Much like the French Open, controversy around the seeding of Rafael Nadal has been the main talking point pre-draw. Many have pointed out the absurdity of someone with Nadal’s record this year being outside the top four but even with the seeding formula – designed to reward players for their success on the grass – Nadal is unable to be bumped up a seed given his 2nd round exit to Lukas Rosol last year. It’s likely this argument will rear its head once more at the US Open when Roger Federer looks likely to be a fifth seed barring a string of victories over the summer.
To view this year’s draw, please click here: Wimbledon 2013 Men’s Draw
Nadal was eventually seeded third due to a flurry of titles and the withdrawal of Murray at the French but will be fifth at the All England Club. He will be projected to face a top four player in the quarter finals and the unlucky player is Roger Federer. Their 2008 meeting in the final (their third in a row, the first two of which were taken by Federer) is lauded as one of the greatest matches of all time but the rivalry has somewhat died down now given Nadal’s dominance (H2H currently stands at 20-10) but you would have to think Federer’s best chances are on the grass. It seems strange to think that the seven time Wimbledon champ would be the underdog here but his struggles this year are well documented although the Swiss did manage to end his title drought in Halle last week.
Nadal’s section looks to be relatively straight forward, beginning with Steve Darcis. The Belgian did defeat Tomas Berdych on the grass last year in the Olympics but isn’t the type of big hitter than could pose trouble to Nadal in the early rounds while the courts play faster. Lukasz Kubot or Igor Andreev should be easy pickings in round two so it looks Benoit Paire is the only possible player stopping Nadal sailing through the early rounds. However, the Frenchman has lost in straight sets on both occasions this year to Nadal. It’s likely the in-form Stanislas Wawrinka will be waiting in the fourth round but the prospect of a tie against Lleyton Hewitt (who Wawrinka plays) is intriguing, especially given Hewitt’s performances at Queens this year.
Victor Hanescu and one of Sergiy Stakhovsky or Rogerio Dutra da Silva should pose no problems for Federer in the opening two rounds but a potential Federer-Lukas Rosol match is on the cards in the third round. It’s hard to see lightning striking twice but a repeat of Rosol’s extraordinary performance from last year would make for compelling viewing. Jerzy Janowicz continues to improve and defeated Ernests Gulbis at Wimbledon last year. He has the ability and the big serve which could trouble Federer if he is off his game although Nicolas Almagro will have something to say about that. The 11th seed already has a win over the Pole in a slam this year but it will be hard to recover from yet another heartbreaking defeat from a dominant position in the French Open.
Slated to play the winner of the Nadal/Federer semi final is Andy Murray. A recurring back problem saw him withdraw from the French Open and he looked in good form in his comeback, taking the Queens title. His route to the semi finals could see him play three of the players he defeated on the way to taking the trophy. He begins with Benjamin Becker who he defeated in straights but not without a little struggle midway through the second set with a possible rare all-Brit match in round two if James Ward can defeat Yen Hsun Lu. Wildcard Nicolas Mahut proved his grass credentials once more with a strong showing in ‘S-hertogenbosch and will fancy his chances against Tommy Robredo should they both advance to the second round. Murray won in straights against Mahut this year but was shocked by the Frenchman last year. Mikhail Youzhny was a finalist in Halle and should be favourite to advance, especially given the disappointing run by the other seed in the section, Janko Tipsarevic. Tipsarevic will play his fellow Serb in Viktor Troicki in his opener. Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Marin Cilic are amongst the favourites to meet Murray in a potential quarter final, with the latter losing to Murray in the Queens final. Tsonga made it to the semi finals last losing to Murray in four sets. Both players have awful records against Murray though, with Tsonga just 2-8 and Cilic 1-9. You can’t count out Ernests Gulbis to make a shock run either – he defeated Tomas Berdych here last year but is just as capable of surprising losses but they are seemingly rarer these days.
While Nadal, Murray, Federer and co fight it out for two spots in the bottom half of the draw, Novak Djokovic will be quietly happy with his draw. Florian Mayer, whom he dispatched in straight sets in the quarter finals is first up as the 2011 champion looks to extend his record over the German to 4-0. American opponents in R2 and R3 look likely with the winner of Steve Johnson and Bobby Reynolds first up. Johnson earned a wildcard while Reynolds qualified but both should be easy pickings for Djokovic. Ryan Harrison has often been unlucky at slams, meeting one of the big 4 in three of his last six tournaments in the opening two rounds. Assuming he defeats Jeremy Chardy and Blaz Kavcic/Jan Lennard Struff, He is a little luckier here with Djokovic awaiting in round three. Tommy Haas continues to amaze at the age of 35 and the 13th seed should meet Djokovic for the second consecutive tournament (Djokovic won 6-3 7-6 7-5 at French Open) although Feliciano Lopez has a claim to being a dangerous floater after making the final in Eastbourne.
Richard Gasquet looks fairly likely to make it to the fourth round with a kind draw that begins with Marcel Granollers and the most dangerous opponents seemingly the winner of the Sam Querrey/Bernard Tomic tie. However, his disappointment at this stage looks likely to continue with Tomas Berdych awaiting in that round. The Czech was disappointing at Roland Garros but is much more comfortable on the grass and is a former Wimbledon finalist. If he flops early, the improving Kevin Anderson could take advantage.
Djokovic is projected to meet David Ferrer in the semi final and the Spaniard should quietly make his way through the draw and given his consistency levels against the lesser player, it’s hard to predict him getting shocked before the quarter finals. A multitude of clay specialists reside in his round 2 and round 3 opponents as well as his Round 1 opponent Martin Alund. Alexandr Dolgopolov has once again flattered to deceive winning just one match in his two warm up tournaments. Round 4 sees multiple qualifiers as well as Milos Raonic in waiting. Raonic has looked far from comfortable on the grass despite possessing the booming serve that people associate with success on the surface. Look to the Ivan Dodig/Philipp Kohlschreiber affair for who should be the Spaniard’s fourth round opponent with both very proficient on the grass with the latter a quarter finalist last year.
Juan Martin Del Potro impressed at the Olympics with victory Djokovic while pushing Federer deep into a third set was outplayed by Ferrer in their Wimbledon meeting last year, losing 6-3 6-2 6-3. The stand out name in the section in terms of threats is Grigor Dimitrov although the Bulgarian’s slam performances have left a lot to be desired. Before the French Open, he had yet to make a third round and did so in Paris with wins due to a withdrawal and against a 18 year old ranked outside the top 300. Also worth mentioning are Kei Nishikori who Del Potro twice defeated on grass last year and Michael Llodra. However, Llodra’s results are far from consistent, most recently losing to Jan Hernych in the Netherlands.
Djokovic d. Ferrer
Murray d. Nadal
Murray d. Djokovic