Murray faces battle to retain SW19 crown

Ben Ainslie's Round the Island Race SOS was answered by Farr 45 Rebel
Ben Ainslie's Round the Island Race SOS was answered by Farr 45 Rebel
Sue Price competing in the Portsmouth Tennis League.  Picture: Neil Marshall (171040-1)

Portsmouth have missed influential duo

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I think it could be a bit of a struggle for Andy Murray to retain his Wimbledon title this year.

He was the first British player to win the title for 77 years so the expectations coming into competition after last year’s win is quite daunting.

Last time, he had a good grass-court season by winning Queen’s, but he lost very early on his latest visit against Radek Stepanek.

His preparations have certainly been different this year after doing well at the French Open in May.

Murray’s appointment of Amelie Mauresmo as his new coach for the grass-court season was quite unexpected.

Mauresmo’s a Grand Slam champion and has won Wimbledon. She’s got a lot of experience and she’s well respected within the game.

People might think, because she’s female, it won’t work but at the end of the day it’s about hitting the ball over the net and it shouldn’t matter whether you’re male or female.

If she’s got the knowledge, she can pass that on to Andy and help him improve his game.

In the short term, it’s important that they can build a relationship and then see from there if they want to carry it on.

I can see Murray going deep into the second week, especially with the draw he’s been given, but I think Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are the favourites for the title.

Murray plays David Goffin to start with, then has a potentially tricky match against Fabio Fognini, followed by David Ferrer. Djokovic and Murray definitely have the easiest draws.

Federer won the Halle tournament yet again recently and will be confident going onto the grass.

I think three of the top five are going to get through to the second week.

But I think Djokovic will win it because he’s a great player and a great returner, which you need for grass courts.

My dark horses to do well are Milos Raonic, who is world number nine, Grigor Dimitrov, who has just won Queen’s, Kei Nishikori and Ernests Gulbis.

They are all players ranked inside the top 15 and who have a lot of pedigree on the circuit.

They all have the potential to cause problems for the top seeds and they’ve demonstrated that at various tournaments this year.

However, I think Rafa Nadal will struggle because of his injuries and the fact that the time to get ready for Wimbledon is quite short.

He may have just won his ninth French Open, but he’ll be hard pressed to win his third Wimbledon title.

The draw has not been kind to him, he’s got the toughest of the earlier rounds. If he gets through his first two games, he faces the dangerous big-server, Ivo Karlovic.

Erratic Frenchmen Gael Monfils or Richard Gasquet lie in wait in the fourth round, and then Raonic in the quarter-final, which won’t be easy.

n Chris Wilkinson is giving free coaching today at Alverstoke Lawn Tennis Club as part of the Great British Tennis Weekend.

The open day starts at 11am and continues all day. Visit altsbc.co.uk for more information.