Okay. I really want to post such an entry – that Andy Roddick will win Wimbledon this year – but I cannot bring myself around to write it. Not after the draw matched Andy against Roger Federer in the semifinals. If Federer had been on the other side of the draw, then perhaps Roddick could win his first Wimbledon, but with Federer a likely semifinal opponent for the American, there’s no way Andy wins that meeting. And I’m not getting suckered again into thinking he can win that match like I did prior to their Australian Open encounter – and we all know how that turned out! 1-13 is 1-13.
Roddick did win the Queen’s title but he wasn’t exactly overpowering en route to the win. Bad signs were all around: Needing three sets to beat a Brit not named Tim Henman or Andy Murray, and then having to save a match point against Nicolas Mahut. Not exactly the kind of results befitting of a future Wimbledon champion.
But there’s just a feeling in the air (at least where I live, maybe not at Wimbledon where it matters most) that maybe Federer gets upended this year. I mean he does have to lose on grass sometime, right? So why not this year? He’s down after the French loss to Nadal. He skipped Halle. And since the Australian Open he’s won just one title, that in Hamburg.
However, here at Wimbledon he won’t lose to Roddick, he won’t lose to Karlovic (he’s on the other side of the draw), so just who can derail a semifinal run in his section of the draw? Marat Safin? He’ll be lucky just to meet Fed in the third round. Dmitry Tursunov or Tommy Haas in the fourth round figure to have a shot, but let’s be honest, could they really keep their heads and win three sets off Fed in one match? Doubt it. In the quarters, Fed’s last chance for exit before potentially meeting Roddick, Fernando Gonzalez could await, and he’s given Roger trouble in the past but again, him taking three sets is just to big an ask of the Chilean.
So, barring an injury to the Fed, it’s not looking good for Roddick. The good news for the Andy is that he, like Federer, has a pretty clear path to the semifinals. Maybe Ivan Ljubicic in the fourth round could pose some problems, and maybe a free-swinging Frenchman like Richard Gasquet, Jo Tsonga or Mahut might be able to snake a set or two in the quarters but that’s a longshot.
Bottom line this year at Wimbledon is that there are so few dangerous players in the draw with Mario Ancic out, Andy Murray and Mardy Fish not 100%, David Nalbandian on a downslide, Sebastien Grosjean and Jonas Bjorkman a year older and Top 10ers Nikolay Davydenko, James Blake, Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych and Ljubicic unproven on the Wimbledon grass, that it’s really hard to pick against Federer and Roddick.
So what about Rafael Nadal? The Spaniard is a bit of a question mark on the grass, and I think his status as the No. 2 favorite among the bookies is rather generous. In addition to Fish, who if healthy I think could pull off that first round upset, Nadal has plenty of formidable foes to fend off. Robin Soderling or Olivier Rochus could take out Rafa, as could Jarkko Nieminen, and then Berdych in the quarterfinals. And the rain is not going to help Nadal’s cause. That’s why I’ll stay away from Rafa this year and pick as my bottom-half semifinals Lleyton Hewitt to meet Berdych. I think the flaky Berdych has the easiest path of anyone to the quarterfinals, and then I think he’ll finally come through in that section to reach his first Major semifinal. Hewitt looks to be in good shape, as well. As long as he can stay away from Karlovic and Chris Guccione he should emerge from his quadrant. Too bad he’ll get punished by Federer in the final again, but at least Hewitt is back in a championship match, and likely back to getting fed bagels.
As for the women, like the men, I think it’s also a two horse race between Justine Henin and Serena Williams, who’ll meet in the quarters. I’ll take Henin in that one to keep it going and finally claim her first Wimbledon title, and get her career slam.
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