Wimbledon, the third Grand Slam tournament of the year, begins this coming Monday. Serena Williams, the defending women’s champion, will not play due her pregnancy. Andy Murray, the defending men’s champion, is in a midyear collapse.
This means new contenders could emerge. Here, a few players who have been in great form ahead of the tournament.
Once hailed as the future of Australian tennis, 21 years old Barty has reached four Grand Slam doubles finals with fellow Australian Casey Dellacqua —one at this year’s French Open. In singles, Barty has had a superb 2017, breaking into the top 100 for the first time and winning her first W.T.A. title in Malaysia. Her game, an all-court attack with a variety of skills, is well suited to grass. She has a powerful forehand and two-handed backhand, as well as a dangerous backhand chip that skids and stays low on grass. Barty serves surprisingly well for her short height, hitting her spots with power, spin and precision.
The 27-year-old Latvian won five close matches to capture the grass-court tournament in Majorca last Sunday. The day after the tournament, she was ranked No. 19 in the world. She has a strong backcourt game, which involves taking the ball early and changing direction with an aggressive unpredictability. Her signature is her backhand down the line. On grass, Sevastova can attack the net, use the drop shot and disrupt her opponent’s rhythm with off-speed slices. She comes up with creative shots when in trouble, a skill that is most rewarded on grass courts, where the unpredictable bounces call for greater imagination.
A 21-year-old from Estonia, she has had a strong European season. She has climbed into the top 40 of the world rankings and earned a reputation as a superb competitor on all surfaces. Kontaveit, who is 5-9, hits with power from both sides, but her potent forehand is her favorite shot. She plays aggressive, first-strike tennis, looking to gain control of the point in the first two shots, but she can temper her power when she needs to play longer points.
Cilic’s play level has been rising in the past month, making him a threat to break through the field and capture his second Grand Slam title. He surprised the tennis world with his United States Open win in 2014, when he served Roger Federer off the court in a spectacular display in the semifinals. This month, he reached the quarterfinals on the clay of Roland Garros. Aged 28, he served thunderbolts all week and roamed the grass courts with a confident, bristling intensity.
Müller, 34 and left-handed, has made a sterling run before Wimbledon. He mixes power, spin and location in his effortless delivery, and he has a solid ground game, hunting for a short ball to attack the net. Müller often uses his slice backhand as an approach shot, keeping the ball low as he rushes forward. Muller is the consummate journeyman, holding steady in the rankings (from 26th to 28th since mid-January). But he has the experience, temperament and grass-court acumen to upset a higher seed and go deep in the draw.
Khachanov, a 21-year-old Russian, can hit an outright winner from every part of the court. Under the tutelage of the Spanish coach Galo Blanco, Khachanov has learned to temper his shotmaking and force errors rather than trying to blast winners on every point. He defeated John Isner in the French Open. He has the audacious talent of Nick Kyrgios, but a much more stable temperament on court. He could regularly contend for Grand Slam titles in years to come.
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