Former British No1 Tim Henman believes Sir Andy Murray can overcome a troubled build-up to Wimbledon and mount a successful defence of his men’s singles title over the next fortnight.
Murray’s preparations suffered another setback on Thursday when a sore hip forced him to pull out of a scheduled exhibition match in the Aspall Tennis Classic at the Hurlingham Club tomorrow.
That came after he lost in the first round of the Aegon Championship at Queen’s Club last week and means that he will begin the grand slam on Monday with just one grass-court match under his belt this year.
Murray has endured a frustrating spell since ascending to world No1 in December but put injuries and patchy form behind him to reach the last four at the French Open this month – and Henman believes the gutsy 30-year-old can do it again.
“Unfortunately it’s a reflection on his whole year. He’s battled illness and injury and it has been very difficult for him to build momentum,” HSBC ambassador Henman told City A.M.
“I was so impressed by the way he made the semi-finals of the French Open when he came in there with illness and no real form. But it emphasises what a great competitor he is.
“To have lost early at Queen’s and then be struggling a bit with his hip is, again, not ideal preparation. But Wimbledon is such a special place, given his history and that he’s defending champion, I feel he can find a way to battle through it.
“I can relate to this. I’ve been in the final of Queen’s and played well at Wimbledon; I’ve lost in the first round at Queen’s and played well at Wimbledon. I think you really can view the championships in isolation.
“I really hope that he is fit and healthy because to really compete and have a chance of winning a grand slam over 13 days you’ve got to be 100 per cent fit and healthy – so fingers crossed.”
Four-time Wimbledon semi-finalist Henman, 42, rates evergreen Roger Federer a “marginal favourite” and expects the winner to come from the traditional big four of him, Murray, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Konta a contender in open draw
By contrast, he believes the absence of seven-time winner Serena Williams and 2004 champion Maria Sharapova has made for “the most open ladies’ singles I can remember for a long time”.
Britain’s Johanna Konta is seeded sixth and, while Henman believes talk of a Murray-Konta home double is a stretch for now, he believes it is the 26-year-old’s best chance yet of going all the way in SW19.
“You never know what’s going to happen in the future but I would say this is her best chance to date,” he added.
“She’s played some great tennis. Winning in Miami [last year] was an incredible achievement.
“When you look at the ladies’ field without Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, you could have a list as long as your arm of genuine contenders.
“What [shock French Open winner] Jelena Ostapenko did in Paris really emphasises the strength in depth and how there’s a lot of people will really their chances.
“You could make a good case for many of the players, Jo Konta being one of them.”
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