|Will we be seeing this again soon?|
But in the strawberries and Pimms world of SW19, there's very little different from where we were 12 months ago, with the same old four leading the way. Assuming there are no injuries by the time the first serve is struck, Novak starts top seed and favourite, with Nadal a close second, Federer slightly further back, Murray a bit off the pace in 4, and then a significant jump to the third row of the grid with Tsonga and Berdych (sorry Ferrer, you just ain't cut out for the lawns), and any other contender realistically just aiming for the Quarters.
Djokovic has well and truly demonstrated that the sensational run which kicked off 2011 was no freak occurrence. Although he's not maintained quite the same utterly indestructible form this year, he has proven again and again that he is the best there is at the moment. Make no mistake, Rafa is the unquestionable King of Clay but all round consistency and dominance state that the Serb deserves the Number 1 ranking he claimed in reaching the Wimbledon final last year.
And yet, because he's been defending so many ranking points, there is the remarkably a three way showdown for the number 1 spot. Refer to the ATP article for more detailed permutations, but unless Novak gets to the final he's in serious danger of relinquishing the ranking he's fought so hard to gain.
Federer's consistency in the 1000 series tournaments since August, alongside victory in the World Tour Finals means that matching Nadal's performance will see him overtake his Spanish rival, and winning the title could see him return to the top of the tree for the first time since June 2010. As well as being an incredible achievement in itself, it would also ensure that he breaks Sampras' record for number of weeks as the (officially ranked) best player in the world. Sadly perhaps, the tame way he subsided to Djokovic in Paris, as well as his surprising defeat to Haas in Halle last week, means that victory at his beloved Wimbledon just seems beyond him. Let's not forget he's not won here with Nadal present since 2007 (also the last time he defeated Rafa in a Slam).
It wouldn't be a pre-Wimbledon blog by a Brit without a mention of Murray. Much like the England team in the lead up to Euro 2012, he goes in with less expectation than many years before, with disappointing performances at Roland Garros, Queens and even the exhibition matches at Boodles. It's been a lean year thus far, and he has slipped closer to number 5 than number 3, and the fear must already be developing that he will be remembered as a perennial number 4, sadly not too dissimilar to Tim "semi-final" Henman.
But, he maintains the record of always having matched or bettered his performance at Wimbledon each year and knows he can beat any of the top 3 on any given day. The question remains whether the 1st of July will be that Any Given Sunday.