About the 2019 Tournament
Wimbledon is steeped in tradition and fans attending the 133rd edition of the event won’t notice too many changes as they enjoy their Pimm’s or strawberries and cream. There will still be a strict all-white dress code for the players, there are 128 protagonists in both of the singles competitions, and the usual mix of breath-taking rallies, temper tantrums and sarcastic shouts of ‘Come on, Tim!’ can be expected.
However, there will be a few differences this year, with rain less likely than ever to disrupt proceedings after a new retractable roof was built over Court One. The £70 million structure has been years in the making but is now fully operational and it will be used if the heavens open, ensuring that play can continue on both of the main show courts even if it is the soggiest of fortnights.
The 2019 tournament will also be the first to feature tie-breaks in the final set. Previously, matches would continue for as long as it took for someone to win by two clear games, but this year any contest that reaches 12-12 will be settled by a tie-break. John Isner could be forgiven for thinking the new rule should be named after him, following his 26-24 final-set loss to Kevin Anderson in last year’s semi-finals and epic 70-68 victory over Nicolas Mahut back in 2010.
The last 16 men’s titles have been hogged by just four players – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Two-time champion Murray will only be playing doubles this year as he works his way back to full fitness following hip surgery, but the other three will once again be favourites. Here’s a rundown of their credentials and some of the players who could just challenge their dominance.
Novak Djokovic - 6/4: The No.1 player in the world and reigning Wimbledon champion, Serbian superstar Djokovic once again looks like the man to beat. He hasn’t enjoyed the best of seasons since winning the Australian Open in January, but appeared to be getting back into his stride as he advanced to the semi-finals of the French Open. He moves and returns so well on the grass and it will take something special to stop him landing his fifth title at SW19.
Roger Federer - 10/3: With eight Wimbledon titles to his name, Federer will not be at all fazed by Djokovic’s record as he bids to add to his own extraordinary legacy. Idolised by many fans as ‘The GOAT’ (Greatest of All Time), Centre Court has been the scene of many of his greatest successes and he plays as if he owns the court, with opponents just irritating guests who must be shown the exit door as quickly as possible. Having played the clay-court season for the first time since 2015, he could be even sharper coming into Wimbledon than he has been in recent years.
Rafael Nadal – 11/2: Nadal’s record at Wimbledon since he won the second of his titles in 2010 has been surprisingly poor, although he did reach his first semi-final here in seven years last time out. The key will be how he can adapt his game to suit the surface, and he has been working hard over the past few months to win more free points on his serve. Having just won his 12th French Open, he will be full of confidence.
Marin Cilic - 11/1: With Murray absent from the singles and Juan Martin del Potro having suffered more injury heartache, bookies think that Cilic is perhaps the man most likely to challenge the big three. He is a previous Grand Slam winner, having tasted success at the US Open in 2014, while he also made the Wimbledon final in 2017, but he has had a disappointing season and dropped out of the world’s top ten.
Alexander Zverev - 11/1: The tennis world is still waiting for Zverev to really announce himself on the Grand Slam stage, having been earmarked for greatness for a few years. He has won Masters events and beaten everyone away from the majors, but he struggles to put consistent performances together in longer matches. He has a good enough all-court game to make an impact at Wimbledon, but he may not be equipped yet to go all the way.
Milos Raonic - 16/1: The big-serving Canadian, who was runner-up to Murray to 2016, will always be a threat on the quick courts of Wimbledon. He is one of the few players who loves grass and could reach the latter stages if he has a favourable draw, although he probably doesn’t have enough craft to compete with those excellent returners such as Djokovic, Federer and Nadal who can neutralise his serve.
Stefanos Tsitsipas - 20/1: A Greek youngster who has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past 18 months, Tsitsipas likes to use a lot of variety in his game and is happy both on the baseline and at the net. He seems to thrive on the big occasion and could be a dark horse to become champion; if not this year, then certainly in the future.
Kevin Anderson - 25/1: Anderson knocked out Federer in last year’s quarter-finals and then Isner in the last four, but consecutive five-set matches left him with little left in the tank to take on Djokovic in the final. With a ferocious serve and powerful groundstrokes, he should be considered a strong contender again, but his season has been disrupted by an elbow injury.
Other Contenders – Flamboyant Australian Nick Kyrgios certainly has the game to justify his 25/1 price, but unfortunately he is just as likely to make headlines for his controversial opinions or fiery temper as his tennis. Dominic Thiem was a finalist at the French Open and showed with his victory at Indian Wells that he is not just a clay-court specialist, so could be very dangerous if he builds up a head of steam. Among the younger generation, Karen Khachanov, Borna Coric and Daniil Medvedev are all worth keeping an eye on, while all the top seeds will be hoping to avoid 6ft 10in veteran Isner.
Tsitsipas may be worth a flutter at around 20/1, but it is hard to see past Djokovic or Federer for the title. Of the two, Djokovic has almost a unique ability to read and return Federer’s serve unlike anyone else, giving him a way to combat the Swiss maestro’s most potent weapon.
Djokovic to win at 6/4
There have only been four years since the turn of the millennium that the women’s final has not featured at least one of the Williams sisters, but the 2019 edition promises to be one of the most open of all time, with no overwhelming favourite. Serena Williams is still searching for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, and she has her work cut out for her against a host of ambitious rivals.
Serena Williams – 11/2: The 37-year-old is a seven-time Wimbledon champion and legend of the sport, with such power and self-belief that she can intimidate even the most hardened of her competitors. However, the last of her Grand Slam titles came two and a half years ago and she has had a stop-start campaign so far in 2019. Currently outside the top 30 in this year’s rankings race, she will nevertheless be confident of securing a first title of the season at SW19.
Ashleigh Barty – 6/1: French Open champion in June and the best player on tour so far this year, Australian Barty will arrive at Wimbledon in the form of her life. She has all the tools to add another Grand Slam title to her collection, with exquisite hands at the net and a deceptively effective serve. She had never won a match at Wimbledon before progressing to the third round last year, but is a different player now.
Naomi Osaka - 8/1: Osaka surged to the top of the world rankings with back-to-back Grand Slam titles at the US Open and Australian Open, suggesting that she could become the dominant force in the women’s game for the next decade. However, a baffling decision to split with her coach after that run of success has corresponded with a loss of form. She has the hitting prowess to thrive at Wimbledon and will be difficult to stop if she makes it through the early rounds and regains confidence.
Petra Kvitova - 9/1: A winner in both 2011 and 2014, Kvitova is an excellent server and her left-handed style can be very tricky for opponents. She made it to the final of the Australian Open in January and had some success in the European clay-court swing, but pulled out of Roland Garros with an arm injury. If she recovers fully, it would be a fairytale comeback for her to win Wimbledon again after being stabbed in the hand by a robber in her home in 2016.
Karolina Pliskova - 12/1: One of the best players in the world and possessing a game that seems perfectly suited to grass with her huge serve, the strangest quirk of Pliskova’s career so far has been her ordinary record at Wimbledon. She has never got past the fourth round in seven attempts, and until last year she had not gone beyond round two. That could all change this time around, with few other players capable of living with her on her day.
Angelique Kerber – 14/1: Kerber produced a string of scintillating displays to win the title last year, culminating in her 6-3, 6-3 win over Serena Williams in the final. She is a supreme athlete and counterpuncher who has the ability to seemingly retrieve anything that is fired at her, but she has not had the best of seasons and will need to find her groove quickly to defend her crown.
Johanna Konta – 14/1: Great Britain’s big hope for a home winner this year, Konta is coming off the back of a run to the semi-finals of the French Open. Her clay-court results have propelled her back up the rankings so she will be seeded at Wimbledon, and with vociferous support she will be confident of going deep at another Grand Slam.
Simona Halep – 16/1: A consistent member of the top ten in recent years, Halep prefers clay or hard courts to grass, but is such a skilful and determined player that she should never be written off. She has made it to the quarter-finals or better in three of the last five years, but is still waiting to make her first Wimbledon final.
Other Contenders - New faces have broken through to the later stages of virtually every Grand Slam over the last few years and there will be many players even outside the top 32 who fancy their chances. Youngsters who could shine this year include the prodigiously talented Amanda Anisimova, Aryna Sabalenka and Dayana Yastremska. The big-serving Donna Vekic and Madison Keys could threaten anyone, while Garbine Muguruza and Jelena Ostapenko are former Grand Slam champions who could come again and even Venus Williams will believe she could enjoy one last golden hurrah.
Among the dark horses, Anisimova’s odds of 25/1 look very tempting, but as a lower-ranked player she would most likely have to beat several of the higher seeds to win the tournament. Serena Williams will always get the most coverage, but Barty is in better form, has the variety to trouble any type of opponent and could well continue her winning streak from the French Open.
Barty to win at 6/4