June 22nd, 2012
03:47 PM ET

Can champions Djokovic and Kvitova emulate Wimbledon greats?

First-time Wimbledon winners Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova will bid to retain their titles in the next fortnight.
First-time Wimbledon winners Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova will bid to retain their titles in the next fortnight.

Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova defend their titles when the 126th edition of Wimbledon begins next week, but the odds are against both of them lifting the trophies for the second year in a row.

Such is the competitive nature of modern tennis, this feat was last achieved back in 1986 when Boris Becker and Martina Navratilova completed the double double.

Legend Navratilova, such an influence on Kvitova's career, also enjoyed successive title successes with Bjorn Borg in 1978 and 1979.

Djokovic and Kvitova were deservedly named 2011 ITF world champions in recognition of their Wimbledon triumphs and other outstanding results, but backing that up in 2012 has proved more difficult.

Kvitova was expected to assume the No. 1 ranking but has been stopped in her tracks by Maria Sharapova in the semifinals of the Australian and French Opens, while her form on the WTA Tour has been patchy.

Kvitova: Tennis without pressure would be boring

A first-round loss in the Eastbourne grass-court warmup tournament will hardly have helped the Czech's confidence.

Sharapova's French Open success has seen her back on top of the rankings and seedings for Wimbledon, and the Russian's chances of a first title at SW19 since her breakthrough as a 17-year-old in 2004 can never have been stronger.

She lost to Kvitova in last year's final, but has got stronger since then after ending her longterm shoulder problems.

Expect Australian Open champion and second seed Victoria Azarenka to be a factor, while Polish third seed Agnieszka Radwanska has previously won the Eastbourne title to show her credentials.

But picking the women's singles winner at a grand slam has become akin to buying a lottery ticket. The last six have been won by different players.

The smart and, strange to say, sentimental money may well be on Serena Williams, who has battled a life-threatening illness to become a force again despite occasional extraordinary lapses - such as her first-round exit at the French Open in late May.

For the 30-year it would be a fifth Wimbledon title and 14th grand slam crown, while elder sister Venus - already a five-time champion in London but now hampered by an autoimmune disease - is a dangerous unseeded floater in the draw.

She could meet Radwanska in the second round, while Serena has Kvitova in her sights in the last eight.

Serena and Venus have twice the incentive to focus. They are intent on pairing up to win a third Olympic gold medal in doubles at the 2012 London Games, with Wimbledon's grass courts again pressed into action to host the tournament.

Djokovic, meanwhile, was always going to struggle to repeat his 2012 heroics, but he has won a fifth grand slam title at the Australian Open and was only stopped by Rafael Nadal in the final in his bid to complete the "grand slam" at the French Open.

Nadal will offer a huge hurdle to the Serbian's hopes of a successful Wimbledon title defense, and - like Serena Williams - six-time winner Roger Federer will feel he has one more visit to the famous Champions' Ball.

Friday's draw left Federer set to play Djokovic in the semifinals, avoiding Nadal, which will be a relief to the Swiss maestro on recent form.

Unlike the women's singles, where it's possible to make the case for about a dozen players, it's difficult to see past these three, who have won 28 out of the last 29 grand slams between them.

Home hopes rest with fourth seed Andy Murray, who has reached the semifinals at Wimbledon three years in a row. Maybe, just maybe, coach Ivan Lendl's magic will rub off on him.

But remember, eight-time grand slam champion Lendl never won Wimbledon, losing in two finals, so it's hardly a good omen.

Murray's best chance of glory at Wimbledon may well come at the Olympics, where the formbook often goes out of the window in the singles competition.

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Filed under:  Tennis
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. M H Deckert

    Why this arrogant dismissal of Djokovic's chances? Federer has NOT been playing up to par recently and has the disadvantage of carrying 4-5 years of extra age on top of his two main rivals (which in today's tennis is not to be dismissed lightly) – Nadal is NOT God, and if he won ONE of the last four Grand Slams what makes you think he will automatically win over the guy who womn the other three...? Djokovic repeated his Australian Open win – why can't you give him the benefit of the doubt and at least assume that he is in with a fighting CHANCE of doing the same at Wimbledon?

    June 23, 2012 at 12:20 am | Reply
  2. Jacob Liu

    He can win the champion

    June 23, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Reply
  3. Niko

    Djokovic will win Wimbledon again this year. You will see

    June 27, 2012 at 10:39 am | Reply
  4. Mark Biram

    djokovic looking very strong to me, see him as the favourite personally. a player of great mental strength and quality. maybe not quite at the level of federer in his peak but then a) who is? and b) not likely to worry djokovic now as federer's peak has long gone.

    in the womens, sharapova looks quite the force again. her resolve is really impressive, many would have just settled on 3 grand slams and disappeared after her injuries, but she's back at the top. so respect due. i'll go for her, kvitova is v good though, and there are numerous potential winners, unlike in the mens.

    June 27, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Reply
  5. Roshan

    True, Federer has not been top notch during the past few months but at Wimbledon he peaks – most often although like all ageing champions of the past, here he might be vulnerable against someone like Tsonga who by the way is surely as good a bet as Murray. Real pity is that Fed is not willing to come to the net more frequently as he should have done on a number of occasions against Djokovic in Paris.
    But my biggest laugh was when some experts commented, after Kvitova had won last year, that Sharapova will be left behind by the power games of the Kvitova's and Azarenka's(I laughed then too). I think today's experts are very short sighted and do get 'over-excited' by the new – blame it on the "instant gratification trend".
    Federer and Sharapova will win.

    June 28, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Reply
  6. ger

    Roger the greatest!

    Will gauge Djoker once he becomes a father & 30 years of age. But now, he is light years away from the great FedEx/ Maestro... it is an insult to Roger for this comparison!

    July 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  7. Richard

    It will be a Andy Murray vs Novak Djokovic final in Tennis at the London
    Olympics 2012


    July 30, 2012 at 10:49 am | Reply

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