probably before.
I do have my age as well, so sometimes I have to really think about it. But of course, if I do have pain in my arm I won’t play. So far it’s OK – there’s a few more days so anything can happen.
Reaching the final at this year’s Australian Open in January was a huge result for me. I had a great two weeks in Melbourne.
But losing in the final was so painful. It took me a while to get over it but it was a big motivation to continue the work I had been doing before and how I was getting ready for matches. And I still have that motivation.
Unfortunately I missed the French Open but life is continuing and I am still going to try my best and be prepared for everything.
Winning a Grand Slam or becoming world number one are pretty connected with each other. If you win a Grand Slam, you have a big chance to be world number one.
It would be great if it happened that way for me. Of course, I’m missing the world number one ranking in my career but on the other hand I always was focusing on the tournaments and on the results, especially in the Grand Slams.
In the past I did used to come here and do things like looking for my name on the winners’ board but after so many years on the tour, it’s a little bit more familiar.
Of course I love it here, I love this club, I love playing on the grass – it’s always very special for me.
When I was growing up in the Czech Republic we played on clay in the summer but in the winter we played indoors where the surface was so fast. I think that’s where I have got the game for grass because it was pretty low and pretty fast. So I always played the fast game and not really the clay game.
I do have Wimbledon twice already so it would be great to win another one but Wimbledon is the most famous one. If I win another Grand Slam, it doesn’t matter which one.
My expectations here are not really high but maybe this can help me relax more on court. But also, I know from the past that sometimes I don’t need to have hit for that many hours to be ready.
Petra Kvitova was speaking to BBC Sport’s Sonia Oxley
|Wimbledon 2019 on the BBC|
|Venue: All England Club Dates: 1-14 July|
|Coverage: Live across BBC TV, BBC Radio and the BBC Sport website with extensive coverage on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, Connected TVs and mobile app. Full times and channels.|
Britain’s two-time singles champion Andy Murray will make a welcome return to Wimbledon in the doubles after missing last year’s Championships with a career-threatening hip injury.
The Scot said in January he thought he might have to retire after this year’s tournament at the All England Club.
But the 32-year-old is back playing pain-free after having his hip resurfaced five months ago.
The former world number one hopes to play in the men’s and mixed doubles.
The tournament begins at the All England Club on Monday and you can follow comprehensive coverage across TV, radio, online and the mobile app.
Serbia’s defending champion Novak Djokovic is considered the player to beat in the men’s singles and starts the defence of his title when he opens up play on Centre Court against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber at 13:00 BST on Monday.
The women’s singles – won last year by Germany’s Angelique Kerber, who starts on Centre at 13:00 BST on Tuesday – is expected to be another wide-open contest.
Johanna Konta is considered the Briton with the best shot of going far in the singles, having reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2017 and coming into the tournament on the back of a shock run to the Roland Garros last four.
That success on the clay – previously considered Konta’s weakest surface – led former British number one Jo Durie to warn the 28-year-old’s rivals to “watch out” at SW19.
Her form on the grass has not yet matched her clay season, however. She lost to former Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko in the second round at Birmingham, then went out to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in the third round at Eastbourne.
Kyle Edmund, who replaced Murray as the British number one last year, is the only home man to be seeded, but the 30th seed has struggled for form and fitness in recent months.
Going into the grass season, he had only won two matches from the end of March and retired from his French Open second-round match with a knee injury.
The 24-year-old’s comeback ended in a straight-set loss to Greek top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas at Queen’s, before he took a wildcard at Eastbourne where he beat compatriots Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans before losing to American Taylor Fritz in the semi-finals.
Norrie and Evans, ranked 49th and 65th, also qualified directly for the draw, while Jay Clarke, James Ward and teenager Paul Jubb have been given wildcards.
Heather Watson, now ranked outside the top 100 and an ever-present in the main draw since 2010, Harriet Dart and Katie Swan have also been given wildcards.
Despite all being aged in their 30s, the ‘big three’ of Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal continue to dominate the men’s singles, having won the past 12 Grand Slam titles between them.
Top seed Djokovic, 32, saw his bid to hold all four major titles at the same time derailed by Austria’s Dominic Thiem in the French Open semi-finals, yet remains the favourite to win Wimbledon as he looks for a 16th Grand Slam triumph.
Federer, who turns 38 in August, is bidding to claim a record-extending ninth Wimbledon title for his 21st Grand Slam – a tally which has also never been bettered by any other man.
Nadal, 33, has 18 Grand Slams after winning his 12th Roland Garros title last month.
Between them, the trio have won 53 of the past 64 majors, stretching back to Federer’s maiden Wimbledon triumph in 2003.
“We pushed each other to greater heights, to improve maybe Rafa’s grass, Novak’s hard courts, my clay,” Federer said.
“I think we definitely became better because of one another.”
Federer, who plays South African debutant Lloyd Harris in the first round, has been seeded second and will start in the opposite side of the draw to Djokovic.
That led to criticism from world number two Nadal, who is seeded third under Wimbledon’s grass-court formula and projected to meet Federer in the semi-finals.
The All England Club’s system means South African world number eight Kevin Anderson, who lost to Djokovic in last year’s final, is seeded fourth.
But the big-serving 33-year-old only returned to the tour at Queen’s last week after missing three months with an elbow injury.
Croatia’s 13th seed Marin Cilic, a beaten finalist in 2017, and American ninth seed John Isner, who lost to Anderson in last year’s epic six-and-a-half-hour semi-final, are also hoping to be among the established players making a run.
Greek seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, 20, is expected to lead the charge of the young guns aiming to topple the old guard, while Italian Matteo Berrettini and Canadian youngster Felix-Auger Aliassime could also make their mark.
In contrast to the men’s, the women’s game has been highly unpredictable in recent years with nine different winners at the past 10 majors.
Japan’s Naomi Osaka is the only player to have triumphed twice since the start of 2017, although the US Open and Australian Open champion struggled to cope under the spotlight of being the top seed at the French Open, saying she suffered headaches from the “stress” before going out in the third round.
“I don’t think there was anything that could have prepared me for that, especially since I’m kind of an over-thinker,” Osaka, 21, said.
“I think it’s better for me now to be number two here.”
Osaka’s place at the top of the world rankings has been taken by Australian Ashleigh Barty, who won her maiden major at the French Open – five years after quitting the sport to play professional cricket.
Barty, 23, says having the top seeding has not changed her preparations for the Championships.
“There’s more attention, there’s more of that outside noise. But what we’re trying to do on the court hasn’t changed much,” she said.
“The only pressure that I put on myself is making sure I do everything correctly.”
Seven-time champion Serena Williams has been tipped to win by another American great Chris Evert as she bids again for her first major title since giving birth in September 2017.
One more triumph would see the 11th seed, who has struggled with a knee injury, equal Australian Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Slam singles titles.
“I haven’t had enough match play but I saw some good doctors in Paris and I’m feeling better,” Williams said.
Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova, who warmed up by winning the Eastbourne title, has been tipped by Martina Navratilova to finally make her breakthrough at the Grand Slams and win her first major at Wimbledon.
Sixth seed Petra Kvitova, another Czech, has been struggling with an arm injury but hopes to be fit enough to mount a challenge for a third title, while Kerber – who lost to Pliskova in the Eastbourne final – is also expected to figure.
Viewers can watch the best action on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and BBC Red Button, while there are also up to 18 courts to choose from through Connected TVs, the BBC Sport website and app, with every match live in HD for the first time.
BBC Radio 5 Live will also be at the heart of the action, with live commentary and expert analysis every day of the championship.
Today at Wimbledon on BBC Two each night takes an in-depth look at the day’s best matches and biggest talking points.
And you can stay up to date with all the latest news and go behind the scenes via BBC Sport’s social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Lorenzo Sonego began 2019 with five tour-level wins. Yet, the 24-year-old Italian earned five victories this week alone en route to claiming his first ATP Tour title at the Turkish Airlines Open Antalya, an ATP 250 tournament.
Sonego, who reached the quarter-finals of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters this April as a qualifier, faced championship point against #NextGenATP Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic in the final. But he used a big serve to get out of trouble, and never looked back.
ATPTour.com caught up with Sonego after his win…
You entered Antalya with six straight tour-level losses. Now you are an ATP Tour champion. How does it feel?
This is tennis. Today you win, tomorrow you lose. Today I won a tournament, tomorrow I need to focus on Wimbledon. I need to start again from the first round. It’s tough because all the players are very good, but I love it. My team and I focus on getting better. The better I become, the more stable the results will be.
Already in 2019, four different Italians have won ATP Tour titles. How do you explain the rise of the Italians?
We are a great group of friends. We push each other and we motivate each other. We often practise together, especially with Matteo [Berrettini]. I think that Italy has a great tennis future ahead.
In the final, you hit 25 aces and saved the only break point you faced on championship point. Was that the best serving performance of your career?
Well on the grass it’s easier to hit aces, but I am satisfied with how I served during the whole week. We have been working for months on improving the serve.
You lost the first set in three of your five matches this week. How do you explain your ability to come back, especially in the heat of Antalya?
I don’t really care when I lose a set or two or I am down in the final set. I just get more and more intense while the matches progress. I don’t get easily tired, so losing a set is not a major problem.
You’ve qualified for six tournaments in 2019. Has that been the key to your rise in your confidence this season?
Yes, for sure. The step from Challengers to Tour events is not easy at all. I had difficulties in winning Challengers and now I win an ATP event, it’s amazing. But I think that the real confidence boost has been the week in Monte-Carlo. I arrived from Marrakech without sleep, as I had travelled all night and I qualified and reached the quarter-finals. There I understood I would not go back to playing Challengers anymore.
You had to finish your semi-final and play the final on Saturday. How difficult was it to go to sleep on Friday with so much to do before you could win the title?
I was calm, not stressed at all. I slept good. Maybe Pablo needed to be stressed. I needed two games, he needed two games and one more set. I knew that he had had difficulties in returning my serve so I knew I would get my chances.