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Retired British tennis player Tim Henman thinks the Rafa Nadal renaissance will continue at Wimbledon.
The Spaniard is one of Henman’s top picks to win the tournament next month, alongside Roger Federer and world number one Andy Murray.
Nadal has just won the French Open – his first major in three years – and has only lost once since the Miami Open final against Federer on April 2.
The 31-year-old has also won the Monte-Carlo Masters, the Barcelona Open, and the Madrid Open during his hot streak. He is now second only to Murray in the ATP rankings.
The Wimbledon Championships start on July 3 and Henman said Nadal is in a great position to claim his 16th major title. “On the men’s side there are three joint favourites: Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Nadal,” Henman told Business Insider at a Jaguar XF Sportbrake event.
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“With Nadal’s confidence, he will think he can win on any surface. Stick him on ice and he will fancy his chances.”
The only obstacle could be himself. Knee problems have plagued Nadal’s career and Henman wonders whether grass will have an impact.
“Grass is a surface that has affected Nadal’s knees and regardless of whether you’re talking about Nadal, Federer, or Murray, you’ve got to be healthy… and Rafa has talked about it [his knee problems] already. He has to make sure his knees okay.”
What about Murray?
Reigning Wimbledon champion Murray’s preparations have not been ideal. He pulled out of a Hurlingham Club match on Friday because of injury.
He was also stunned at the Queen’s Club Championships when he was defeated in straight sets by world number 90 Jordan Thompson at the Wimbledon warm-up tournament.
Murray’s only 2017 trophy arrived in March when he won the Dubai Championships in the United Arab Emirates.
Regardless, Murray remains a favourite. For Henman, Murray is a rare example of a complete package.
“The challenge of tennis is that there are three main elements to it,” Henman said.
“It is physical, it is mental, and it is technical. And there is a lot of other sports where you need one or two elements but not all three. For Murray to be number one in the world in the era of Federer and [Novak] Djokovic just speaks for itself. He is absolutely at the top of the tree in all three areas.”
Are there any players capable of upsetting Federer, Murray, or Nadal? “I think as outsiders you can put [Milos] Raonic and perhaps [Nick] Kyrgios,” Henman said. “Can I see the winner coming from anywhere else, probably not.”
Look out for Ostapenko and Konta
The absence of Serena Williams, who is expecting a baby later this year, has opened up the women’s Wimbledon singles title.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova may be the bookmakers favourite for a third title, but Henman is keeping his eye on 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and British number one Johanna Konta.
“On the women’s side, Ostapenko winning in Paris was amazing,” Henman told Business Insider. “That goes to show that without Serena Williams there will be a lot of people who will fancy their chances [at Wimbledon].
“Down the list of the top ten, Konta – who has had good results for the last couple of years – must be up there. It would be fantastic for her and the tournament if she did well.”