Rafael Nadal now the favourite to win 2017 Wimbledon, according to Mats Wilander

By @saihoops on
Rafael Nadal, 2017 Wimbledon championship
Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - June 11, 2017 Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates with the trophy after winning the final against Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka Reuters / Benoit Tessier

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal has now emerged as the favourite to win the 2017 Wimbledon championship, according to Swedish tennis legend Mats Wilander. Nadal made history Sunday by winning his 10th Roland Garros championship and increasing his career Grand Slam tally to 15. 

In recent years, Nadal has had a horrific run at the All-England Tennis Club. After beating Tomas Berdych for his second Wimbledon crown in 2010, Nadal lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2011 final before suffering second, first, fourth and second round exits through 2012 to 2015. Last year, Nadal was forced to pull out of The Championships due to a persistent wrist injury. The Spaniard is playing his best tennis since 2014 and enters the 2017 Wimbledon as a legitimate threat to the likes of Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

"Absolutely he is one of the main favourites now for Wimbledon. He has taken confidence away from Wawrinka, from (Andy) Murray, even though he didn't play him. And Roger Federer is a very happy man that he didn't come to the French because his confidence has not been dented. Nadal has changed his game and he is playing way more aggressive, closer to the baseline, it's a different Nadal. He'll go to Wimbledon with so much confidence. For me he's favourite with Federer but Federer won't have the confidence of coming in as French Open champion," Wilander told Reuters

Rafa at Wimbledon: A trend that follows from 2008 and 2012

Nadal captured the 2017 French Open title without dropping a set. Amazingly, Nadal's two previous Wimbledon crowns came in the only two years he won the French Open without dropping a set (2008 and 2012). This year, Nadal dropped only 35 games en route his 10th Roland Garros title, improving from his dominating efforts in 2008 (41) and 2012 (53). Going by that trend, Nadal should enter the Wimbledon as a significant favourite.

Wilander, a former seven-time Grand Slam champion, believes Nadal's injury layoff in 2016 helped the Spaniard recharge his batteries. "Tennis players don't need to hit that many tennis balls but when they have a chance to get in the gym and work on the lower body and core that's what helps. Nadal's flying on the court and that gives him that extra confidence.

"I'm not that interested in the numbers...10, 11 or nine. But what this title has done is restart his campaign. He hadn't won a slam in years. Now he's going to be thinking going into the next three slams Novak (Djokovic) held all four. Rafa could arrive here next year in May with 18," added Wilander, who won three French Open titles between 1983 and 1988.

As of this writing, odds makers have tipped Roger Federer as the outright favourite to win the 2017 Wimbledon championship. Andy Murray, the reigning champion, has the second best odds, followed by Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Federer hasn't won at the hallowed turf of the All-England Tennis Club since 2012 when he beat Murray to capture his 17th Grand Slam title. Federer and Pete Sampras have each won a record seven Wimbledon titles. At the beginning of the year, Nadal and Federer met in a classic five-set final during the 2017 Australian Open final.