2011 Wimbledon Men’s Tennis Preview

2011 Wimbledon Men’s Tennis Championship
Monday, June 20 – Sunday, July 3, 2011
All England Lawn Tennis Center, Wimbledon, England
Playing Surface: Grass
TV Coverage: ESPN2, Tennis Channel, NBC
Defending Champion: Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal is the co-favorite along with Roger Federer to win Wimbledon which begins on Monday.

Unlike their counterparts on the women’s side, Men’s tennis can be divided into two distinct groups. The top four players in the world and everyone else. As much as players like Andy Roddick, Robin Soderling, David Ferrer, Nikolay Davydenko, Tomas Berdych, Mardy Fish, Juan Martin Del Potro, Gael Monfils, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga try they just aren’t on the same level as the Fab Four. No, not John, Paul, George, and Ringo but Rafa, Roger, Novak, and Andy.

Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Dkokovic, and Andy Murray are playing at a much higher level than the rest of the field. In fact of 35 events this year on the ATP tennis tour the Big Four have combined to win 12 of them. Most of the events another player won, none of the four even entered. When it comes to majors, the dominance is even more pronounced. Andy Murray has never won a major, but the other three have combined to win every Grand Slam event since 2004, except one. Del Potro won the U.S. Open in 2009, and that is the only exception. In fact, Djokovic only has a couple of Australian Open titles, including one earlier this year. Nadal and Federer have been dominant at the French and Wimbledon winning the last 15 at those two events.

Here is a look at the contenders and their odds to win courtesy of bodog.

Rafael Nadal (2/1)

We are used to Nadal being completely dominant on the clay of Roland Garros where he has won 6 of the 7 times he has entered. However, people might not realize that the 25 year old lefty from Spain has won 14 matches in a row at Wimbledon. He skipped the event in 2009 due to injury, but won it in 2008 and is the defending champion. He has three titles this year, including the French earlier this month and additional titles at Barcelona and Monte Carlo, all on clay. Nadal has made 4 additional finals and is 45-7 this season. His section of the draw is relatively tough with Berdych, Fish, and Del Potro all potential hazards.  You should pick against Nadal at your own peril though. He is my pick to win his 11th major title.

Roger Federer (2/1)

Though he has won Wimbledon 6 times, I don’t believe he should be the co-favorite with Nadal. Nadal has beaten Federer 17 times in the 25 matches they have played against each other. There is some hope for Federer as he played well in the French Open Final a couple of weeks ago against Nadal. He was up 2 breaks in the 1st set before Nadal stormed back to win the set. Nadal won in 4 sets but every set was close until the fourth when Federer was worn out. Nadal won 7-5, 7-6 (7-3), 5-7, 6-1. Federer only has one win this season at Qatar in January. He is 34-8 and also made the final at Dubai. The 29 year old from Switzerland is nearing the end of a brilliant career but he certainly has the talent to win at least a couple of more majors. The highlight of his year so far was he snapped Djokovic’s 44 match winning streak in the semifinals at Roland Garros. Federer’s section of the draw isn’t too challenging. Barring upsets he will face either David Ferrer or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarters, two winnable matches.  I would love to see Federer win again, but I just don’t see him beating Nadal.

Novak Djokovic (11/4)

Novak Djokovic started off the season winning 41 matches in a row and 7 titles, including the Australian Open in January. There was talk that Djokovic had caught up or maybe even surpassed Nadal and Federer. He beat Nadal twice on clay in finals of Rome and Madrid.  The 23 year old Serb is 2 years younger than Nadal and 6 years younger than Federer. However, as ESPN’s Lee Corso would say, not so fast my friend. Djokovic lost in 4 sets to Federer in the semis of the French Open. He pulled out of his next event with a knee injury, and so his record stands at 41-1 this season. Grass is Djokovic’s worst surface as he has never advanced past the semifinals here. His section of the draw is pretty tough as a potential quarterfinal showdown with Robin Soderling awaits. If he survives that he could face a rematch with Federer in the Semifinals.

Andy Murray (5/1)

The 24 year old Scotsman is 22-8 this season with one title which occurred last week on Grass in L0ndon. He made it to the final of the Aussie Open but lost to Djokovic. Murray would love to be the first British man to win Wimbledon since 1936 but it will be difficult to beat Nadal in the semifinals. Murray’s section of the draw is challenging with Richard Gasquet, Stan Wawrinka, Gael Monfils, and a potential quarterfinal match-up with Andy Roddick standing in his way. I can’t see Murray breaking through and winning his first major, though his time will come eventually.

Robin Soderling (28/1)

I only mention Soderling because the 26 year old Swede could be a sleeper if one of the top 4 falter. He is 32-8 this season with early season titles at Marseille, Rotterdam, and Brisbane, all hard court wins. He is 3-0 in finals this year. He has never made it past the quarters here, but could pose a threat to Djokovic in the quarterfinals.

Andy Roddick (33/1)

Since losing to Roger Federer in an epic 5 set match in the 2009 Wimbledon Final, Roddick has never made it past the quarters of any major. He is 19-7 this season with a win at Memphis and a runner up at Brisbane. He has battled injury all season and even missed the French Open. Roddick doesn’t really seem interested in putting in the work to improve his game so he can compete with the top 5 players in the world. He could be an early upset victim with Gael Monfils, Thomaz Bellucci, and Janko Tipseravic in his section of the draw.

There are a couple of intriguing first round match-ups, including John Isner versus Nicolas Mahut in a rematch of their epic 5 set match last year. You might recall the match took over 11 hours spaced over 3 days, as Isner won the fifth set 70-68 in the longest tennis match in history. Neither will go very far but it is interesting that the “random” draw put the two together again. Also, James Blake takes on Marcos Baghdatis which would have been a fantastic match 5 years ago.

Other contenders and their odds are: Del Potro (20/1), Tsonga (33/1), Berdych (33/1), Isner (50/1), Fish (80/1), Richard Gasquet (80/1), David Nalbandian (125/1), David Ferrer (150/1), Monfils (150/1), Jurgen Melzer (150/1), Lleyton Hewitt (150/1), Davydenko (150/1), Baghdatis (200/1), Wawrinka (200/1), and Mahut 250/1.

It should be a great fortnight, and enjoy some strawberries and cream as you watch.

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