Where has all the British Tennis Talent Gone?
Andy Murray’s absence casts a dark shadow on Wimbledon this year as British fans gear up for the prestigious tournament. There will be no Murray’s Mound, no clinking of Pimm’s glasses as he secures victory and no opportunities to admire the untiring way in which he scurries about the baseline. The former Wimbledon champion has been ravaged by a hip injury for the past couple of years and he has no chance of recovering in time for the tournament. Brits must therefore look elsewhere to find someone to root for, and there are a few intriguing choices:
Konta is up to 18th in the WTA rankings after her run to the semi-finals at the French Open last month. Her bid for a maiden Grand Slam triumph ultimately ended in disappointment, as she slumped to a 7-5 7-6 (7-2) defeat at the hands of unseeded 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova, but it was a strong tournament overall for her. Konta was born to Hungarian parents in Sydney, Australia, but she switched her sporting allegiance to Great Britain when she became a British citizen in 2012. Since then she has firmly established herself as the top female British player.
She rose to a career high rating on fourth in the world after going to the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2017, and she has racked up £6.7 million in prize money during a stellar career. She could only reach the second round at Wimbledon last year, and British fans will hope for a much stronger showing this time around. Konta’s technical ability is beyond reproach and she is a fine athlete, but the mental side of her game has let her down in the past. She has been known to waste set points with unforced errors, and she needs to be fully focused and avoid any stage fright. But she insists she is full of confidence and happy with her fitness and consistency levels, so this could be the year in which she finally rises to the summit of the sport.
Edmund has been the British number one since Murray’s absence, and he climbed as high as 14th in the ATP rankings in October 2018. He was born in Johannesburg, but his family moved to Britain aged three and he grew up in Yorkshire, where he developed a love of tennis. He is an aggressive baseline player and he can generate plenty of power and spin off his forehand. Edmund announced himself to the tennis world when he surged through to the semi-finals at last year’s Australian Open, beating Grigor Dimitrov in the process. He went on to win a maiden ATP Tour title at Antwerp and he entered 2019 full of optimism.
Things have not gone entirely to plan thus far this year, and he is down to 30th in the world rankings, but he remains capable of mixing it with the best players in the business. He has previously beaten Novak Djokovic – the clear favourite to win Wimbledon this year and a highly rated superstar, as this sports spread betting blog and many others attest – and if he can improve his stamina then he might just surprise a few people at Wimbledon this year.
A lack of official funding for junior players has long stymied the search for British talent, and this has contributed to a stark lack of success on the international stage. Murray is the exception to the rule, but it is now time to plan for life after the great Scot, and the picture looks a little bleak. However, Norrie could emerge as the shining beacon of hope for British tennis. He was born in South Africa and grew up mainly in New Zealand, but his father is Scottish and his mother is Welsh, so he declared for Britain aged 16 and moved to London.
He came from two sets down to topple the highly rated Roberto Bautista Agut on his first Davis Cup appearance in 2018. John Lloyd called it “one of the most impressive debuts of all time”. Now aged 23, he is the British number two and already ranked 49th in the world. He has faltered in the first round at Wimbledon for the last two years, but he is improving all the time and he could fare better this time around.
The 19-year-old Yorkshire native secured a wildcard to Wimbledon after pulling off an eye-catching victory in last month’s NCAA tennis championship in Orlando. He grew up on a council estate in Hull, but he is now the number one player at the University of South Carolina and he has emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the junior game. Former NCAA title winners include Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe. Norrie also came through the US college system, but he never won the NCAA title. British tennis is awash with players that failed to deliver on their promise – with Dan Evans, the so-called bad boy of the scene, a prime example – but Jubb seems focused and determined to make a success of his career, so it will be fascinating to see how he gets on at Wimbledon.
Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski
Andy Murray’s older brother has been one of the world’s best doubles players for several years and he already has six Grand Slam titles to his name. That includes mixed doubles victories at Wimbledon in 2007 and 2017, while he reached the doubles final in 2015. He teamed up with Bruno Soares to win the Australian Open and the US Open, but they have now gone their separate ways and Murray has joined forces with fellow Brit Neal Skupski. The Liverpudlian has enjoyed a reasonably successful career in the double’s arena, and this duo could certainly emerge victorious at Wimbledon.