Nadal and Murray can lift respective nations spirits with Wimbledon win
After a disappointing World Cup campaign from England and Spain in the football, both Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal will be focused on helping to bring back the feel-good factor for their country’s sporting fans.
Fresh from his French Open triumph, Nadal returns to one of his other old stomping grounds, as the King of Clay looks to secure a Roland Garros/Wimbledon 2014 double. He is 9/2 to secure what would be his third title and first grass Grand Slam since beating Tomas Berdych in 2010.
In the last two years, Nadal hasn’t made it past the first week at Wimbledon, though states he no longer has concerns over injuries to his knees that have hampered him in the past.
The Spaniard said: “I am able to move more freely now. I’m not scared about my knee. At last I am confident that I can play a lot of matches on grass. Before, I was not. It’s the best I have felt for two years.
“I was able to go to the beach, party with friends, and do some extra work in the gym. It meant I could come to Wimbledon last Wednesday and prepare immediately. I have practised more than usual, and that’s been very positive because it showed I was OK physically.
“On grass you don’t get weeks of preparation, so you can’t always understand how you’re playing. But I feel things are good now.”
Nadal, whose first match is against Martin Klizan of Slovakia, added: “Everybody remembers the winner, and the victories. Nobody remembers the loses.”
Standing in his way will be defending champion Murray, who is second favourite with Coral at 3/1 to retain his title. Armed with new coach Amelie Mauresmo, winner of the ladies singles in 2006, he is perfectly equipped to go all the way once again.
She is trying to instil a new sense of strategy into the Scot, by contrast an altogether different approach to his former coach Ivan Lendl, who enjoyed success pelting the ball straight into his opponent’s body.
Mauresmo’s approach to the game is more aesthetically pleasing, though simple and straightforward as was exemplified in her success in steering 2013 ladies champion Marion Bartoli to victory.
“We’ve talked about this,” Mauresmo said. “That’s what I did with both Marion and Vika, more about the game, how to play, but also how to approach it, approach the moment, approach competitions, and, with Marion last year, [how to] approach the length of a Grand Slam – which Andy knows pretty well already. I’m not going to invent any new fancy drills or anything.”
Despite this, there is still a tough field. Perhaps the toughest for years. Novak Djokovic will be wounded after his defeat to Nadal in the French Open final – the Grand Slam he wanted so much. On grass he’s a different animal, and probably the most ruthless.
At 2/1, he is the tournament favourite, and will take no prisoners. Coral are offering odds of 16/1 for Djokovic not to drop a single set in the entire competition.
Record Grand Slam champion Roger Federer, meanwhile, is 11/2. This Wimbledon fans’ favourite from Switzerland shows time and again why you cannot write him off, and then there is his compatriot Stan Wawrinka, who made a serious statement of intent by winning the Australian Open. He is 16/1 and could turn out to be possibly the best value each-way bet, if he can get his game together once more.
In the Ladies, five-time winner Serena Williams is the 7/4 favourite, though is expected to face stiff competition from French Open winner Maria Sharapova (6/1), and last year’s runner-up, Sabine Lisiki of Germany (25/1).