At the French Open, we knew exactly who the men’s favorites were—world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and nine-time champion Rafael Nadal—even if neither of them ended up winning the tournament. At Wimbledon, now that Djokovic’s cloak of invincibility has been removed, none of the top men appear to have a definite advantage to start. Will the draw give any of them a leg up, or an extra ray of hope? Here’s an early look. (Click here for the men's draw.)
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Who has the inside track to the Wimbledon men's title?
Published Jun 26, 2015
On a macro scale, Djokovic should like what he sees. Three rivals, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, and Nadal, are all safely in the other half. The problem is that a new and possibly even more dangerous rival, Stan Wawrinka, is on his side.
How about on a micro scale? Since 2011, Djokovic has been a virtual lock to reach at least the semis at the majors, and if you’re wondering whether he can bounce back after his defeat in Paris, he’s done it twice before to win Wimbledon. But his road to a third title won't be his easiest. Djokovic will start against that rare bird these days, a “dangerous floater,” in Philipp Kohlschreiber. Of course, dangerous is a relative thing where Nole is concerned—he’s 6-1 against the German, his only loss coming at the French Open in 2009.
In the third round, Djokovic might face former Wimbledon quarterfinalist Bernard Tomic; in the fourth round he could get Queen’s Club finalist Kevin Anderson; and in the quarters he’s slated to face Kei Nishikori. If he runs that gauntlet, he should be feeling pretty good about his game again.
—Thanasi Kokkinakis, who starts against Leonardo Mayer. The young Aussie will be interesting to watch on grass.
—John Isner, who opens against Go Soeda.
It’s hard to know what the immediate future holds for Stan Wawrinka. By the end of Roland Garros, he looked unbeatable. Then he was beaten at Queen’s by Anderson, and until last year, his record at Wimbledon was a highly mediocre 9-9.
One thing we know is that Stan is no longer that player anymore. Last year he reached the quarters here, and he’s made himself a steady threat at the majors. Looking at the draw, the new Stan has to like his chances of threatening again. He starts against Joao Sousa of Portugal, the first seed he could face is the still-developing Dominic Thiem, and second highest seed in his quarter is Milos Raonic. While Raonic reached the semis at Wimbledon last year, injuries have slowed his momentum this spring.
Sleeper: Nick Kyrgios. Last year’s Wimbledon sensation is scheduled to play the man who ended his run here, Raonic, in the third round.
The bottom half is champion’s territory: Three former winners, Murray, Nadal, and Federer, are on this side, and two of them, Murray and Nadal, are packed into this quarter.
If Murray didn’t have such a dismal recent record against Djokovic, I would say the 2013 champ is the favorite to win the tournament. He has had, despite a couple of high-profile meltdowns, an excellent season so far, and he was crisp in his title run at Queen’s. Plus, he’s on home turf, where he's 41-8. Murray will start against Mikhail Kukushkin, and is scheduled to play Andreas Seppi in the third round, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the fourth, and either Nadal or David Ferrer in the quarters.
The 10th-seeded Rafa, of course, is the wild card. The two-time Wimbledon winner has struggled on grass since last reaching the final in 2011, and he could struggle again. He'll open against hard-hitting lefty Thomaz Bellucci, and might play Dustin Brown, who won their only meeting, on grass in Halle last season, in the second round.
A Nadal-Murray quarter would be one to watch, a hard one to pick, and a potential blast from nightmares past for British fans: Rafa has knocked Murray out at Wimbledon three times, but Muzzer won their last meeting, in Madrid in May.
—Borna Coric, who beat Murray earlier this year and might face him in the third round.
—Viktor Troicki, who has put his career back together and reached the Queen’s semis last week.
It is, as they say, go time for Roger Federer. His season has been geared for these two weeks, and with that in mind, he seemed to round into form during his winning week in Halle. At Wimbledon, Federer should be pleased with what he will theoretically see across the net from him, at least to start. He opens against 87th-ranked Damir Dzumhur, and will play either Sam Querrey or Igor Sijsling after that. Then things could potentially get interesting against big-hitting Jack Sock in the third round.
Is it time for us to say, once again, that this is Federer’s last shot at a Slam? It isn’t, but he definitely has a shot.
Tomas Berdych is the top seed on the other side. The Czech beat Federer in the quarters here in 2010, but a repeat of that upset, and of Berdych’s run to the final that year, is hard to imagine at the moment. After knocking off Nadal in Australia, Berdych has settled back into his accustomed spot in the second tier—it was, for the second straight year, Wawrinka who had the bigger breakthrough in him.
Also here: Veterans Gael Monfils, Gilles Simon, Feliciano Lopez.
First-round match to watch (from a safe distance): Jack Sock vs. Sam Groth. What happens when a 140-m.p.h serve meets a 100-m.p.h. forehand? We’ll find out here.
Semifinals: Djokovic d. Wawrinka; Murray d. Federer
Final: Djokovic d. Murray