A look at the five men with the best prospects to dominate the grass courts this year.
As top seed and defending champion, Djokovic should come into Wimbledon as a prohibitive favorite. He barely lost in the first half of the year, winning the Australian Open and four Masters tournaments. But after defeating nine-time champion Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to reach the French Open final, where he had a chance to complete his career Grand Slam and put himself halfway to the elusive calendar-year Grand Slam, Djokovic faltered against Stan Wawrinka, allowing the Swiss underdog to dictate play and prevent Djokovic's coronation. On talent and recent consistency, Djokovic remains a class above the rest of the field. But Djokovic has not played since losing to Wawrinka, and if his confidence was bruised by the loss in Paris, he could find himself vulnerable with his tough early draw. Djokovic opens against talented German Philipp Kohlschreiber, then could face 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt in the Australian veteran's final Wimbledon in the second round. A chance for revenge against Wawrinka could come in the semifinals.
Seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer came this close to adding to his haul here last year, losing a five-set nail-biter to Djokovic in the final. Though 33, an age at which most tennis players have traditionally been retired for years, Federer shows few signs of slowing. He won his eighth title at the Wimbledon warm-up event in Halle, Germany, a week ago, again displaying why the slick grass is the most favorable surface for his attacking-based game. His physical recovery from long matches is the one noticeable sign of aging in Federer's play, but having received a fairly kind draw through the early stages of the tournament, he will have another chance to go deep at Wimbledon if he can conserve his energy with quick wins in the opening rounds.
After ending 77 years of British waiting for a men's Wimbledon champion two years ago, Murray is set for life when it comes to his place in his country's sporting pantheon. But an uninspiring title defense last year, Murray has been resurgent over the past 12 months, showing increased comfort and clarity since beginning his work with coach Amelie Mauresmo, the 2006 Wimbledon champion on the women's side. The only player Murray has lost to since the beginning of March is Djokovic, so Murray should like his chances of doing well after being placed on the bottom half of the draw with Federer.
Though not included in the "Big 4," which includes the previous three players and Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka solidified his reputation as one of the sport's best "big match" players in the sport by winning the French Open, improving his record in major finals to 2–0. Wawrinka does not have the consistency of his peers, but his path to the later stages of the tournament lacks any obvious roadblocks. Several potentially tricky opponents loom in the quarterfinals, but by that stage Wawrinka should be again full of confidence and momentum.
With his booming serve and first-strike aggression, Raonic is something of a throwback to the Wimbledon champions of the 1990s, like Pete Sampras, who won with a flurry of aces that hardly gave their opponents a chance to have any say in the match. Raonic made his first major semifinal at Wimbledon a year ago, losing to Federer, but his steady progress against top players since should have positioned him well to make another breakthrough on the biggest stages soon. Raonic missed the French Open after minor foot surgery, but that shouldn't diminish his Wimbledon chances (Murray won Wimbledon two years ago after missing the French Open). Raonic has a tricky possible third round against flashy Australian Nick Kyrgios, but he should be able to advance through that match and into a likely quarterfinal with Wawrinka.
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