Wimbledon outlook

In one week we are wrapping up the first round of Wimbledon. I guess the draw will be out on Friday. This will probably help us see what players can make it far, besides the big 3. The following list of major contenders has been slightly modified due to last week. It served as an important indication of where the two, not so grassy-loving players behind Federer, are right after RG and just prior to Wimbledon. In reality the list of contenders is very short, but here are the top 10 men one should consider as most likely to see in the QFs before the draw is out.

1. Roger Federer
Simply couldn’t be a bigger favorite. Bigger than last year, even with the smaller gap between him and the two below. He has still the most impressive winning streak of 59!!! Hasn’t lost on grass since Ancic in 2002!! Has now tied Djokovic in W-L after this last week. Did I mention he has won Wimbledon 5 times in a row? Probably more convincing every year?! I cannot see how on earth there’s a reason to doubt him. Yes, Rafa probably wrote some history by bageling him in that last set in Paris, but once Federer hits his comfort zone, which he undoubtly will on grass, there’s no turning back. It’s not Federer who has to fight to get to the final, it’s Nadal. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again… although he did win in Queen’s, he will be more likely taken out early than Federer. Nadal was so close to defeat both against Soderling AND Youzhny last year. I know you don’t like IF this and IF that, but Nadal will have to be superior like in Paris and win in straight sets to prevent being just a little too tired to give his 110% in the final. I assume he was just slightly more tired than Federer last year and could have been the reason he lost the final. That, and Federer not playing his best tennis throughout the match. Okay.. what’s the verdict? Until he loses!!! on grass, he will still sail as favorite and win it again this year. I said around 90% chance last year… because of Nadal’s obvious mental edge and improvement, and bad start to Federer’s 2008… 80% chance this year.

2. Rafael Nadal
Do I need to remind people than Spain has never won Wimbledon in the Open Era? Rafa could change that this year, but I still think NO. Here’s why… although he has improved his offense A LOT, he still is vulnerable to offensive players like Federer, like Soderling, like Youzhny, like Kendrick!! (gave him a hard time in 06)… But has beaten all but Federer. Reason being his fighting, his superhuman like attitude and raw willingness. The fact that he has moved inside the baseline for more shot-making will help him get throught the two weeks with more straight sets matches. The only exceptions I could think of, who could beat Nadal when not playing to his full potential are: Djokovic, Roddick, Nalbandian, Blake, Gasquet, Murray, Tsonga?, Stepanek!!, Youzhny…. and more flat hard hit, slicing, low bounce maniacs. On a good day, which he has 19 out of 20, he will tear them all apart. That’s why I can see him in the final this year as well, but maybe not good enough to beat the MAN. Why? His offensive play on clay worked, I don’t think it will on grass. Not that I compare Rafa to Roddick, but Federer’s finals in 03-05 showed why he loves attacking players on fast surfaces and not slow ones. He plays great tennis when the speed is high and bounce is low. So keep that forehand spinning like crazy and keep them deep as heck. Another 5 set match? Sure, why not?!

3. Novak Djokovic
Probably the poorest player on grass in the top 10. He told us why in London… it’s only the third season he plays on this surface. Just like Nadal, you just kinda need to adjusting time. But there’s not doubt he is still third favorite for the title. By far the most improved player this past year, and this past season. He went to the last four in 07 and something tells me he will do it again. Then the question is, who will he have to beat; Federer or Nadal? I’ll give him a 40-60 against Rafa and 10-90 against Federer. But maybe he sees it differently? I’m sure many players would rather play a more “normal”-hitting player like Federer rather than being shotgunned by Nadal’s top spin. I don’t know if he will get crowned Wimbledon champ, but he is right up there with the other two. If anything happens with the guys upstairs, he’s the favorite.

4. Andy Roddick
There’s no reason to downgrad this dude because of losing to the second best grass player. I said that the winner could be crowned the 2nd best on grass after Federer. Nadal won… You have to remember that besides the awful 2006, SF and 3rd round, this guy has a solid record in Wimbledon and Queen’s. A total of 60-12 on grass (compared to 75-11 for Federer) is second best actually. But still is an underdog for the title. Last year he had a weird loss to Gasquet in the SF and was crushed. Roddick being up 2-0 is usually a 99.5% safe bet for a win. I don’t know which side of the draw he wants to be on, but this year he is seeded 6th I believe and could meet one of the big 2 in QF. If he wants this title he will need to beat both Federer, Nadal and Djokovic back2back. He should be able to, at least, and he has shown us this year that it is possible. Let us just hope for his sake, that he didn’t push 100% against Rafa this week so that he could save the best for Wimbledon. Being injured is not somethign he wants in this part of the season. Can he beat the some of the big 3? I think he has a shot at Djoko and Rafa, but Federer…? No way. Like with anything else, as long as Roddick hasn’t been able to beat him before (0-3 on grass h2h) we won’t be able this time either. Prediciton for Roddick: optimistic – SF, realistic – QF, pessimistic – 4th round

5. Andy Murray
Now from here on, this gets tricky. I’d say that candidate-wise there are many players who could fit into the #5 position. Murray seems the obvious choice because he HAS improved since last year. He started 2008 very well and seems to have matured a little bit. If there’s a slams he wants and needs to win, it’s this one. I don’t give him much of a chance, but I could actually see him in a QF or SF beating one of the top 3. Murray is another candidate to take out Nadal IMO. I would love to see a match between the two. So for the sake of Britain’s tennis I put him as a #5.

6. Richard Gasquet
This guy goes this high ONLY… because of QF last year, beating Roddick in 5 AND because he seems better on grass now than he has done in general ALL year. After a horrible start to 2008, he seems to be back, or at least half-way. But we do know, and have seen all the talent in this guy so there’s no reason why cannot see him in a QF again. SF sounds hard, cause I think if the runs into any of the players above, it’s OUT. Prediction is L16 or QF.

7. Stepanek
Stepanek is always a dark horse. If he can beat Federer on any surface, why not on grass? He has had a rollercoaster year, but the Federer-win in Rome was probably the high point. I also liked how he gave Ferrer a hard time in Paris. He lost to Haas in Halle, but I don’t know if that is reason enough to doubt him for anything. Haas isn’t the most stable player out there so… However, Stepanek has a poor history at Wimbledon, considering his play is probably best suited for fast grass. Lost to PHM last year in the first round and Bjorkman in QF after some intense battles in 2006. The only reason for putting him up this high, is because he knows how to surprise, and if he deoesn’t run into Federer or Nadal early we could see him sail past some obvious victims. Should be noted that last year he was ranked 60-something.. now he is a happy camper inside top 15. QF or 4th round is most likely.

8. Ivo Karlovic
I don’t understand it! Why is Karlovic 0-3 the last 3 years?! The Nadal match should show that he should be fighting with the best on grass. For some reason, grand slamming is not his thing. Could 2008 be his year? Sure. Fact is that this past year has been his best overall. He hit #18 in April and is still #22 before going into Wimbledon. But I cannot see him losing to Mathieu, Ferrer, Tsonga, Youzhny… and I don’t know why. I actually thought he was going to beat Nadal the other day…. I say this will be his breakthrough year in Wimbledon with a 4th round.

9. David Ferrer
No I didn’t just forget him. Clay is his thing, he has improved on harder stuff, but grass is clearly not his thing. It could be this year, but Karlovic is a perfect example of a player I can see beating Ferrer early. Lost to Mathieu in straight sets last year and as a 5th seed I can see him do better, but not GREAT this year. 4th round?

10. Nikolay Davydenko
World #4!! For some strange reason grass is not this guy’s thing either. Altough he managed to break the Last 16 barrier last year, it’s obvious that his poor 4-6 record will not help him. But Davydenko is a fighter and has improved his game over the last couple of seasons. We could see him in another 4th round. You have to remember that he has never had a better start to a calendar year than 2008, winning a LOT more than he used to, winning in Miami and being a lot more consistent in general. I still put him in front of some other honorable mentions:

Mathieu, Nalbandian, Blake, Tsonga?, Gonzalez, Youzhny, Monfils, Kohlschreiber, Ancic!!, hell why not Gulbis?!

So, what’s your list?

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4 Responses to “Wimbledon outlook”

  1. Brandon Says:

    Would love to see Tsonga win… Sure he’s French but what the hell

    -Brandon
    http://www.thefreshcan.com
    Daily Tennis Deals with a Splash of Personality

  2. Tim Says:

    Hard to say
    1. Federer
    2. Nadal
    3. Djokovic
    4. Murray
    5. Roddick
    6. Ferrer
    7. Querrey
    8. Nalbandian

  3. RobinNOTsöderling Says:

    Stepanek is always a dark horse? When was he ever close to winning Wimbledon? or any slam? I can go with your top 3, but from AR it’s starting to be unrealistic. AR can win if he is lucky, or if he choses to break Federer’s legs. Robin Söderling on the other hand will beat them all starting with Nadal.

  4. Tim Says:

    After having read a lot of predictions from different sources, I think I have to agree with you. On the BBC site, every “expert” is talking about the Fed-Rafa final, where most of them think Rafa will prevail. I also think it’s more likely that Fed will get to the final, but Nadal’s road seems more uncertain. I think it all comes down to who his opponents will be. Djokovic and Murray, perhaps even a better playing Roddick could, and should, be able to take him out. But enough with the Fed-Rafa final already!! I predict a Murray-Djokovic final!

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