The Championships- Wimbledon. The name says it all. The most prestigious Grand Slam event on the tennis calendar begins on Monday. It is time to welcome the fortnight of meticulously maintained lawns, freshly painted lines, and players in absolute white, strawberries and cream along with an endless list of subtle traditions. Tennis players from around the globe gather to grace the pristine grass at SW19 and to give all that they have got at a place where every day is like living a dream and every match played is an honor itself.
The draw was announced on Friday. Here is how the players have been sorted into the top and bottom half. The thing that strikes you first is the absence of Rafa Nadal from the tournament. The two time champion announced his withdrawal due to a wrist injury he picked up at the French Open. Following is an analysis of how the players will fare at the Championships.
Top names in the first quarter include Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic, David Ferrer, David Goffin and Phillip Kohlschreiber.
Top seed and defending champion Djokovic opens against local hope James Ward. Next up is a possible meeting with the Next Gen star- Kyle Edmund who will have to get past Adrian Mannarino. In the third round Sam Querrey or Lukas Rosol could be a possible opponent for the 3 time Wimbledon Champion.
A victory would mean a possible clash with either 13th seed Ferrer or 12thseed Kohlschreiber in the fourth round. Should Novak make it thorough – an entirely safe bet as he is on a 28 consecutive quarterfinal streak at the slams, he will face the 6th seed Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals.
Raonic has a manageable draw before his draw gets tough with the quarterfinal clash against the Serb. The Canadian opens against Pablo Carreno Busta. Andreas Seppi or Guillermo Garcia Lopez could be the next. In the third round he is very likely to face either Jack Sock, the 27th seed or Ernests Gulbis. Thereafter 11th seed Goffin or 20th seed Kevin Anderson could be his opponent. Goffin opens against Alexander Ward.
Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic, Gilles Simon, Gael Monfils, Grigor Dimitrov and Alexandr Dolgopolov are some names that headline the second quarter.
Arguably, no current player knows the Wimbledon manuscript better than Federer does. The 3rd seed skipped Roland Garros due to a back injury. He has been hampered by injuries the entire season, but has been able to find a semblance of momentum with back to back tournaments at Stuttgart and Halle. The 7-time Wimbledon Champion opens his campaign against Guido Pella.
Next up for the Swiss, is Ricardas Berankis. A probable third round opponent is Alexandr Dolgopolov. In the fourth round, he could face a stern challenge from either Gilles Simon or Gael Monfils. Dimitrov is in the same section of the draw as the two Frenchmen. If it all goes good for the Swiss, he could meet the 6thseed Nishikori in the quarterfinals.
Nishikori faces Sam Groth in the first round. Julien Benneteau could be his next opponent. A possible clash against Cilic is projected right before the quarterfinal showdown against Federer.
An interesting all Croat first round match will happen between Borna Coric and Ivo Karlovic. An all French affair will also take place when Gael Monfils and Jeremy Chardy lock horns in the first round.
Predictions: Djokovic and Goffin to reach the quarterfinals in the first quarter. Djokovic should be able to overcome the Belgian and move ahead. Federer and Nishikori to play the other quarterfinal in the top half. Federer to edge Nishikori in a tight match and face Djokovic in the semifinals.
If Federer can capture his best form, he will have a shot at Novak but it seems a little far stretched at this time. Djokovic is on a serious run at the moment and I expect him to move past Federer for his 5th straight Wimbledon final.
The third quarter is heavily stacked with some very strong players. Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem, Tomas Berdych, Roberto Bautista Agut, Juan Martin Del Potro, Bernard Tomic, Alexander Zverev and Taylor Fritz are the ones to watch out for.
Stan Wawrinka has a very tough draw. He opens against the American young gun, Taylor Fritz. In the next round he could face Del Potro, which will be a huge test for the Swiss. Things will not get any easier for him since he could face Thiem in quarterfinals. Dominic Thiem is seeded 8th, his highest ever at a grand slam.
The talented and confident Austrian has outperformed almost everyone this year – looking solely at the number of wins. He faces Florian Mayer in the first round in a repeat of the semifinal in Halle, last week. His next tough opponent could be Berdych in the fourth round before he finally plays against Wawrinka in the quarterfinals.
Zverev is in the same section as Berdych. Zverev will have to run through a line-up of seasoned veterans in Paul-Henri Mathieu, Mikhail Youzhny and Benjamin Becker before a potential blockbuster match with Berdych. A quality first round match between Bernard Tomic and Fernando Verdasco is among the best matches to watch out in the first round.
This too is a very strong field. It consists of Andy Murray, Richard Gasquet, Jo Wilfried Tsonga, Nick Kyrgios, John Isner, Feliciano Lopez and Benoit Paire.
Second seed Andy Murray looks in very formidable form this season. He faces a fellow Brit, Liam Broady in the opener. Next up, he could face a qualifier or Yen Hsun Ku. A clash with Benoit Paire in the third is projected. In fourth round, a sensational match against young gun Nick Kyrgios is projected.
This undoubtedly has the potential to be one of the matches of the tournament, if not an all time classic. For this to materialize, however, Nick Kyrgios will have to fare well against some formidable opponents, since he has drawn Radek Stepanek and Feliciano Lopez on his side.
Should Murray find his way to the final 8, he could face either Gasquet or Tsonga in the quarterfinals. The section also has players like John Isner, Vasek Pospisil and Marcos Baghdatis, who are capable of possibly causing trouble to the higher ranked players.
Prediction: Wawrinka to play Thiem in the quarterfinals. In this epic battle of two glorious single handed backhands, Thiem to topple Stan in a very close match and make his second consecutive major semi-final. On the other half Murray to face and beat Gasquet to reach the semis. In the semifinal, he should beat Thiem to make his first final since 2013.
It seems very likely that we will have a Djokovic vs Murray final for the third straight slam. With Lendl in his corner, one would think Murray, on his best surface and, probably, Djokovic’s least favourite surface should put one across the No.1 Andy Murray to win his 2ndWimbledon.
-Vishakha Khandelwal [Vishakha is a Tennis Analyst for Sportz Cosmos. You can reach her at the gmail id : sportzcosmos]