Wimbledon 2019 preview: Andy Murray back, Djokovic and Kerber defend titles

Andy Murray

Murray has been practising at Wimbledon this week with new doubles partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert

Britain’s two-time singles champion Andy Murray will make a welcome return to Wimbledon in the doubles after missing last year’s Championships with a career-threatening hip injury.

The Scot said in January he thought he might have to retire after this year’s tournament at the All England Club.

But the 32-year-old is back playing pain-free after having his hip resurfaced five months ago.

The former world number one hopes to play in the men’s and mixed doubles.

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The tournament begins at the All England Club on Monday and you can follow comprehensive coverage across TV, radio, online and the mobile app.

Serbia’s defending champion Novak Djokovic is considered the player to beat in the men’s singles and starts the defence of his title when he opens up play on Centre Court against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber at 13:00 BST on Monday.

The women’s singles – won last year by Germany’s Angelique Kerber, who starts on Centre at 13:00 BST on Tuesday – is expected to be another wide-open contest.



  • Murrays could meet in third round – full draw details
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Konta leads British hopes

Johanna Konta is considered the Briton with the best shot of going far in the singles, having reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2017 and coming into the tournament on the back of a shock run to the Roland Garros last four.

That success on the clay – previously considered Konta’s weakest surface – led former British number one Jo Durie to warn the 28-year-old’s rivals to “watch out” at SW19.

Her form on the grass has not yet matched her clay season, however. She lost to former Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko in the second round at Birmingham, then went out to Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in the third round at Eastbourne.

Kyle Edmund, who replaced Murray as the British number one last year, is the only home man to be seeded, but the 30th seed has struggled for form and fitness in recent months.

Going into the grass season, he had only won two matches from the end of March and retired from his French Open second-round match with a knee injury.

The 24-year-old’s comeback ended in a straight-set loss to Greek top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas at Queen’s, before he took a wildcard at Eastbourne where he beat compatriots Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans before losing to American Taylor Fritz in the semi-finals.

Norrie and Evans, ranked 49th and 65th, also qualified directly for the draw, while Jay Clarke, James Ward and teenager Paul Jubb have been given wildcards.

Heather Watson, now ranked outside the top 100 and an ever-present in the main draw since 2010, Harriet Dart and Katie Swan have also been given wildcards.

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Old guard still lead the way

Despite all being aged in their 30s, the ‘big three’ of Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal continue to dominate the men’s singles, having won the past 10 Grand Slam titles between them.

Top seed Djokovic, 32, saw his bid to hold all four major titles at the same time derailed by Austria’s Dominic Thiem in the French Open semi-finals, yet remains the favourite to win Wimbledon as he looks for a 16th Grand Slam triumph.

Federer, who turns 38 in August, is bidding to claim a record-extending ninth Wimbledon title for his 21st Grand Slam – a tally which has also never been bettered by any other man.

Nadal, 33, has 18 Grand Slams after winning his 12th Roland Garros title last month.

Between them, the trio have won 53 of the past 64 majors, stretching back to Federer’s maiden Wimbledon triumph in 2003.

“We pushed each other to greater heights, to improve maybe Rafa’s grass, Novak’s hard courts, my clay,” Federer said.

“I think we definitely became better because of one another.”


Rafael Nadal has closed to within two of Roger Federer in the tally of men’s Grand Slam singles titles

Federer, who plays South African debutant Lloyd Harris in the first round, has been seeded second and will start in the opposite side of the draw to Djokovic.

That led to criticism from world number two Nadal, who is seeded third under Wimbledon’s grass-court formula and projected to meet Federer in the semi-finals.

The All England Club’s system means South African world number eight Kevin Anderson, who lost to Djokovic in last year’s final, is seeded fourth.

But the big-serving 33-year-old only returned to the tour at Queen’s last week after missing three months with an elbow injury.

Croatia’s 13th seed Marin Cilic, a beaten finalist in 2017, and American ninth seed John Isner, who lost to Anderson in last year’s epic six-and-a-half-hour semi-final, are also hoping to be among the established players making a run.

Greek seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, 20, is expected to lead the charge of the young guns aiming to topple the old guard, while Italian Matteo Berrettini and Canadian youngster Felix-Auger Aliassime could also make their mark.


Barty and Osaka head a wide-open women’s draw

In contrast to the men’s, the women’s game has been highly unpredictable in recent years with nine different winners at the past 10 majors.

Japan’s Naomi Osaka is the only player to have triumphed twice since the start of 2017, although the US Open and Australian Open champion struggled to cope under the spotlight of being the top seed at the French Open, saying she suffered headaches from the “stress” before going out in the third round.

“I don’t think there was anything that could have prepared me for that, especially since I’m kind of an over-thinker,” Osaka, 21, said.

“I think it’s better for me now to be number two here.”

Osaka’s place at the top of the world rankings has been taken by Australian Ashleigh Barty, who won her maiden major at the French Open – five years after quitting the sport to play professional cricket.

Barty, 23, says having the top seeding has not changed her preparations for the Championships.

“There’s more attention, there’s more of that outside noise. But what we’re trying to do on the court hasn’t changed much,” she said.

“The only pressure that I put on myself is making sure I do everything correctly.”

Seven-time champion Serena Williams has been tipped to win by another American great Chris Evert as she bids again for her first major title since giving birth in September 2017.

One more triumph would see the 11th seed, who has struggled with a knee injury, equal Australian Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Slam singles titles.

“I haven’t had enough match play but I saw some good doctors in Paris and I’m feeling better,” Williams said.

Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova, who warmed up by winning the Eastbourne title, has been tipped by Martina Navratilova to finally make her breakthrough at the Grand Slams and win her first major at Wimbledon.

Sixth seed Petra Kvitova, another Czech, has been struggling with an arm injury but hopes to be fit enough to mount a challenge for a third title, while Kerber – who lost to Pliskova in the Eastbourne final – is also expected to figure.


How can I follow the Championships?

Viewers in the UK can watch the best action on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and BBC Red Button, while there are also up to 18 courts to choose from through Connected TVs, the BBC Sport website and app, with every match live in HD for the first time.

BBC Radio 5 Live will also be at the heart of the action, with live commentary and expert analysis every day of the championship.

Today at Wimbledon on BBC Two each night takes an in-depth look at the day’s best matches and biggest talking points.

And you can stay up to date with all the latest news and go behind the scenes via BBC Sport’s social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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