Murray facing mountain task to defend Wimbledon crown
ATP world number five and Wimbledon third seed Andy Murray (second-favourite to win again at 3/1) opens the defence of his title on June 23rd on Centre Court against Belgium’s David Goffin at 13:00 BST.
While his opponent is a relative unknown, he is ranked 104 in the standings, the 23-year-old managed to reach the third round of this tournament in 2012, and went one stage further at the French Open the same year.
While prominent Belgian tennis players tend to be female, for instance Justin Henin and Kim Clijsters, Goffin has defeated high-ranked opposition in the past. Murray, who enters his first Grand Slam competition under new coach Amelie Mauresmo, has never faced him before, but should be able to see him off in straight sets.
The Scot, 27, comes into Wimbledon on the back of an impressive run to the semi-finals at Roland Garros, although he was knocked out early at Queen’s by eventual champion Radek Stepanek in the third round.
While Murray faces a fairly straightforward draw up to the third round, he may have to go up against his Davis Cup conqueror in the last 16, Fabio Fognini, followed by David Ferrer in the quarters and then 2013 runner-up Novak Djokovic. Living legend Rafael Nadal could then await him in the final.
Recent French Open champion Nadal (9/2 title chance), who joined Pete Sampras on 14 Grand Slams, three behind Roger Federer’s record, is bidding for a hat-trick of Wimbledon wins.
The Spaniard has not enjoyed much success at SW19 the previous couple of years, though, being knocked out of the first round in 2013 to Belgian world number 135 at the time Steve Darcis. Czech Lukas Rosol defeat him one round further the tournament before, and the duo could meet at that stage once again.
Joint-record Wimbledon title champion Federer (seven along with Sampras and Englishman William Renshaw) is the 11/2 competition fourth-favourite and faces Paolo Lorenzi first, while top seed Djokovic (7/4) opens against Andrey Golubev. The Serb could then play Stepanek in the next round.
Britons James Ward (10/3 to win the match) faces 17th seed Mikhail Youhnzny, Daniel Cox plays Jeremy Chardy, while talented teenager Kyle Edmunds takes on Andreas Haider-Maurer.
In the women’s draw, top seed and five-time champion Serena Williams (6/4 favourite) is challenged by Anna Tatishvili, while French Open winner Mario Sharapova (6/1) goes head-to-head with British wildcard Samantha Murray – no relation to Andy.
Laura Robson, who is 13/2 to win Wimbledon by 2020, is ruled out of the competition, so hopes hinge on Heather Watson (200/1), who faces Alja Tomljanovic. Other Brits in action are Tara Moore, who plays Vera Zvonareva, and Naomi Broady, who takes on Timea Babos.
While defending champion Marion Bartoli has now retired, the woman she beat, Sabine Lisicki, who is yet to win a Slam, is a good shout at 25/1 for the title.