In past years a turbulent pathway to the final would have significantly doused British hopes at Wimbledon but such is his form this season that for Britain’s Andy Murray that scenario appears nothing more than a mild irritation.
Assuming third seed Murray navigates his early clashes, which begin tomorrow with a showdown against Russian-born world No58 Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, he is likely to have to slay some stellar names to claim a second Wimbledon crown.
France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lurks in the fourth round, while former world No1 Rafael Nadal is a potential quarter-final opponent and seven-time champion Roger Federer a possible last-four obstacle.
The draw has, however, ensured that two-time Major winner Murray will avoid nemesis and world No1 Novak Djokovic until the final on 12 July. Djokovic has beaten Murray on each of the pair’s last eight meetings.
But irrespective of Nadal’s woes at SW19 – the Spaniard has not reached the last eight since 2011 – or whether Federer’s intimidatory factor is fading, Murray’s own form and fitness is the primary reason to suggest a route to the final beckons.
World No3 Murray has never enjoyed such lofty pre-Wimbledon form. The Scot has won three titles in 2015 and boasts a 41-6 win-loss record this season.
That has included a first ever title on clay at the BMW Open in Munich and his finest showing on the courts of Roland Garros to date, having taken Djokovic to five sets in the French Open semi-finals, not to mention victory in the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club this month.
The fitness worries following back surgery which clearly burdened Murray during his Wimbledon title defence and subsequent quarter-final exit to Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov last term have since evaporated.
Off court, Murray appears to have few worries with a thriving player-coach relationship with Amelie Mauresmo, which has been supplemented to effect by Sweden’s former world No4 Jonas Bjorkman.
Bolstered by working with a sports psychiatrist, the omens for a tilt at a third grand slam trophy look promising for the 28-year-old, a decade on from his Wimbledon debut in 2005.
But two years after overpowering Djokovic in straight sets to become the first British man to win Wimbledon for 77 years, the Serb is likely to pose a significant, if not the most potent threat, to Murray’s hopes this time around.
Despite uncharacteristic chinks appearing in his armour during a French Open final defeat to Switzerland’s Stan Wawrinka earlier this month, Djokovic is, ominously, the only player to hold a better overall record on tour than Murray so far in 2015.
PATH TO THE FINAL
Murray’s potential order of play
■ First round: Mikhail Kukushkin
■ Second round: Robin Haase
■ Third round: Andreas Seppi
■ Fourth round: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
■ Quarter-final: Rafael Nadal
■ Semi-final: Roger Federer
■ Final: Novak Djokovic