Guest Article: Dr. SS Love
The freshness of the grass at Wimbledon has begun to tickle my senses as we near what will be two weeks of my life dedicated to watching and analyzing every passing moment in what I would say is THE best spectacle in sports. With so many questions swirling around prior to the French Open, regarding Rafael Nadals current standing as the best player in the tennis world, Novak Djokovic’s new found confidence and unblemished record in 2011, and Roger Federer’s dark horse status, many of those questions have been put to rest as the status quo was back in order with yet another Federer Nadal final. It seems as if all the talk has been about the Williams’ sisters return and whether they can win the title or not and the coincidence that is Mahut-Isner meeting again in the first round following their 11-plus hour epic of a match in the very same round last year. Indeed there are more storylines that should be talked about more, such as Federer’s quest to tie Sampras’ modern era record of 7 Wimbledon titles or Djokovic’s continued quest of becoming world number 1. As we near the beginning of this grand tournament, let me break down the men’s draw and give you my predictions.
A quick glance at Nadal’s half of the draw will have one name in particular sticking out from all the rest: Juan Martin Del Potro. A possible 4th round matchup is in the cards for these two, and should they both reach this round, JMDP has the game to beat Nadal. Unfortunately for him, grass is his worst surface and he has not done too well in the past in Wimbledon. The real threat comes in the 3rd round where Nadal will face big serving/hitting Milos Raonic who I can see taking at least a set off of Nadal. Ultimately though, Nadal will struggle in the first two or three rounds as he is getting used to the grass and will hit his stride come the 4th round. On the other half of the draw, there is Tomas Berdych as the next highest seed. On paper Tomas Berdych should make it to the quarters to face Nadal, but with his recent form lately and his first round loss at the French, who knows what will happen with this guy. Ultimately, I think he is due for another let down and I can see him losing in the 4th round to the likes of Mardy Fish, whom I believe has the game to make it to the quarter finals to face Nadal. Look for Nadal to reach the semis here after he beats Mardy Fish in the quarterfinals.
This cannot be a worst draw for Murray. With all the pressure that exists with him being the hometown favorite (even though he is from Scotland), Murray, should he make it to the semis, will come out gutted and scarred. With the likes of Lubjicic or Cilic in the third round, Wawrinka or Gasquet in the fourth round, Murray has his work cut out for him. Should he prevail though, bum ankle and all, I think he will have an easy time in the quarters where he should meet Andy Roddick whom he dismantled this past week in the Queen’s semifinals. Look for Murray to barely reach the semis.
The Greatest of All Time’s half:
This draw could not have worked out better for Roger Federer. With a couple days off following his best performance in a losing effort at the French, this man is well rested and oozing with confidence, ready to take back what is his, the Wimbledon title. All the talk in this half of the draw will be about the first round matchup between Mahut and Isner, but believe you me this match will not live up to the hype and unfortunately take off some of the luster from last year’s epic. For Federer, he has a possible 3rd round matchup against Nalbadanian, who can be dangerous, but with a recent return from injury, I doubt he will trouble Federer much. If anything, the toughest test will come in the quarterfinals against Tsonga, a man he owns but also a man who was close to winning his first grass court championship at Queens last week. Look for Federer to make it to the semis without losing a set.
The pressure is off, the focus somewhat turned away, and the game and confidence still intact. It looks like a possible quarterfinals matchup with Soderling for Djokovic, should Soderling win his tough first round match against the big serving and confident Petzschner who made it to the finals at Halle. Should these two meet, look for Djokovic to make it to the semis by dropping a set to Soderling in the quarters.
A more thorough analysis will come once the matchups are all set. For now, look for Nadal to defeat Murray in 4 and Federer to defeat Djokovic in 4.
An encore of the epic 2008 match, where Nadal won his first title and ended Federer’s reign as King of SW19. I see this match playing more like their 2007 final where Nadal will enter the 5th set with all the momentum on his side, only to see Federer taking back what is rightfully his for the record tying 7th time.