Wimbledon 2018: Recent Trends and the 'Big Four'

Wimbledon 2018: Recent Trends and the 'Big Four'
Jackson M
Jackson M
June 28, 2018

The Wimbledon Championships are right around the corner and everyone’s attention in the tennis world is sure to turn to the third grand slam event of the season. The men’s singles competition at Wimbledon, over the last fifteen years, has been dominated by the ‘Big Four’ of tennis; Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Since 2003, these four men are the only player’s to have won the men’s singles title here at SW19, and once again one of these four men are expected to walk away with the title this year. World number two, and top seed at this year’s tournament, Roger Federer is the defending champion coming into this year’s tournament, after he won his record eighth Wimbledon crown twelve months ago. Federer went the whole of last year’s tournament without dropping a single set, culminating with a 3-0 win over Marin Cilic in the final. Federer remains the man to beat at this year’s tournament, but will the Swiss ace be able to defend his title?

Wimbledon Titles Won Since 2003

Roger Federer – 8

Novak Djokovic – 3

Rafael Nadal – 2

Andy Murray – 2

The Wimbledon warmup events: Halle Open and Queen’s Club

The Gerry Weber Open, also known as the Halle Open, and the Queen’s club Championships have primarily served as the two main warmup events ahead of Wimbledon over the years, and this year proved to be no different. The two events both take place at the same time and they are both part of the ATP World Tour 500 series. The top players usually treat these two tournaments as their final preparation ahead of SW19, and over the year’s they’ve offered us a good indication of who will do well at Wimbledon.

Since 2003, nine Halle Open finalists, all of whom have been Roger Federer, have reached the final of Wimbledon that very same year. Roger Federer won the Halle Open title on four successive occasions between 2003 and 2006, and he would then go on to win Wimbledon in all four of those years. Roger Federer also won the Halle Open title last year, prior to going onto win his eighth Wimbledon crown. The Swiss ace, who has dominated both Wimbledon and Halle since 2003, also managed to win the 2012 Wimbledon title after reaching the final in Halle a couple of weeks earlier. Roger Federer also managed to reach the Wimbledon finals in 2008, 2014 and 2015, all years he managed to win the Halle Open final. In fact, the only year’s Federer hasn’t reached the final of Wimbledon, after reaching the final in Halle, were in 2010 and 2013, where he lost in the quarter-finals and second round respectively of the grand slam event. The Swiss ace managed to once again reach the final of Halle this year, losing to Borna Coric in the final, and if history’s anything to go by then Roger Federer has a very good chance of reaching this year’s Wimbledon final.

Like Halle, Queen’s has seen seven of their finalists, since 2003, reach the Wimbledon final the very same year. In 2004 and 2005, American Andy Roddick reached successive Wimbledon finals after claiming back-to-back Queen’s Club titles. The American would go onto once again reach the Wimbledon final in 2009, after the American had reached the semi-finals in Queen’s a couple of weeks earlier. Rafael Nadal won the first of his two Wimbledon titles on the back of winning the Queen’s title in 2008, bringing an end to Roger Federer’s five-year winning streak at the event. Nadal’s triumph in the 2008 Wimbledon final, which came courtesy of a five-set win over Roger Federer, is still regarded by many as the greatest tennis match of all-time, but we’ll be hoping for an even better match in this year’s final.

Former world number one Andy Murray won two of his Queen’s titles in 2013 and 2016, and in those two years he would go onto win the Wimbledon title. The 2016 Wimbledon final was the first Wimbledon final since 1988 to be a repeat of the Queen’s final of the very same year. In 1988, Stefan Edberg defeated Boris Becker in the Wimbledon final, just a matter of weeks after Becker had beaten Edberg in the Queen’s Club final. In 2016, however, Andy Murray would win both the Queen’s Club final and the Wimbledon final, beating Canadian ace Milos Raonic in both of those finals. Meanwhile, 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic reached the Queen’s Club final last year, and he took that form with him into Wimbledon as he would go onto reach the final, before being beaten by Federer. Cilic once again reached the final in Queen’s this year, only this time he won the title by beating Novak Djokovic in a thrilling final. This could prove to be a good omen for Cilic, and he’ll have his sights on making amends for his disappointing final defeat from twelve months ago by winning this year’s Wimbledon title

It’s also interesting to note that since 2013, at least one of the finalists in each of the Wimbledon finals won either Halle or Queen’s in the build-up to that year’s tournament. Furthermore, the past two Wimbledon finals, in 2016 and 2017, has seen both finalists either win or reach the finals of one of Halle or Queen’s in the build-up to Wimbledon.

Is it possible to win Wimbledon without playing at warmup events?

However, since 2003 there have been five Wimbledon champions that chose to not play in a warmup event prior to the tournament. Roger Federer won the Wimbledon title in 2007 and 2009, after opting to skip Halle a couple of weeks earlier on both occasions to rest up. However, Federer was still the number one seed in 2007, and number two seed in 2009, and he went into both of the tournaments as the favourite to win it.

Three-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic decided against playing warmup tournaments ahead of Wimbledon between the years of 2011 and 2016, as he opted to take the time to rest up ahead of Wimbledon. However, in that period between 2011 and 2016, Djokovic won all three of his Wimbledon titles, in 2011, 2014 and 2015. Djokovic was, however, the second seed in 2011 and top seed in both 2014 and 2015, and so he was considered the favourite to win the titles. This shows that players who don’t play at Queen’s or Halle in the build-up to Wimbledon do still have a chance of winning the title.

Recent trends of the top seeds

The seeding’s ahead of Wimbledon have also been a very good indicator of who’s going to go on to win the title over the past fifteen years. Since 2003, twelve of the fifteen years have seen either the number one seed or the number two seed win the title. The Wimbledon title has been so exclusive in that time that no one seeded five or below has won the title, with two number three seeds and a number four seed winning the title since 2003. In fact, since 2003 there has been a split of six number one seeds winning the title, and six number two seeds winning the title, and so the top seed hasn’t always dominated here. In the last ten years, since 2008, the number one seed has only won the title twice, and that was Novak Djokovic in 2014 and 2015. The last player who was not ranked in the top four seeds to win this title was when wild card Goran Ivanisevic shocked the tennis world by winning the title in 2001.

The top seeds have also been so dominant at Wimbledon since 2004 that the losing finalist has almost certainly always been a top seven seed. The only exception to this was in 2010, when the twelfth seed Tomas Berdych reached the final before losing to Rafael Nadal.

The top two seeds have more often than not won this title since 2003, and they’ve frequently met in the final. The top two seeds have met in eight finals since 2004, with a run of five successive finals between 2004 and 2008 featuring the tournament’s top two seeds. The top two seeds this year are Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and for the majority that would be their dream final this year, a final that would be a repeat of the 2006, 2007 and 2008 finals, in which the top seeded Federer came out on top in two of those finals. Since all four members of the ‘Big Four’ began dominating the sport from 2008, they’ve contested six of the ten Wimbledon finals, including a streak of every final between 2011 and 2015.

Wimbledon 2018 top two

This year’s top seed Roger Federer has an incredible record at this tournament, and he’ll be hoping to win a record-extending ninth Wimbledon crown this year. The Swiss ace first won this title in 2003, and he would go onto win the title every year until he was finally beaten by Rafael Nadal in 2008 final. Federer bounced back, however, to win the title in 2009, a run than saw him reach the final every year between 2003 and 2009. In fact, since 2003, Federer has only lost once here before the quarter-final stage, a shock second round exit in 2013, and he’s been a part of eleven of the fifteen finals since his first title triumph in 2003. Federer reached the final in Halle last week, but he failed to win the title and he finished runner-up at the event for the third time in his career. Federer also finished runner-up in Halle in 2010 and 2012, and at Wimbledon a couple of weeks later he went onto reach the quarter-finals in 2010, and win the title in 2012. In fact, since Federer won his first Wimbledon in 2003, the year’s in which he’s competed at Halle and failed to win the title, 2010, 2012 and 2016, he only went onto win Wimbledon in one of those years. The other two years, 2010 and 2016, he didn’t even reach the final, and so he’ll be hoping his Halle final defeat this year will lead to a result like it did in 2012, opposed to 2010 and 2016.

World number one Rafael Nadal withdrew from Queen’s this year, the second successive season he’s done so, and so he’ll be looking to win this title without playing a warmup event. Two-time champion Nadal has never reached the Wimbledon final without playing at Queen’s in the build-up to Wimbledon. In his 2006 and 2007 final defeats to Federer at Wimbledon, Nadal reached the quarter-finals at Queen’s in both years. Nadal’s first Wimbledon triumph in 2008 came on the back of winning the Queen’s Club title. The Spaniard’s second Wimbledon title came in 2010, courtesy of victory over Tomas Berdych in the final, and that came after he once again reached the quarter-finals in Queen’s. Meanwhile, Nadal’s last appearance in a Wimbledon final came in 2011, when he was defeated by Djokovic, but once again he reached the Queen’s Club quarter-finals in the lead up to Wimbledon. Rafael Nadal will be amongst the favourites for the title this season, but if history’s anything to go by then not playing in Queen’s might not be the best omen for Nadal.

Summary

The men’s singles Wimbledon title has proved to be the most difficult grand slam title to win in recent years, with only four men having the honour of lifting this title since 2003. In fact, since the turn of the century there has only be seven winners of this prestigious tournament, with those seven men having won a combined 69 grand slam singles titles between them. It’s just as difficult reaching a final here, with the ‘Big Four’ having contested eight of the finals since 2006. Wimbledon, which is arguably the biggest tennis tournament in the world, promises to offer another fantastic two weeks of tennis, and if history’s anything to go by we should be in for a blockbuster final. Will anyone be able to break the strangle like hold the ‘Big Four’ have on this title, or will one of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray once again be crowned Wimbledon champion?

Free tennis betting tips and predictions for Wimbledon 2018.

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