Three-time Wimbledon singles champion Chris Evert believes Serena Williams has as good a chance as anybody else at the year’s third Major which gets underway in London on Monday.
“Grass is her best surface and with her big serve she is going to win some free points,” said Evert, who will be commentating for ESPN from Wimbledon. “It is easier for her here than on the clay and the field is completely open.”
“Also, Serena has really embraced motherhood. I am surprised that it hasn't taken the edge away a little bit. When I had my first child, I didn't want to do anything else in life. But this is Serena and she does the unimaginable. So if she is healthy and focused, she can play her way into this [tournament].”
One competitor who can challenge her is two-time winner Petra Kvitova. Eighteen months after a horrific knife attack in Prague, the Czech finally appears close to her best. She has already won five titles this year, including the grass tune-up in Eastbourne last week.
“Kvitova has had the best form on grass,” felt Evert. “Probably after she came back from that injury she has a new appreciation for the game. She is fitter than she has ever been. So, definitely one of the contenders along with Serena and [Garbine] Muguruza.”
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The men’s field promises to be equally intriguing. It’s for the first time in 12 months that the ‘Big Four’ will come together, with the fit-again Andy Murray set to join Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. While Federer remains the eternal favourite, John McEnroe picked Nadal to make a deep run, despite the Spaniard not reaching the quarterfinals since 2011.
“The only guy [as a threat] is Mischa Zverev in the third round with his serve-and-volley game. Other than that, all the way to the quarters, Nadal has got as beautiful a draw as he can on this surface. In the second week when things slow down a bit on the grass, his chances will get better.”
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Even as he hoped that Djokovic and Murray would get back to their old selves, McEnroe wasn’t sure if it would happen over the next two weeks. “Djokovic is heading in the right direction. He seems to have some of the hunger back. When he had those bad results in Miami and Indian Wells, he wasn’t physically well.”
“But Wimbledon isn’t as physically demanding as the other slams. If he can step it up and make a deep run, it wouldn’t shock me. Equally, it wouldn’t shock me if he wasn’t there yet. As for Murray, he appears to be moving well. But he has a tough draw and I don’t know if he is ready yet to play seven best of five matches.”
Outside of these, Marin Cilic, the 2017 finalist, could make an impact, McEnroe opined. “If I had to pick one guy, it would probably be Cilic... given what he has done in the last six months ever since he got to the final in Australia. And he just won Queens!”
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