Tenaciously Tennis

Wimbledon Predictions – The ATP Tour

Roger Federer’s loss to Lleyton Hewitt last week and a tough draw for Rafael Nadal signify a tough time for the two previous champions. Can both overcome the tough challenge that lays ahead of them? I think so. Let’s take a systematic look at the draw and crack this year’s Wimbledon code.

The First Quarter:

Notables – Roger Federer (1), Tommy Robredo (30), Feliciano Lopez (22), Jurgen Melzer (16), Tomas Berdych (12), Stanislas Wawrinka (20), Victor Hanescu (31), Nikolai Davydenko (7)

In this section, the obvious person to pull through is Federer, the five time champion. I see him advancing to the fourth round without much trouble. Once there, however, I see a tough test against Tomas Berdych in the future. Also noteworthy, Lopez of Spain, who beat Nadal a couple weeks ago. While Federer didn’t play too sharply against Hewitt in his pre-Wimbledon warm-up, it’s a different story in a Grand Slam. Watch Davydenko, whose been having a tough year so far, falter before the fourth round.

The Final Four: Federer faces Lopez, and Berdych handily defeats an ailing Davydenko.

The Second Quarter:

NotablesNovak Djokovic (3), Taylor Dent, Albert Montanes (28), Gael Monfils (21), Lleyton Hewitt (15), Marin Cilic (11), Mardy Fish, Ivan Ljubicic (17), Philipp Kohlschreiber (29), Andy Roddick (5)

This is a difficult part of the draw for Roddick, the guy I’m rooting for. He’s had some poor results this past few months, including a basically non-existent clay court season. Yes, he made it to the third round, which is as good as a showing as any for the top male American, but his third showing at Queens Club was his worst ever. Hopefully, this 2009 Wimbledon finalist can recall the drive and belief that took him to a fifth set against Federer last year. That match his to win. I see Roddick making it to the fourth round without losing a set. There’s no one to do any damage to his exceptional serving game and strong baseline rallying capabilities. The rest these past few months might also help. If anything, he’s fresh. It’s all up to the Roddick serve. Once he makes it there, I see a tough match against Marin Cilic in his future. He should, however, pull through.

The Final Four: Hewitt looks to be a difficult opponent with his win against Federer. I say he dismantles Djokovic. In the bottom half, Roddick proves to be too much for Cilic.

The Third Quarter:

Notables – Fernando Verdasco (8), Julien Benneteau (32), Nicholas Almagro (19), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (10), Juan Carlos Ferrero (14), Sam Querrey (18), Gilles Simon (26), Andy Murray (4)

Out of this slew of players, the only one that I feel holds a chance at victory is Sam Querrey, which is surprising given his lackluster Grand Slam performances in the past. With his best performance coming in the fourth round of the 2008 US Open, and only making it to the second round at Wimbledon last year, he has a lot to prove. Regardless, his career high ranking and win over compatriot Mardy Fish in the finals of Queens Club shows he’s ready to do well on grass. With three titles to his name already this year, I see at least a quarterfinal run for the giant American. It won’t be easy with Murray as a potential fourth round opponent, but I like his chances. A lot.

The Final Four: Tsonga surprises Verdasco in five close sets in the top half. In the bottom section, Querrey gives everything to take out Britain’s hope Murray in another five set blockbuster to make his first quarterfinal showing in a Grand Slam.

The Fourth Quarter:

Notables – Robin Soderling (7), Robby Ginepri, Thomaz Bellucci (25), Marcos Baghdatis (24), David Ferrer (9), Mikhail Youzhny (13), John Isner (23), Philipp Petzschner (33), James Blake, Rafael Nadal (2)

Notice Nadal’s section as probably one of, if not the, most difficult in all four sections. I think he needs to watch out for John Isner big time. There’s no saying how Isner will play on a given day. But if he’s at his best, and his baseline game mirrors his wicked serve, the American can take out anyone, even Nadal. I’m not saying that’s probable, but it’s a slim possibility. On the top section, Soderling has a difficult match afainst Ginepri to go through. Other than that, it should be an easy time to make it to the fourth round. There, I see him facing Marcos Baghatis.

The Final Four: Soderling defeats Baghdatis in three sets, and Nadal faces a test against Isner in four.

Second Week Predictions:

  • Federer fends off Berdych
  • Roddick stops Hewitt’s string of grass wins in three
  • Querrey, assuming he plays the match of his life against Murray, faces a pumped up Tsonga. Querrey wins in five for a second straight top ten victory.
  • Nadal notches another win against the Swedish Soderling in a three set repeat of the French Open final.

In the semifinals, I don’t see Roddick repeating the excellent play against Federer. I think he’ll bow out in four sets, much to my chagrin. As for Querrey (or Murray with a serious asterisk), Nadal’s too much to handle in a Grand Slam semifinal. Get ready for much-needed Federer – Nadal final. We’ll leave that prediction for another day — it’s just too close to decide in my mind.

For the men’s official draw, look here.


Federer, Allegro Fall in First Round of Doubles

It’s nice seeing Roger Federer playing doubles, or at least reading about it. In fact, it’s very nice. However, with that said, it’d be even better if Federer went further with his partner, Yves Allegro, in his first grass tournament of the season at the Gerry Weber Open. Instead, the Swiss friends lost in the first round to the reigning champions, Christopher Kas and Phillipe Kohlschreiber, 6-4, 7-6.

Ironically, the last tournament the duo won together was the same tournament in 2005, during which they beat a compelling pair of Marat Safin and Joachim Johansson in the final.

Although disconcerting to see Federer lose in the opening round of a tournament, this in no way serves as a marker for his future grass court season. With the quarterfinal loss to Robin Soderling at the French Open fresh in his memory, combined with this latest defeat, look for Federer to be fired up in single action right up until, and during, this year’s Wimbledon. He’s the greatest player of all time for a good reason.

Nadal Easily Advances; Upsets Ensue at Indian Wells

Rafael Nadal and John Isner raced through their third round matches, while the Serbs Novak Djokovic and Jelena Jankovic needed marathon three-set matches to advance. On the surprise-side, session ten at Indian Wells saw Kim Clijsters and Victoria Azarenka lose, as Israel’s Shahar Peer advanced in three.

In Nadal’s match against Mario Ancic, the Spaniard wowed the crowed with shot after shot, making his established opponent look like a confused country-player. With his powerful top spin forehand, Nadal dominated Ancic with beautifully hit passing shots and curling forehands hit from outside the doubles alley that miraculously clipped corners of the court. In the end, Ancic looked completely baffled, bowing out, 6-2, 6-2. The third seed next faces the American giant, John Isner.

Isner beat friend and fellow Davis Cup partner, Sam Querrey, 7-6(3), 6-4, asserting his rightful place as the second-ranked American in the world. The question remains, can Isner push himself to the max and take down the defending champion, Nadal, in the next round. My prediction: probably not.

Djokovic looked to have an easy match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber in the first set, but things intensified as Kohlschreiber’s one-handed backhanded and the California heat weighed down on the Serb’s game. Djokovic outlasted Kohlschreiber’s three match points and took the third set tie break to win, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6(3). Next up is a harder test in Ivan Ljubicic, the twentieth seed.

Another Serb, Jankovic, looked to be all but out of the tournament against her lower-ranked opponent, Sara Errani in her 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-4 win. For the first set and most of the second, Jankovic would set the point up with one of her beautifully placed down-the-line backhands. However, she continually made unforced errors, allowing Errani to dictate play. In the second set tiebreak, Jankovic was up 6-1, until sloppy play ensued. Jankovic lost the next five points, but eventually took the set and the match.

Clijsters and Azarenka bowed out in surprising fashion. Clijsters lost to Russian Alisa Kleybanova 64, 1-6, 7-6(4), while Azarenka was defeated by Spain’s Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez, 7-6(4), 6-2.

With Clijsters out, my prediction for a Belgian champion at the 2010 Indian Wells tournament comes to a close. However, there is the exciting possibility of a new winner on the west coast, which is just as powerful a storyline.

Azarenka’s defeat by Martinez Sanchez was a huge upset, showcasing the Spaniard’s beautiful variety, including drop shot returns, finesse volleys, lobs, and well-placed serves. All combined to throw off Azarenka’s powerful baseline game and end her hopes for a big win.

Other matches of note had Israel’s Shahar Peer versus Flavia Pennetta, Vera Zvonareva against Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova, and Australia’s Sam Stosur meeting Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Peer came back from a difficult loss in the second set to take a commanding win in the third set, beating the Italian, 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-1. In the other match, 2009 champion Zvonareva put a stop to the Latvian’s strong run 6-2, 6-3, while Stosur out-hit the recent titlist, Pavlyuchenkova, in a lopsided, 6-3, 6-0.

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