Novak Djokovic aims to defend his crown after Paris disappointment
Number one seed opens play on Centre Court against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber
Novak Djokovic of Serbia during a pratice session prior to the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
The Wimbledon winners this this year will get €2,650,820.96 each. Being equal opportunity employers, the prize money awarded to the men’s and women’s
champions is the same. Get to the final and you’re a euro millionaire with €1,325,000, give or take, going to the singles finals losers on July 12th.
Only Wimbledon winners can have the luxury of saying the money doesn’t matter and today as the championships open on the outside courts at 11.30am and dreams will begin. The top seeds Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams, however, will share the first day’s billing in the show courts.
Defending champion Djokovic, beaten earlier this month by Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final, opens play on Centre Court against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber at 1pm with Williams, half way to a possible calendar Grand Slam, meeting Russia’s Margarita Gasparyan on Court One.
Fourth seed Maria Sharapova takes on Britain’s Johanna Konta, a quarter finalist at Eastbourne and Nottingham, in the second match on Centre Court.
Konta is hopeful, with the €40,000 losers’ fee likely to ease the sting. The ice queen in the first round . . . tough break.
But it’s lucky Sharapova has made it to Wimbledon. After a sickly run in Paris that was ended in the fourth round by Lucie Safarova, she returned to the USA to conduct some health tests.
The teenage winner here in 2004 has not played any of the warm up events but has declared herself fit to compete.
That expected rollicking is to be followed by Wawrinka against Portugal’s Joao Sousa.
Andy Murray, and what’s he bidding to become this year? The first British man to win multiple Wimbledon titles since Fred Perry in 1934-36, stupid. There’s Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Petra Kvitova and for local fans Laura Robson, who with Murray will be among those in action on Tuesday, when temperatures are expected to rise over the course of a scorching week.
Muggy on Sunday and clearing to sunshine in the evening, forecasters expect the mercury to hit 30 degrees as hot weather is expected for the opening days.
Djokovic is hoping to win his third Wimbledon title and equal his coach Boris Becker, who won the title here in 1985, 86 and 1989. Because he is in the player’s box, Becker will not be with the BBC commentary team this year.
Roger Federer and Pete Sampras lead the way in the Open Era with seven Wimbledon titles each, ahead of Bjorn Borg (five) and John McEnroe (three).
On that issue Wimbledon champions have historically had more success in retaining their titles than at the other three Grand Slam events. Seven players have successfully defended their crown on 17 occasions, with Federer becoming the seventh in 2004.
His last successful defence was in 2007, making this the longest period without a successful title defence at any of the majors. Federer is also bidding to become the second man in history to win eight titles at any Grand Slam. Nadal became the first by winning his eighth Roland Garros title in 2013.
An interesting player to watch is Kei Nishikori, who comes on after the opening Williams match on Court One. The Japanese player is already one of the biggest sporting names in Asia and is Japan’s highest seeded player (5) in the Open era.
Having reached the Australian and French Open quarter-finals this year, Nishikori is aiming to go at least one better than his career-best fourth-round exit at Wimbledon in 2014.
- Wimbledon Order of play