The red dust has settled, the players have had a green grass tune-up event and now the very heart of the tennis season is upon us: Wimbledon.
Rafael Nadal’s successful defence of the French Open title, together with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer making the final and semi-final respectively, means the world number one ranking is up for grabs in SW19.
Djokovic will retain his position at the pinnacle if he at least makes the final irrespective of how his rivals perform. Given that Federer has the Serb as his potential semi-final opponent (see below for details), the Swiss can definitely retake the top spot by winning the tournament. If Djokovic fails to reach the semi-finals then he opens the door to Nadal, who can then become number one for the third time by winning the tournament.
Federer’s opportunity comes from his relatively weak performance at Wimbledon last year when he reached the quarter-finals. As the Swiss is only defending a low number of points he stands to gain greatly if he can perform better this year. Djokovic and Nadal, last year’s winner and finalist, have a large number of points to defend and so need to perform strongly to maintain their position ahead of the Swiss.
Despite this intriguing state-of-affairs, Wimbledon’s status as the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world means the only thing on the player’s minds for now will be getting their hands on that coveted trophy.
So who is in their way?
Defending champion Novak Djokovic will open the tournament against former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero. Despite being thought of primarily as a clay courter, Ferrero has made the quarter finals at Wimbledon on two occasions so may mange to push Djokovic more than most average first round canon fodder. After that it could be American hope Ryan Harrison followed by the number 28 seed Radek Stepanek in round three. Juan Monaco or Marcel Granollers are the likeliest fourth round opponents, both of whom made the fourth round in Paris this year. Over the other side of this quarter Nicolas Almagro and Richard Gasquet will be looking to challenge Tomas Berdych for the quarter final slot against Djokovic. In the semis the Serb has been drawn to meet Roger Federer, a rematch of their Roland Garros meeting that Djokovic won in straight sets.
Worth a flutter?
Tomas Berdych vs Ernests Gulbis (Round one)
Can the mercurial Latvian make an impact this year?
Roger Federer begins his quest for a seventh Wimbledon title against Albert Ramos while Fabio Fognini and Michael Llodra battle it out to play him in the second round. While the serve volley style of Llodra would make for a good aesthetic match-up, Federer will expect to progress to face seeded opponent Julien Benneteau in round three. The going gets tougher in the fourth round where Giles Simon or Fernando Versdasco should put up more than token resistance. In the quarters Federer is seeded to play Janko Tipsarevic; tough but lacking the threat of a Tsonga, Berdych or del Potro. An alternative opponent at this stage is big-serving John Isner, who faces a potential second round clash with fellow marathon man Nicolas Mahut.
First round from Hell:
Janko Tipsarevic vs David Nalbandian
While some seeds will be teeing off against qualifier or a fortunate British wildcard, Tipsarevic gets the in-form (and presumably still angry) Nalbandian.
A few upsets and a couple of injuries can change a seemingly Mission: Impossible style draw into something more manageable and that will be what Andy Murray is hoping for after being handed the toughest path of the top four seeds. An opening match against a reduced but still wily Nikolay Davydenko may be followed by the always nervy prospect of facing Ivo Karlovic’s serve on grass. The third round could be another big server with Kevin Anderson the seeded opponent, while shot-making youngster Grigor Dimitrov is another possibility after his good run at the Queen’s Club. Big hitting Milos Raonic or Queen’s winner Marin Cillic await in round four, both sizeable obstacles. The seeded quarter final opponent is David Ferrer, who knocked Murray out of Roland Garros just over two weeks ago, and if Ferrer falls before then alternative opponents include the formidable Juan Martin del Potro and three-time former finalist Andy Roddick. Powerful opponents pose a threat to any player on grass and Murray’s quarter is packed full of them. If the Scot does proceed to a fourth Wimbledon semi-final, he will very likely find tennis’s version of the terminator, Rafael Nadal, across the net from him for the third year in a row. Looking hard for a silver lining, there is a chance that the overbearing expectation that Murray shoulders over the Wimbledon fortnight from the British public and media may reduce slightly given this teak-tough draw, don’t count on it though.
Andy Murray vs Nikolay Davydenko (Round one)
Welcome to the pressure cooker, Andy.
Having seen him overtake Bjorn Borg’s record of French Open titles, Rafael Nadal fans could be forgiven for lingering on their man’s achievements on clay but that would neglect the fact he is a giant of the game on grass too. In fact the last time Nadal failed to make the final when competing at Wimbledon is back in 2005. Searching for credible threats to the Spaniard in the early rounds of a grand slam is always tough; even more than normal in this draw. Nadal opens against clay courter Thomaz Bellucci and then faces the winner of Lukas Rosol and Ivan Dodig. Halle champion Tommy Haas may have a puncher’s chance in the third round but can his 34-year-old legs last against the indefatigable Nadal? Seeded fourth round opponent Feliciano Lopez defeated Nadal on their only meeting on grass at Queen’s in 2010 although their overall head-to-head of 9-2 suggests Nadal will prevail. The quarter finals is where Nadal’s luck runs out with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga seeded to meet him there. Tsonga’s formidable physique and corresponding big game means he is one of the few players who can shake the top three on a given day. Last year he sent Federer packing at this stage and took Djokovic right to the brink in their recent Roland Garros match. Murray is the seeded opponent in the semi final.
First round fun from down under:
Bernard Tomic vs David Goffin
The Australian young gun takes on Goffin, a lucky loser qualifier at the French Open where he took a set off Federer having made the fourth round.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Lleyton Hewitt
This may be former champion Hewitt’s last hurrah at SW19, will Tsonga be too much for him?
You can see the full Wimbledon Mens Draw By Clicking Here
What’s your opinion? Please leave your comments below…