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Wimbledon 2015: The opening week has raised a few big questions

Andy Murray
Image: Andy Murray: Has advanced to the last 16 at Wimbledon

Can Andy Murray repeat his 2013 triumph and will Rafa Nadal win another major? There are plenty of big questions after the first week of Wimbledon...

Time is right for Murray?

At the start of the week, the British No 1 was pondering a treacherous path to the title, with possible match-ups with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Rafa Nadal before he even reached the semi-finals.

But Nadal has already departed following his shock defeat by Dustin Brown, while Tsonga was sent packing by big Ivo Karlovic, just a few hours before Murray completed a four-set win over Andreas Seppi in the third round.

The 6ft 10in Croat stands in Murray's way on Monday, but he has a wretched record against the Scot, who has won all five of their previous matches.

If he racks up a sixth success, Murray will face either Viktor Troicki or Vasek Pospisil in the quarter-finals - two men he has already beaten this year.

Pospisil, the conqueror of James Ward, lost in straight sets at both Indian Wells and Rotterdam, and Troicki has been beaten by Murray in all seven of their matches, with the most recent coming in the semi-finals at Queen's.

Sterner challenges will inevitably lie ahead as he is due to face seven-time winner Roger Federer in the semis, while Djokovic is favoured to reach the final again.

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But there is plenty of cause for British optimism as we approach the final run-in.

What next for Ward and Watson?

Britain's Heather Watson (L) applauds the crowd as she leaves the court with Serena Williams following their women's singles third round match at Wimbledon
Image: Heather Watson: Pushed Serena Williams to the brink

Murray may have ended the week as Britain's sole representative in the singles, but Heather Watson and James Ward both captured the hearts of the home support.

British No 1 Watson nearly suffered a first-round exit, fending off match points in a 1-6 6-3 8-6 win over Caroline Garcia, which spanned two days.

There were no such problems in the second-round clash against former world No 5 Daniela Hantuchova, with the Guernsey girl producing an assured display to seal a 6-4 6-2 win.

Watson nearly topped this performance with a famous win over Serena Williams, breaking the American twice for a 3-0 lead in the deciding set and even served for the match, but the world No 1 and 20-time Grand Slam champion eventually triumphed 6-2 4-6 7-5.

James Ward: Leaves the court after defeat to Vasek Pospisil
Image: James Ward: Broke into top 100 in world rankings

Ward can also look back with pride on his best-ever run at Wimbledon, following up an opening win over Luca Vanni with an impressive three-set victory over Jiri Vesely.

These results launched the Londoner into the world's top 100 for the first time, but he suffered heartache in the third round after Pospisil won a five-set thriller 6-4 3-6 2-6 6-3 8-6.

Ward's heroics should have secured a spot in Britain's squad for the crunch Davis Cup quarter-final against France later this month at Queen's Club.

Whereas Watson will have improved on her 59 ranking and has shown she can compete with the world's best player.

Can Rafa win another major?

Germany's Dustin Brown celebrates beating Spain's Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon
Image: Rafa Nadal: Slumped to a new low following defeat by Dustin Brown

The Spaniard endured another worrying setback at the All England Club, bowing out in the second round after an upset defeat against Dustin Brown.

Nadal had entered the tournament as 10th seed, a clear indication of his recent struggles, but was still expected to reach the second week in south-west London.

After handing over his French Open crown, he would have hoped for a morale-boosting run at Wimbledon, where he had collected two past titles.

But an early exit at last month's Aegon Championships at Queen's proved a fitting omen and Nadal's four-set defeat by Brown led to fresh concerns about his future.  

He is drifting away from the game's top contenders and few will be tipping him to add to his two titles at the US Open.

Is Serena set for title?

Serena Williams celebrates against Heather Watson during day five of Wimbledon
Image: Serena Williams: Targeting a sixth title at the All England Club

The American top seed survived a huge scare against Heather Watson as she battled back from the brink of defeat to claim victory in the deciding set.

Williams, a five-time winner of the tournament, has not picked up the title for three years, but she no longer needs to worry about defending champion Petra Kvitova, who crashed out on Saturday.

The Czech slipped to a surprise defeat against Jelena Jankovic and tipped Williams to triumph in her absence.

"I heard it was a great fight from both of them," said Kvitova, when asked about the Watson match. "I think that Serena sometimes needs kind of this fight during the tournament. So she's still a big favourite."

Serena still has to negotiate a match against older sibling Venus on Monday, with both sisters again under the media glare.

In the head-to-head stats, Serena holds a 14-11 advantage and is expected to have the edge over the 16th-seeded Venus, who turned 35 a few weeks ago.

Will anyone disrupt Djokovic

Novak Djokovic
Image: Novak Djokovic: Yet to drop a set

There were murmurings about the defending champion's lack of preparation in the build-up, but the World No 1 is yet to show any genuine vulnerability on the grass.

Any rust was brushed off by Djokovic in his opening 6-4 6-4 6-4 win against Philipp Kohlschreiber, with the Serb snatching breaks at the end of each set to ease through a potentially testing tie.

Jarkko Nieminen was dismissed with similar efficiency as he inflicted a 6-4 6-2 6-3 defeat on the Finn, while Bernard Tomic was also vanquished in three sets 6-3 6-3 6-3.

The in-form Kevin Anderson, one of the tour's big servers, could supply a decent test for Djokovic in their Court No 1 clash on Monday.

Anderson ousted Stan Wawrinka on his way to the final at Queen's, where was beaten by eventual winner Andy Murray.

But the 14th seed has lost his last four matches against Djokovic, including a straight sets defeat at Wimbledon in 2011.

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