In truth, the recent latest instalment of the Wimbledon Championship was something of a disappointment. This was largely due to a combination of Roger Federer’s brilliance and the various struggles of his nearest rivals, which enabled the Swiss maestro to romp to a record-breaking 8th title at SW19 and a 19th Grand Slam overall.
The tournament also flattered to deceive in terms of British representation, with a clearly unfit Andy Murray failing to progress the quarter-finals and Johanna Konta helpless in her bid to overcome the powerful Venus Williams in the semi-final of the women’s draw.
In this article, we will look back at the tournament in detail and ask what it may tell us about the remainder of the season.
Can Murray and Konta Compete at the U.S. Open?
It is hard to review any Wimbledon tournament without appraising the performance of British players, and in this respect there were certainly some positives from SW19 this year. Firstly, the constantly improving Konta became the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon semi-final in 39 years, displaying powerful ground-strokes, a metronomic serve and a steely resolve throughout. She even had break points at 4-4 in the first set against the imposing Williams, only to cede the advantage before being broken twice and overwhelmed 6-2 in the second set.
Murray experienced a slightly different Wimbledon, having entered the tournament as defending champion and with an existing hip injury. He had also struggled with illness and poor form since January, and during the early rounds at SW19 he was often seen limping between points. His physical and mental resistance finally began to waver in a topsy-turvy quarter-final against big serving American Sam Querrey, who won the final two sets 6-1 as Murray’s movement became severely impaired.
With the U.S. Open set to start in September, there is little time for both players to recover their composure and optimal levels of fitness before the next Grand Slam title tilt. Certainly Konta appears to be in better shape in the immediate aftermath of Wimbledon, with no physical issues to report and a game that is perfectly-suited to hard court gameplay. She is also in exceptional form and now favourably ranked fourth in the world, and at odds of 9/1 she represents a tempting bet to at least reach her first Slam final in the absence of Serena Williams.
The portents for Murray are less clear, with the three-time Slam winner expected to take a short break in order to recover from his hip complaint. While there is no suggestion as of yet that he will not compete at Flushing Meadows, he is likely to miss the beginning of the hard court season and may well lose his number one ranking to either Rafael Nadal or the irrepressible Federer in the coming weeks. This could lead him to lack match sharpness when he arrives for block training in Miami, which is why the Scot is only currently fourth favourite to win at 11/2.
What About the Rest of the Contenders at Flushing Meadows?
Clearly, the events at Wimbledon offer a viable form guide for what is likely to unfold at the U.S. Open in September. From the perspective of the men’s game, this explains why Federer is currently the 9/4 U.S. Open favourite, as the Swiss continued his incredible renaissance by claiming his second Grand Slam of 2017 at the tender age of 35. Not only did he win at SW19, however, but he also did so without dropping a set and while striking the ball cleaner than he ever has in an illustrious 19 year career.
While Nadal may have exited at the quarter-final stage in a thrilling, five-set match against Gilles Muller, he has also been in imperious form this season and looked good on the grass courts at SW19. He is also a former two-time U.S. Open winner who has honed an exceptional and relentless hard court game, while the Spaniard could be world number one by the time of the tournament. With the ailing Novak Djokovic also expected to miss the tournament with an elbow injury (after an unusually turbulent year), few would bet against the old guard battling it out once again.
Defending U.S. Open championship Stan Wawrinka endured a difficult Wimbledon, having being struck down by a knee injury during a shock first round defeat to Daniil Medvedev. He is another with a powerful hard court game, however, and he will be keen to defend his title as he pursues a fourth Grand Slam. If you are interested in another outside bet, you may want to back the fit again Juan Martin Del Potro (25/1), who won his first and only Slam at Flushing Meadows in historic circumstances back in 2009.
In the women’s game, Konta’s main competiton will once again be presented in the form of the tough Spaniard Garbine Muguruza. The 23-year old, who won her maiden Wimbledon title this year, now has two slams to her name and an all-court game that stirs memories of her male compatriot Rafa Nadal. She is the early, 6/1 favourite to prevail at Flushing Meadows, and it is hard to see past her in the absence of the dominant Williams sister.
Bettors may also be interested to note that defending champion and former world number one Angelique Kerber can be backed at a tempting 8/1 with some bookmakers, after an indifferent year and a disappointing Wimbledon outing. She certainly has the pedigree to challenge for the title, as the precocious 20-year old and French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko. The Latvian, who also reached the quarter-finals at SW19, is certainly a big game player who is sure to rise to the occasion and play without fear at Flushing Meadows.
The Last Word
While it may currently be hard to see beyond Federer and Muguruza as favourites for their respective U.S. Open titles, the hard courts pose a different challenge to grass and there remains plenty of time for key contenders to emerge. It may well come a little too soon for British front-runners Murray and Konta, however, as while the former struggles for fitness the latter still seems a little short of establishing herself as a regular Slam contender.