Tennis in the UK is a peculiar beast. Most of the year the majority of us Brits show little interest, but come the grass court season - once the football is over, we all become passionate tennis aficionados - perhaps for lack of anything better to do.
In this tradition, with Wimbledon only a week away, I am going to take a look at the state of tennis in 2015.
The last decade 2000-2001 was dominated by Nadal and Federer, their battles of effort and drive vs effortlessness and style leaving us emotionally drained as we watched breathtaking tennis - the Wimbledon final 2008 epitomising this.
Djokovic and to a lesser extent, Murray have joined Nadal and Federer at the top creating what some have called the greatest era in tennis history.
However in truth, this decade Federer's abilities have been on the wane, and Nadal's all action style has lead to injuries that have plagued him, all but ending his chances of reaching the top again.
Djokovic v Murray rivalry possible?
The last couple of years Djokovic has been out on his own at the top of the tree playing tennis that in truth is every bit as good as Federer in his prime, without quite the elegance of the swiss it must be said.
For Djokovic to truly reach his potential, and find his place in the history books he now needs a worthy rival. A McEnroe to his Borg, Nadal to his Federer or even a Roddick to his Federer for that matter.
These are the rivalries that push a player to show his soul, make them the stuff of legend. But who can provide this for Djokovic now that Federer and Nadal are not up to the task?
Murray is the obvious name that comes to mind. He it could be argued is the most complete all round player on the tour. He has won two majors, and is the same age as Djokovic. Their head to head record however is not kind on the Scot. Murray has undoubtedly improved in recent years however so has Djokovic.
Only time will tell if Murray can become a worthy adversary, could this Wimbledon be the stage where Murray halts the Djokovic express. Yes Stan 'the man' Wawrinka won in Paris however a win from Murray vs Djokovic at Wimbledon would be a real sign of intent.
Andy Murray in great form
Is Murray in a place to challenge? Since he won Wimbledon in 2013 Murray has had various issues that have hampered him whilst Djokovic has been building his trophy cabinets. However that finally looks to be behind him.
Since his marriage, Andy has lost just once - to Novac in Paris. In that game Murray fought well however Djokovic was on another level something that went missing in the final. It seems Murray has an ability to pull the very best out of Djokovic, something which leads us to believe that Murray can become his great rival, the issue is Murray more often than not tends to lose these big games to Novac, and for it to become a true rivalry Murray has to play a bigger role in the relationship.
This week at Queens Murray has looked in the form of his life and has tuned up perfectly it seems for Wimbledon. However I believe we have seen signs of pressure. Against Verdasco he had a brief outburst after not quite nailing one shot in a pretty high class rally.
For me it was a sign of the ridiculously high standards of play he holds. The pressure of catching up with Djokovic necessitates this, and it is something that Murray must contain if he is to achieve the levels required. It is a strange paradox that he may have to let himself relax and forget Djokovic to reach his level.
Andy Murray can win Wimbledon
That being said I truly believe that Murray can win again this year. He said himself he is playing better than in 2013. The magical shots are coming back more regularly and the 1st serve percentage is up, even his occasional high ball yips seem well under control.
On grass he has incredible variation, and a backhand slice which he uses to change the pace exceptionally well. Jonas Bjorkman - his only coach in the absence of Amelie Mauresmo his kept him playing aggressive tennis and the prospect of a bit more henman-esque serve an volley style play is positive, all he needs now is a kind draw however there is no such thing at Wimbledon.
Lukas Rosol WimbledonGrass court tennis is a tough game. The dangers of the early rounds are very real as Rafael Nadal. It leads itself to the big servers, people like Kevin Anderson and Tomas Berdych, who hold serve with a barrage of aces, whilst waiting for you to make a mistake on your own.
They are slip hazards, perfectly negotiable but will nip you on an off day. There are also the aggressors like Rosol or Tsonga who come out swinging and try to blow you away. Often erratic, they usually go out in a blaze of glory. However on a given day they can beat anyone. One game I like to play is who can be the dark horse?
My favourite Wimbledon ever was the year Goran Ivanišević won as a wildcard (2001). Even though he knocked out Henman in the semi-final It just seemed like it was penned by Zeus that the three time finalist should win at his fourth and final attempt. But who could be so bold in 2015?
Dimitrov won Queens in 2014, and would be a popular choice with the ladies, however he has not kicked on quite as expected, I fear he may become a male Kournikova and throw away his prodigious talent, but lets hope I am wrong. Čillić usually performs well, Giles Simon is playing some lovely tennis but lacks that attacking edge.
The one who always threatens but falls late is Tsonga. He is loved by the Wimbledon crowd, and has the shot making potential to trouble anyone, the only issue is his recent injury, and indifferent form is a worry. But were he to snap out of his funk and put on a show I believe he could be the surprise package.
Right now I cannot call it between Murray and Djokovic, the sensible part of my head thus tells me to err on the side of Djokovic - no surprises there, but I think Wimbledon is ripe for an upset again.
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