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Wimbledon Men’s update

Wow! What a Wimbledon week this has been and it’s not quite over yet. Seeds of both sexes slipping and sliding away, in more ways than one, and the premature exit of two of the all-time greats in men’s tennis, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Punters who latched on to world number one, Novak Djokovic, and our own Andy Murray at the start of the fortnight will be rubbing their hands with glee and anticipation. Djokovic, an 11/8 shot at the start, is now even money with Coral, while Murray is now 5/4 from an opening 5/2.

But the shock of losing both Nadal and Federer so early in the tournament should also, of course, serve as a warning to Djokovic and Murray supporters than nothing can be taken for granted.

Nadal was surely hindered more than he admitted by his old keen injury when beaten in straight sets by 135-ranked Belgian Steve Darcis, but Federer looked a shadow of his former self and appeared to have no excuses when taken out by Ukranian Sergiy Stakhovski (ranked 116).

If two journeymen from outside the top 100 can oust players of such calibre, then surely even Djokovic and Murray can’t be entirely safe from further major surprises.

In truth, the Serb’s chances of winning Wimbledon for the second time are not a great deal better with the demise of two of the Big Four because he wouldn’t have had to meet either of them until the final and probably only then if one of them beat Murray in the semi-final.

The path does now, however, seem clear for Murray to march on to a showdown with Djokovic on Sunday week, although the Scot is very sensibly in “one-game-at-a-time” mode and has warned his army of fans not to get ahead of themselves either.

With Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, one of an alarming number of Wimbledon withdrawals through injury this week, also out, the highest ranked player in Murray’s half of the draw is 15th seed Nicolas Almagro, a big-hitting Spaniard who slugs it out with 6’8” danger-man Pole Jerry Janowicz on Centre Court today before Murray plays Tommy Robredo, also from Spain, some time this evening.

The nation is now expecting, rather than hoping, that Murray goes all the way, which brings additional pressure of course, but the player himself seems to be going about his business in a calm and professional manner and is certainly not underestimating the gutsy Robredo, even though Coral rate him a 7/2 on chance to progress in straight sets.

Written by Jon Freeman