It is fitting of course that only Wimbledon, so steeped is it in tradition, would remain the only major of the pandemic-hit 2020 season not to reschedule or reformat itself, instead opting to cancel altogether for the first time since World War II.
Which makes this year’s tournament all the more special and surreal, a proper time bubble where things have sat still since summer 2019. Simona Halep will sadly not be defending her sublime title through injury. Novak however is not only here, but the clear favourite. I predict an easier ride this time for the Serb who so memorably (and now, so typically) clawed his way to another title surviving the usually insurmountable obstacle of two match points for Roger Federer, on grass and on his own serve.
Nothing can keep ATT away from SW19, so for the two if you interested, i’ll be sharing my insights from Centre Court this week in what will be my 14th year visiting The Championships since 2007. With the pandemic far from finished and subsequent social distancing and reduced capacity, the whole experience promises to be quite unlike anything before.
But what exactly will this fortnight bring? Is it a dead cert that Djokovic will prevail? In previous years, even given his stellar success here, I wouldn’t be so sure, but this is an enhanced Serbinator right now, fatigue will be the only thing that stops him, and that is hardly an issue with this man. So Novak will prevail in the men’s, you have to look again to Tsitsipas, Zverev and Medvedev more due to their youth, form and seeding rather than their love for grass. Surely Berretini is worth a punt as well. Roger and Andy need only to enjoy what must be their final Championships before age and injury silence these legends for good.
Can Serena clinch that elusive record-breaking major here? I’m tempted to say yes but – like Federer – Williams is finally showing she is human and looks her 40 years, there are simply too many stronger, fitter and crucially fearless players in the top 50 of this generation that can challenge Serena no problem. Which leaves us with something of a blank slate again. I would like to see Kvitova triumph of course, and am ready to be corrected by the recent form of Eastbourne champ Ostapenko, who I had so confidently and perhaps prematurely resigned to the all-too-common washed up champions of the women’s game these last 20 years.
Whatever happens, i’m just so glad that the greatest tennis tournament in the world is back.