Andy Murray is back! For the first time in a year, the Scot is in a Grand Slam tournament (as of now). Murray, though, won’t have an easy debut as he faces the talented but loose Benoit Paire who just held match points against Roger Federer a week ago. But Murray isn’t the only story, that’s because he’s joined by his big four brethren who continue to dominate the headlines and the sport.
Federer and Rafael Nadal have shared the last six Grand Slams, and based on their draws, it’s awfully hard to go against them in this one. Let’s dive deeper…
ROGER FEDERER QUARTER
As an 8-time champion, Federer didn’t need a good draw but he got one anyway. The 36-year-old Swiss opens Monday at 1pm against Dusan Lajovic, who’s a decent player. Lukas Lacko has made a couple Wimbledon third rounds, but shouldn’t pose a real threat to Roger, then in the third his first seed would be Leonardo Mayer who is better than most think on the grass. In the fourth, he could get a rematch with Halle champion Borna Coric. In best-of-3 I give Coric a legitimate shot. But playing best-of-5 on Centre Court is too tough an ask for the young Croat who might get bounced in his opener against Daniil Medvedev. In the quarters, it will probably be either Sam Querrey or Kevin Anderson. Querrey made the semifinals at Wimbledon a year ago while Anderson is playing the best tennis of his career. Also in that section is Richard Gasquet who starts against countryman Gael Monfils a good one. I’ll lean to Anderson but it’s Federer’s quarter in the end.
The Pick: Roger Federer
MARIN CILIC QUARTER
One of the hottest players this grass season has been Marin Cilic. The Croat fell apart in the Wimbledon final a year ago, but served notice with his Queen’s win last week. And you’d have to like his chances here. He’s got a great draw out to the fourth where he could face former finalist Milos Raonic, though the Canadian could be out before then either by loss or by injury. In the quarters, I like John Isner to finally make a run at Wimbledon. The American has a great early draw then could face Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth. The Bulgarian, who’s been trending downward, opens against Stan Wawrinka. While I think Dimitrov beats the Swiss, he won’t get past Isner. And Cilic then takes on Big John. That said, I’m not sold on Cilic – he’s due for a bad loss, but no one else screams out as a solid pick.
The Pick: Marin Cilic
ALEXANDER ZVEREV QUARTER
The toughest quarter features Alexander Zverev, Novak Djokovic, Nick Kyrgios, Kei Nishikori plus Dominic Thiem and Kyle Edmund. I’d make Djokovic the slight favorite, then Kyrgios and then Del Potro. But it’s a crapshoot. Zverev hasn’t been special and along with Nishikori, comes in with injury issue (though both should be healthy). Edmund might be under too much pressure and Djokovic could falter at any moment. So I think I’m to get crazy and go with Kyrgios. If Nick can get his serve going like at Queen’s, he should get through Nishikori in the third, a nervy Zverev in the fourth then beat Djokovic in the quarters to reach his first Slam semifinal.
The Pick: Nick Kyrgios
RAFAEL NADAL QUARTER
Maybe the easiest quarter belongs to French Open champion Rafael Nadal. I just don’t see anyone worthy of beating the former Wimbledon champion during the first week. I know Rafa’s had his fair share of early shockers at Wimbledon, but I just don’t see it here. Maybe Vasek Pospisil or Mischa Zverev? Teen Alex De Minaur? Otherwise, I think Nadal gets to the quarters to face Juan Martin Del Potro. The Argentine will have to navigate through Feliciano Lopez, Jeremy Chardy and then David Goffin. Andy Murray is also in there, and I think he beats Paire but not Chardy who upends Denis Shapovalov in a good first rounder. And then Rafa takes care of business in the last eight.
The Pick: Rafael Nadal
Federer d Cilic: Gut tells me Cilic pulls the upset, but head says Roger is the king and somehow he’ll find his way to victory again over the Croat.
Kyrgios d Nadal: A Federer-Nadal final 10 years after their 2008 epic? Come on! That’s too storybook and can’t happen so I’ll take Kyrgios to serve Rafa off the court.
Federer d Kyrgios: Kyrgios makes it fun but Roger makes history.
Kyrgios in the final? That’s nuts. But hey, Kevin Anderson was in the US Open title match. Kyle Edmund and Hyeon Chung both made the Australian Open semifinals and someone named Marco Cecchinato reached the last four at the French. Weird things are going on in men’s tennis so why not and expect the unexpected?
I do think in the group of Kyrgios, Nadal, Federer, Cilic and Djokovic the winner will emerge. Maybe even throw Zverev in there. Those guys are the favorites. But in the end we are looking at another Big 4 champion, and it could even be Djokovic who showed signs of life last week. That wouldn’t surprise me.
Federer remains the pick. But he didn’t look great at Halle and at 36 is well overdue for a bad loss at a Slam – maybe it will be Coric?
And it will be very interesting to see how Murray does. With Paire, we should know early.
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