After last year’s disappointment in the men’s singles final, suffered at the hands of the increasingly iconic Roger Federer, Andy Murray will be hoping to go one better and gets his hands on the trophy when the tournament gets underway on 24th June. Fans of the British number one and world number two will hope that he is buoyed by his return to the scene of arguably his most memorable triumph, the emphatic victory over Federer in the Olympics final, which avenged his Wimbledon defeat just one month later.
This year’s men’s singles title is wide open, with the usual four suspects all able to stake a strong claim before the tournament gets underway. Murray himself, of course, has won the last singles tournament staged at Wimbledon, and fresh from a rest after missing the recent French Open will feel he is in excellent shape to pick up his second Grand Slam title. Unlike previous Wimbledons, Murray can at least enter this year’s competition safe in the knowledge that he won’t finish his career slamless, after defeating world number one Novak Djokovic in a titanic US Open final last year.
Djokovic himself will be seeded number one for this year’s Wimbledon, and will be looking to pick up the trophy for the second time, having beaten Rafael Nadal in the 2011 final. Winner of the first Grand Slam of the season in Australia, Djokovic has, despite being a past winner, never looked truly at home on the green grass of SW19, and despite being the bookmakers’ favourite to win the title, might fall a little short this time out, in the face of some strong competition.
The perennial French Open winner and two time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal will be hoping to fare considerably better than last year. Twelve months ago he was eliminated in the second round by Lukas Rosol in one of the biggest shocks in the history of the competition. Since then, Nadal suffered a long injury absence from the game, during which it was far from certain that he’d play tennis again.
However, since then the Spaniard has made a heroic return, dominating the clay court season, and winning yet another French Open, to become the first player to win a single Grand Slam title eight times. Curiously, though, due to his absence last year, Nadal will come into this year’s Wimbledon seeded five, meaning that he could face any of Murray, Djokovic or Federer before the semi-finals.
Federer, meanwhile, has yet to win a tournament this season, and gave a very moderate display at Roland Garros, when eliminated by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. But the Swiss has looked instantly back at home on grass at Halle, beating one hapless opponent by the unlikely scoreline of 6-0, 6-0. And no-one knows better how to win at the All-England Club than the seventeen times Grand Slam champion, with Federer holding the record jointly with Pete Sampras of seven Wimbledon titles.
This is certainly one of the most difficult Wimbledon titles to predict in recent seasons, and each of the four favourites can go into the tournament with considerable hope of picking up the trophy. Aside from these four, Tsonga is a big server and dangerous player on grass, the Argentine Juan Martin del Potro will be a name all wish to avoid in the draw, Tomas Berdych is another big server who has made the final before, and Milos Raonic will hope to make a big breakthrough on a fast surface that suits his game.
The men’s singles trophy itself is one of the most historic and recognisable in the world of sport, being a silver gilt cup, with a pointed lid that somewhat resembles a pineapple. It is 18½ inches in size and has a diameter of 7½ inches. The trophy features a pair of matching handles on either side, and is raised from the ground on a plinth-like structure. Although silver in metallic terms, the trophy itself is golden in colour and is decorated with a variety of attractive detail, including borders, floral work and oval moldings.
Unfortunately, for Federer et al, the winner of the men’s singles at Wimbledon never gets their hands on the trophy for very long. Since, 1949, the champion at Wimbledon has instead been awarded a miniature replica of the trophy, while the genuine article remains under lock and key in the all-England club. Thus, the winner only has a short while to examine his name on the trophy, and the rather quaint, charming (and inaccurate) inscription: “The All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Champion of the World.”
Andy Murray will be hoping that it’s his name which is engraved into the trophy for the first time after the men’s singles final on 6th July, and should he achieve this, he will know that it is a magnificent accomplishment in this era of all-time tennis greats.