Given the recent form of some of the higher ranked players (Berdych I’m looking at you here) and the significant number of highly ranked fatigued (Djokovic, Federer, Nadal) and injured players (Simon, Fish) looking at the first round match ups took longer than it normally does. Recently players like Ivan Dodig, Andreas Seppi, Philipp Kohlschreiber and Janko Tipsarevic have stepped up and played some great tennis on grass and should make for an interesting Wimbledon.
The Spanish world number one Rafael Nadal certainly has some pressure on his shoulders to defend his title after missing out on the chance to do so in 2009. Should Nadal do anything but win the title then Novak Djokovic will leap frog him in the rankings.If Novak gets to the final then Nadal will kiss the top ranking goodbye regardless of whether he lifts the trophy again. If Rafa fails to reach the finals and Federer wins the tournament he will overtake Nadal (as will Djokovic). So in theory If Nadal fails to win the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double for the third time he could very easily find himself bumped down to number three in the rankings.
It is hard to look past Federer to take home the crown. I’d like to pick someone else, even if just for a little bit of variety between the Nadal-Federer happy years, but I think Federer will find his way to a 7th Wimbledon crown. If Roger can play like he did in Paris he’ll be hard to beat on grass.
First Round Matches To Watch
Fabio Fognini V Milos Raonic: This one really could go either way. It depends on how Fognini pulls up after the thigh injury that saw him withdraw from Roland Garros. On grass he’ll have to be able to sit a little lower so he’s going to need some healthy quads to get past this tough first round opponent. Raonic has never played at Wimbledon and will be out to impress and show why he’s rocketed up the rankings but something makes me want to back the Italian Stallion.
Gilles Simon V Qualifier: I haven’t looked to see who Gilles is playing. I will more be watching this match to see how Gilles has recovered after he recently retired from his second round match at Queens.
Radek Stepanek V Fernando Verdasco: This is another match that could go either way and it really depends on if Fernando shows up to play. If he follows recent behaviour patterns he’ll get frustrated and implode, most likely blowing a lead or not concentrating long enough to get a lead. In the last few weeks Verdasco has been playing a bit better and so I’m going to back him to start turning around his season and not bomb out in the first round.
Ivan Ljubicic V Marin Cilic: This could be a good one, it could be a great one but I would be surprised if Cilic doesn’t just roll over and play dead. He seems to have lost all momentum since the Australian Open last year. Cilic also recently handed Andy Murray a walkover in the quarterfinals at Queens after suffering ankle and knee injuries.
Ivo Karlovic V Janko Tipsarevic: Again this has all the potential to provide some fireworks in an early round match… and by fireworks I mean a match that’s hard to pick and with some sodding huge serving. Karlovic made the quarterfinals in 2009, using his serve to great effect, but in the four attempts before 09 he failed to get beyond the first round. I think he’ll fail again here.
Alex Dolgopolov V Fernando Gonzalez: Dolgopolov should have no issue here. Gonzalez has barely played in a year but it will be nice to see Gonzo back on the court.
John Isner V Nicolas Mahut: Well, well, well look what we have here. Who would have thought these two would get drawn for a first round rematch after their history making 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68 match last year that Isner won. I don’t expect another epic, particularly is Isner brings it the way he did against Nadal in their Roland Garros first round match recently.
Robin Soderling V Philipp Petzschner: Petzschner recently retired with a back injury from his finals match against Kohlscreiber in Halle. Despite that he gave Nadal a good run for his money in their five set third round match at Wimbledon last year and so he could potentially provide a huge early test for Soderling particularly if the German is over his back problem. Soderling will find a way through to the second round.
Soderling leads their head to head 2-0.