WIMBLEDON 2012: The Drawing Board

While Germany bulldoze their way through to the last 4 of Euro 2012, and Portugal ride on the capabilities of one man, another holy sporting event of the year is set to begin.

Wimbledon 2012.

After a one-sided clay court season (again), normal service has been restored as Nadal dominated the world on clay. He finally managed to win a Slam Final against his torturer Djokovic, thanks to some dogged defense and a little bit of luck with the weather.

The most visually appealing two weeks of tennis beckons, with the SW19 all set to host Wimbledon followed by, yes, The Olympics. For once, we will have the privilege of witnessing an extended grasscourt season, and probably the most intense one over the last four years.

The draw, meanwhile, has been released. It makes for interesting reading once again, and curiously, Nadal has been handed another favorable draw all the way to the finals. Being World No. 2 can’t be so bad after all.

The Slam Beetles

Drawing Conclusions:

Novak Djokovic-

The defending champion and World No. 1, fresh from a defeat at Roland Garros where his hopes of owning the Golden Slam evaporated, has a tricky opener. Juan Carlos Ferrero, former World No. 1 and French Open Champion, has an opportunity to live his last hurrah- and is sure to give the Djoker- who is not a great beginner- a few tense moments. On the flip side, a test for Djokovic so early could steel him for greater battles, one that may involve James Blake in the third round. He also has Gasquet, the French maestro on grass, and a very determined Berdych- who he will most likely face in the quarter finals. That could be Djokovic’s greatest obstacle, but you’d expect him to ride his form through to another semi-final against Roger Federer. 

What is interesting about this tournament is that the world rankings are at stake. If Djokovic loses to Federer in the semis, and Federer goes on to win it- Federer will be World Number 1 once again.

If Djokovic loses to Berdych in the quarters, and Nadal wins the whole thing, it will be Nadal at the top once again. With all 3 scenarios equally possible, Djokovic has to be careful- with a truckload of points to defend over the next few tournaments.

Prediction: Djokovic will reach the semis without a glitch. 

First indoor Slam Ever!

Rafael Nadal-

Nadal has the easiest path to the final out of the top 4. He may face a fresh-from-Halle-victory Tommy Haas or Kohlscheriber in the third round- both decent completion on grass. But with the grass at Wimbledon slowing down over the years, few would challenge the Spanish Hulk anymore. With Wawrinka, Tsonga and Aussie teen sensation Tomic in the same draw, it will make for fierce competition as one of them will play Nadal in the quarters. This could just be the breakthrough tournament for Wawrinka, whose beautiful single-handed backhand favour grass over clay.

Prediction: Nadal will reach the semis. Unless the mercurial Tsonga has other ideas. 

Winning Machine

Roger Federer-
Federer has, what you would call ‘a workmanlike’ draw. There is no real weak player, but there are no major scares either. Ramos first up, with Llodra in the second- Federer has Verdasco, Simon, comeback man Mathieu and marathon men Isner and Mahut (due for a faceoff in the second round) in his draw. There is also the looming threat of Tipsarevic, but one would expect Federer to come through to the quarters, where he could face, in all likelihood, the giant Isner. Isner has posed some problems for Federer over the last year or so, and it will be interesting to see if he allows himself to get bullied by the world’s best server, or he hits the courts in sublime pre-2010 form.
Prediction: Federer will meet Djokovic once again in the semis, where he will be looking to exact revenge and embrace destiny. Like any great champion, he is due for one last shot at top spot.  

Andy Murray-
The Brit has been handed the cruelest cut of them all. He has Ferrer (his French Open conqueror), Roddick (probably his last Wimbledon), Cilic (Fresh from a Queens victory), Canadian star Raonic (who is one win away from the bigtime), and finally, the biggest threat- Del Potro- who has a checkered history with him. Firstly, though, he has to contend with Davydenko in the first round itself, and few would expect Murray to stand the relentless onslaught of top-class players on this surface- where he often succumbs to hometown pressure.

Prediction: Murray will fall to Del Potro in the quarters. Del Potro will meet Nadal in the semis. The dark horses for this tournament are, in fact, not that dark after all. Milos Raonic- everyone expects big things from him after the way he competed with Federer- is everyone’s favorite. Then there’s eternal underperformer Cilic, as well as the greatest backhand in Men’s Tennis- Richard Gasquet.
In two weeks, we could have a new emperor- both of who are desperate to get back to the top in this ‘Djoker Era’. 

Who will have the last laugh? 

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