Saturday 16 December 2017 / 02:20 PM

WIMBLEDON 2016 PREVIEW

Dominant world no.1 Novak Djokovic and seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer have been placed on the same half of the Wimbledon 2016 draw, meaning no repeat of the last two finals at SW19. Djokovic beat Federer in a five-set classic in 2014 and in four sets in 2015, but they will have to settle for a potential semi-final showdown this year.

Given the 34-year-old’s poor form and injury concerns of late, Federer may be content just making the semis. He suffered a torn meniscus just after the Australian Open and had to skip the French Open – the first major he’s missed since 1999 – because of a back complaint. Since then, he’s lost to two fast-rising youngsters, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev, in grass-court warm-up events.

Djokovic and Federer open against relative easy-beats; the Serb starts his campaign for a fifth straight major title and fifth straight Wimbledon crown against British wildcard James Ward, while the Swiss legend begins against a clay courter, Guido Pella. Djokovic, at the French Open, became the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win four majors in a row.

Djokovic has defeated Andy Murray in both major finals so far this year and the 2nd-seeded Scot could yet make another final. Frustratingly, Murray has been runner-up to Djokovic five times in majors, but to offset that, his only two titles have come by beating Djokovic in the final.

On those two occasions, he was coached by Ivan Lendl, whom he reunites with after a two-year partnership with Amelie Mauresmo. Murray will no doubt be hoping his second stint with Lendl is just as fruitful as his first, which saw him become the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.

One of the most exciting first-round ties sees Australian firebrand Nick Kyrgios take on wily Czech veteran Radek Stepanek. Both players love playing on grass and Kyrgios famously upset Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon two years ago. Nadal, of course, is absent as he recovers from a wrist injury.

In the women’s draw, Serena Williams could be on course for a third-round rematch with Britain’s Heather Watson as she aims to tie Steffi Graf’s open-era record 22 majors. Watson was two points away from causing a huge boilover on centre court last year before Serena won 7-5 in the third set and going on to win the title.

The player she beat in last year’s final, Garbine Muguruza, got revenge in the sweetest way possible by beating Williams in the French Open a month ago. However, the Spaniard must be wary of avoiding a hangover that is typical of first-time grand slam champions in the next major they play. She starts against tricky Italian Camila Giorgi.

Angelique Kerber is another player who has denied Serena in a grand slam final this year. The Australian Open champion begins against British wildcard Laura Robson, who won junior Wimbledon in 2008 but has had long-term wrist issues over the last few years. Kerber is on the same half of the draw as Muguruza, while Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska, runner-up in 2012, is seeded to play Serena in the other semi-final.

[YouTube – Wimbledon]

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Farhan Shah

A recent addition to the roster, Melburnian Farhan is a sports nut who has come on board to provide golf, tennis, AFL and rugby league coverage for CBS.

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