Andy Murray

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Temperatures reached 108 degrees during the second day of the tennis season’s first Grand Slam event of the year.  The Australian Open began Monday, capsule January 13th in Melbourne and this hard-court slam lasts two weeks – culminating with the Women’s final on Saturday, drugstore January 25th and the Men’s final on Sunday, January 26th.

Juan Martn Del Potro of Argentina feels the heat. Michael Dodge Getty Images

Forecasts call for more 100-plus degree heat for the next two to three days. Although not all due to the extreme heat, nine players retired in the first round after the second day, which ties the 2011 U.S. Open for most retirements in a single round at a Grand Slam tournament.

It was so hot that a ball boy required medical attention after collapsing during an early-day match. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France said the under soles of his sneakers became soft.

China’s Peng Shuai threw up in a bucket and then cramped near the end of a 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 loss to Japan’s Kurumi Nara. Peng limped off the court barely able to finish. Others described the court surface as a frying pan and the wind like “when I open the oven and the potatoes are done,” said American John Isner.  (Isner, seeded 13th, had to retire during his match again Slovakia’s Martin Klizan with an ankle injury. Isner had just won the title last weekend at Auckland.)

However many players took the scorching heat in stride, including Roger Federer, who often trains in the hot desert of Dubai and had little sympathy for his peers, calling it “just a mental thing”.

Aussie Open Outlook

Djokovic  def. Murray 2013 Australian Open final. WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images

In the spotlight are whether last years’ Aussie Open champions Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka can both defend their 2013 singles titles.  It was Djokovic’s third straight victory at Melbourne Park, making him the first man to win three straight Australian titles in the Open era.

MEN’S SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIP

The men’s side is dominated by the Big Three—Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Many tennis enthusiast predict that Djokovic will break the record for most titles by anyone in the Open Era – or after 1968 when professionals were allowed to join the tournament. He is currently tied with Federer and Andre Agassi with four Aussie titles.

Roger Federer plays a forehand in his first-round match against James Duckworth. Scott Barbour, Getty Images

Novak Djokovic improved his winning streak at Melbourne Park to 22 matches as he began his bid for a fourth consecutive Australian Open title defeating Lukas Lacko of Slovakia.

World No 1 Rafael Nadal easily advances to the second round after one set after Bernard Tomic is forced to retire with a groin injury after losing opening set.

Andy Murray has reached the final of the last five Slams. In his opening match, Murray hit 32 winners, 12 aces and only 13 unforced errors on his way to an easy victory against Go Soeda of Japan 6-1, 6-1, 6-3.

However, Roger Federer is looking to re-enter fray and won in his first match with former world no. 1 Stefan Edberg as a coach, by defeating James Duckworth, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.

WOMEN’S SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIP

Not surprisingly, Serena Williams will head into the Australian Open as the player to beat. On opening day, Williams easily defeated Ashleigh Barty, 6-2, 6-1 a 17-year-old Australian wild-card entry. The World No.1 has an incredible 78-4 win/loss record for the season including The French Open and the US Open slams.  Serena ended the season with the WTA Championships and will arrive in Melbourne with an 18 match winning streak. Serena will be competing for her sixth Aussie Open and 18th Grand Slam crown.

Azarenka celebrates defeating Na Li in 2013 Julian Finney/Getty Images

The second-ranked Victoria Azarenka had a difficult match Monday against Larsson, ranked 91st, who twice had chances to serve for the first set but lost in a tiebreaker. However, Azarenka still seems to be the only player who has both the talent and attitude to have a chance of defeating Serena Williams. Azarenka beat her twice in 2013 at Doha and Cincinnati and challenged Serena by taking her to three sets of the US Open final in September.  However, Azarenka has yet to beat Williams in a Slam final – losing out to the 17 times Major winner in back-to-back finals at Flushing Meadows in 2012 and 2013.

However, it’s not impossible for Azarenka.  She just beat Williams in straight sets in an exhibition match between the world’s top two women’s players in Thailand the end of December. Azarenka defeated Williams 7-5, 6-3 in front of about 3,000 fans at the Hua Hin World Tennis Invitation in a match both players used as a warm-up ahead of the Australian Open.

Australian Open TV Coverage

Melbourne is 17 hours ahead of Chicago. As far as TV coverage goes, ESPN and the Tennis Channel have you covered throughout the whole tournament. ESPN’s early round coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on their ESPN2 network, and will run through 7 a.m. The Tennis Channel will carry coverage from 7 p.m. through 9 p.m.  For complete listing see link ESPN.

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Andy Murray US Open 2012 Champ (USA Today Sports)

The tennis season’s final Grand Slam event, remedy the US Open, cialis begins today in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.  This hard-court slam lasts two weeks and culminates with the Women’s final on Sunday, September 8th and the Men’s final on Monday, September 9th.

This has been a crazy tennis season, with three different men and three different women winning singles titles in the year’s first three Grand Slam events.  Not to mention the big name players that crashed and burned at Wimbledon earlier this summer.

In the spotlight are last years’ champions #3 Andy Murray and #1 Serena Williams with the question of whether they can both defend their 2012 US Open singles titles.

MEN’S SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIP

Murray has reached the final of the last four Slams he’s played and most recently won the title at Wimbledon.  Unfortunately, he’s on the same side of the draw as #1 Djokovic, so a repeat final of 2012 is impossible this year.  I’d look forward to a Murray vs Djokovic semi-final on Saturday, September 7th, assuming that Murray isn’t upset by Tomas Berdych earlier in the quarters.

Djokovic is always a favorite to win and has six consecutive semis-or-better at the US Open.  Djokovic and 2009 US Open Champion Juan Martin del Potro could see each other in the quarterfinals, if everything holds true to seed.

This could be a not-to-be-missed quarter final, as del Potro is the only man outside of the “Big Four” (Djokovic, Murray, Nadal and Federer), that can upset the status quo.  At 24 years old, del Potro is the youngest player in the ATP top 10.

Juan Martin del Potro (Getty Images)

Due to the draw, Djokovic will likely need to also beat Murray and Nadal in successive matches to win the tournament.  This will probably prove too much for even Djokovic.

#2 Rafael Nadal has had a roller-coaster year winning the French Open, but getting knocked out of Wimbledon in the first-round.  But Nadal is 15-0 on hard-court this year, including wins at Indian Wells, Montreal and most recently Cincinnati, and thus has proven his ability on a surface other than clay this year.

Nadal winning the Western & Southern Open final in Cincinnati 8/18/2013 (AP Photos)

Nadal is on the same side of the draw as #7 Federer, so we could see a fantastic quarterfinal between Nadal and Federer.

My Prediction:  If his knee holds up, Nadal is my pick to win the U.S. Open. Nadal has the much favorable draw, his early exit at Wimbledon appears to have been a fluke, and he is undefeated on hard-courts this year. Since Murray is in the other half of the draw from Nadal, Nadal will need to beat only Murray or Djokovic, but not both, to win the tournament.

 

WOMEN’S SINGLES CHAMPIONSHIP

US Open 2012 Champion Serena Williams (Reuters)

On the women’s side, clear-cut favorite #1 Serena Williams will be looking for her fifth career U.S. Open crown and third since 2008.

#2 Victoria Azarenka has proven she can beat Serena Williams on hard courts. She is 2-0 against Williams on the surface this year, including a three-set victory over Williams in Cincinnati, their last tournament before the U.S. Open. Azarenka reached the finals of the past two Grand Slam events on hard courts: a victory in the 2013 Australian Open and a tough fought loss to Williams in the 2012 U.S. Open finals.

Maria Sharapova surprisingly withdrew last week from the US Open because of bursitis in her right shoulder. Even more surprising: Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli isn’t entered in the U.S. Open because she suddenly announced her retirement this month at age 28.

Due to the lack of any real competition, a Williams vs. Azarenka Final seems likely, but with Azarenka’s 0-7 record against Williams in Grand Slam events, this should be Serena’s event.

My Prediction: Serena Williams will repeat her 2012 US Open championship, as long as she isn’t bothered by her persistent abdominal issues of late.

All right Sports Divas, who do you think will win the US Open this year?

US OPEN TV Coverage

TV Coverage is spread over a number of networks: CBS, CBS Sports Network, ESPN, ESPN2 and Tennis Channel, plus you can catch the live stream on WatchESPN.  See US Open TV Coverage for complete listings.

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Andy Murray Wins Wimbledon

For the first time in 77 years a Briton has won the Men’s Singles Champion at Wimbledon. No. 2 Andy Murray won a hard-fought victory over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in three thrilling sets 6-4, advice 7-5, site 6-4 on Sunday. The last Brit to win at Wimbledon was Fred Perry, who won three in a row in 1936.

The final game was a nail-biting battle in itself, with Murray seeing three match points slip by from 40-0 lead and fending off three break points before Djokovic netted a backhand to end the contest.

Djokovic Congratulates Murray (Images: BBC News)

“I have played in a lot of Slam finals, all against Roger or Novak. Roger is probably the greatest player ever, Novak is one of the mentally strongest ever. I never had experience on my side, to beat him was so tough, it was such a tough match.”

“Winning Wimbledon is the pinnacle of tennis,” Murray said afterwards. “I worked so hard in that last game. It’s the hardest few points I’ve had to play in my life. I don’t know how it will change my life. I hope not. I hope not too much. But the atmosphere today was different to what I’ve experienced in the past.”

Don’t Forget Mom

Andy Murray Hugging his Mom (Image: Telegraph.co.uk)

During the celebrations after winning the title, Andy Murray forgot to kiss his mom. Murray made the traditional climb into his player’s box to celebrate winning Wimbledon with his team. He hugged coach Ivan Lendl, kissed his girlfriend, and hugged trainers and hitting partners and high-fived anyone who extended an arm. Murray began his descent from the stands, but fortunately reversed course and realized he had forgotten to hug and kiss his mom, Judy.

Marion Bartoli Wins First Major Title

Marion Bartoli def Sabine Lisicki (Photo: dailyfinance.co.uk)

In an error-filled, one-sided final that was far from a match destined for the highlight reel, Marion Bartoli, the 15th-seeded Frenchwoman won her first Grand Slam title by beating 23rd-seeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany 6-1, 6-4 Saturday.

At the outset, Bartoli looked jittery and double-faulted twice in a row to drop the opening game. But then on Lisicki’s first chance to serve, she double-faulted on break point, to tie the first set 1-1. They combined for 39 unforced errors and 11 double-faults .  But Bartoli prevailed, winning 11 of 12 games.

Bartoli became the first woman in the Open era to win Wimbledon without facing anyone seeded in the top 10 – her highest-rated opponent was No. 17 Sloane Stephens of the United States in the quarterfinals. That was due to of all of the injuries and surprises, including exits for No. 2 Victoria Azarenka, No. 3 Maria Sharapova, No. 5 Sara Errani, No. 7 Angelique Kerber, No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki and No. 10 Maria Kirilenko by the end of the second round.

Lisicki, meanwhile, had to face and defeat defending champion and top-seeded Serena Williams – ending her 34-match winning streak in the fourth round. Lisicki also defeated major champions Francesca Schiavone and Sam Stosur, along with No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, last year’s runner-up.

“Just hearing `Wimbledon champion,’ that kind of sounds good to me,” Bartoli said afterwards. “I wanted that so badly. … It was like: Dare to dream. I kept dreaming. I kept my head up. I kept working hard. And it just happened.”

BBC Apologizes for Comments

Marion Bartoli (Photo: Huffington Post)

The BBC faced mounting pressure on Sunday when John Inverdale, one of their high profile announcers criticized the appearance of Marion Bartoli.  Inverdale provoked listeners when he asked the audience if they thought Bartoli’s father told Bartoli when she was little that she would never be “a looker” like Maria Sharapova so she would have to fight harder for success.

The BBC did apologize for the comments after a storm of protests on Twitter, admitting the remark was “insensitive”.

Men’s Doubles – The “Golden Bryan Slam”

2013 Wimbledon Men’s Doubles (USA Today)

Bob and Mike Bryan beat Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to capture their third Wimbledon title and fourth Grand Slam championship in a row.

The Bryan brothers are the first men’s team in the Open era to hold all four majors at once, plus an Olympic gold medal from last year’s London Games – the so-called “Golden Slam.” If they win the U.S. Open in September, they’ll join Ken McGregor and Frank Sedgman as the second men’s team to complete a calendar Grand Slam.

 

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Serena Williams Crashes Out Of Wimbledon In A Massive Upset (Photo: AP)

Breaking News – Serena Upset on Super Monday

Serena Williams just lost to Sabine Liscki at Wimbledon in the latest major upset within one of the most turbulent and unexpected Wimbledons in recent memory.  Liscki won 6-2, view 1-6, 6-4 in the round of 16. Williams had a 34-match winning streak coming into the match.

There is now only one top-10 seeded player left in the women’s draw Petra Kvitova. At age 23, Lisicki is one of the most powerful players in women’s tennis.
Serena can typically blow her opponents off the court, but Lisicki was able to make Serena uncomfortable with her power. Serena had a break point at 5-4 in the third set, but couldn’t convert it.

Super Monday

Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam tournament to schedule the entire men’s and women’s fourth round on a single day, and thus called Super Monday.  However, it will feature many unknown players, as the first crazy week ended with many of the top names upset, including Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova.  Of the 32 men and women playing Monday in the 4th round,10 will be trying to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time. Players vying for a chance at a quarterfinal berth include Kenny de Schepper and Adrian Mannarino, Ivan Dodig, Jerzy Janowicz, Karin Knapp and Monica Puig.

Janowicz Has the Fastest Serve of the Week (Getty Images)

One of the more exciting players to watch is No. 24 ranked Janowicz. At 6’8”, he is fun to watch on the fast lawns of Wimbledon. He averaged 130 mph on first serves and had the fastest serve of the tournament at 140 mph.  He also had 30 aces in his third round, straight sets defeat of World No. 16, Nicolas Almagro.  He has defeated Andy Murray as recently as 2012.

Someone from this list might be the future of tennis. Serena Williams sees the positives in having some new names to watch. “I feel like this is an opportunity to come learn the new players,” she said. “I’m not going to be here forever.”

Men’s Singles – Monday’s Matches to Watch

No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. No. 13 Tommy Haas

No. 2 Andy Murray vs. No. 20 Mikhail Youzhny

No. 4 David Ferrer vs. Ivan Dodig

No. 7 Tomas Berdych vs. Bernard Tomic

No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz vs. Jurgen Melzer

Djokovic cruises past Chardy (BBC Sports)

Top ranked Novak Djokovic put in a Wimbledon performance that was close to perfect, as he played near-flawless tennis to reach the fourth round Wimbledon on Saturday, going close to a full match without making an unforced error defeating 28th seeded Jeremy Chardy of France 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. “I felt very confident stepping onto the court but it’s never easy against Chardy, he’s a quality player,” said Djokovic. Djokovic will face 35-year-old Tommy Haas, the oldest player left in the men’s draw.

Murray def Robredo (Telegraph.co.uk)

Tommy Robredo of Spain, the player who stunned Roger Federer, in one of Wimbledon’s greatest upsets didn’t stick around very long. Andy Murray, one of the men who can benefit from Federer’s absence, advanced easily by defeating Robredo of Spain 6-2, 6-4, 7-5.  Murray reaches the last 16 without dropping a set at Wimbledon. Robredo was broken five times in all, while Murray lost his serve just once. Murray’s fourth-round opponent will be hot-tempered Russian Mikhail Youzhny.

Women’s Singles – Monday’s Matches to Watch

No. 1 Serena Williams vs. No. 23 Sabine Lisicki

No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Tsvetana Pironkova

No. 6 Li Na vs. No. 11 Roberta Vinci

No. 8 Petra Kvitova vs. No. 19 Carla Suarez Navarro

Monica Puig vs. No. 17 Sloane Stephens

American Sloane Stephens (USA Today)

Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens have had continued success at Wimbledon and will both play in the fourth round at Wimbledon and are the only Americans to reach the second week.  (No American men reached the 4th round of the Men’s Singles.) Williams, 31, and Stephens, 20, represent opposite ends of the current generation of American women.

No 17 Stephens, who upset Williams to reach the Australian Open semifinals, defeated Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic 7-6, 0-6, 6-4.  Stephens won this morning, defeating Monica Puig.  Still shocked by Serena’s upset this morning.

Predictions

Of course, we still expect top seed Novak Djokovic to face Andy Murray in the final in a week’s time. We expected Serena Williams to be left standing at the end on the women’s side, but with her massive upset today – the field is wide open for a new name.  Stay tuned.

Men’s Doubles Action

Singles isn’t the only game in town. Another Monday highlight is Bob and Mike Bryan, the top-seeded Americans will face the No. 16 seeds, Treat Huey of the Philippines and Dominic Inglot of Britain. The Bryan brothers are going for their fourth consecutive Grand Slam title.  They already own 14 Grand Slam titles and are the most successful doubles team of all time. Since winning gold in the men’s doubles at the 2012 London Olympics, the twins have enjoyed a stellar year winning 11 titles including the 2012 US Open, 2013 Australian Open and 2013 French Open titles.

Wimbledon TV Coverage

ESPN will begin coverage at 5:30 a.m. CT and will run throughout the day.  Center Court coverage begins at 7:00 a.m. See ESPN for complete listings here.

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Nadal Loses in the First Round. (Photo: BBC Sports)

It’s been a wild first few days at the All England Club in Wimbledon, try a record seven players pull out of the tournament, healing while Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer are upset in their second round matches.  Add to this, stuff Rafael Nadal’s first-round upset on Monday and there’s been more excitement and drama on the grass courts of London than we have seen all season.

Men’s Singles – Nadal and Federer Upsets

The first upset came on Monday, the opening day of the tournament, when world #5 Rafael Nadal was defeated in the first-round by Steve Darcis – ranked #135 – in three sets 7-6, 7-6, 6-4.  Nadal in the post match interview declared that it was “not a tragedy” and refused to blame his exit on his persistent knee injury.

However, it was obvious that he was in pain, as he went down to the Belgian (Darcis.) Nadal was barely able to use his backhand and was limping at times. Nadal was also clearly annoyed by suggestions that he had focused too much on the clay-court season and was not prepared for Wimbledon.

“On grass it’s difficult to adapt your game when you don’t have the chance to play before and I didn’t find my rhythm,” said Nadal, who decided to rest instead of playing the grass court tournament in Halle, Germany.

Federer Suffers Earliest Wimbledon Exit Since 2002

Sergiy Stakhovsky def Roger Federer in 2nd Round (USA Today)

Defending champion Roger Federer suffered his earliest exit at Wimbledon since 2002 with a second-round defeat to Sergiy Stakhovsky Wednesday. Seven-time winner Federer lost 6-7, 7-6, 7-5, 7-6.

Stakhovsky is ranked No. 116 in the world while Federer is ranked No. 3. The victory is Stakhovsky’s first against an opponent ranked in the top 10. Sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga withdrew from his second-round match because of an injury, one of seven men and women to do so on day three.

Murray Wimbledon 2013 (Photo BBC Sports)

Thus, with Federer, Nadal and  Tsonga having exited the competition,  Andy Murray’s title hopes may be realized.

The top-ranked player in Murray’s side of the draw is 15th seed Milos Raonic.

The top seed, Novak Djokovic, moved on defeating Florian Mayer of Germany, who is ranked No. 34 in the world, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

One would assume that the way looks clear to a Djokovic vs Murray Final at the end of the fortnight, but with the bizarre Wimbledon happenings this year, anything can happen.

Women’s Singles – Sharapova Upset

Sharapova falls during her match vs Larcher De Brito (USA Today)

Maria Sharapova was knocked out of Wimbledon by a 131st-ranked qualifier on a day when injuries forced the withdrawal of seven other players.

The third-seeded and 2004 Wimbledon champion, Sharapova, lost 6-3, 6-4 to Michelle Larcher de Brito of Portugal in the second round.

“I just wasn’t there,” Sharapova said.  “She played really great tennis… All the credit to her. She played really well from start to finish.”

However, she was heard telling the umpire: “These courts are dangerous.” Sharapova fell three times during her match on the slippery grass.

Azarenka twisted her knee in her first round win. (Getty Images)

Second-seeded Victoria Azarenka has pulled out of Wimbledon after hurting her right knee in her opening-round win, minutes before her second-round match against Flavia Pennetta on Wednesday.

Early in the second set of her match against Maria Joao Koehler, Azarenka did the splits near the baseline then crumpled to the grass, clutching her right knee and sobbing.

Sharapova and Azarenka were seen as the top challengers to Serena Williams for this year’s women’s title.

Wimbledon TV Coverage

ESPN2 will begin coverage at 6 a.m. CT and will run throughout the day.  You can also catch their coverage beginning at 5:30 a.m. on ESPN3 if you’re viewing online, and the official Wimbledon website has some live video options as well.

Thursday’s notable matches are listed below:

Men’s Singles

No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. Bobby Reynolds
No. 4 David Ferrer vs. Roberto Bautista Agut
No. 7 Tomas Berdych vs. Daniel Brands
No. 8 Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Jesse Levine
No. 12 Kei Nishikori vs. Leonardo Mayer
No. 13 Tommy Haas vs. Jimmy Wang

Women’s Singles

No. 1 Serena Williams vs. Carolina Garcia
No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Mathilde Johansson
No. 6 Na Li vs. Simona Halep
No. 14 Samantha Stosur vs. Olga Puchkova

 

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wimbledon-2013 logo

Wimbledon, medicine the third of the four grand slams of the tennis calendar year, there begins today in London. Tennis’ brightest stars and biggest names from around the world will be competing for the Wimbledon trophy that is awarded to the winners of the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament.

Wimbledon is the only grand slam which is played on grass; the French Open is played on clay and the US and Australian Opens are played on hard court. Wimbledon is played at the All England Cub in Wimbledon, London where it has been held since 1877 and lasts  two weeks.

Let’s take a look at which players are the early favorites heading into the tennis season’s most coveted and conservative event.

Men’s Singles Championship

Federer Def Murray 2012 (Photo: Telegraph.co.uk)

Until this year, no man had won eight titles at the same Grand Slam. Rafael Nadal just won No. 8 at the French Open. Now, Roger Federer can try to match him at Wimbledon.

Federer is the defending champion and he’s still as good as it gets on grass. He finally ended a 10-month title drought by winning a tuneup tournament on grass at Halle, Germany. Wimbledon is the major tournament he’s most likely to win if he’s going to add to his record total of 17 Grand Slam titles.

Nadal second-round defeat at Wimbledon last year (Photo: telegraph.co.uk)

However, he may be going home early, as Federer could face Nadal in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon due to Friday’s draw that placed the third-seeded Federer and No.5 Nadal in the same half.  The winner of the Federer vs Nadal match will most likely go on to meet home favorite Brit, Andy Murray, who is seeded No.2 in the semifinals – all three wound up on the same side of the draw.

Djokovic, meanwhile, is on the other half and at most would need to beat only one of that other trio to earn the championship.

Brit Andy Murray trying to win at home (Photo ITV.com)

Murray once again will try to give Britain its first male champion at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936. Last year, Murray became the first British man to even reach the final since 1938, then lost to Federer in four sets. However, Murray did go onto win the Olympic singles gold medal at the All England Club, beating Federer in the final.

In September at the U.S. Open, Murray became the first British man in 76 years to win any Grand Slam singles title. He pulled out of the French Open with a back issue, but won the grass title at Queen’s Club June 16th, so all appears fine with his back.

Nadal and No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic together have won 11 of the most recent 13 Grand Slam titles. Those two, plus Federer, have collected 31 of the past 33 titles. Add Murray to the mix , and these four seem a good bet to win the championship this year.

My Pick for the Men’s Title

Novak Djokovic winning 2011 Wimbledon title (Photo: dailymail.co.uk)

Coming off of his French Open victory, I would normally pick Nadal.  But because of the seeding at Wimbledon, Nadal will be in line to face Roger Federer, Andy Murray or Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals, and he might have to beat all three to win – hard for someone even as hot at Nadal.  So while Nadal may be my personal favorite to win the championship, due to the easier draw, I’m going put my money on Novak Djokovic for the title.  But I think anything can happen here – so you won’t want to miss any of the action.

Who Can Beat Serena?

Serena 2012 Wimbledon (Photo: NYTimes.com)

It’s hard to imagine anyone ever being a bigger favorite to win a Grand Slam title than No. 1 ranked Serena Williams is at Wimbledon this year. She comes in as the defending champion; she’s on a 31-match winning streak – the longest single-season run in women’s tennis since her older sister won 35 in a row in 2000.

Serena is 74-3 since last year’s Wimbledon. Williams has claimed three of the last four major titles to raise her career total to 16 — two less than Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.

Williams vs Sharapova in the Final (Photo: Guardian.co.uk)

There are other women capable of winning the title, especially Maria Sharapova, who won the title in 2004 by beating Williams in the final.

[However] “I don’t see a weakness,” three-time Wimbledon champion John McEnroe said. “She’s playing the best tennis of her career. She’s not only in the best place I’ve ever seen, I think she’s the best player that’s ever lived. I said that a while ago, but she’s cementing it in everyone’s mind. She’s just a level above anyone. There’s no doubt about it.”

Serena Williams will need to keep her emotions and her wardrobe in check over the next two weeks. Wimbledon has a strict dress code that will limit Williams from her normal ‘colorful’ outfits that she is known to wear during the grand slams.  Furthermore, Williams has had a bad dose of press lately, first publicly commenting on a controversial Ohio rape case of a 16-year old girl and just recently, taking shots at Sharapova who is allegedly dating one of Serena’s exes.  More details on this story HERE.

My Pick for the Women’s Title

Kvitova def Sharapova 2011 (Image: bettor.com)

Although Sharapova put up a fight in this year’s French Open final against Williams, she wasn’t really much of a hurdle and has lost the last 13 times they’ve played.

Petra Kvitova, the 2011 champion, seems to have the grass game figured out. No. 2-ranked Victoria Azarenka is a two-time semifinalist; Agnieszka Radwanska and Marion Bartoli have each also been the runner-up.

Still, it’s hard to imagine any of them beating five-time champion Williams if she’s healthy. Considering Serena’s game is even better on grass, it’s difficult to pick anyone to defeat her at Wimbledon.

The only place Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams can meet at Wimbledon is in the final. It’s my prediction that they will meet again. There’s no doubt that Serena will win her 6th Wimbledon championship in 2013.

Wimbledon TV Coverage

ESPN, the sole television home of the live Wimbledon tennis tournament, has 140 hours of coverage scheduled over the two-week period beginning Monday, June 24. (Note: ABC will air encore Wimbledon coverage on June 30, July 6 and July 7 – The July 6 and July 7 telecasts will be encore presentations of the singles finals.)

Monday, June 24
6 a.m.-4 p.m.: First round, ESPN
Tuesday, June 25
6 a.m.-4 p.m.: First round, ESPN
Wednesday, June 26
6 a.m.-4 p.m.: Second round, ESPN2
Thursday, June 27
6 a.m.-2 p.m.: Second round, ESPN2
Friday, June 28
6 a.m.-4 p.m.: Third round, ESPN
Saturday, June 29
7 a.m.-3 p.m.: Third round, ESPN

 

Smashing Golf & Tennis

 

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