As tennis turns to Wimbledon, there’s been a bit of a throwback feel to this Grand Slam season so far.
At the year’s first major tournament, the Australian Open in January, Roger Federer beat Rafael Nadal for the men’s title, and Serena Williams defeated her sister, Venus, for the women’s title.
Matchups from a decade ago or more, right?
Then, at the French Open in May and June, Nadal reached a second consecutive major final for the first time since 2014, and won one for the first time since that year.
And now, when play begins at the All England Club, so many of the key story lines will involve those same four players: Federer and Nadal because of their recent resurgence; Serena Williams because of her absence (she’s expecting a baby in September); Venus Williams because she is one of only two past champions in the women’s draw.
Here is what to watch on the grass courts of the year’s third Grand Slam tournament, which starts Monday:
FEDERER THE FAVORITE
Wasn’t all that long ago that folks were figuring Federer’s best days were long behind him. He hadn’t won a Grand Slam title since 2012, and as he entered his mid-30s, he was missing Grand Slam tournaments for the first time in more than 15 years because of injury. And now? He extended his record with an 18th major championship in Australia, opened the year 19-1, took some time off and then won a grass title at Halle, Germany. With defending champion Andy Murray off-form this season, Federer is a popular pick to win Wimbledon for what would be a record eighth time.
NADAL GOES FROM CLAY TO GRASS
There was a time that Nadal excelled on any surface, winning Wimbledon twice and reaching the final on three other occasions while marching his way toward 10 French Open titles and completing a career Grand Slam, too. But then his knees became a real problem on grass and he not only started losing early at the All England…