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It’s been 15 remarkable years, an entire generation of tennis players, since one of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray HASN’T walked off Centre Court as the Men’s Singles Wimbledon champion.
What a world-class shutout it has been.
Put simply, nobody else has had a sniff at SW19, with this quartet of very special gladiators pushing one another to magical heights year on year.
They’re all 30 or over now, but it feels as if the game’s younger stars still can’t keep up. Once again it’s the ‘Fab Four’ who top the All England Club’s list of seeds, as well as the betting market.
Priced up between 9/4 and 6/1 by Grosvenor, it feels like tipping someone else to take their crown would be madder than a John McEnroe rant. So I won’t.
It’s selecting the last man standing that is the tricky part.
Three-time champion Djokovic (6/1) is considered the outsider, and I wouldn’t grumble at that assessment.
Winning just a solitary tournament this year (back on January 7) Djokovic has reached just one other final in seven attempts. He’s been a shadow of his usual self.
To see someone as mentally indestructible as the Serb practically throw in the towel against Dominic Thiem at the recent French Open was baffling.
Everything could instantly click back into place at Wimbledon of course, so he’s not to be written off, but the formbook suggests Djokovic is up against it.
Defending champ Andy Murray (15/4 second favourite) isn’t in a much better place.
Landing just one title out of ten this year, the Scot arrives at Wimbledon with fitness worries and a lack of practice on the grass.
The world number one has endured a stop-start season of setbacks, but he is nothing if not a fighter, so we may see him grow into the tournament. Should Murray negotiate week one, his price will shorten up big-time.
Rafa Nadal (9/2) hasn’t gone past round 4 at the All-England Club since 2011, but this is his renaissance year.
Runner-up in Australia, champion in Paris, there’s a lot of love for the leftie and plenty of good judges fancy his chances.
Grass isn’t Nadal’s best surface, but the prospect of a third straight Grand Slam Final doesn’t feel outlandish given how brilliantly he’s played so far in 2017. When his body is functioning properly, he’s a different animal.
If the draw is favorable and the Spaniard ends up in Djokovic’s half, I’d back the 31-year-old to make it to the final.
Seven-time winner Roger Federer (9/4) has to be my tip for glory though.
Just like Nadal, the Swiss superstar is enjoying a twilight season in the sun, and what a thrill it is to have him back on top of his game.
Building his entire season’s schedule around arriving at this tournament in peak pristine shape, an unprecedented eighth Wimbledon success looks more likely now than it has done since his last triumph in 2012.
It’s an exceptionally strong field.
The presence of former finalists Milos Raonic and Thomas Berdych, grass court specialists Marin Cilic and Alex Zverev, as well as stalwarts Stan Wawrinka and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, gives this year’s competition a vintage feel.
And that’s why it will take an exceptional effort, and a truly special player to prevail.
I can’t see past Federer. This is an opportunity for him to become a true tennis immortal.
Prediction: Roger Federer 9/4