I’ll be trying my best to get some ATP content out this fortnight on Moo’s Tennis Blog although as always, i’ll be focussing on the women. When making my picks i’m so much more decisive with the men and it’s much more straightforward for the early rounds. Let’s take a look at each quarter of this draw…
Novak Djokovic heads into Wimbledon without any competitive grass court matches and he faces a tough start to the defence of his Wimbledon crown. Djokovic opens against Philipp Kohlschreiber, who was the first player to miss out on a seed as the world number 33 player in the world. Kohlschreiber is a former Wimbledon quarter-finalist and was two points away from defeating Roger Federer in Halle last week. Delving deeper into the draw, Djokovic’s second round match would be against either Lleyton Hewitt or Jarkko Nieminen. Both players are set to retire in the next year. If it were to be a Djokovic v Hewitt second rounder, that would almost certainly be a Centre Court match and a great one for Lleyton in his final ever Wimbledon. Nieminen is no pushover though…
Djokovic’s eighth also features Kevin Anderson, Bernard Tomic, Leonardo Mayer and Thanasi Kokkinakis. Anderson reached the final of Queens and would be a solid banker to the last 16 in my opinion. Tomic has blown hot and cold during the grass court season, while I really like the prospect of Kokkinakis on this surface although I did read that he has been struggling with a stomach complaint. He’s got a shot against Mayer in the first round. I’m also intrigued by a first round match between Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Hyeon Chung. The 19-year-old, Chung is one to watch for the future and is up to 78 in the world due to some excellent performances on the Challenger circuit. Before Roland Garros, he reached three consecutive Challenger finals, winning two of them.
Kei Nishikori is projected to meet Djokovic in the quarters. I’m worried for Kei for Wimbledon after he pulled out of the Halle semi-finals with an injury. His draw looks pretty favourable, which i’ve fallen for before. Sometimes an easy opening draw isn’t great because a player will dance through the draw and suddenly come up against a much stronger opponent. Nishikori has played some great tennis this year, but I feel that he has struggled to deliver his best in some of the key matches deep into a tournament. His draw at RG looked a beaut, but he surprisingly lost out to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarters. Nishikori’s first match at Wimbledon against Simone Bollelli is not straightforward at all. The pair met last year at Wimbledon where Nishikori survived a five setter in the third round, 3-6 6-3 4-6 7-6(4) 6-4. Marin Cilic and John Isner could square off in the third round of this section. Despite his poor recent form, I fancy Cilic to come good at Wimbledon and reach the quarters.
Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic are the highest seeds in the second quarter. Stan’s never been regarded as a great grass courter but he did reach the quarter-finals last year and was giving Roger Federer a run for his money before a stomach complaint seemed to derail his chances. His draw on paper looks excellent. The seeds in his eighth are David Goffin, Tommy Robredo and Dominic Thiem. I don’t fancy Robredo and Thiem on grass and there are chances for an unseeded player to sweep through and make the second week… perhaps, Marcos Baghdatis?
In contrast, Raonic’s section is loaded with Nick Kyrgios, Grigor Dimitrov and Richard Gasquet. Raonic opens against Daniel Gimeno-Traver and could meet Kyrgios in the third round. The Aussie player has been blighted by injury/health issues, but he has that spark which makes him a very dangerous opponent. Gasquet and Dimitrov are projected to meet in the third round. Gasquet’s been on a nice run of form and hasn’t lost to a player outside of the world’s top 10 since Indian Wells. Dimitrov’s form has been on the slide and he did well just to win a match at Queens before eventually falling to Gilles Muller in straight sets in the second round. Dimitrov is defending semi-final points and faces an uphill struggle just to make the second week.
Andy Murray is in the third quarter of the draw. Later on it looks tough but focussing at his early rounds, Murray should be content with his draw. His first match of the fortnight will be against Mikhail Kukushkin and the first seed he could meet is Andreas Seppi. The Italian player reached the final in Halle although he did benefit from back-to-back walkovers. Murray is seeded to meet Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth round. The Frenchman reached the semi-finals of Roland Garros but has since been troubled by an abdominal injury. He pulled out of all the grass court warm-up events and has been a dealt a dicey draw with Gilles Muller in the first round. Ivo Karlovic and Alexandr Dolgopolov have both beaten top ten players during the grass court season and are ones to keep an eye out for. They could meet in the second round if they overcome up-and-comers in the first round; Dolgopolov plays the 20-year-old Brit, Kyle Edmund, while Karlovic takes on the 19-year-old qualifier, Elias Ymer.
David Ferrer is in the third quarter and has drawn Rafael Nadal in his eighth. For Rafa, he could have done much, much worse with the draw. The Spaniard will play Thomaz Bellucci in the first round who is predominantly a clay courter, but has been in good form of late. If Nadal wins his first round match, he would play the winner of an exciting first rounder between Dustin Brown and Yen-Hsun Lu, both decent players on the grass. I’ve got a soft spot for Brown who is so much fun to watch and produced a scintillating performance to defeat Nadal in Halle last year. Nadal’s first projected seed is Viktor Troicki who he defeated in the final of Stuttgart. Troicki has had a superb grass court season so far and also reached the semi-finals of Queens. Ferrer lost his only warm-up match on grass and i’m very intrigued to see how he gets on against the Brit, James Ward. I’d go Ferrer but I could see Ward pushing him all the way.
Roger Federer bookends the draw with what looks like a majestic run through. However, draws are not the be all and end all and we saw that in Australia where he was upset by Andreas Seppi in the third round. Federer’s first match of Wimbledon 2015 will be against Damir Dzumhur, who he played in the third round of Roland Garros. The first seed that Rog could meet is Jack Sock. The American player returned from pelvis surgery at Indian Wells and enjoyed a noteworthy clay court season, winning his first title in Houston and then reaching the last 16 of Roland Garros. I’m surprised though that Sock hasn’t played any grass court tournaments (injury?) and he essentially goes in cold against Sam Groth who is dangerous on grass.
Tomas Berdych‘s eighth features the likes of Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon and Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. Berdych has been so consistent this year although his last two tournaments has seen him lose to a player outside of the world’s top ten for the first time this year. In Halle, Berdych came up against a serving masterclass by Ivo Karlovic. It’s hard though to pin down anyone who can upset Berdych before the quarters because the Czech player is very reliable, particularly in best of five set matches. That being said, Jeremy Chardy in the first round isn’t an easy match and Berd could play Nicolas Mahut in the second round who earnt a wildcard after another stunning run to the title ‘s-Hertgoenbosch as a qualifier, repeating his feat of two years ago. Monfils and Simon are seeded to meet in the third round. Gael picked up an injury in Halle and has spoken of his dislike of the grass, while Simon has posted some consistent results in the last month, making the last 16 at Roland Garros and the semi-finals at Queens. I’d fancy Gilles to make the second week again.
Quarter-final predictions: Djokovic v Cilic, Wawrinka v Raonic, Nadal v Murray and Berdych v Federer
Semi-final predictions: Djokovic v Wawrinka, Murray v Federer
Final prediction: Murray d. Djokovic
I’ve really struggled to separate Murray and Djokovic. Novak is so resilient and he has such a dominant record over Murray, but the way that the Brit has been building this year and with the advantage of the home crowd has just tipped the scales in Andy’s favour for me…