The grass court season concludes at Wimbledon, and with just three weeks of tournament preparation on offer for ATP players, form is a cherished commodity. Here is a look at players in, and out of form heading into the third Grand Slam of the season.
5: Richard Gasquet
Twice a Wimbledon semifinalist and 19-9 on the season, Gasquet is playing great on grass, having reached consecutive semifinals in Halle and Eastbourne, two tournaments where he earned quality wins. With the beatable Tomas Berdych and Dominic Thiem in his path, Gasquet has a great shot to reach the quarterfinals at 31 years old.
4: Daniil Medvedev
A dark horse against a struggling Stan Wawrinka in round 1, Medvedev after posting a 9-3 grass court record this season. The Russian has a game built for grass and a fantastic record on the surface at just 21. Last year he went 9-3 on grass as well. This young gun is hoping to be the next big thing in Russian tennis.
3: Marin Cilic
A three-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist (for the past three seasons), Cilic has an outside shot of winning Grand Slam #2 in London. The Croatian reached the final in Queen’s going 6-2 on grass, and he’s a great player on the surface, with a 20-8 record over the past three seasons. Look for Cilic to defeat Kei Nishikori and most likely Rafael Nadal before getting a shot at the final against probable opponent Andy Murray, the struggling defending champion.
2: Feliciano Lopez
The 35 year old three-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist has more wins on grass this season (9) than he acquired in his last two seasons on the surface. Gael Monfils and Novak Djokovic are on his path in the draw, but his serve and volley game can catch opponents napping, and if he’s clicking on a fast surface, even higher ranked rivals need to watch out for this wily veteran.
1: Alexander Zverev
Despite crashing out at the French Open, and again coming up short of making the second week of a slam, Zverev recovered from that and reached the final in Halle. The 20 year old is 12-4 on grass his last two seasons and with Jack Sock and Milos Raonic in his path before running into Roger Federer, Zverev once again has a very real chance at reaching the second week and then being a threat to the legends of the game. Zverev has the game, but his mindset will be key, he has to believe himself to translate his ATP success to the slams.
5: Kei Nishikori
Nishikori has never been beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon and he’ll have to fight to make that stage again as he was injured in Halle and has gotten minimal preparation for the Wimbledon. Nishikori has been a bit of a pedestrian player at times this season, and doesn’t appear to be a threat to the top players, with his health again in question, he’ll be an afterthought this slam.
4: Milos Raonic
Raonic lost his match at Queen’s and he’s another player with health concerns right now. The defending finalist has the serve and volley game for grass, but needs to watch out for Nicolas Mahut and also the in-form Alexander Zverev, who I have defeating him to start the second week.
3: Stan Wawrinka
Wawrinka is a terrible 1-3 on grass the past two years and although he only needs Wimbledon to complete the career slam, he’s more likely to lose to Medvedev in round 1 than win the tournament. The world #3 was fantastic on clay recently, but he shouldn’t be considered a serious contender at SW19 this year given his long groundstrokes are ill suited for grass.
2: Dominic Thiem
Despite a 35-15 record on the season, Thiem has looked hungover on grass, as he crashed out in both Halle and Turkey early on as a high seed in both tournaments. Thiem has never been beyond round 2 at Wimbledon and I have Vasek Pospisil upsetting him in the opening round, resulting in yet another forgettable outing in London.
1: Andy Murray
Murray hasn’t lost more than one match a year on grass since 2012, and the defending champion has lifted the trophy twice, and reached a final at SW19. With the pressure of a nation on him though, and with his ATP form again poor, Murray will either rise up and find form or go out before the final, a result that would imperil his world #1 ranking. I’m still not convinced he won’t win the title, but the odds aren’t great right now.