French Open loss will motivate Serena to give her best at Wimbledon

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Get set, go: Serena Williams (above) will be determined to do well.

Someone mentioned to me the other day that it’s been 15 years since I won Wimbledon… It’s crazy how time flies.

Looking ahead to this year’s Wimbledon, I expect a good run from Serena Williams. There’s no question that losses motivate her much more than the wins, and the second round defeat in Paris was, I would imagine, a huge wakeup call.

She now goes into the end part of June with no Grand Slam titles for 2014 – she’s not really used to that. She’s now trying to get more Grand Slam titles, to surpass Chris (Evert) and Martina (Navratilova) and she’d be pretty disappointed if she doesn’t do that.

I would imagine that she has been practicing very hard, is very focused and very motivated to do well here at Wimbledon. I wouldn’t bet against her.

As for Maria Sharapova, she’s always going to be a threat at Wimbledon, irrespective of her success on clay, because the biggest obstacle for any player is whether you’re comfortable on the grass or not. It’s a mental block and a lot of players never get over that.

For Maria, I think her Wimbledon success changed after her shoulder surgery. It’s very heavy at Wimbledon, the balls are heavier, the courts play fast and it’s very tough on your arms. I think that is a factor in her lack of success the last few years compared to the beginning of her career.

The success she’d had on clay to me is just a direct result of her training incredibly hard, her wanting it so badly. It’s so tough to not be comfortable on that surface and then to master it. Very few champions have that mindset. Sharapova is always going to be dangerous but it’s very tough to be a threat at Wimbledon after you’ve done well at the French Open.

Mentally and physically, it probably took so much out of Sharapova, I think it would be a stretch to put her as the top favourite.

It was nice to see the next tier of players stepping up and living up to the hype in Paris. It would be great to see that at Wimbledon too.

The first one I go for is Eugenie Bouchard. Unfortunately for Bouchard she’s got Serena possibly in the round of 16. But I think that she is a player who enjoys the grass and that in the future, she will be a real threat at Wimbledon.

In the men’s side, it will be interesting to see Andy Murray start as the defending champion. Fortunately for Murray he’s got a pretty nice draw in the first week that will hopefully – if he can get through some of those matches – get rid of the nerves.

I was probably as surprised as anybody when he appointed Amelie Mauresmo as his coach. Amelie has got an amazing personality – she’s very open but she’s also very calm, especially since she stopped playing.

If you ever spent any time with her, she’s got this great light about her and she’s very relaxed and I’d imagine she will bring a certain aura of calmness around the Murray camp.

For Rafael Nadal, I would always hate to bet against him but he has been given a pretty brutal draw against a lot of players who have the big, power games.

He did such a great job doing so well on the surface, winning two titles and making the final five times. But it’s similar to Sharapova, it’s so tough to come back after the French and be ready for grass in two weeks time.

I have so much admiration for him doing well on grass, but I think it will be tough for him.

Of the other Americans we can look out for besides Serena, Madison Keys has just put on a great performance in Eastbourne. She hits the ball harder than anyone on tour and if she can rein that power in, if she can get more control, she’s going to be a huge threat on this surface.

Who knows if it will be this year, but certainly in the years to come, she’s a player to keep an eye out for.

(Lindsay Davenport is an HSBC Ambassador. As the Official Banking Partner to The Championships, HSBC is helping fans get closer to Wimbledon)

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'Big Four' enter Wimbledon with points to prove

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Confident: Federer said he is at peace with his loss last year and is delighted with his form.

For a second straight year, Roger Federer comes to Wimbledon with a chance to win a record-breaking eighth title at the All England Club.

But unlike last year, when he came into the tournament as the defending champion, the Swiss has some unfortunate memories from his last match at SW19 – a shock second-round loss to Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky.

Disappointment was a natural reaction but that’s not to say the uncharacteristic defeat has left him bitter or resentful. Federer even joked about it with Stakhovsky at his final ATP Player Council meeting as president the other day and the 32-year-old admits he is feeling better ahead of this year’s tournament, which kicks off on Monday.

“I’m totally at peace. I can accept these defeats, even though they were not fun in any way. But they’re part of a player’s life,” Federer told reporters at Wimbledon on Saturday.

“I feel like I’m a contender for the tournament. I hope to utilise my fitness, the amount of matches I’ve played this year. So I’m really coming in with a much better feeling than maybe in the last year.

“This year, I feel all the options are there. Return, serve, serve and volley, come in, my backhand, everything is working to my liking. For that reason, I feel I’m a bit more relaxed mentally.”

Federer opens his campaign against Italian Paolo Lorenzi and has been drawn to potentially face good friend and fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals.

On the opposite side of the draw lies defending champion Andy Murray, who has done well to rebound from the back surgery he had last October and has clawed his way back into the world’s top-five following an impressive semi-final showing at Roland Garros.

“I think he is where he wants to be before Wimbledon, in my opinion,” said Federer of Murray.

Another player who has some demons to banish – not just at Wimbledon, but on grass in general – is world No1 Rafael Nadal.

The Spaniard, seeded No2 this fortnight, has won just two matches on grass since his final defeat to Novak Djokovic here in 2011.

Despite his continued success on clay and his unbelievable dominance on American hard courts last season, Nadal has shown great vulnerability on grass in recent years, losing in the second round in 2012 and first round in 2013.

His opening round defeat in Halle to Dustin Brown less than two weeks ago means he has now lost his last three consecutive matches on grass.

The two-time Wimbledon champion faces a tricky opener against Slovak big-hitter Martin Klizan before a potential second round with Lukas Rosol, his conqueror in 2012, and a daunting possible third round with monster server Ivo Karlovic.

“I think he (Nadal) might be slightly more vulnerable in the early rounds, but like most of the guys,” said Federer. “This new, fresh, lush grass, we’re not quite used to it. As you go deeper in the tournament, it’s easier to move, the ball bounces a bit higher, it becomes more what we’re used to. I think the early rounds are key for most of the top guys.”

Nadal is aware of his dangerous draw and has been putting in the work after taking just a few days off.

“I am practicing a lot since I arrived here (on Wednesday),” he said. “Practicing more hours than I usually do in the tournament. What’s positive is that my physical performance, especially my knee, gives me the chance to practice that much more.”

Meanwhile, top-seeded Novak Djokovic is trying to change an unwanted trend of his own. The Serb has lost four of his last five grand slam finals and has been unable to add to his tally of six majors since the 2013 Australian Open.

He says he’s looking forward to experiencing Wimbledon for the first time with his new coach Boris Becker – a man who has won at the All England Club three times and is considered a legend at the tournament – and is determined to get back to collecting majors.

“I have to keep on moving,” said Djokovic. “I have to try to improve myself not just on the court, but understand the mental aspect, what is happening in those finals, why I am not able to win a grand slam title in the last couple of years.”

On the women’s side, top-seeded Serena Williams has already been in Wimbledon for a week prepar¬ing, hoping to move past her bizarre second-round loss to Garbine Muguruza at Roland Garros – a loss she concedes she is yet to get over.

French Open champion Maria Sharapova, who could face Williams in the quarters, is looking to capture a second Wimbledon title, and a first since she triumphed here as a young teenager 10 years ago

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Murray and Djokovic placed in same half of Wimbledon draw

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Tough task: Murray could face 2013 Wimbledon finalist Djokovic in this year’s semis

Defending champion Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, the man he beat in 2013 to capture Britain’s first Wimbledon title in 77 years, yesterday landed in the same half of this year’s draw. 

Murray, who has been seeded third, could face top-seeded Djokovic in the last four while seven-time champion Federer, the fourth seed, is scheduled to renew his rivalry with world No1 Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals. 

But Nadal, the 2008 and 2010 champion, has been seeded second this year after losing in the first round in 2013 and getting knocked out in the second round 12 months earlier. 

The 28-year-old Spaniard has expressed fears about whether his brittle knees will stand up to two weeks of grasscourt tennis. 

Murray, now coached by former Wimbledon women’s champion Amelie Mauresmo, will start his defence on Monday against Belgium’s world No104, David Goffin. 

On his part, Murray backed Wimbledon’s unique seeding system after he was given a ranking rise that could aid his title defence. 

Murray was seeded third despite being ranked fifth in the world, meaning his path to the latter stages of the tournament is less daunting than it might have been. 

“To be honest I think the way they do it is correct with the seedings,” Murray said. 

“Some people might say that because my seeding’s moved up, but there are so few tournaments on grass now that there are so few points up for grabs on the surface that it is in a way a specialist surface. So I think it is relevant the way the players perform on it, in terms of the seedings and how deep guys can go in the event.” 

In the women’s section, top seed Serena Williams, a five-time winner, and Maria Sharapova, the champion in 2004, were drawn in the same quarter.

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