The fight to be king of the mountain will be settled at the All England Club. After a brilliant 2011 season, defending champion Novak Djokovic is under menace from Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer who are vying to strip away the Serb’s number one ranking. The Wimbledon draw has been released and for these three rivals, the path to the summit is a winding one.
For the second straight major, Djokovic and Federer are destined to clash in the semifinals. Djokovic has bested the Swiss six of the last seven times they’ve met. As such, Federer will need to conquer his mental demons if he hopes to get to the final.
However, this anticipated date could be spoiled by 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych. The Czech is slated to collide with Djokovic in the quarterfinals.
In 2010 as well as 2011, Federer was halted in the quarterfinals. In the same round, Federer will have to guard against two big threats, John Isner and David Nalbandian.
In the bottom half, Nadal will need to be alert in the first round against Thomaz Bellucci. Countryman Feliciano Lopez, a three time quarterfinalist, may be another test for Nadal in the round of 16.
Then, the Spaniard could face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Mardy Fish in the quarterfinals. A semifinalist in 2011, Tsonga has demonstrated that he hang with the big three.
Nadal and Tsonga have split their ultimate four matches making their possible encounter even more intriguing. The question is whether Tsonga has overcome the recent disappointment at Roland Garros, multiple match points in the quarterfinals versus Djokovic, to allow his game to flourish on grass.
Potential semifinal opponents for Nadal include Juan Martin Del Potro, Andy Murray and David Ferrer.. Del Potro has not beaten Nadal since the 2009 U.S. Open, is he due?
With a back problem in the picture, Murray’s form is in doubt. While Ferrer is a great warrior, with a 4-16 against Nadal, his confidence is perhaps dented even prior to taking the court in their showdown.
To secure the number one spot, it’s likely that Djokovic will have to reach the final. On the other hand, Nadal can replace Djokovic at the top if the Serb doesn’t advance to at least the semifinals. Federer will have to bank his seventh trophy for his chance at number one.
Champions never shy away from a combat. Following the letdown at the Australian Open, Nadal has prevailed over Djokovic in their last three meetings.
Consequently, Nadal is in the best frame of mind to claim his third Wimbledon title and recapture the number one ranking in the same place he relinquished in 2011.