Wimbledon: Talking points as Andy Murray competes for unlikely grand slam title

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Andy Murray is back in the doubles, while Ashleigh Barty is looking for back-to-back grand-slam titles.

Here, Press Association Sport picks out five talking points ahead of Wimbledon.

Changing of the guard overdue

Since Lleyton Hewitt’s win in 2002, the subsequent 16 men’s singles titles have been won by either Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray, and it is not a stranglehold which looks likely to end this year.

Murray may be missing but the ‘big three’ remain the ones to beat. The younger generation of Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Denis Shapovalov, Karen Khachanov, and Daniil Medvedev need to raise their game or watch another familiar face lift the trophy on July 14.

Murray’s back, but not as we know him

When Murray broke down in tears at the Australian Open, fearing his career was close to being ended through injury, the chances of seeing the two-time Wimbledon champion back at the All England Club looked remote to say the least.

But five months and one hip operation later – and with a bit of help from an as-yet-to-be-confirmed partner – Murray will be competing in the doubles as he continues his tentative return to action. The spotlight will be on the men’s doubles like never before, especially if the draw throws up a meeting with brother Jamie.

Raising the Bar

Since the turn of the century only Serena Williams (twice) has doubled up by winning the French Open women’s singles title and then triumphing at Wimbledon.

Barty was something of a surprise winner at Roland Garros, claiming her first grand-slam crown, yet the Australian is widely considered to have a game more suited to grass than the clay of Paris. Barty, 23, actually quit tennis to play cricket in 2014 but has rediscovered her love for the sport and will be a major threat.

Home hopes for Konta

With Kyle Edmund struggling for form and fitness, Britain’s best hopes of singles success probably lie with Johanna Konta, whose sparkling clay-court season culminated in her run to the semi-finals in Paris.

The former world number four has rediscovered her chief weapons, an aggressive service game and devastating hard hitting, which went awry following her run to the last four at Wimbledon in 2017.

Marathon man Is-no more

After South African Kevin Anderson won the second-longest match in Wimbledon history, a six-and-a-half hour semi-final marathon against American John Isner with a final set which lasted almost three hours, it prompted the All England Club to change the rules. From this year, a fifth-set tie-break will be played should the score reach 12-12. It may come as a relief to Isner, who was also involved in the longest match when he beat France’s Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set of their first-round match in 2010.

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Wimbledon signs first-ever Official Smartphone partner

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OPPO is Wimbledon's first Official Smartphone Partner

Wimbledon has signed their first Official Smartphone partnership.

OPPO — a leading global smartphone brand — has been announced as the pioneering brand to establish a unique partnership with the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC). Partnering with one of the world’s most renowned sporting events amplifies OPPO’s global expansion, which has recently seen the company join forces with several global partners, as well as establishing its presence in the Middle East with a new regional hub in the UAE.

With an established strong pedigree of partnerships in global sports, including working with FC Barcelona and the International Cricket Council (ICC) as the official mobile phone partner, the new five-year relationship with AELTC marks OPPO’s first move into tennis.

Speaking on the partnership, Alen Wu, OPPO Global Vice President, President of Overseas Business, said: “As a company we are committed to pushing boundaries and redefining standards when it comes to smartphones. In this sense, we are well-aligned with Wimbledon and its motto of ‘In Pursuit of Greatness’, which emphasizes our pursuit of delivering an exceptional smartphone experience to users around the world, as demonstrated by our latest Reno series, and by our earlier groundbreaking Find X. We are thrilled to be the first Official Smartphone Partner and first-ever Asian partner of The Championships, Wimbledon, and consider this to be a solid stepping stone on the pathway of our global expansion.”

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Novak Djokovic beats Kevin Anderson in straight sets to clinch fourth Wimbledon crown

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Novak Djokovic has got his hands on the Wimbledon Trophy once again.

Novak Djokovic is a grand slam winner once again after defeating a weary Kevin Anderson to claim his fourth Wimbledon title.

The Serbian has been fighting for two years to restore health, form and confidence after the heights of making it four slam titles in a row at the French Open in 2016.

His two-day semi-final victory over Rafael Nadal proved he was back to his best and he fought off a comeback from Anderson to win 6-2 6-2 7-6 (7/3), earning him a 13th grand slam trophy.

Anderson, in his first Wimbledon final, had five set points in the third set but could not take any of them.

And Djokovic wrapped up victory after two hours and 19 minutes, pointing his finger at the sky before taking his now customary bite of the Centre Court grass.

Anderson did not even schedule a practice session on Saturday as he battled to recover from the effects of his epic semi-final against John Isner, where he finally overcame the giant American after six hours and 36 minutes.

That came on the back of the four hours and 14 minutes he played to defeat Roger Federer in the match of his life in the quarter-finals, so it seemed inevitable he would not be at his peak.

Djokovic also had to focus on rest and recuperation following his stunning match against Nadal, more than two hours of which were played on Saturday after the 11pm curfew cut them off on Friday night.

Djokovic takes in the applause following his win.

Djokovic takes in the applause following his win.

But he made the perfect start, reading the Anderson serve immediately and breaking in the opening game when the South African double-faulted.

The crowd, which included Prime Minister Theresa May and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge watching from the Royal Box, were desperate to see Anderson at least make a match of it.

But his physical troubles were evident when he called the trainer at the end of the first set for massage on his right arm, which has done more than its fair share of serving this fortnight.

After last year’s final, when Marin Cilic was heavily beaten by Roger Federer and his own blistered foot, this was shaping up to be another underwhelming occasion, but Anderson was determined not to go down meekly.

The 32-year-old has worked tirelessly to improve his game and has seen the rewards over the last two years, including a first slam final at the US Open last summer and a place in the top 10.

He could not prevent the second set slipping away but Djokovic was no longer having an easy time of it and Anderson ensured he kept his nose in front early in the third set.

Djokovic was increasingly on the back foot in rallies, and he double-faulted twice to cough up two set points at 4-5 – only to hold his nerve and save them both.

On the first, the crowd roared prematurely when they thought he had missed a forehand, prompting the Serbian to put his finger to his lips and then pump his fist in their direction when he finally held.

It was reminiscent of his third-round win over Kyle Edmund, but this time the crowd reaction was less about bias towards his opponent than in favour of a great contest.

Anderson was certainly doing his best to create that, but three more set points came and went in the next Djokovic service game and they headed into a tie-break, where the Serbian quickly stamped his foot down and did not yield.

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