Analysing The Top Five Men’s Prospects
It is many fans’ favourite time of year, the few months where we leave behind hard courts in favour of the natural surfaces, clay and grass. A foreign substance for many, a reprieve for some, this years clay season saw the rejuvenation of Rafael Nadal. As we move onto an even more unfamiliar surface in grass let’s take a lot at the top five seeds’ prospects at the fine lawns of Wimbledon.
1. Roger Federer has had a bumpy ride over the last two years, from losing his ranking at Roland Garros in 2008 followed by a dramatic loss at Wimbledon, to the regaining of both in 2009. 2010 has been a mixed bag for Federer. After winning the Australian Open he has struggled to win titles and lost to many he usually dominates, including a shocking loss to Lleyton Hewitt on grass in Halle. Federer benefits greatly from the number one seeding as he certainly has a soft draw. His potential quarter finalists are Tomas Berdych and Nikolay Davydenko, but Davydenko has been struggling with injury and only recently returned whilst Berdych is more of a dark horse than an established grass court threat. If he can get to the semis to face potentially Andy Roddick Federer’s forehand and serve should be ready to give him another chance at his favourite title. Having said all this, Federer has been struggling recently and no fan should take a finals placing for granted.
2. Rafael Nadal could be forgiven for resenting Wimbledon’s seeding system this year as the number one ranked player has found himself in tough draw being seeded two. Much like Federer, Nadal has had mixed fortunes since 2008, from hitting a high in 2008 to a deep low in 2009, a hole he has only recently broken out of with the 2010 clay season. Nadal’s confidence is still an issue, it comes naturally on his favourite surface but grass may prove a test for Nadal. Whilst he is clearly the second best grass-court player, Nadal was upset early in Queens and nobody knows the extent of a hamstring injury he acquired there. As a result, Nadal may struggle through a draw that includes dark horse Ernests Gulbis, potential threat John Isner, and likely quarter-final Robin Soderling. However, if Nadal comes through his draw and therefore gains the necessary confidence he could be the most dangerous player come the latter stages.
3. Novak Djokovic has been consistently disappointing in 2010, particularly in squandering a huge lead in his quarter-final at Roland Garros. He was upset early in Queens but won the doubles tournament and looked to be in good form doing so. It could be a massive break for Djokovic who struggles with his movement on grass and clearly needed more match play. Djokovic is a player who needs confidence to do well and whilst his doubles result must give him some his draw certainly won’t. He has Oliver Rochus in the first round, Taylor Dent in the second, and Gael Monfils or Lleyton Hewitt in the fourth. The chances of Djokvoic getting through these only to meet Roddick seems unlikely considering his recent form, but perhaps the challenge will inspire the shaky Serb. A quarter-final would be a decent result for Djokovic.
4. Andy Murray was lucky to be seeded fourth considering his recent poor form and the fact that the fifth seed is three-time finalist Andy Roddick. Murray has had success on grass in the past but was upset early in Queens and hasn’t won a title in 2010. Murray’s draw is soft and the crowd could help him as they did last year. Murray should reach the semi-finals but any further than that would be a triumph for the Scot.
5. Andy Roddick hardly stepped foot on clay and admits he is impatient to find his previously excellent form to which he attributes his early loss at Queens. Roddick will fancy his chances of coming out on top of a tough draw that would see him face either Djokovic or Hewitt in the quarter finals but won’t like the chances of potentially facing Federer in the semis. Still, Federer has been questionable this year and if Roddick can find his way to the semis he could have once again a shot at winning the title he covets most.
All up it looks a close race to the finals at Wimbledon, with the top seed struggling for form and second seed so far unproven in 2010 on a surface other than clay. It’s always hard to see past a Federer or Nadal victory at Wimbledon but this year could be the first in an age where they could both be vulnerable at the same time. Whether the likes of Roddick and Soderling can take advantage of that will be revealed over the next two weeks. Regardless of the result, Wimbledon must be savoured as at the end of it all there will be one universal complaint about the entire season: it’s all too brief.