Alan Wilkins previews Wimbledon 2012

ESPN STAR Sports presenter Alan Wilkins previews the upcoming Wimbledon Championships.

Wimbledon

What rules your decision-making in sporting predictions: your head or your heart? The modern game makes it a clear case for one or the other, depending on whose camp you're in. If you are in Novak's corner, then you're going to say that Djokovic will successfully defend his Wimbledon crown. If you are in Rafa's camp, then it's Nadal to win his third Wimbledon title.

If you've been a Roger fan for the past decade, then your heart is going to want you to say that Federer will make it a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon, to place the Swiss alongside the American, Pete Sampras, and Britain's William Renshaw whose achievements go back to a bygone age of men's tennis, over a century ago. But that's your heart going out for Roger isn't it? What does your head really tell you? Our hearts tell us that we have loved the RF brand of tennis, its elegance and artistry, but it is a brand that has been dismantled by the muscular power of Nadal and now Djokovic with his relentless tenacity. Our heads tell us that Federer will succumb to the physical onslaught of both the Serb and the Spaniard.

Then there is Andy: it is supposed to be a gang of four in the men's game, but Murray has had a lean time recently, and as each year passes, the disappointment expressed by an expectant home nation escalates into a quagmire of derision. You would have to be a brave Brit to make Andy Murray your favourite for Wimbledon. Your heart would make that decision for you; your head would tell you that Andy has no price whilst Novak, Rafael and Roger are still playing.

So let's leave Murray out of it and make it the best of three shall we? Or am I allowing my heart to include Federer in the magnificent rivalry that now exists between Nadal and Djokovic? I will use one piece of tangible information to back my prediction that Federer could win a seventh Wimbledon and that is that he is still younger than Pete Sampras was when Pistol Pete won the 2002 US Open, his fourteenth Grand Slam Singles title. Sampras was thirty-two years old when he beat his great rival, Andre Agassi, in New York that year. Federer is still only thirty and grass is his favourite surface.

Or am I deluding myself here when I should be discussing the merits of the two best players in the world right now: Djokovic and Nadal? Your head tells you that it will once again be a Grand Slam Final between these two superb tennis athletes, just as it has been for the last four consecutive Grand Slam finals. Nadal got the better of Djokovic to claim his record seventh Roland Garros title. Paris belongs to the Spaniard. Why couldn't he go on to win ten French Opens?

So are we agreed that it will be Djokovic or Nadal for the 2012 Wimbledon crown? Or do you think that there is an outside chance of Juan Martin Del Potro, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (if he is fit enough to play this year) or Tomas Berdych upsetting the odds? Realistically, you wouldn't put a heavy bet on any of those guys, unless you feel frivolous and you think it's worth a punt. But that's all it would be. It's not realistic.

You may want to put some of you money on the Ladies' event this year. Maria Sharapova returns to Wimbledon with the French Open now on her CV; she also returns to the venue where in 2004, as a slender seventeen-year-old, she beat Serena Williams to win her maiden Grand Slam title. Sharapova will be the short-odds favourite to win a second Wimbledon title, although the memories for her of her defeat against the tenacious Petra Kvitova, of the Czech Republic, twelve months ago, will serve as a reminder that more upsets occur in the Ladies' event than in the Men's event.

Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Petra Kvitova, Victoria Azarenka: four names that stand out as the best contenders for Wimbledon 2012. From an Asian perspective it would be wonderful to see China's Li Na rediscover some of the form that earned her the Roland Garros title last year but it's more of a hope than reality. Heart rules the head! One young German lady could cause an upset this year - Sabine Lisicki - but the head tells you it won't be this year. 

Alan Wilkins will be covering the Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis Club starting on 25 June. Catch it on STAR Sports, more than 340 live matches online on ESPN Player, in high-definition on ESPN HD, and on the go on Mobile ESPN.



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