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Ten storylines to follow during the grass-court season

Roger Federer waves to fans from the South West balcony after winning his seventh Wimbledon title.
by Mark Hodgkinson
Thursday 13 June 2013

 What can we expect from the greats on grass over the next four weeks? Wimbledon.com wonders...

1. Can Roger Federer become the first man to win the Wimbledon singles title eight times? That wouldn't make him the most successful singles player of all time on the grass - Martina Navratilova was the ladies' champion on nine occasions, and came within a match of winning a tenth - but it would take him above Pete Sampras and William Renshaw, who each have seven titles. If Federer does retain his title at the All England Club, he wouldn't be the first man to win the same grand slam tournament eight times - Rafael Nadal did just that on Parisian clay at the weekend. This summer it will be 10 years since Federer won his first slam title at the 2003 Championships, and then went home to the Swiss mountains where he was presented with a Swiss cow.

2. Is Serena Williams soon to become the most successful grass-court player in her family? At the moment, Serena and her older sister Venus have each won the Rosewater Dish five times, so the family's combined total is already in double figures. By potentially extending her Wimbledon collection to six singles triumphs, the Californian would also win a seventeenth grand slam, putting her just one behind Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, who each have 18 grand slam singles titles (Steffi Graf has the record for the Open era with 22).

3. Will Victoria Azarenka, a beaten semi-finalist on the greensward the last two summers, reach her first final at the All England Club, and possibly go on to the Champions' Dinner?

4. Don't expect Maria Sharapova and Grigor Dimitrov to pair up for the mixed doubles tournament (playing mixed doubles isn't really her style). But do suppose that each of them can go far in the singles events. Can Dimitrov, regarded by many as the most talented player outside the Big Four, reach the second week of a major for the first time?

5. So Venus Williams hasn't had a spectacular year to date - she won just four games against Maria Sharapova during their third-round meeting at the Australian Open, and was beaten in the opening round of the French Open by Urszula Radwanska. But none of the top players will want to be anywhere near Venus in the draw. The former champion could still do some damage.

6. For the first time since last summer's Championships, the Big Four of the men's game will all be together at the same slam. Rafael Nadal missed last year's US Open and this season's Australian Open because of his painful knees, while Andy Murray didn't play in Paris because of his back condition. Federer goes into the draw as the defending champion, Nadal as the winner of the last grand slam, and Murray as the home player and the grass-court Olympic champion, but let's not forget it will probably take a special performance to stop Novak Djokovic, the world No 1 and a former champion.

7. Rafael Nadal's comeback from injury could hardly have passed off any better, but how will be fare on the lawns? Can he add to his two Wimbledon titles, in 2008 and 2010? Will he have Lukas Rosol, the Czech who defeated him in the second round last summer, in his section? (On that last point, it's worth noting that Rosol is ranked 34 on this week's list, and once Wimbledon's grass-court formula is applied, he could be among the 32 seeds, which would mean that he couldn't play Nadal any earlier than the third round).

8. When Andy Murray plays on Centre Court for the first time since beating Roger Federer in last year's Olympic final, will we detect a closer bond between player and crowd? Will wags in the crowd still shout out "C'mon Tim" or, with Murray now a grand slam champion, a Wimbledon finalist and an Olympic champion, has that joke died a thousand deaths?

9. Can Milos Raonic, who appears to have a game well suited to grass, but who has lost in the second round the last two summers, go deep into the draw?

10. What should we expect from Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a semi-finalist at Roland Garros last week? Entertainment, obviously. But can he reach a first Wimbledon final?


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