2013 Wimbledon Week 1 Preview
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
June 24-July 7, 2013
Intrigue is high at Wimbledon this year with the big four players all healthy and in good form along with a host of others looking to make some noise at the All-England Club.
Top 8 seeds
1: Novak Djokovic
2: Andy Murray
3: Roger Federer
4: David Ferrer
5: Rafael Nadal
6: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
7: Tomas Berdych
8: Juan Martin Del Potro
1st round matchups to watch:
(19)Gilles Simon vs. Feliciano Lopez
This match will be a literal reprisal, just a couple of days later, of their Eastbourne final matchup that was won by Lopez. Both players are in good form and the winner of the last match, Lopez, should most likely win the second match.
(21)Sam Querrey vs. Bernard Tomic
This match is very hard to predict. Querrey was just 1-1 on grass this season and hasn’t had the best of years. He has a winning record on grass, though. Tomic is a former Wimbledon quarterfinalist (2011) and has shown skill on the surface, along with finally winning a couple of matches in Eastbourne to break his losing streak. Both guys can easily lose concentration, but Tomic is noted to have some hamstring issues so the edge goes to Querrey. Tomic won their only meeting at the 2012 Aussie Open.
(16)Phillip Kohlschreiber vs. Ivan Dodig
Peppo is 3-1 against Dodig in his career, but comes into this match having lost in the quarters of Halle and the opening round of Eastbourne. Dodig comes off semis in Eastbourne. This match should be entertaining if both players show up in form. They are both quality movers with good ball striking and I could see this going 5 sets.
(18)John Isner vs. Evgeny Donskoy
Isner just lost to Donskoy in 3 sets in Den Bosch, bringing his all-too-short grass tune up to an end. Donskoy won one more match and then lost in the quarters, showing his competency on the surface and his skill overall. This match should go 4 or 5 sets, but Donskoy may have the mental edge.
(11)Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Lleyton Hewitt
This could be the match of the tournament, and is THE match to watch of the opening round. It has the makings of a classic. Den Bosch finalist Wawrinka, who has had a tremendous year and now looks to continue that at Wimbledon, will take on the legendary Hewitt, whose semis at Queen’s club showed he still has plenty of game left to work with on the turf and that he is fit. Hewitt is a former Wimbledon champion, but the head to head is 2-1 in favor of Wawrinka, including 1 win on grass in a Davis Cup match back in 2011. With an open draw ahead for the winner, expect them to put it all on the line.
Edouard Roger-Vasselin vs. Ernests Gulbis
This is a rematch of the Delray Beach final that was won by Gulbis. ERV has some British ties and may get a bit of fan support, while Gulbis will have another chance to make a run in a slam and fulfill his potential. Gulbis should be the favorite, but ERV has a better career grass court record and will have a chance at an upset.
Fernando Verdasco vs. Xaiver Malisse
Verdasco comes off quarters in Eastbourne, while Malisse made the Den Bosch semis in a run that included an upset of David Ferrer in the opening round. They played last year at Wimbledon: Malisse won in 5 difficult sets to advance to the round of 16. X-Man will attempt to do so again if his fitness holds up. Expect a quality match regardless.
(22)Juan Monaco vs. (Q)Bastian Knittel
With Monaco’s propensity for poor slam showings as a seed and his subpar grass court game, this match has at least some of the makings of an upset. That could happen if the 29 year old German Knittel, who is playing in his first slam draw after qualifying, can continue his good form.
(10)Marin Cilic vs. Marcos Baghdatis
Cilic, the Queen’s club finalist, should be a solid favorite in this match, given that Baghdatis just lost in the Den Bosch opening round to the clay courter Carlos Berlocq. In fact, Bags has lost 6 straight matches in another forgettable year for the Cypriot. Still, Baghdatis has very positive history on grass, winning 2 matches at both Wimbledon and the Olympics last year, and once making the Wimbledon semis (back in 2006). I don’t expect much but it isn’t out of the question. The H2H is 3-2 in favor of Cilic.
(2)Andy Murray vs. Benjamin Becker
Murray beat Becker in straights at Queen’s club, but it was not the easiest of matches, and this may be a tougher test for Murray than expected. Becker is a bit of a grass court specialist, although he has never made it past the 2nd round of Wimbledon. He does have the game to trouble Murray. Even taking a set off the Scot would be considered a success.
Novak, with no grass court prep like last year, will take on Florian Mayer, then qualifier Bobby Reynolds or Steve Johnson. Johnson is in good form, after having won a grass court challenger. He will at least be able to have a go at the world number 1. In the 3rd round, Djokovic should play either the 28 seed and Den Bosch quarterfinalist Jeremy Chardy or Ryan Harrison, while Blaz Kavcic and qualifier Jan Lennard Struff are also options.
Simon/Lopez will play Ricardas Berankis or Paul-Henri Mathieu. After that, an entertaining match with 13 seed Tommy Haas should be on deck, as long as Haas beats Dmitry Tursunov and Wayne Odesnik/Jimmy Wang, both of whom are qualifiers.
Halle semifinalist Richard Gasquet, the 9 seed, will play Marcel Granollers and then qualifier Go Soeda or Andreas Haider-Maurer. In the 3rd round, Gasquet should meet Querrey/Tomic with Thiemo De Bakker or James Blake also being options.
7 seed Tomas Berdych will play Martin Klizan before Daniel Brands or Daniel Gimeno-Traver. 27 seed Kevin Anderson takes on serve and volleyer Olivier Rochus and then should get another grass court specialist, Phillip Petzschner, if Petz beats Michal Przysiezny. Anderson could lose early, but I doubt it.
The undisputed weakest quarter of the draw features David Ferrer against Martin Alund before facing Roberto Bautista-Agut or qualifier Teymuraz Gabashvili, followed by a likely 3rd round meeting with the inconsistent and slumping Alex Dolgopolov. Ferrer is career 5-1 against Dolgo. Dolgo will play Gastao Elias and then Horacio Zeballos or more likely Santiago Giraldo in the first and second rounds.
The struggling 17 seed Milos Raonic has been off kilter recently. He draws Carlos Berlocq and after that, qualifier Alex Kuznetsov or Igor Sijsling. If Raonic survives, it should be Dodig/Kohlschreiber in the 3rd round, while in-form qualifier Denis Kudla and James Duckworth are also options. Kudla vs. Kohlschreiber/Dodig in Round 2 could be a great match.
12 seed Kei Nishikori will take on Matt Ebden, and then Leo Mayer or Aljaz Bedene. After that, Kei could see Andreas Seppi, Denis Istomin, Michael Llodra or Jarkko Nieminen. Seppi is coming off semis in Eastbourne.
8 seed Juan Martin Del Potro, in questionable form and health, will play Albert Ramos, then most likely Jesse Levine, if Levine beats Guido Pella. 29 seed Grigor Dimitrov could do damage as he opens with Simone Bolelli and then Michael Russell or Grega Zemlja. Del Potro/Dimitrov in Round 3 would be a solid match and a breakthrough chance for the Bulgarian.
This tough quarter features both defending champion Federer and Nadal with everything set up for them to meet…in the quarters. Federer will play Victor Hanescu and then Sergiy Stakhovsky or Rogerio Dutra Silva. After that, Fed has Fabio Fognini/Jurgen Melzer/Lukas Rosol/Julian Reister as his options. Fognini comes off quarters in Eastbourne, while Rosol will attempt to repeat his upset heroics at the All-England club if he meets Federer in the 3rd Round after beating Fognini. I wouldn’t expect it.
15 seed Nicolas Almagro opens with Jurgen Zopp and then Marinko Matosevic or Guillaume Rufin. In the 3rd round, Jerzy Janowicz, the 24 seed, or Eastbourne quarterfinalist Radek Stepanek, who seems to be in improved form and upset Kohlschreiber, should be his opponent. Janowicz/Stepanek in R2 has the makings of a quality match. Matt Reid and British wild card Kyle Edmund are also options.
The Hewitt/Wawrinka winner will likely play Den Bosch semifinalist Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. GGL just has to beat qualifier Dustin Brown. In the 3rd Round, Hewitt/Wawrinka could take on Isner/Donskoy or Adrian Mannarino/Pablo Andujar.
Nadal will play Steve Darcis before drawing Lukasz Kubot/Igor Andreev. In Round 3, he’d likely Benoit Paire yet again with Nadal having drubbed Paire twice, even though both meetings were on clay. Honestly, Nadal shouldn’t drop a set in any of his first 3 matches.
The great British hope and last year’s finalist will take on James Ward or Rendy Lu after Becker and then should get Nicolas Mahut, the Den Bosch champion. Of course, Mahut has to beat Jan Hajek and Tommy Robredo/Alex Bogomolov to make it happen.
Halle finalist Mikhail Youzhny, the 20 seed, will play Robin Haase, and then Vasek Pospisil/Marc Gicquel. Youzhny’s options include Janko Tipsarevic, Viktor Troicki, Andrey Kuznetsov, and Albert Montanes in the 3rd round in what is a very weak section.
Cilic/Baghdatis will play Kenny De Schepper or Paolo Lorenzi, then Monaco/Knittel, Rajeev Ram or Lukas Lacko.
6 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga could be tested by David Goffin at the start of his Wimbledon journey, but he should advance and take on Gulbis/ERV with his 3rd round opponent being Verdasco/Malisse, Tobias Kamke or 31 seed Julian Benneteau. Tsonga does not have an easy road to the 3rd Round.
Dark Horses (1 for each quarter of the draw)
Feliciano Lopez, Phillip Kohlschreiber/Denis Kudla, Lleyton Hewitt, Xaiver Malisse
Lopez just needs to beat Simon, get past Berankis and upset Haas to get Djokovic in the R16. I don’t see him getting past that, but everything beforehand is at least winnable.
Kohlschreiber literally could make the semifinals. The section of the draw with Ferrer is that wide open. Kudla would need to beat Kohlschreiber (or Dodig) in Round 2 but he also could, at least in theory, make the 4th Round to take on Ferrer, because Raonic is in bad form and Sijsling is the second toughest player in that section.
Hewitt has that hard opening match against Wawrinka, but with GGL and then Isner/Donskoy on tap, he very well could make the 4th round to take on Nadal and perhaps create yet another Wimbledon memory.
Malisse is always a dark horse on grass and he doesn’t have an easy draw with Verdasco and Benneteau back-to-back, but if he gets Tsonga (or Gulbis) in the 3rd Round, that is a winnable match that should be followed by another winnable match against Cilic in Round 4.
Week 1 predictions (round of 16 matchups and picks)
Djokovic d. Haas
Berdych d. Gasquet
Kohlschreiber d. Ferrer
Nishikori d. Del Potro
Nadal d. Hewitt
Federer d. Stepanek
Tsonga d. Cilic
Murray d. Youzhny
Djokovic should beat Haas again. Gasquet should trouble Berdych, but I think the Czech wins it right now. The h2h is 5-4 in favor of Gasquet. I’ll go all out and say Kohli upsets Ferrer, even though Ferrer has a 6-3 H2H. Nishikori has never beaten Del Potro, but I don’t trust the Argentine’s health at the the moment. Nadal and Federer should both cruise. Tsonga has a 1-2 h2h against Cilic but he should win. Murray shouldn’t have an issue against Youzhny.
Djokovic d. Berdych
Kohlschreiber d. Nishikori
Nadal d. Federer
Murray d. Tsonga
Djokovic dominates over Berdych with a 13-2 h2h, although Berdych did beat him in the 2010 Wimbledon semis. Kohlschreiber is a better grass court player than Nishikori. Nadal-Federer should be tremendous as usual, but I think Rafa has that extra edge right now. Murray just beat Tsonga at Queen’s and should do so again.
Djokovic d. Kohlschreiber
Murray d. Nadal
Djokovic shouldn’t have any issues reaching the final and Murray-Nadal probably goes 5, but I think Murray will get Nadal this year, even though Nadal beat him 3 previous times at Wimbledon. Murray seems to be fresh and in good form. The pressure of winning a slam is now off and now is as good a time as any to beat Rafa on grass.
Murray d. Djokovic
In what would be a reprisal of both the most recent US and Australian Open finals, I think Murray gets it done and breaks the British drought at the home slam. In their only grass court meeting, at the Olympics last year, Murray got the win 7-5, 7-5. I expect 4 or 5 sets in this one, but as long as Murray avoids any sort of back injury, he should get over the mountain.