Last year the story was Novak Djokovic landing in Roger Federer’s half of the draw for a 16th time in the last 20 Grand Slams. Not so much this time around.
The story of the 2013 Wimbledon bracket is an absolutely loaded bottom half, which Djokovic obviously avoided as the No. 1 seed. Getting the short end of the stick were Federer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, and two-time semifinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Federer and Nadal could collide as early as the quarterfinals in what would be a rematch of the 2006, 2007, and 2008 Wimbledon finals. Murray, a runner-up for the first time in 2012, finds himself in the same section as Tsonga.
Overall, Djokovic has an extremely favorable draw being on the side away from Federer, Murray, Nadal, and Tsonga. That being said, his path to the semis may not be entirely straightforward. An in-form Tommy Haas looms large as a potential fourth-round opponent and Tomas Berdych is Djokovic’s likely quarterfinal adversary. Haas beat Djokovic earlier this season in Miami, while Berdych’s two wins over the Serb came at Wimbledon in 2010 and at the Rome Masters earlier this year.
Haas and Berdych should not have too much trouble playing their ways into those potential showdowns. The 35-year-old German, a recent semifinalist in Halle before succumbing to Federer, opens with Dmitry Tursunov and could face Gilles Simon in the third round. As for Berdych, the sixth-ranked Czech is on a collision course with personal pigeon Kevin Anderson for the third round. One interesting first-round matchup to watch in this section is Simon vs. Feliciano Lopez. They just faced each other in Saturday’s Eastbourne title match, which Lopez won 7-6(2), 6-7(5), 6-0.
Best first-round matchup — (21) Sam Querrey vs. Bernard Tomic
Ever since the Australian Open, 2013 had been a nightmare for Tomic both on and off the court until last week in Eastbourne. The 20-year-old advanced two rounds before bowing out to Simon in two competitive sets. Tomic generally performs well on grass and he made it to the Wimbledon quarterfinals as a qualifier in 2011. Querrey reached the fourth round in 2010 and the third round last season before losing to Marin Cilic in a memorable 7-6(6), 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-7(3), 17-15 affair. The 6’6’’ American is looking to bounce back from a third-round Queen’s Club loss to Lleyton Hewitt.
Best potential second-round matchup – (7) Tomas Berdych vs. Daniel Brands
Best potential third-round matchup – (13) Tommy Haas vs. (19) Gilles Simon
Possible surprises — Ryan Harrison’s well-documented stretch of facing top players in the first two rounds of Grand Slams won’t be extended at Wimbledon. He has a good chance of making it to the last 32 of a major for the first time in his career…at which point he would face a familiar foe in the form of Djokovic. Don’t be shocked if Tomic builds on his Eastbourne showing with another deep run at the All-England Club. If he can get past Querrey, his two highest-seeded potential opponents are Berdych and Richard Gasquet. Both would be tough but they are in no way unbeatable.
The last two Grand Slam draws are like something made out of a dream for David Ferrer. With Djokovic and Nadal in the other half of the bracket at Roland Garros, Berdych was Ferrer’s nearest top eight seed and Federer was his projected semifinal opponent. The Spaniard ended up facing neither en route to his first major title match (lost to Nadal). At Wimbledon, the 31-year-old Spaniard avoided Federer, Nadal, and Murray and he is in the weakest quarter along with Juan Martin Del Potro. A remarkable number of seeds in this section are either slumping, not at their best on grass, or both.
Talk about surprise semifinalist potential…. Contenders like Philipp Kohlschreiber, Milos Raonic, Andreas Seppi, and Grigor Dimitrov have to be licking their chops with Ferrer and Del Potro as their two highest seeds. Ferrer is in fine form and he was a Wimbledon quarterfinalist in 2012, but that was the only time he had ever made it past the fourth round. Del Potro has been dealing with both injury and illness and he has won a grand total of four matches since Indian Wells. The time may be now for a breakout performance from one of the aforementioned quartet of players ranked outside the Top 15 in the world.
Best first-round matchup — (16) Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. Ivan Dodig
Kohlschreiber is no stranger to Grand Slam success. He capitalized on Nadal’s 2012 loss to Lukas Rosol and emerged from that section of the draw into the quarterfinals. The German has reached at least the fourth round in three of the last four majors and four of the last six. Dodig, meanwhile, is a worthy opponent. The 54th-ranked Croat is coming off a semifinal appearance at Queen’s Club, where he upset Raonic in the second round. Based on current form and the way their games translate to grass courts, this has high-quality showdown written all over it.
Best potential second-round matchup – (23) Andreas Seppi vs. Jarkko Nieminen
Best potential third-round matchup – (8) Juan Martin Del Potro vs. (29) Grigor Dimitrov
Possible surprises — The question is not if there will be a surprise semifinalist at Wimbledon. Ferrer has never made it to the final four and Del Potro has never even reached the quarters. The question is who will become that surprise. A third-rounder between Kohlschreiber and Roanic would not only be big in and of itself, but the stakes would be raised with a realistic shot at a semifinal awaiting the winner. Dimitrov has not exactly been on fire since upsetting Djokovic in Madrid, but there is no reason to think that he can’t compete with Del Potro on grass in the third round. Also don’t forget about Seppi, who is deceptively dangerous on the green stuff and whose nearest seed is an unimposing Kei Nishikori.
It sure isn’t good for Federer and Nadal…but it’s not necessarily terrible, either. The going gets tough with a likely quarterfinal clash against each other followed by a likely semifinal date with either Murray or Tsonga in store for the winner. Prior to the last eight, though, week one may not present much of a problem for either one of the former Wimbledon champions. Federer’s first three matches should be a breeze (no, he is not going to get Rosoled like Nadal did last year) and Jerzy Janowicz has shown no signs of being ready to pull off a win as monumental as beating Federer at Wimbledon. Nadal can sleepwalk into a fourth-round matchup with Hewitt, Stanislas Wawrinka, John Isner.
Isner and Evgeny Donskoy at least have more than the two days between meetings that Lopez and Simon will enjoy, but they are set to play each other for the second time in as many weeks. Donskoy upset Isner in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and will attempt to do it again on Monday. Wawrinka has to face Hewitt, the 2002 Wimbledon champion, in what is the best matchup on paper in the entire first round. So it’s safe to say a possible Wawrinka-Isner collision in the last 32 is far from a sure thing.
Best first-round matchup — (11) Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Lleyton Hewitt
Wawrinka’s 2013 campaign has been outstanding, but his Grand Slam draws have not been overly kind. He was in Djokovic’s eighth in Melbourne, he was in Nadal’s quarter in Paris, and now he has one of the most dangerous unseeded contenders in the Wimbledon first round. Hewitt has been to at least the quarterfinals at the All-England Club on five previous occasions and he recently advanced to the Queen’s Club semis after taking out three seeded opponents. Grass is advantageous to the 32-year-old Aussie in this matchup, although Wawrinka did well to reach the ‘s-Hertogenbosch final last week. Count on inspiring tennis for the duration of what could be a marathon match.
Best potential second-round matchup – Lukas Rosol vs. Jurgen Melzer
Best potential third-round matchup – (15) Nicolas Almagro vs. (24) Jerzy Janowicz
Possible surprises — In all probability, the proceedings in this section of the bracket are not going to end well for anyone except Federer or Nadal. The world No. 5 may be playing better tennis at the moment, but if a surprise comes it won’t be at the expense at the seven-time Wimbledon winner. Federer’s slam quarterfinal streak may come to end at some point, but it won’t be at the All-England Club. Nadal has every reason to reach the quarters, too, but it’s not an absolute lock. While Isner is generally a huge underachiever on grass, you never know when he will suddenly serve his way to huge win. If Wawrinka gets past Hewitt and eventually faces Isner, the winner of that showdown will not go down lightly against Nadal.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that Murray landed in the second toughest quarter of the draw. The Scot’s path is a favorable one until at least the quarterfinals. His nearest seed is Tommy Robredo, who is in resurgent form but is no real threat on grass. Murray’s nearest 13-16 seed and potential fourth-round adversary is a slumping Janko Tipsarevic. More likely opponents for the world No. 2 are ‘s-Hertogenbosch champion Nicolas Mahut and Halle runner-up Mikhail Youzhny.
The carnage comes on the other side of the section and the possible victim is Tsonga. Up first for the Frenchman is David Goffin followed by a likely battle against Ernests Gulbis, arguably the most talented unseeded floater in the field. If Tsonga manages to play his way into the last 32, he will await either Julien Benneteau, Fernando Verdasco, or ‘s-Hertogenbosch semifinalist Xavier Malisse. Cilic, a Queen’s Club finalist, is the likeliest fourth-round opponent. Should Tsonga survive all of those roadblocks plus Murray in the quarters, his reward would be Federer or Nadal.... Brutal.
Best first-round matchup — Fernando Verdasco vs. Xavier Malisse
These two veterans faced each other in the Wimbledon third round last season, with Malisse emerging from an entertaining contest on the winning end of a 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 scoreline. The 32-year-old Belgian is a former Wimbledon semifinalist (2002), he has advanced to the last 16 in each of the past two installments of the Championships, and he has not lost prior to the third round since 2009. Verdasco is not in great form nor is he quite as accomplished at the All-England Club, but he is no slouch on grass. The Spaniard reached the Wimbledon fourth round in 2006, 2008, and 2009. This one should have just about everything—bouts of stellar play interspersed with some tomfoolery from both headcases, and it would be a disappointment if it did not result in another five-setter.
Best potential second-round matchup – (6) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Ernests Gulbis
Best potential third-round matchup – (14) Janko Tipsarevic vs. (20) Mikhail Youzhny
Possible surprises — Gulbis’ draw is not a great one, but none of the seeds in his eighth of the bracket is anywhere close to unbeatable. Although the Latvian has generally been a massive failure at majors since reaching the Roland Garros quarterfinals in 2008, he upset Berdych in last year’s first round and he won a match at the French Open last month before losing to Gael Monfils in an exciting four-setter. Gulbis is 0-3 lifetime against Tsonga, but each of their last two encounters was a three-set thriller (including one that featured three tiebreakers, zero breaks of serve, and only one break point). The Tsonga-Gulbis winner may be favored to reach the quarters…even if it’s Gulbis.
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|1. Djokovic||12 500 pts|
|2. Murray||8 750 pts|
|3. Federer||8 670 pts|
|4. Ferrer||6 970 pts|
|5. Nadal||6 385 pts|
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