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Wimbledon Championships: let the action begin

HOME BOY: Sir Andy Murray

TENNIS’ MOST most prestigious Grand Slam, The Wimbledon Championships, start on Monday, July 3. After surprise results at the recent French Open, the action at world famous SW19 promises to be as though provoking.

Unseeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko won the women’s singles in Paris, beating world number two and favourite Simona Halep 4-6 6-4 6-3.

Aged 20 and winning her first Grand Slam title in her career, Ostapenko moved from 47th to 14th in the women’s rankings. She made history as the first unseeded champion at Roland Garros since Margaret Scriven in 1933 and, the first Latvian player to win a Grand Slam title.

On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal won his 10th French Open victory winning 6-2 6-3 6-1 against Stan Wawrinka from Switzerland.

Nadal secured his ‘La Decima’ winning ten consecutive titles making him the most successful player on the clay surface in the Open Era.
The Spaniard is one of the game’s most successful players of all time winning 14 Grand Slam titles, overtaking Pete Sampras.

Nadal admitted his feelings as “impossible to describe” in post-match interviews.

The early summer tennis tournaments represent the start of the grass season, where players can start their preparations for the Wimbledon Championships.

World number one and defending Wimbledon singles champion Andy Murray has been named as the top men’s seed ahead of the ailing Novak Djokovic for this year’s Wimbledon.

Bookies’ favourite Roger Federer is third in the seedings, while Nadal is ranked fourth. Murray and Djokovic are struggling with form so Federer is the favourite to win his record breaking eighth title. If all goes to form, the so-called ‘Big Four’ will not meet each other until the semi-finals.

However, there are other contenders looking to end the quartet’s stranglehold. The Canadian Milos Raonic has a shot at reaching the final again after beating Roger Federer in last year’s semi-final.

Stan Wawrinka has won every major bar Wimbledon. With one of the best backhands in the game, Wawrinka has struggled on the grass though. Frenchmen Jo-Wilfried-Tsonga is seeded 12th and Gael Monfils is named the 15th seed.

FAVOURITE: Roger Federer

Women’s number one Angelique Kerber from Germany is the top ladies seed, followed by Halep and Britain’s Johanna Konta is sixth.

Six months after a career threatening hand injury, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is the 11th seed. She won her first title this year in a second comeback after beating Australian Ashleigh Barty 4-6 6-2 6-3 in the Aegon Classic in Birmingham.

Kvitova is potentially a winner come the final on July 15 as her game is suited to the grass. However, she may not be match fit after pulling out of Aegon International Eastbourne with an abdominal injury.

Other notable names to be considered include the Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova, who could overtake Angelique Kerber as world number one, and former French Open winner Garbine Murguruza, who reached the Wimbledon Finals two years ago.

The aforementioned Ostapenko is seeded 12th, while American Madison Keys is 17th, who recently reunited with her coach in the shape of three-time Grand Slam titles winner Lindsay Davenport.

There are some big names missing from the women’s tournament this summer which includes former winner Maria Sharapova.

Defending champion Serena Williams will miss the Wimbledon as she is pregnant with her first child. Williams aims to return for the Australian Open in January 2018, seeking her 24th Grand Slam Singles title which would equal Margaret Court’s record.

FRENCH CONNECTION: Jeļena Ostapenko won in Paris

Representing the Williams will be Serena’s elder sister and five-time champion, Venus, who will compete in her 20th Wimbledon this year.

She made her debut on June 28 1997, aged just 17 and ranked No.59 in the world. Venus had played her first Grand Slam tournament earlier that year when reaching the French Open second round in the same year.

Those that succeed at SW19 will certainly be in the money.

The Championships has announced equal prize money for men and women. This year’s gentlemen and ladies’ winners will receive £2.2 million each in prize money, an increase of £200k from last year.

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