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Wimbledon: Hard-hitting Cilic can grab second grand slam

Men's Wimbledon preview and predictions

Roger Federer returns to the lush lawns of Wimbledon to defend the title he won in such spectacular fashion last year when he became the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1976 to win the tournament without dropping a set.

Federer got the year off to the perfect start by winning his 20th Grand Slam at the Australian Open and since then he has won two other titles on the indoor hardcourts at Rotterdam and on the grass at Stuttgart, where he beat Milos Raonic in the final.

Understandably Federer starts the tournament as 7/4 favourite but he had a hiccup in the build-up to Wimbledon, surprisingly missing out on a 10th title at his beloved Halle by losing to world No 34 Borna Coric in a three-sets final.

That defeat halted his reign as world number one and also ended his 20-match winning streak on his favourite surface but he remained upbeat about his week in Germany.

He said: "I actually thought I played maybe my best match of the week. It just didn't go my way. So, it's a bit unfortunate there. But I'm definitely going to leave with my head high, thinking it's been a good run.

"I'm definitely looking forward to some recovery time now next week and just some easy preparation. I'm really going to love going to Wimbledon. Being the defending champion always creates pressure. So regardless of whether I won or lost here I will be one of the favourites there."

Rafael Nadal will also be one of the favourites and looks well priced at 7/1 but he pulled out of Queen's for the third year in a row after a gruelling clay-court season which he concluded by winning the French Open for the 11th time.

Question marks still surround Andy Murray's participation at Wimbledon after admitting he "did not feel great" after losing his first match in 11 months to Nick Kyrgios at Queen's which prompted him to request a wild card for Eastbourne.

It would be too much to expect 12/1 shot Murray to win the tournament and the same goes for Raonic, who has struggled with injuries over the last couple of years and pulled out during Queen's with a shoulder problem.

Instead, our Wimbledon betting preview expects Marin Cilic to put aside his 2017 disappointment and win the tournament at 6/1.

Last year, the big-serving Croat struggled with a blister which reduced him to tears in the final and hopefully the same problem won't affect him again.

The 2014 US Open champion warmed up for Wimbledon by winning Queen's for the second time, coming back from a set down to see off Novak Djokovic who is also warming up nicely ahead of the third major of the year.

Cilic also lost to Federer in January's Australian Open final and with his sights set on becoming the world's best player he accepts he needs to start winning majors.

He said: "The ultimate goal is to reach number one. That's my goal in terms of my tennis results and looking ahead for my improvement. That would mean I would have to win a couple of grand slams in order to be number one, especially with Roger and Rafa winning most of them.

"You can't actually be number one without winning those big tournaments so that's a big focus and big goal."

Cilic has been knocking at the door at SW19 recently with three quarter-finals preceding his appearance in the showpiece last year and may well be the man to beat over the next two weeks.

Traders' Tips - View from the trading floor

Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open winner and last year Wimbledon finalist is our top pick for this tournament. He's had a brilliant season, reaching the Australian Open final, winning at Queen's and also making the last eight of the French Open despite not being a clay specialist. He is known to be one of the best servers on the circuit and excels on grass. This year the draw should let him cruise to the semi-finals where he is seeded to face Roger Federer. Despite a relatively tough draw, we believe his extensive experience and form will land a second Grand Slam.

Warren Barner
@warren_barner in Tennis