For the first time at the All England Club, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are the top two seeds. Defending champion Nadal will fight to collect his third hardware at this venue and his third French Open-Wimbledon combo. Djokovic who registered his maiden loss of the year at the previous major after a forty-one match unbeaten run will attempt to reach his first final at SW 19.
Two other competitors are also hoping to make history. Third seed Roger Federer tries to equalize Pete Sampras’ all time record of seven titles while fourth seed Andy Murray carries the aspirations of an isle on his shoulders. This fortnight, Murray aims to terminate his nation’s 75 year drought at its home major. Here’s the breakdown of the 2011 Wimbledon draw.
For world number one Nadal, it should be smooth sailing until the third round. In that session, the defending champion could be bothered by phenom Milos Raonic. Again in the round of 16, Nadal will be on crash alert with Juan Martin Del Potro his likely opponent. Consequently, there are various rocks along the road early on for the top seed.
In the quarterfinals, Nadal could face a rematch of last year’s final with Tomas Berdych. Considering Berdych’s average performance this season, the Spaniard should have the advantage. However, a semifinal against either Andy Roddick, a three time finalist, or Murray will be a harder challenge.
Having won the Queen’s Club trophy for the second time, Murray has once more found his mojo. Murray’s potential third round counterpart is Marin Cilic and either Stanislas Wawrinka or Richard Gasquet in the fourth round. While these are all worthy adversaries, Murray should have the upper hand.
Roddick also has a favorable path until the round of 16 where the unpredictable Gael Monfils possibly awaits. A Murray-Roddick quarterfinal would be a rematch of their sensational 2009 semifinal. Although Roddick’s year has been sub-par to date, he can rebound at SW19 where he has had great success previously.
Djokovic and Federer anchor the bottom half of the draw. Thus, the two could collide in the semifinals.
Federer’s initial obstacle could be in the third round in the form of David Nalbandian. The Argentine has been contending with injury but has the tools to trouble Federer. In the quarterfinals, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or David Ferrer could offer Federer stiff opposition. Still, the Swiss maestro would be in the driver’s seat.
Like Federer, Djokovic could have a few early intricate encounters such as Marcos Baghdatis in the third round and Michael Llodra or Viktor Troicki in the round of 16. Yet, Djokovic should move on to the quarterfinals.
The wildcard in that section is Robin Soderling. Even though grass is not Soderling’s strong suit and he’s been inconsistent this season, Soderling will be a formidable hurdle for either Djokovic in the quarterfinals or Federer in the semifinals.
Call it kismet or curse, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut who last year redefined the meaning of marathon match will do battle again in the first round. Without question, each man is praying for a less dramatic outing this time around.
Surprises at the majors have been few on the men’s side with Nadal and Federer dominant at the ultimate six to seven years. However, the gap has shrunk between the top three players with Djokovic raising his game to new heights this season.
Nadal, Federer and Djokovic have the greatest possibly of hoisting the trophy on the final Sunday. With less than one hundred points separating him from the Spaniard, Djokovic could rearrange the pecking order and overtake Nadal at number one after this event.
For Nadal to retain the title, Federer to bag number seven or Murray to become a hometown hero, for at least one or all, the road may lead through Djokovic. Fasten your seatbelt, Wimbledon will be quite the ride this year.