In less than a week from now we’ll be in the throes of the third Grand Slam of the 2014 tennis calendar, Wimbledon!
The draws are set to be released this Friday but before then it’s never too early to handicap the field which is as wide open as it ever has been, with no clear favorite or consensus pick since all the top guys have some sort of issue.
So let’s go through my favorites in order:
Even though grass isn’t his best surface, I still make him my very slight favorite, with caution. Novak’s lost four of his last five Grand Slam finals and after missing out again on a French Open/Career Slam, how deflated must he be and how much motivation is there? That said, maybe the thought of a post-Wimbledon wedding to Jelena Ristic will cure any blues.
The 2013 champion eyes his biggest career title defense, but he hasn’t won anything since that historic triumph a year ago. With the pressure back to maximum overdrive, a shaky start with new coach Amelie Mauresmo didn’t help. But Murray did play well at French Open and the back seems to be in the past.
The two-time Wimbledon champion has incredibly lost his last three matches on grass. That’s not exactly confidence-building, but he’s still Rafa and he can avoid the early upset – easier said than done! – keep his back loose and make it to week two then watch out. If you don’t get him early you might not get him at all.
The 7-time winner is now 32 and despite a Halle title yesterday I don’t think he has the game anymore to take out the likes of Djokovic, Nadal and Murray even on his best surface. Beating one, maybe, but two, I don’t see it. However, if those guys get upset then things can swing. This will also be his Wimbledon debut with Stefan Edbeerg and the new, larger racquet, so maybe one more magical run? The draw will have to break right.
Hard to think he was a former Wimbledon finalist who beat both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, yet that’s what Berdych did in 2010. The Czech hasn’t done much since, but with his game he’s always threat. It’s the brain I worry about.
With that serve if he can work his way into the tournament he could be this year’s Jerzy Janowicz. And he won’t need Jerzy’s breezy draw either.
A former semifinalist and 5-set winner over Federer at Wimbledon, I just don’t know if he can match-up with the big names anymore. Point proven by the fact that he hasn’t beaten a Top 10 guy in over a year.
Feliciano Lopez gifted him a Queen’s title yesterday but Grigor will take it nonetheless. The Bulgarian has proven his mettle this year and he’s got some game on grass. So there’s no reason not to think we’ll see him in week two, unless he has another letdown in a Slam.
Not being much of a grass player, maybe that settles his nerves and he plays good tennis again. Or maybe being a Grand Slam champion is just too big a weight to bear right now.
Other guys to keep an eye on are Ernests Gulbis, Vasek Pospisil, Jerzy Janowicz, David Ferrer, John Isner, Ivo Karlovic, Kei Nishikori and Feliciano Lopez.
I think Janowicz, faced with those semifinal points, is going to drop early. Ferrer and Isner I could see making week two. Maybe Gulbis, maybe Nishikori.
So who’s your early favorite?
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