Wimbledon 2014: Serena Williams can bounce back from early French Open exit
Barry Cowan says American determined to right last year's wrong
By Barry Cowan
Last Updated: 20/06/14 5:35pm
It will surprise no-one to hear me tip Serena Williams to win Wimbledon.
She was as heavy a favourite as you can get last year and suffered a shock exit to Sabine Lisicki in the fourth round, so, in a funny way, I think her tribulations at the French Open will work in her favour.
Williams went into Wimbledon in 2013, off the back of winning at Roland Garros, feeling invincible and that came back to bite her, but after departing early in Paris, she will be so determined to make sure she doesn’t make the same mistake twice.
And when Serena is determined and fit and on a grass court, you struggle to oppose her.
Maria Sharapova, the 2014 French Open champion, is by far and away the second favourite – any time matches get close she is like granite - but third favourite?
Take your pick from about 25 other women!
Lisicki, last year’s finalist, has shown few glimpses of form, while Kirsten Flipkens has struggled to win matches and I believe it is far too soon for Victoria Azarenka to make an impression.
The Belarusian has only played two matches since January due to a foot injury – the most recent being this week’s loss to Camila Giorgi at Eastbourne - and the depth in the women’s game now means you cannot waltz back to the top.
There was a time when that was possible but these days there is very little to choose between a woman ranked four and a woman ranked 20 – and it is a woman currently ranked 13, Eugenie Bouchard, whom I expect to contend at Wimbledon.
My golden rule when it comes to assessing players is how they play in the following Grand Slam to their big breakthrough and Bouchard impressed in that regard by backing up her semi-final berth at the Australian with the same result at the French.
With Murray always going to be the star attraction for British fans, I think Watson can relax and enjoy the experience.
That shows she has so much going for her mentally and I only see here getting better and better.
With Laura Robson out injured, meanwhile, there may be more eyes on Heather Watson, but with Murray always going to be the star attraction for British fans, I still think she can relax and enjoy the experience.
The difficulty Heather may find, though, is that her excellent week at Eastbourne – she reached the semi-finals before being beaten by Madison Keys – could take a lot out of her emotionally, so it will be interesting to see how she copes.
That said, Watson is making huge strides, has won a ton of matches and will be a tough test for anyone.