We’re halfway done with the majors in 2014, and the tennis calendar turns its attention to its most famous event: The Championships, Wimbledon. Both tours have experienced quite a bit of transition this season, and with tennis’s biggest event on the horizon on the sport’s most iconic surface, there’s a chance we may be crowning a new champion or revisiting one of the sport’s longtime favorites. The BadManBureau is here to break down the draws for both the Gentleman’s Singles and Ladies’ Singles at this event, providing you with insight on who might be making a big run and who might be crashing out early.
Section 1: Novak Djokovic’s Section
Seeds: (1) Novak Djokovic, (14) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, (17) Mikhail Youzhny, (31) Vasek Pospisil
One thing about Wimbledon to all casual fans or newcomers to tennis: the All England Lawn and Tennis Club uses a formula to determine their own seedings. It’s the only event to do so, and while some prefer the event just use the rankings like all other events, Wimbledon’s formula rewards grass-court play. That’s why world number 2, Novak Djokovic, is the top seed; he’s last year’s finalist, which put him over the top. As for this section of the draw, Djokovic finds himself contending with a bunch of hard-hitting but erratic players: Golubev, Pospisil, Querrey, and Tsonga are all potential opponents. The Serb should be able to outmaneuver them all.
Potential Stud-or-Dud Match: (14) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Jurgen Melzer. Both are former top ten players, and both have impressive runs in majors to their name. Tsonga is a former semifinalist here at Wimbledon and could be primed for another run, but he takes on the Austrian, who’s reached the semifinals of the grass court event in The Netherlands. This could go five sets, or Tsonga could run roughshod over the Austrian, who is not used to playing so many matches in his return from injury.
The Quarterfinalist: Novak Djokovic
Section 2: Tomas Berdych’s Section
Seeds: (6) Tomas Berdych, (12) Ernests Gulbis, (18) Fernando Verdasco, (26) Marin Cilic
All of the seeds could make a case to emerge from this group, and that’s what makes this section so intriguing. Berdych is coming off a good run at Roland Garros, reaching the quarterfinals, and followed that up with a quarterfinal appearance at the Queen’s Club. Gulbis, of course, reached the semifinals of Roland Garros and would want to back up his new status as a Top Ten player. Fernando Verdasco is not the same player he once was, but he did reach the quarterfinals last year and lost his quarterfinal match at ‘s-hertogenbosch to Jurgen Melzer in three tiebreaks. Marin Cilic has slowed down since his spectacular start to 2014, but he has won on grass before.
Dangerous Floaters: Sergiy Stakhovsky and Paul-Henri Mathieu. Stakhovsky pulled off the big upset last year at Wimbledon, knocking Roger Federer out in the second round. His results have been pretty dismal since then, but there’s a chance he could recapture some of the glory that allowed him to shock the tennis world. Paul-Henri Mathieu plays fairly well on grass, reaching two Round of 16s. He’s not the same player he once was at all, and he takes on Marin Cilic in the first round, but if he’s good, he could make things tough for the Croat.
The Quarterfinalist: Tomas Berdych
Section 3: Andy Murray’s Section
Seeds: (3) Andy Murray, (16) Fabio Fognini, (20) Kevin Anderson, (27) Roberto Bautista Agut
The defending champion got a fairly nice bump in the seedings and perhaps a bit of home-cooking from the organizers (since he snapped the British drought, he’s a Brit; had he lost, he’d be a Scot). Murray simply has no one who can trouble him en route to the quarterfinals here. Fognini has fallen apart of late; Anderson could live up to his seeding but seems content to lose to those ranked higher than him; and Bautista Agut is better on hardcourts. Expect Murray Mount to be rocking as the home crowd fantasizes about a repeat performance from Andy.
Under-the-Radar American: Steve Johnson. Steve Johnson joined the tour to much fanfare: he had never lost a singles match in his four years at the University of Southern California. He found very quickly that the ATP tour was a different, more difficult animal and toiled between low-level ATP events and the challenger circuit. However, he’s put together some solid results of late, reaching his career-high ranking earlier this month and putting together a quietly decent 5-3 record on the grass (2-1 at a challenger event). He opens up against the hard-hitting Bautista Agut in the first round.
The Quarterfinalist: Andy Murray
Section 4: David Ferrer’s Section
Seeds: (7) David Ferrer, (11) Grigor Dimitrov, (21) Alexandr Dolgopolov, (25) Andreas Seppi
This draw is a tricky, tricky section for the top seed in this portion. Wimbledon has historically been Ferrer’s worst major, and he’ll have to fight to repeat his quarterfinal performance from a year ago. Each of the other seeds here will be difficult to advance against: Dimitrov won Queen’s Club this year; Dolgopolov has the kind of game that takes away your rhythm and timing both in the match against him and the next one; and Andreas Seppi is an underrated grass court opponent.
Popcorn Match: Dustin Brown vs Marcos Baghdatis. As mentioned in the Roland Garros preview, Dustin Brown is quite possibly the most exciting player on the tour in terms of his actual game. He loves to serve-and-volley, and that style of game is finally paying dividends, especially on the grass. His unconventional game takes on Marcos Baghdatis, a crowd favorite who’s been mired in a bad slump. Still, Baghdatis is a former semifinalist at Wimbledon (all the way back in 2006 though!), but he can electrify a crowd with his game or demeanor on the court.
The Quarterfinalist: Grigor Dimitrov
Section 5: Stanislas Wawrinka’s Section
Seeds: (5) Stanislas Wawrinka, (9) John Isner, (19) Feliciano Lopez, (32) Dimitry Turusnov
Wawrinka is the top seed, but after his great start to 2014, which included his first major title in Australia, he has fallen back to earth in his results, which was punctuated with a dispiriting loss in the first round of Roland Garros. He potentially got a favor from the draw though. His path is filled with other players who, while competent on grass, could also find themselves in trouble if they aren’t playing at their best. The tall American John Isner bookends the other side of the draw, but if he fails to make his early round matches short, he could be out of gas in later rounds.
Upset Alert: Denis Istomin over (32) Dimitry Turusnov. Turusnov withdrew from his last event with a bit of an injury issue. It could impact his chances at Wimbledon, but the bigger issue will be that of the Uzbek he faces in the first round. Istomin reached the semifinals in the warm-up event in Eastbourne and can hit a very hard and flat ball. Turusnov isn’t a bad grass court player himself, but this is a pretty even face-off in the first round.
The Quarterfinalist: Feliciano Lopez
Section 6: Roger Federer’s Section
Seeds: (4) Roger Federer, (15) Jerzy Janowicz, (23) Tommy Robredo, (30) Marcel Granollers
Federer is the top seed in this section, and while he doesn’t have any names that jump off the page as a potential Federer killer, there are landmines here. Unseeded players such as former champion Lleyton Hewitt, Adrian Mannarino (who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon last year), Nicolas Mahut, and Julien Benneteau, who nearly beat Federer in 2012 at Wimbledon, all lurk in this part of the draw. Don’t forget Jerzy Janowicz either. He’s a semifinalist from this event last year, and he’s slowly rebuilding his game after a rough start to 2013.
Upset Alert: Nicolas Mahut over (30) Marcel Granollers. Mahut, the loser from the longest match in tennis history, is a very good grass court player. In fact, all four of his singles finals appearances have come on grass, winning the events in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Newport last year. Granollers, by contrast, is awful on grass; the Spaniard has compiled a pathetic 2-7 record at Wimbledon in singles competition, which is by far his worst win percentage at the four majors.
The Quarterfinalist: Roger Federer
Section 7: Milos Raonic’s Section
Seeds: (8) Milos Raonic, (10) Kei Nishikori, (22) Philipp Kohlschreiber, (28) Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
Two members of the next generation highlight this section, and we could see a potential preview of major finals to come. However, in order to get there, both players are going to have to overcome obstacles. For Raonic, he is a surprisingly pedestrian 3-3 at Southwest 19 and has never made it out of the second round in his three appearances. He will need to break through to get a chance at a long run. For Nishikori, the question—which appears to be the main question we’ll have of him for his entire career—is whether or not the Japanese number one is healthy. He crashed out in the first round of Roland Garros in part due to injury, but he’s appeared to bounce back by reaching the finals of the grass-court warmup in Halle.
A Preview of the Future?: Pierre-Hugues Herbert vs Jack Sock. Herbert is 23; Sock is 21. There’s a chance we could be seeing these two facing off more often in the future, as both have been on an upward trajectory in the last twelve months. Herbert, while still outside the Top 100, did qualify for this year’s Wimbledon, while Sock is firmly entrenched in the Top 100 at this point. This match might be a dud, but keep an eye out for both of them in the coming years.
The Quarterfinalist: Milos Raonic
Section 8: Rafael Nadal’s Section
Seeds: (2) Rafael Nadal, (13) Richard Gasquet, (24) Gael Monfils, (29) Ivo Karlovic
Nadal may be the top player in the world according to the ATP Tour rankings, but his recent grass results have knocked him to the bottom of the draw. And if Nadal wants to prove the Wimbledon organizers wrong, he’s going to have to do it the hard way. He opens up against hard-hitting Martin Klizan, then could face either eccentric Benoit Paire or Lukas Rosol, who stunned the tennis world when he knocked Nadal out of Wimbledon in 2012. Big serving Ivo Karlovic and competent grass-court Frenchmen in Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils are also present here.
Popcorn Match: Benoit Paire vs Lukas Rosol. This match will be a contrast in styles. The Frenchman Benoit Paire enjoys employing a variety of shots. He will sometimes run around his forehand to hit a backhand, something that rarely happens on the men’s tour. He can win matches with creativity and flair. Across the net is Lukas Rosol, who plays a very hard-hitting game. He serves big and hits his ground strokes big. He’s proven he can raise his game on grass, as he showed in taking out Rafael Nadal in 2012, but he’ll have to play with few errors.
The Quarterfinalist: Rafael Nadal
Wimbledon Final Prediction: Novak Djokovic defeats Rafael Nadal in four sets.
A very similar result to what I predicted for the French Open, but this time I don’t see a player who might be more capable of winning. Murray, while handed a highly favorable draw, is playing with the pressure to defend. It’s not as big a burden as last year when he played with the hopes of Great Britain in snapping the title drought, but he’ll still be pushing to retain his title. Roger Federer did win the event in Halle this year and can never be discounted on grass, but if Rafael Nadal stands in his way, I don’t see the Swiss advancing. Nadal will get better with each successive round, but he’ll need to work very hard just to get to the second week. In the end, I think Djokovic, free of the stomach ailment that afflicted him in the French Open final, will simply be the fresher player during the final.