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By Jack Martin | Monday, July 3, 2017

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic warmed up for Wimbledon winning the Eastbourne title.

Photo credit: Stephen White/CameraSport

Wimbledon has belonged to the Big 4 for 14 years.

Indeed, you would have to go back as far as 2002, when Lleyton Hewitt became Wimbledon champion, to find the last time someone other than Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Andy Murray won the men’s Wimbledon title.

Watch: 10 Stats To Get You Primed For Wimbledon

Hence, with all four stars set to compete once more this year, it would take a brave man or woman to bet against the prestigious quartet ruling the roost at Wimbledon yet again.

Here we analyze how the top four seeds are shaping up ahead of their start in London.

Roger Federer

Wimbledon record: 87-11

Best Wimbledon result: Winner (2012, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003)

2016 Wimbledon result: Semi-Finals

2017 Record: 24-2

Best 2017 results: Champion: Miami, Indian Wells, Australian Open

After a glorious first half to the season, for the first time in five years, Federer will begin his 19th Wimbledon campaign as the firm favourite. Playing as well as he ever has, the Swiss Maestro has returned to 2017 in optimal form, displaying a reinvented backhand, fearless forehands and ultra-attacking movement too hot for his opponents to handle. The seismic titles in Australia, Indian Wells, Miami and Halle were testament to his resurgence and showed that the 35-year-old is still capable of golden moments. Seven times the champion in SW19, if Federer can get through the early rounds unscathed and maintain his fitness, he will certainly be a hard act to stop in London.

Roger Federer on Wimbledon: "If (Andy Murray is) anything close to 100 percent physically, I consider him one of the big favorites to win the tournament. It's that simple. It's the same for Novak and the same for Rafa.

"I think it's very even when we put it all out on the line. Everybody has their own little story right now. For me, everything that happened sort of before, Queen's for Andy, whatever, doesn't matter so much because I feel like Andy's one of the best players in the first week at Wimbledon, so I don't worry too much for him there. He can play himself into shape hopefully for week two."

Rafael Nadal

Wimbledon record: 40-9

Best Wimbledon result: Winner (2010, 2008)

2016 Wimbledon result: DNP

2017 Record: 43-6

Best 2017 results: Champion Roland Garros, Madrid, Barcelona, Monte Carlo

Having crushed the rest of the field to dominate the clay court season and win an historic 10th French Open title, Nadal comes into Wimbledon full of confidence, belief and momentum. Like Federer, the Spaniard has started this season reinvigorated, sharp and motivated, with his forehands much stronger and his movement much quicker across the court.

In recent times, the 31-year-old has struggled at Wimbledon—he has failed to progress past the fourth round since 2011, and there are doubts as to whether his knees can hold up for a fortnight on the grass. However, after reaching the final in Australia and dominating the clay season, Nadal has not been in much better form, heading to London, for some time.

Novak Djokovic

Wimbledon record: 54-9

Best Wimbledon result: Winner (2015, 2014, 2011)

2016 Wimbledon result: Third round

2017 Record: 24-7

Best 2017 results: Champion Eastbourne, Doha

In 2017, Djokovic has endured the most difficult season of his career, with coaching break ups and personal problems both culminating in a huge loss of form for the Serbian. Such sporadic performances have seen Djokovic struggle to gain any kind of momentum or confidence in his game while, after the straight sets defeat to Dominic Thiem at Roland Garros, the 30-year-old even considered taking time away from tennis to try and regroup.

Yet, his latest win in Eastbourne, his first victory in six months, appears to have inspired and uplifted Djokovic once again, and will have him believing that he can compete for a fourth Wimbledon title.

Novak Djokovic on Wimbledon: "I try to have that kind of mindset that will allow me to, you know, to become a better player and become a stronger character. You know, I have been in the game long enough to know what I need to do. Playing at Wimbledon and playing at any other tournament, as a matter of fact, gives me a lot of joy, and I think that's the key. That's the essence of me still being professional tennis player and traveling. So as long as there is a flare inside of me, I'll keep on going."

Andy Murray

Wimbledon record: 53-9

Best Wimbledon result: Champion (2016, 2013)

2016 Wimbledon result: Champion

2017 Record: 21-9

Best 2017 results: Champion Doha, Semifinalist Roland Garros

With a spate of injuries and lack of match practice on the grass, Murray could not have had worse preparation ahead of his title defence at this year’s Wimbledon. The 30-year-old had been struggling all season with form and illness, but seemed to be on the way back after a fine performance at the French Open, where he reached the semi-finals.

However, the first-round defeat to Jordan Thompson at Queen's Club, was a big setback and confirmed that the current champion is still far from the kind of form which elevated him to world number one last year. With all the disruption around Murray’s preparations for Wimbledon, holding onto his title looks like being an extremely difficult task for the Scot.

Andy Murray on Wimbledon: "I mean, really once you get out there, I don't feel like I'm coming in trying to defend something. I'm going out there trying to win Wimbledon again. I want to try to win the competition.

"Maybe adds a little bit extra pressures. Maybe a few more nerves especially at this slam with the way the scheduling is, that you're the first one out there on Centre Court. You know, you feel like you're opening up the tournament a little bit, and that adds a few more nerves. But I feel okay. You know, I've felt fairly calm the last few days, considering how I've been feeling."

Tennis Now contributing writer Jack Martin is a free-lance journalist based in England. Follow him on Twitter: @Jack95Martin


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