Ten reasons why Andy Murray can win Wimbledon
Andy Murray brought an end to years of pain as he became the first Brit to win at Queen's in 71 years last week and he now looks set to conquer the grand-daddy of all tennis tournaments, Wimbledon.
And after correctly predicting Murray's Queen's romp I now feel there are loads of great reasons why the sensational Scot can now justify his 5/2 price and join the long list of immortal Wimbledon champions.
Here are ten to get you on your way:
1. If preparation is the key to success then Murray should be untouchable - While Murray ran rings around his Queen's opponents, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer didn't even set foot on grass in a competitive environment. Queen's and Halle have become favourite warm-up venues over the years and for good reason - will the Big Two's lack of grass court match practice come back to haunt them?
2. Murray didn't win Queen's, he dominated it - Ok, the Queen's field wasn't the strongest in history but, as they say, you can only beat what is put in-front of you and Murray did that with aplomb. His serve was strong; his returning was magnificent and he even managed to throw in a bit of flair to go with his usual defensive strategy. It came as no surprise that he didn't drop a single set all tournament.
3. Queen's regularly produces Wimbledon kings - If you just look at the list of past Queen's winners who then went deep into Wimbledon you see the value in a strong warm-up tournament. Since 1999 Pete Sampras, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick and Rafa Nadal have won at Queen's, all of whom either won Wimbledon at some point, or reached multiple finals.
4. Nadal is knackered and Djokovic's form is a Djoke - Rafael Nadal, on top form, is undoubtedly the greatest player in the world however, his French Open showing hinted at several worrying issues for potential backers. He is badly showing signs of wear and tear and as such his price has drifted right out to 7/2 - unthinkable for the world number one and defending champion.
As for Djokovic, it seems to all be going wrong. He had a great chance at Roland Garros yet never even threatened and he couldn't even manage to beat German veteran Tommy Haas in a well below par Halle event. Unless he steps up and starts looking like a former Grand Slam champion then his 10/1 looks very, very short.
5. Partisan crowd should fill Murray with passion - Every year Britain waits, expectantly, for a hero to emerge and win Wimbledon. We've had Henman Hill, now it's Murray Mound, and, whatever the name, it provides home country players with that little bit extra - how else can you explain Henman reaching four Centre Court semi-finals? If Murray feeds off this then SW19 will continue to buzz...and the strawberries and cream sales will be enormous.
6. Federer is the man to beat - Roger Federer, the 11/10 favourite, may not be quite as revered anymore but he's still the most consistent and toughest player on the ATP Tour. His French Open win completed a career grand slam and he's showing no signs of stopping there as he attempts to position himself as the greatest tennis player ever. His biggest worry though has to be his poor recent form against Scotland's best export. Murray can, and has, beaten Feds with relative ease and you have to fancy him managing it again if the situation arose.
7. Big servers are no match for Murray's returns - Pete Sampras, perhaps the greatest player ever to play at Wimbledon, relied on a superb first serve taking him to each and every one of the seven titles he won. Perhaps he can consider himself lucky then that he didn't have Murray to contend with. The Scot's return of serve, especially second serves, are arguably the best around so if the likes of Tsonga, Roddick or Juan Martin del Potro think they can blast their way to success they better think twice.
8. British trait of falling at the last hurdle has passed Murray by - Whether it's the England football team losing out on penalties; Tim Henman's charge being halted by the rain or Lewis Hamilton nearly losing a world championship on the last lap it seems British sport is tainted by nerves of jelly. However, Andy Murray has so far appeared unaffected by this condition as his Queen's triumph showed. His demolition of James Blake ended when Murray served to love in the straight sets triumph and there has been nothing to suggest this wouldn't be the case should there be any need at Wimbledon.
9. French trio are destined to fail - Coming into 2009, popular opinion was that French stars Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon would all be making a real impact towards the top of the world rankings - obviously something has gone wrong. Tsonga (16/1) has failed to spark into life so far this season while Monfils (80/1) and Simon (125/1) have taken a giant step backwards - it seems the French may be a touch bleu way before the final on July 5.
10. Finally, if Murray maintains his form then who can stop him? - Forget the notion of patriotic punting, if Murray continues in the rich vein of form that has seen him win Masters Series events, move up to number three in the world and reach the French Open quarter-finals then it's hard to see who can beat him. He's in the form of his life; he's a born winner and he has his stern faced mother to answer to if he doesn't succeed - all the essential ingredients are in place for a new British sporting hero to be crowned.
Throughout Wimbledon fortnight William Hill will be offering a huge range of pre-live and in-play markets on every singles match from every court. Make sure you keep revisiting www.williamhill.com to find the most exciting betting opportunities available.