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.
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
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!
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.
Who will have the last laugh?