Tennis for the past decade has been dominated by three players, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic, which each having their own strings of utter dominance during the period. Wimbledon is no different. Centre Court used to be Roger’s house, but the torch has been passed subsequently to Rafa, and now Novak. It’s unlikely that another player has what it takes to get past the big three, but stranger things have happened on the illustrious Centre Court. The draw itself is particularly interesting, and there are many things to watch for at the sport’s most prestigious tournament.
Defending champion and world number one Novak Djokovic likely has little to worry about in his draw, at least until the quarterfinals. He’ll square off against former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero in the first round, who could be a challenge except for the fact that he’s 32, a dinosaur in tennis years. Up and coming American Ryan Harrison is fun to watch, but he’s still not ready to beat a player of Djokovic’s caliber (they’d face off in the second round). Who Novak has to worry about is the 6’5” Czech Tomas Berdych. The Czech is the last player to beat Djokovic in London, on his run to the 2010 final. Other interesting matches to watch is the possible third rounder of Richard Gasquet (France #18) and Nicolas Almagro (Spain #12), and Berdych’s first round matchup against the ever erratic but fascinating to watch Latvian, Ernests Gulbis.
Predicted Semifinalist: Djokovic
Fed’s play has been susceptible at Wimbledon of late, losing in the quarterfinals the past two years to the aforementioned Berdych, and most recently the theatrical Frenchmen Jo-Willy Tsonga. He has the easiest path of the four top seeds to the semis though, with no major grass players in his section, and only a possible quarterfinal matchup against Isner to derail him. He should move on. Other matches of note: Isner versus the red hot Italian Andreas Seppi in the third round.
Predicted Semifinalist: Federer
The window will close soon for Andy Murray and his quest for a major title, he’s now 25, and the British public is absolutely desperate. He’s still managed to make the semifinals here the past three years though, but he faces an absolute gauntlet of a draw this time at SW19. The potential matchup with huge serving Ivo Karlovic in the second round is a nightmare for any player on a grass court, and big servers Milos Raonic, Kevin Anderson, and Marin Cilic all could play the Brit by the 4th round. And don’t forget Nikolay Davydenko, who faces Murray in the 1st Round. The former world number 4 has regressed a ways, but he can still be dangerous once in a while. Who to look out for: Andy Roddick. I don’t see Murray getting out of this quarter. Instead, I see an out of nowhere last gasp run by everyone’s favorite American to rag on, Roddick. Currently ranked number 30, his draw is set up nicely for him, as he could face Del Potro and Ferrer, both uncomfortable on grass. He’s old and it’s out of the blue, but if there’s anywhere for this to happen, it’s at Wimbledon.
Predicted Semifinalist: Roddick
Nadal doesn’t have it super easy in London either. Fresh off of his French Open win, Nadal will face off against unpredictable Brazilian Tomaz Bellucci in the first round. His likely round of sixteen matchup against Feliciano Lopez should also give him a scare. But where he may have the most trouble getting to the semis is against the powerful server Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Tsonga has beaten Nadal at a slam before (albeit at the Australian) and perhaps is most comfortable on grass. If the Frenchmen gets on one of his unbreakable streaks, watch out. I still see Nadal persevering however, if only because of Tsonga’s unstable game. Other matches to watch: Bernard Tomic versus Mardy Fish (possible third round).
Predicted Semifinalist: Nadal
Federer defeats Djokovic
Nadal defeats Roddick
Nadal defeats Federer