Wimbledon 2017 Men’s Preview

by John on July 2, 2017

Wimbledon begins tomorrow with play on the outside courts at the All England Club starting at 11:30 a.m. Defending champion and world No. 1 Andy Murray opens play on Centre Court at 1:00 p.m. sharp. It’s a tradition and honor bestowed upon the previous year’s title holder at the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament in the world. Like always on the day before the Championships begin, speculation runs rampant on just who might hoist the trophy at the storied venue at SW19 two weeks hence. This year is no different. For the past 14 years one of the Big 4 in men’s tennis has won the title. Roger Federer tops the list with seven Big W crowns, Novak Djokovic has three and Murray and Rafael Nadal two apiece. This 30-something quartet — Federer 35, Nadal 31 and Murray and Djokovic both 30 — have dominated tennis like no other foursome in history. So the question becomes; can one of them continue the run? I see no reason why not. Sure there are some #NextGen young guns and a handful of seasoned veterans capable of pulling off an upset or two, but to keep it going and win seven matches over the fortnight, I don’t think so. Let’s take a look at the draw and see what’s shaking for the Big 4, because the winner is going to come from this group. Murray, somewhat of a wounded warrior nursing a hip issue, heads Quarter No. 1 in the top half of the draw. The No. 1 seed hasn’t played like a world No. 1 ever since he ascended the top rung in November. His grasscourt preparation has been minimal, losing in the first round at Queen’s. Still, if his hip problem subsides, he’s always a force. Murray, opening with a lucky loser, will potentially have to get past Dustin Brown in the second round, Fabio Fognini in the third, and Nick Kyrgios in the fourth before meeting No. 5 seed Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals. I see Kyrgios derailing Murray’s advance and then losing to Wawrinka in the quarters. Nadal, seeded No. 4, stands atop Quarter No. 2. The Spaniard, fresh off his 10th French Open title, didn’t play any of the grasscourt warmups, but is in superb tennis form. However, that doesn’t always translate to success on grass. Nadal hasn’t won at Wimbledon since 2010. Rafa’s first test should come in the third round, where big-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov could be lurking. After that, possible opponents in the fourth round include big servers Ivo Karlovic or Gilles Muller. Nadal survives these tests, but falls in the quarterfinals to No. 7 seed Marin Cilic, whose path to the final eight is relatively easy. In the bottom half of the draw, Federer, seeded No. 3, is top dog in Quarter No. 3. The resurgent Swiss Maestro, winner of his ninth Halle grasscourt title a week ago, has a tough opening round match with Alexandr Dolgopolov. Obstacles along the way could include Mischa Zverev in the third round, John Isner or Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth, and then a battle with No. 6 seed Milos Raonic, if he topples Alex Zverev, in the quarterfinals. Federer passes these challenges to move on to the semis. Novak Djokovic, the No. 2 seed, heads Quarter No. 4. Nole, just off yesterday’s victory on the grass at Eastbourne, where he entered as a wild card at the last minute, appears to have received a real boost of confidence with the win. Djokovic could meet the always dangerous Juan Martin del Potro in the third round and Feliciano Lopez or Gael Monfils in the fourth en route to the quarters. He’s successful with the test. Dominic Thiem, seeded No. 8 and Djokovic’s quarterfinal slayer at Roland Garros, gets past Tomas Berdych in the fourth round to meet the Serb once again in a crucial Grand Slam quarterfinal. Djokovic extracts his revenge to reach the semis. So there you have it. Wawrinka versus Cilic in one semifinal, and Federer against Djokovic in the other. I’m not feeling the winners of these matches just yet. It needs to gestate.

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