Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon guide

One of the world's great tennis coaches, Nick has guided many players to the top – including the Williams sisters, Andre Agassi, Monica Seles and Maria Sharapova. Read his Wimbledon Dossier every day, only in The Independent

Wimbledon is without doubt the classiest, most prestigious tournament on earth, and for the very fact that it's here again, and we're here again to relish it, hallelujah! Bring it on.

It's been the backdrop to some of the best moments not just in my sporting life but my life, period. And what a backdrop.

Wimbledon's uniqueness on the Grand Slam circuit stems from the All England Club maintaining tradition – come wind, rain or shine – in a way that the other Slams haven't, or couldn't.

History pervades the place, so too mystique: the walls covered in ivy, the dainty Rolex clock, the absence of glaring, blaring courtside ads. Marvel at the abundance of smart, polite, ever-helpful stewards, at the order of the place, at Radio Wimbledon, at a nation's two-week obsession, at the dress code.

And all this underpinned by the standards of the blazered gentlemen who run their club with the motto: "Our way or the highway!"

Okay, so maybe they wouldn't put it quite like that. But they get on with business the way they see fit. They maintain dignity in tennis. They have not sold their souls, and that's a terrific thing.

Wimbledon is also democratic for the fans. College basketball is huge in the US, and Duke versus North Carolina is a big, big deal. (For those not familiar with that scene, I'm referring to the rivalry between Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). You can queue outside to buy seats for Duke-NC games but I'm struggling to think of other examples of top-echelon sport where on match day you can just walk up and get in.

At Wimbledon, you can do that most days. And if you spend a few hours overnight on the pavement you don't just get in, you get the chance to buy prime seats for the most famous court in the world.

Do you think you can pay for walk-up access for the Arthur Ashe Stadium at the US Open? You're kidding me. You want a "now" seat at Roland Garros? Non, non, non. Adieu, dude.

Wimbledon's accessibility to royalty and ordinary Joes alike is part of what makes it a different kind of Slam; a beautiful, competitive Slam that every player wants to win.

I concede that the new roof will deprive us of one Wimbledon's quirks: the frequent occasions for debate about whether it's too dark, too damp, too rainy to continue. That edginess helped, albeit in a small way, to make last year's astonishing men's final between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer the occasion it was. But I believe the new lid will also be part of future momentous days.

Boy! I've had a few of those in London. Watching Andre Agassi beat Goran Ivanisevic to win the championship in 1992 is a memory I will cherish forever. To be there as coach to a man I regarded like a son, in his corner, literally, words can't adequately describe it. And who would have thought back then, at the champions' dinner, that the singles winners, Andre and Steffi Graf, would have a future together?

Food reminds me of a more recent personal highlight, being invited two years ago to lunch with the president of the All England Club. I've been to the club so many times but never to the inner sanctum. For an outsider like me, from little Pelham in New York, that was a big, big deal. And I'll tell you something else: the first time I got my credentials to work as a member of The Independent's team at Wimbledon was special too. I take my commentary for your wonderful newspaper very seriously, folks. It's a privilege and honour to write for you.

My other special Wimbledon moments revolve around "my girls", players who I have either coached on their way to becoming great champions (such as Monica Seles and Maria Sharapova) or who I have had the privilege to work with at my academy (Venus and Serena Williams among them).

But you're almost as likely to see me hovering next to a hedge on an outside court watching one of "my boys", Tommy Haas or Max Mirnyi, as being on Centre Court.

Then again, how can the biggest stages fail to thrill? In 1995, I was working with Boris Becker when he reached the final by beating Andre in the semis. My abiding memory of Boris and Wimbledon was his attitude to the place. "Mr B, let's get one thing straight," he said. "Wimbledon is my second home, I decide how long I'll be around."

It does get under your skin. And the grass gets up some players' noses! You know the type: they get angry at it, they moan about it, they say they can't handle it, they say they haven't had time to to get used to it. I, for one, celebrate the diversity that grass brings to the season.

To any whinging player lucky enough to be at SW19, I say: "Grass at Wimbledon is a fact. If that's a problem for you, find a solution." Yes, on a hard court you'll maintain your balance better. But then wet clay isn't the most stable surface and you don't hear so many moans about that.

Grass offers multiple challenges. It's not just that if differs in pace and grip from other surfaces. The same grass court can differ in how it plays within a tournament and even within a match, depending on where and when the grass has become dirt. But that change of surface is part of the challenge.

A player who wants to win Wimbledon needs flexibility in their game, to be able to adjust, to be ready for any low, skiddy bounce. There is no continuity of environment, technically it can be chaotic. Unlike the surroundings.

Now if I could just get some strawberries and leave change from 10 bucks...

5 Men to watch

Roger Federer

Full of confidence, he's regained the respect of the tour after winning the French Open to equal Sampras's 14 Grand Slams. You have to make the best player who ever lived the favourite. Gentleman genius.

Rafael Nadal

The reigning champ's chances will all come down to his health and fitness. His loss to Robin Soderling in Paris showed he's vulnerable, so too Federer beating him on clay in Madrid. Dangerous as hell if fit.

Andy Murray

He's fit, he's ready, he's serving big and I don't just mean winning titles regularly to fulfil British expectations. The street fighter is a clear and present danger to the two main men.

Tommy Haas

In my view, Federer's toughest match in Paris was not Juan Martin del Potro but against Tommy, who led by two sets. Haas won in Halle, has been playing well and can be a spoiler if not victor.

Philipp Kohlschreiber

He's not going to win the title but this 25-year-old German, No 33 in the world, is capable of winning a few matches and knocking over some significant names along the way.

5 Women to watch

Venus Williams

I just can't see the women's final not having a Williams sister in it, and probably winning. Venus is more than capable at 29 of doing it for a sixth title and for three in a row.

Serena Williams

It doesn't seem like six years ago that she last won it but it's a fact. It's also irrelevant to her chances. The best athletes move it up a gear when needed.

Maria Sharapova

Hard as nails and ultra-competitive, nobody will want to face her on a surface she loves. My reservation is whether she's in peak condition to last 14 days.

Jelena Jankovic

No Slam wins, one final (US Open 2008) and three fourth-round losses at Wimbledon. If Jelena wants to be great, she needs to step up to the plate.

Svetlana Kuznetsova

I look down at the draw and feel Dinara Safina can't win, nor Ana Ivanovic, nor many others. Grass isn't Kuznetsova's thing, but the quarters beckon, then Russian roulette.

Latest Odds

Rafael Nadal 7-1

Roger Federer 10-11

Andy Murray 5-2

Novak Djokovic 12-1

Juan Martin Del Potro 20-1

BETFRED

Dinara Safina 9-1

Serena Williams 9-4

Venus Williams 10-3

Elena Dementieva 25-1

Svetlana Kuznetsova 12-1

BETFRED

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone