I know I’m a little bit late with my previews, and it’s been a while since I posted here, but I’ve been reporting for TennisReporters.net and TennisInfo.be last week from the Ordina Open in Rosmalen, where numerous rain delays almost pushed back the finals to Sunday. For an exclusive interview with Jelena Jankovic, head over to TennisReporters.net.
Now then, time to take a look at the draws for what most people call the biggest tournament in tennis.
For the first time in his career, Roger Federer enters Wimbledon not having played a warmup event on grass. Former greats such as John McEnroe and Pete Sampras have regretted their decision to the do same, when they were consequently bounced out of SW19 before finals day. Still, it would be insane to bet against the Swiss not making the semis.
Semifinal pick: Roger Federer
Forget about the clay, Andy Roddick is back on his favorite surface and ready to do some damage. The No.3 is coming off a win in Queens and has been drawn in the lightest section of the tournament.
Semifinal pick: Andy Roddick
This is where things get interesting. Nikolay Davydenko, David Nalbandian, Marcos Baghdatis, Lleyton Hewitt and Novak Djokovic are the seeds to watch, but don’t look past dangerous floaters such as Gael Monfils, Max Mirnyi and Ivo Karlovic. Who to pick from this section? Forget about Davydenko, the Russian hasn’t even won a handful of matches on grass in his career. I’m liking Hewitt’s chances, if he can get past Novak Djokovic in the fourth round. The 2002 champion will face either Baghdatis, Nalbandian or Monfils in the quarters and his experience should get him past that hurdle.
Semifinal pick: Lleyton Hewitt
Rafael Nadal will have a much tougher road to travel should he make it to another Wimbledon final, compared to last year’s draw. The Spaniard opens against Mardy Fish and is scheduled to meet his nemesis Mikhail Youzhny in the fourth round. I like the Russian’s chances, if he is no longer bothered by his lower back injury, and he should be able to best Tomas Berdych or possibly Jonas Bjorkman in the quarters to advance to his second major semifinal, after reaching the last four at the US Open last year.
Semifinal pick: Mikhail Youzhny
It’s turning out to be a fairly good draw for Hewitt, who won’t meet Federer before the final this time. Hewitt should win against Youzhny, and the Aussie might take a set off Federer in the championship match, but the grass courts belong to the Swiss No.1, who will emulate Bjorn Borg’s five consecutive titles won at Wimbledon.
Champion: Roger Federer
If you liked the Roland Garros women’s draw, you’re going to love this one. Justine Henin and Serena Williams highlight the top quarter of the draw, just as in Paris. Serena was flat in her match against Henin at the French, but I’m liking the American’s chances at the lawns of the All England Club. The winner of the tournament will likely come again out of this match, but I think Serena’s power game will have more impact on the fast surface, and so Henin will have to wait another year for her career Grand Slam.
Semifinal pick: Serena Williams
Jelena Jankovic and Anna Chakvetadze are the highest seeds in the second quarter, and although the Russian has a tricky third round opponent in Michaella Krajicek, I don’t think the Dutchwoman will be able to take last week’s Ordina Open champion out. Jankovic and Chakvetadze should both reach the quarterfinals, in what would be a replay of their final in The Netherlands last Saturday. Since Jankovic will be playing for the tenth straight week, I’m liking Chakvetadze to pull the upset.
Semifinal pick: Anna Chakvetadze
Can we say Amelie Mauresmo is back to her old self? The 2006 Wimbledon champion played an excellent event in Eastbourne last week, where she narrowly lost in the final to Justine Henin. Mauresmo feels comfortable on grass and has a great draw to the semis. I don’t think Ana Ivanovic is skilled enough on the lawns yet to take her out in the quarters.
Semifinal pick: Amelie Mauresmo
We have two potential semifinalists in this quarter. Venus Williams and Maria Sharapova will do battle on what is considered to be both players’ favorite surface, in the fourth round of The Championships. I’m thinking Sharapova will avenge her 2005 loss at Wimbledon to Venus and advance to the last four. The second-seeded Russian has had some good match practice in Birmingham, where she was edged by Jelena Jankovic in the final. Venus on the other hand hasn’t shown much all year, and even though she has the ability to surprise everyone and make a run to the final, I’m favoring Maria.
Semifinal pick: Maria Sharapova
Anna Chakvetadze is a gifted player, but Serena Williams should comfortably take her out in the semis. I believe Mauresmo will beat Sharapova in a 2006 Wimbledon semifinal rematch, because the Russian could start feeling her shoulder again after the busy weeks she’s had. In the final, I’m going with Serena to win it all.
Champion: Serena Williams
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