promises to surprise again
|Master of her
domain: Defending Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova after
she defeated Lindsay Davenport in the Tokyo Pan Pacific Open in
early February. — AFP/VNA Photo
has worked around the world as a tennis coach. His appointments have included
the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, Florida, from where Andre Agassi and Pete
Sampras graduated. He has also been the coach of the Ha Noi tennis team.
Wilander & John Loizou
If you were to ask any of
the world’s best tennis players the tournament they would most like to win, I
would wager that they would say Wimbledon.
But as German great Boris
Becker, who is celebrating his first triumph 20 years ago, says not many of the
world’s modern players know how to win on grass.
And that is part of
The grand slam tournament
that predates the Australian, French and US Open is the only to be still played
as traditional lawn tennis.
It means that for the next
14 days of high summer, London will be the focus of the world of sport.
This year, Swiss player
Roger Federer is favoured to win his third title in succession.
The bookmakers are sure to
have him as favourite.
But Wimbledon, especially
since Australia’s Rod Laver won the first open tournament in the 1960s, is
always likely to surprise.
This year is unlikely to
be an exception.
Mats Wilander won one of
his three French Opens without serving a single double fault.
His purpose was to keep
the ball in play.
It is not like that on the
lightening fast grass.
The winner will need to a
have a heavy serve – Roddick has been timed at almost 250km/h over 24m –
that gives the ‘receiver’ less than half a second to react.
But the player who can
best return the thunderbolts is also in with a chance.
The best at this, if he
were playing, would have been veteran Andre Agassi and perhaps Lleyton Hewitt.
Of the women, I think that
Belgian Justine Henin-Hardenne, who has just returned from injury to win the
French Open, is the hottest of favourites despite her lowly 11th seeding.
It is a seeding that will
make life difficult for her in the last 16 but if she survives she will be very
difficult to beat.
And remember in tennis,
the best player wins regardless of the their seeding. — VNS
guide to Wimbledon
Five of the best:
The two-times champion is rightly favourite to make it three in succession. He
has the complete all-round game and the confidence to believe he can beat them
all. I will be very surprised if he does not win.
Fastest of them all around the court and a fighting heart that always puts him
in with a chance. But a lack of match play may thwart this former title holder.
If he serves at less than 200kmph it is a surprise. He has a strong baseline
game but his inability to serve and volley makes his chance of winning
Conqueror of Federer and then Hewitt in the Australian Open, he is a complete
player who at his best can beat them all. But a volatile temperament makes him
suspect. If he keeps his cool, he should be favourite.
Joachim Johansson, Tim Henman and Rafael Nadal. From the thunderous serve of
Johansson to the home-court advantage of Henman and the exuberance to
French-open winner Nadal, all are capable of upsetting the favourites.
Former champion, sound serve and complete all-round game. Hampered by heavy feet
but is quicker than before.
Title holder with a big heart and a game that is still developing. Perhaps the
pressure of being the prey will prove too much.
Has the ability to win one of the world's four grand-slam titles, but is apt to
be betrayed by her nerves. Very fit and if she can control her emotions will
threaten all in the draw.
Lost last year's final and wants to make amends. Serena has no obvious
weaknesses and seems to have recovered momentum from a family tragedy.
open winner who has recovered from injuries and although she is eleventh seed,
Justine is well among the favourites. My favourite to win.