I picked Roger Federer to win Wimbledon at the start of year. I picked him to win Wimbledon again before the French, so naturally I’m going to stick with him here on the eve of the tournament especially with Rafael Nadal absent from the proceedings.
Would it have mattered had Nadal, the World No. 1, played? No. Not in my mind. I’d likely still have picked Federer and I picked him now for the fact that with the French Open in the bag, it’s virtually “mission accomplished” for the Swiss. The Monkey is truly off his back and the questions have been answered. Plus, there are just so few players out there who can really play on the grass surface, and now with Richard Gasquet off the tour, Nadal nursing bad knees, it looks like we are heading back to the Federer Funhouse days of yesteryear.
And Roger’s draw should provide plenty of entertainment for the 14-time Slam winner. In his bottom half quarter he’s faced with Philipp Kohlschreiber, Feliciano Lopez, Robin Soderling to reach the quarterfinals where he may earn a marginally tougher test against a Fernando Verdasco, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or maybe an Ivo Karlovic. My guess is Federer beats up on Soderling again in the 16s then does the same to Tsonga to reach his 21st consecutive Grand Slam final. Yes, you could make the case that there are some danger areas, but I’m my mind just not on a grass court. Sorry.
In his semifinal match I think it will be Novak Djokovic who steadies the ship after real Jekyll/Hyde first half of the year. One week he’s good, the next he’s bad. But I have to like his draw with just Mardy Fish in his way in the third round, Tommy Robredo in the fourth round – Robredo by the way has to be in one of the worst sections ever in a Slam draw – and then Tommy Haas in the quarters. Haas beat Novak last weekend, but I think Djokovic returns the favor at Wimbledon.
In the top half, taking Nadal’s place on line #1 of the draw is Juan Martin Del Potro. One day DelPo may very well earn that top position, but he’s not quite worthy of that honor just yet. DelPo has quietly reached the quarterfinals or better at three straight Slams now and I think he makes it four this week, but his draw is tricky with Arnuad Clement, Lleyton Hewitt and even Dmitry Tursunov before a run-in with Radek Stepanek next Monday. That will set him up for another Radek, Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals. Roddick opens against former Wimbledon junior champion Jeremy Chardy in what I think is the best first round match of the tournament. Grigor Dmitriv, also a former Wimbledon junior champ, might await in round two followed by Jurgen Melzer and then a major showdown with Tomas Berdych. But in the end I somehow like Roddick to semifinals.
In the last semifinal, Andy Murray will have to handle plenty of firepower in Robert Kendrick, Ernest Gulbis and then Victor Troicki, but I like the Brit to come through his section, beat Stan Wawrinka and then Nicolas Kiefer to reach the semifinals.
So, that leaves the two Andys in the top half with Federer and Djokovic in the bottom. My final: Federer beats Andy…Andy Murray, that is, and returns to the No. 1 ranking. Just like that. What a difference a couple months makes!
If you play longshots, a couple I like are Berdych and Tsonga. I think both have more than enough game to make it to the final weekend should things open up.
As for the women’s tournament, I like Venus over Serena with strong performances from Wozniacki and Dementieva.
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