2012 Wimbledon Week 1 Preview
By Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
June 25-July 7, 2012
The most dapper slam of them all, the legendary Wimbledon will kick off tomorrow. A host of players will be vying for another grand slam title on grass, just a couple of weeks adjusted from the clay court season. Novak Djokovic is the defending champion, while Roger Federer will seek to tie Pete Sampras’ record of 7 Wimbledon titles. Rafael Nadal will go for the number 1 ranking. Mardy Fish and Kei Nishikori will also make their returns to the tour this week.
Top 8 seeds
1: Novak Djokovic
2: Rafael Nadal
3: Roger Federer
4: Andy Murray
5: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
6: Tomas Berdych
7: David Ferrer
8: Janko Tipsarevic
1st round matchups to watch:
Ryan Harrison vs. Yen-Hsun Lu
Lu made the quarters on grass at Queen’s Club in a run that included an upset of Janko Tipsarevic, while Harrison made the semis in Eastbourne. Both players come in looking pretty sharp and it could be a cracker of a match.
Fabio Fognini vs. Michael Llodra
Fognini made the quarters in Eastbourne, while Llodra, with his serve and volleying style is always a threat on grass even though his recent results haven’t been stellar. Not to mention they are both stylish Europeans.
Andreas Seppi vs. Denis Istomin
Istomin made the quarters in Eastbourne while 23 seed Seppi made the final at the same event. Both players are playing quite well right now.
Gilles Muller vs. Julien Benneteau
Muller, the veteran serve and volleyer from Luxembourg, has a good chance at pulling an upset over the 29 seed Benneteau in what will be a match of clashing play styles.
Xaiver Malisse vs. Marinko Matosevic
Matosevic, a finalist in Delray Beach this year, is at a career high ranking. He’ll take on Den Bosch finalist Malisse. Matosevic upset top seed Richard Gasquet in Eastbourne on his way to the quarterfinals.
Paul Henri-Mathieu vs. Gilles Simon
The French Open hero Mathieu will try to notch an upset over his higher ranked countryman, #13 Simon. There will be a record number of “Allez” chants in this match.
David Nalbandian vs. Janko Tipsarevic
Tipsarevic is the 8 seed but comes in on kind of a down note and doesn’t play his best on grass. Enter Nalbandian. Besides his violent outburst, he did make the final at Queen’s Club and is actually playing quite well. If he can keep his head together and his anger in check, he has an ironic chance to make a good run here if he can get through Tipsy.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Lleyton Hewitt
Hewitt will continue his efforts to come back from injury and will have to face the 5 seed Tsonga, who besides his loss at Queen’s club a couple of weeks ago is usually quite sharp on grass. Can the former Wimbledon champion pull off a thrilling upset?
David Goffin vs. Bernard Tomic
If Tomic is to perform anywhere near his quarterfinal run last year, he is going to have to get through this year’s wonder kid, David Goffin, who had a stellar French Open himself and burst onto the scene.
Tommy Haas vs. Phillip Kohlschreiber
The red hot Haas will take on Peppo, who is playing quite well himself. This is a reprisal of their Halle semifinal match, which Haas won en route to his title there. This is a match that should take place later on in the week an not the 1st round. Enjoy it while you can.
The Djoker himself will start off against semi-dangerous veteran J.C Ferrero and then face the winner of Harrison vs. Lu. He would then likely face veteran serve and volleyer Radek Stepanek, who is always a danger on a fast surface like grass. It should be a good test for him to see where his game is at after losing that French Open final to Nadal. Novak hasn’t played any tournament matches on grass this year.
15 seed Juan Monaco, who also hasn’t put much time in on grass and really doesn’t favor the surface will take on countryman Leonardo Mayer. Then he’d face Jeremy Chardy v. Fillipo Volandri winner and either 24 seed Marcel Granollers or Viktor Troicki. Troicki has a really good shot at a nice run here if he can get through Granollers, Juan Igancio Chela or Martin Klizan and then Chardy/Monaco/Mayer/Volandri. Otherwise, Granollers probably gets through.
6 seed Tomas Berdych, whom much has been expected from, opens up against Ernie Gulbis. He would then face Simone Bolleli or Jerzy Jankowicz of Poland, and then could run into Den Bosch finalist Phillip Petzschner (who burst onto the tour once again last week).
Dangerous serving 12 seed Nicolas Almagro lurks here and if he can get through the tricky Oliver Rochus, the winner of Steve Darcis vs. Guilliaume Rufin and even 18 seed Richard Gasquet, he likely gets Berdych.
Federer opens up against Spaniard Albert Ramos and then will face either Fognini or Llodra, and afterward either Muller (if he can pull the upset) or Benneteau.
13 seed Gilles Simon gets PHM, and then the dangerous match up of Malisse or Matosevic (who could very well pull the upset). Either of them could pull another upset over 17 seed Fernando Verdasco to make it deep into the tournament.
8 Seed Janko Tipsarevic will have to face Nalbandian. If Nalby knocks him off, he would then have a nice draw in front of him as the winner of that 1st round encounter will get the winner of Ryan Sweeting vs. Potito Starace and then probably 26 seed Mikhail Youzhny.
11 seed John Isner, who even with his big serve has never made it past the 2nd round of Wimbledon (probably due to the fatigue inducing matches he tends to play on grass), will face Alejandro Falla and then could face Nicolas Mahut in a rematch that I’m sure will be nothing like the original.
23 seed Andreas Seppi, a finalist in Eastbourne, will take on Denis Istomin. Either guy is primed for a pretty nice run here, as the winner will probably face Igor Andreev and then a possibly fatigued Isner.
Andy Murray gets a horrendous draw and will have to run the gauntlet if he is to put the home nation on edge again. He will face veteran Nikolay Davydenko, then the Tennis Twister Ivo Karlovic and his wicked serve, and then another hard serving big man Kevin Anderson. If he can manage all that, Murray would then play the winner of Milos Raonic/Marin Cilic, both big guys who can serve and volley well.
I hate to say it, but given his recent form, the only question is whether Murray will lose in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th round. Any other result would be quite a shock, which is shocking itself considering he is the 4 seed.
16 seed Marin Cilic, the default winner of Queen’s Club, will start off against Cedrik Marcel-Stebe then likely face Lukasz Kubot and then either 21 seed Raonic or Queen’s semi-finalist Sam Querrey (who has had a nice resurgence in recent weeks). The Cilic-Raonic match, should it come, could be a thriller.
7 seed David Ferrer, the Den Bosch champion, will face Dustin Brown then either Mattias Bachinger or Kenny De Schepper and then the, on a good day, dangerous Andy Roddick (who just took the title in Eastbourne). Ferrer should get through Roddick, then likely faces 9 seed Juan Martin Del Potro, who has been inconsistent on grass in the past.
Del Po starts off against Robin Haase, then either Go Soeda or Igor Kunitsyn and then the returning 19 seed Kei Nishikori. We will find out if Kei has his game together and if so, he could give Del Potro and others quite the fit.
Rafa opens up against Thomaz Bellucci, who has had a disappointing year thus far. He could then face the man who knocked off Tsonga at Queen’s Club, Ivan Dodig. After, he’d get to the red-hot Haas or the man who beat him in Halle, Kohlschreiber for likely 3rd round match ups.
14 seed Feliciano Lopez faces Jarkko Nieminen, then comeback kid Brian Baker most likely. Then, he could see either big serving Aussie Matt Ebden, Frenchman Benoit Paire (Den Bosch semi-finalist), struggling 22 seed Alexandr Dolgopolov or Alex Bogomolov Jr.
Tsonga will face Hewitt and then the winner of the long name match, Edouard Roger-Vasselin vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Following, he would get a rematch from their 5 set tussle at the French Open against ‘Stan the Man’ Wawrinka, seeded 25th.
10 seed Mardy Fish makes his return after a lengthy absence and will take on Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo, the winner of James Ward vs. Pablo Andujar and then Goffin/Tomic or Jesse Levine/Karol Beck. Actually, a pretty good draw for the top ranked American.
Dark Horses (1 for each quarter of the draw):
Phillip Petzschner, Xaiver Malisse and David Nalbandian, Kevin Anderson and Benoit Paire.
Petzschner blitzed to the final in Den Bosch and doesn’t have an impossible draw if he can get through Florian Mayer and the inconsistent Tomas Berdych. Then, he’d likely get Almagro in another tough but winnable match.
Malisse and Nalbandian are both wily, grass savvy veterans who will need to take out seeded players Gilles Simon/Fernando Verdasco and Janko Tipsarevic/Mikhail Youzhny. Both have played very well recently and get players who normally aren’t their sharpest on grass. Nalby likely faces Seppi or Isner in the 4th round.
Anderson will face the man who beat him at Queen’s Club, Grigor Dimitrov, in a rematch. Then, he’ll square off against the winner of Albert Montanes vs. Marcos Baghdatis followed by Karlovic/Murray. If he has his top game, he can win all of those matches.
Paire, a Den Bosch semifinalist, faces Matt Ebden then Dolgo/Bogo, followed by either Lopez or Baker before having to run into Rafa. A nice chance at the 4th round for him here.
Week 1 Predictions (4th round matchups)
Djokovic vs. Granollers
Berdych vs. Almagro
Federer vs. Malisse
Seppi vs. Nalbandian
Ferrer vs. Del Potro
Cilic vs. Anderson
Tsonga vs. Tomic
Nadal vs. Paire
Here is my full Wimby Prediction Bracket.
Djokovic d. Berdych
Federer d. Nalbandian
Ferrer d. Cilic
Nadal d. Tsonga
Nadal d. Ferrer
(both rematches of the French Open semis)
Djokovic d. Nadal
Novak finally notches a win over Rafa, on a more favorable surface.