Rafael Nadal has won Wimbledon the last two times he’s played the tournament. And this year, the defending champ goes for No. 3 and I think he gets it. And if he does win he’ll get a third French Open-Wimbledon double. Quite a remarkable feat for a player who just turned 25.
Nadal, though, has the toughest of draws among his fellow colleagues.
Nadal’s semifinal threat will likely come from Andy Murray in a rematch of the French tussle. Murray’s draw is relatively easy with the lone obstacle in Richard Gasquet. Andy Roddick could also be a quarterfinal opponent for the Scot but Roddick just doesn’t seem to be a match for the top guys anymore. Murray blasted Roddick just last week in Queen’s handing the American one of his worst losses ever on the grass. The stakes and pressure will be much higher, but Murray won’t to Roddick.
Roger Federer should breeze into the semifinals. David Naldbandian is foe a “name” but the Argentine just hasn’t played much sue to injuries as he continues the downslope of his career. And JW Tsonga, a potential quarterfinal opponent, remains unproven on the grass courts. Roger is on easy street right to the semifinals!
Novak Djokovic, who is also in Federer’s bottom half, has a tricky path. On grass Jeremy Chardy and especially Kevin Anderson in the first two rounds will offer some resistance. Michael Llodra or even his countryman Viktor Troicki can be dangerous in the fourth round. And then in the quarterfinals it’s likely to be Robin Soderling. So Novak will definitely be tested.
As for Nadal, yes, he’s got a very difficult task ahead. Possibly having to beat Milos Raonic, Juan Martin Del Potro, Mardy Fish and then Tomas Berdych just to reach the semifinals is a major undertaking. But facts are facts, Raonic, who I think someday could win Wimbledon, just doesn’t have the grass experience (yet). Nor does Del Potro. Fish has a great serve and has taken a set off Federer on the grass before, but Mardy may not even get out to the last 16. And for Berdych, who thinks the Czech mentally has it to knock Nadal off? He certainly has the game and firepower, but between the ears I just don’t think he can pull it off.
So that all said, I think we get a repeat of the French Open final. I know I selected Gasquet over Murray but I’m changing my pick. I’ll put Murray back in the final four against Nadal and in the other semifinal I see it as Djokovic and Federer.
And in those semifinals, I just think the pressure is too much and Nadal is too strong for Murray to overcome. Andy loses again just one match from the final. In the second semifinal, I know Federer looked good at the French but I’m actually going to pick Djokovic to get revenge. Novak doesn’t have the pressure like he did at the French and I think with all of Rafa and Roger’s success at Wimbledon he’s just slightly off the radar. And that should help.
In the final, I’ll take Nadal in four sets over the Serb. Again, another revenge situation and I think Djokovic, happy with finally reaching No. 1 and the title match, suffers that first loss to Rafa on the season – no one beats Nadal in five straight finals!!
There’s is also a lot of talk of rain, and if the skies open up fitness, and the mentally toughness will become an even greater prize. On hardcourts, Nadal and his bad knees would be at a disadvantage, but on grass he should be fine if he has to win five matches in seven days to win the title a week from next.
Rafa’s won 14 straight matches and in his the last four trips to Wimbledon the only man to beat him was Federer. That’s no fluke. Nadal might not have the prototypical grass game, but upstairs where it counts the most he’s proven that right now he’s still the best. Vamos.
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