While it would be nice to consider more than two players for the 2013 Wimbledon title (Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic obviously), the recent tournament wins by Roger Federer and Andy Murray don’t really change the current status quo, although it would be a lot more surprising to see Federer go all the way and not Murray if it came down to those two.
A lot depends on the draw, which hasn’t been made. Djokvovic will most likely enter the tournament as the number one seed, with Murray following, despite not playing in the Roland Garros, only recently returning to action at the Queen’s tournament, beating Marin Cilic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga en route to his third title of the season.
Roger Federer? The way he lost to Tsonga at the French Open cast another huge doubt regarding his future dominance and ability to reach the semifinals, let alone a grand slam title situation, at his current form. However, his first tournament win of the season in Germany, making two consecutive comebacks against both Tommy Haas and Mikhail Youzhny might build up the hopes once again.
There are those who will say that Federer wasn’t a very strong favorite entering the 2012 competition, but ended up stunning Novak Djokovic in the semifinal, winning four sets, before doing the same to Andy Murray despite dropping the first.
But 2012 was very different. Federer had four tournament wins heading into Wimbledon, and reached the semifinal of the French Open. That one as well ended in three sets, losing to Novak Djokovic, and missing out on the Halle title didn’t stop him from looking sublime on grass during June and July.
Abraham Lincoln once said You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool ALL of the people ALL of the time. Federer isn’t fooling anyone, but his form in 2013 can’t be neglected just because we’re playing on grass.
Wimbledon in 2013 isn’t the same court that favored big servers so much in the past. It’s slower, which means players like Nadal and Djokovic can remain on the baseline and dominate from there. Hardly anyone is required to develop the famous serve & volley technique, and it’s not like Federer’s serve hasn’t seen better days than it has this season.
And what about Murray? His career trajectory puts him in the same spot almost every season – a strong Australian Open, a Masters win in the USA and a very quiet clay season. This time an injury kept him off the red turf in Paris, but he returned to play in Queen’s, needing three sets in both the semifinal against Tsonga and the final against Cilic to claim the title for the third time in five years, and put himself on the usual course at Wimbledon.
He actually won a tournament on the Wimbledon grass in 2012; a gold medal in the Olympic games, setting himself up for the first Grand Slam tournament trophy of his career in another Queen’s, that one in New York.
However, there hasn’t been any change in his status on the hierarchy of global tennis. He was already a better player on most days than Roger Federer last season. The problem has always been Djokovic and Nadal. The presence of the Spaniard, playing once again like the knee injuries were never here, put a serious dent in Murray’s chances of winning Wimbledon for the first time in his life.
But when compared to Federer? It doesn’t seem like Roger has the stamina and endurance to keep up the ability he needs to win this tournament for the entire two weeks, not to mention in a match that goes a bit awry for him. After winning it for seven times, there’s a good chance he’ll never put a serious challenge for the title at the All England’s club ever again.