With the 2014 grass court season in full swing, we turn our attention to the only slam played on the surface, Wimbledon.
The 128th edition of the Championships starts on Monday 23rd and promises some great tennis within the two-week period up until finals weekend on 5th/6th July. Below, I’ve decided to preview the Men’s singles in which Britain’s Andy Murray currently holds.
1 – Novak Djokovic 17 – Mikhail Youzhny
2 – Rafael Nadal 18 – Fernando Verdasco
3 – Andy Murray 19 – Feliciano Lopez
4 – Roger Federer 20 – Kevin Anderson
5 – Stan Wawrinka 21 – Alexandr Dologopolov
6 – Tomas Berdych 22 – Philipp Kohlschreiber
7 – David Ferrer 23 – Tommy Robredo
8 – Milos Raonic 24 – Gael Monfils
9 – John Isner 25 – Andreas Seppi
10 – Kei Nishikori 26 – Marin Cilic
11 – Grigor Dimitrov 27 – Roberto Bautista-Agut
12 – Ernests Gulbis 28 – Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
13 – Richard Gasquet 29 – Ivo Karlovic
14 – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 30 – Marcel Granollers
15 – Jerzy Janowicz 31 – Vasek Pospisil
16 – Fabio Fognini 32 – Dimitry Tursunov
In the top quarter, last year’s Runner-Up Novak Djokovic faces Andrey Golubev of Kazakhstan in Round 1 before facing either veteran Radek Stepanek or Pablo Cuevas. Joining the Number 1 seed in the top quarter is 6th seed Tomas Berdych who potentially faces a tough test in Round 3 with 2012 Queen’s winner Marin Cilic looming. The draw appears to be a tough test for the 2010 Wimbledon runner-up with promising Ernests Gulbis and Fernando Verdasco potential 4th round opponents. Popular Frenchman Jo Wilfried-Tsonga also finds himself in this quarter although he appears to have a harsh draw with Jurgen Melzer first up followed by a possible meeting with big-serving Sam Querrey.
Defending Champion Andy Murray is placed into the second quarter and opens up play on Centre Court for the tournament against young David Goffin. The Brit’s draw is arguably a good-looking one with his third round opponent RobertoBautista-Agut not at home on the green surface. The draw is set with either Kevin Anderson or Fabio Fognini being the 3rd seed’s 4th round opponent should the draw go to plan. The next highest seed in the quarter is 7th seed David Ferrer whose participation was in doubt due to illness. He opens up against Wimbledon debutant Pablo Carreno-Busta with the possibility of meeting Brit Daniel Evans in the second round. Talented Grigor Dimitrov is a potential dark-horse at this year’s event following his recent success at the Aegon Championships at the Queens Club. He faces American Ryan Harrison with eccentric Alexandr Dolgopolov a possible 3rd round face-off.
Elsewhere, there’s an exciting first round meeting between Dustin Brown and 2006 semi-finalist Marcos Baghdatis with the winner probably playing Andreas Seppi next.
The third quarter features the two Swiss stars with Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka both knowing they’ll face eachother in the Quarter-Finals should they both reach that stage. Federer opens up against Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi and faces a tough ride throughout this quarter with Julien Benneteau and Gilles Muller next up should the Swiss #2 get though his first round match. Wawrinka opens up against Joao Sousa, the man who caused Federer problems in their recent meeting in Halle. Should Stan pull through, he faces a kind draw despite the possibility of playing John Isner in the 4th round. 2002 Champion Lleyton Hewitt opens up against Michal Przysiezny with 2013 semi-finalist Jerzy Janowicz his likely next opponent.
The fourth and final Quarter features two-time winner Rafael Nadal who faces a nightmare draw starting against Martin Klizan. If he gets past this stage, a rematch with Lukas Rosol looms, the man who stunned Nadal during the 2012 tournament. Big-serving Ivo Karlovic is his likely third-round opponent with either Gael Monfils or Richard Gasquet the Spaniard’s 4th round foe. 8th seeded Milos Raonic is the next highest seed in the quarter, and has an exciting draw ahead starting against Grass-loving Matthew Ebden with Kei Nishikori the likely 4th round match-up. The Japanese youngster has a tough round 1 match however, with big-serving Kenny De Schepper his opponent.
Likely Quarter-Final match-ups (If Draw goes to the seedings)
Djokovic (1) V Berdych (6)
Murray (3) V Ferrer (7)
Wawrinka (5) V Federer (5)
Raonic (8) V Nadal (2)
Looking at the draw as a whole, there should be some exciting matches and a few surprises along the way. The 2013 Championships featured several shocks but I see most of this draw going to plan. Both Murray andDjokovic have favourable draws in contrast toFederer’s andNadal’s. That said, I predict Dimitrov to have a strong tournament due to his favourable draw and his strong form. These variables tied in with the fact David Ferrer isn’t 100% gives me a positive stance on the young Bulgarian. If he does go far and sees off Ferrer, his likely Quarter-Final Opponent is Murray who I expect will have too much for Dimitrov, who’s greater years are still to come. Another dark-horse for me is Milos Raonic who has a good-looking draw and falls into Nadal’s quarter. Should Rafa lose early, expect Raonic to come through. Federer could use his draw in a positive sense by gaining momentum coming through tough challenges. Wawrinka faces a challenge in his opening match, and I wouldn’t be surprised for Sousa to take him all the way. If Federer and Nadal are still in the Championships come the second week, I’d expect both to go far, before possibly facing eachother in a mouth-watering semi-final.
If I had to pick a winner, I’d suggest Novak Djokovic who fell away in the final, perhaps suffering with fatigue. I expect him to use his French Open disappointment as motivation and claim his second championship, gaining revenge against Murray and seeing off his final opponent.
Winner: Novak Djokovic
Dark Horses: Milos Raonic /Grigor Dimitrov
Potential surprise runs: Kevin Anderson, Dustin Brown/Marcos Baghdatis, Joao Sousa.