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Why Murray can halt Djokovic

Sky Sports Sky Sports 27/06/2016

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Andy Murray is capable of halting the Novak Djokovic juggernaut at Wimbledon, writes Tim Clement...

Novak Djokovic heads to Wimbledon as the undoubted No 1 in men's tennis, but there's reason to believe Andy Murray can halt his Grand Slam charge.

The Serb recently completed his career Grand Slam collection with a first French Open triumph, setting him up to become the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win all four majors in the same year.

His dominance is as comprehensive as we've ever seen on tour, as epitomised by the way he has taken full control of his rivalry with world No 2 Murray, winning 13 of their 15 meetings since they last clashed at Wimbledon.

However, that historic date in 2013 saw Murray romp to a comprehensive victory, adding to his straight-sets win at the same venue in the 2012 Olympics.

That leaves Murray with five out of five sets against Djokovic on grass, reason alone to think he could overturn the favourite. Then we have the Ivan Lendl factor. The Czech legend was back in Murray's corner as he claimed an unprecedented fifth Queen's title and must be a significant boost to the Scot's self-confidence.

The eight-time Grand Slam champion would not have renewed the relationship had he not believed in Murray's ability to challenge Djokovic's dominance, and a fresh tactical vision was clearly required after the French Open final loss, where a second strategy was desperately lacking after momentum turned.

There will of course be more than two male singles players at Wimbledon but odds of 11/10 on Djokovic and Murray meeting in the final for a third successive major reflects their dual dominance.

Roger Federer is obviously not a name we can overlook, especially with court-time under his belt after regaining full fitness.

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The 17-time Grand Slam champion lost to rising stars Dominic ThiemĀ and Alexander Zverev in successive semi-finals in preparation, having only played two previous events since the Australian Open due to injury.

The elongated nature of majors should give him the chance to build some more match fitness and confidence, but the format is also most concerning for a potential semi-final date with Djokovic.

The Swiss star has won a set in each of their last five major meetings, three of which have been at Wimbledon, but eventually came up short in each clash.

After Federer we look to the next generation for outside interest.

Milos Raonic heads the market from those yet to win a major at 20/1 and had the opportunity to make a real statement of intent in the Queen's final.

However, despite new coach John McEnroe sitting in his corner, the 25-year-old failed to convert from a set and a break up against the Scot, leaving him with five losses and no wins from his encounters with the top two this year.

Being drawn in Djokovic's quarter is especially troubling given his failure to win any of their seven meetings, including two straight-set loses this year, although they're yet to meet on grass.

Nick Kyrgios (25/1) has been Raonic's other main nemesis of 2016, with the Australian winning two of their three clashes, but it's another bad draw for another big server.

Kyrgios is seeded to meet Murray in the fourth round and has only claimed a single set from their four encounters, making a repeat of his 2014 quarter-final run look very unlikely.

Thiem (50/1) is the one contender that really stands out, having enjoyed an exceptional year to date, sitting fourth in the 'Race to London' rankings.

The 22-year-old has won four titles, one on each surface, and he is a big scalp or a top-tier title away from being recognised as a major contender.

His climb into the top eight seedings has been rewarded with a favourable draw, sitting in the same section as the opposable Tomas Berdych (66/1) and Stan Wawrinka (33/1) and in Murray's half.

Berdych made awful preparations in losing to Marcos Baghdatis in Halle while Wawrinka has never enjoyed the Wimbledon grass, with back-to-back quarter-final runs marking an improvement on a previously woeful record but still short of the levels he's reached elsewhere.

Juan Martin del Potro (50/1), who still has a long way to come before returning to his best, and teenager Zverev (66/1) are the two other players rated among the top 10 favourites, which says a lot about the worrying lack of current depth.

That brings us back to the two top seeds and my outright fancy. I simply cannot back Djokovic on the back of an emotionally draining French Open win and on the surface he is most vulnerable at shorter odds than he is to win the US Open (10/11).

Therefore I turn to the player most capable of beating him on grass in Murray, who can and should be backed at 7/2.

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