With the year’s third grand slam starting in just a few hours I’ll preview how I think Wimbledon will play out. Just when everyone thought the big four were on the decline they are back as the top four seeds. I’ll preview both men’s draw quarter by quarter.
Andy Murray headlines the top quarter as the top seed and defending champion. Not many people are picking Murray to go back-to-back this time around as his build up to Wimbledon hasn’t been very good. In his only tournament before Wimbledon at Queens in London, he lost in the first round to Australian Jordan Thompson 7-6 6-2. He has also pulled out of two exhibition tournaments last week due to a hip complaint, which has stalled his preparation. Murray’s draw does give him time to build into the tournament with two easier matches against young Kazakhstan player in Alexander Dublik in the first round and probably the Dustin Brown in the second round.
The draw for Murray would definitely start getting much tough with a potential matchup against the fiery character of Fabio Fognini in the third round. The other seeds in this section of the draw is an unpredictable but very talented Nick Kyrgios or the young Frenchmen Lucas Pouille. These are two young power players who like the grass and are threats to any players on their day.
The other major seed in the bottom section of the first quarter is Stan Wawrinka, who is seed fifth at this year’s championships. Wawrinka draw is probably tougher than Murray’s but also starts with a relatively easy first round match against Daniil Medvedev from Russia. From here it gets tough for Wawrinka with a potential second round matchup against Tommy Haas who defeated Roger Federer on the Grass at Stuttgart last month, so he is in good form.
In the third round, Wawrinka could have a potential boggy match against Fernando Verdasco, with their head-to-head currently sitting at three all but interestingly Verdasco won last time they played on grass a year ago. In the fourth round, Wawrinka could face Jo-Wilfred Tsonga who Wawrinka has dominated over the past four years not losing any of their four matches
Looking at that quarterfinal between Murray and Wawrinka. They played a blockbuster at the French Open last month so we could be in for another one. My prediction is Wawrinka would get over the top of him. With Murray struggling with a hip complaint and Wawrinka defending very little points he’ll have nothing to lose, so I see him coming out on top.
1st round matches to watch:
Jo-Wilfred Tsonga vs. Cameron Norrie (former Kiwi & semi-finalist of Tennis New Zealand Championships)
Fernando Verdasco vs. Kevin Anderson
Potential Upsets: Wawrinka losing to Tommy Hass in the second round
Wawrinka losing to Tommy Hass in the second round
Murray losing to Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round
Semifinalist: Stan Wawrinka
The second quarter is headlined by Rafael Nadel, who is one of the favorites leading into Wimbledon. Coming off the back of his French Open success and a strong run at the Australian Open his start to the year has been nothing short of sublime. Nadal hasn’t played any tournaments leading into Wimbledon, so not to sure how he is playing on the grass. Nadal has one of the better draws of the top seeded guys. He should get through his first few matches unscathed. He has Australian John Millman up first who he should cruise by, before taking on a potential banana skin match against Denis Istomin. Istomin took down Novak Djokovic in the second round of the Australian Open this year, but Nadal should be way too good. In my opinion, his only potential match he could struggle in is against Ivo Karlovic in the fourth round.
The other section of this quarter is headlined by Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori. Cilic doesn’t have an easy draw. He has a tough first round match against Philipp Kohlschreiber. Interestingly Kohlschreiber leads the head-to-head 6-3. If Cilic can find his way through Kohlschreiber he has a potential match against Victor Troicki, who also matches up well against Cilic. Even though Cilic leads the head-to-head 6-5, Troicki has won their only two matches on grass. Nishikori, on the other hand, has a relatively nice passage through to the fourth round, with his only potential loss coming in the third round against Roberto Bautista Agut.
I can only see one result from this quarter of the draw with Rafael Nadel cruising through to the semi-finals without dropping a set. The bottom part of this quarter is pretty strong. I can definitely see a few upsets here but I think Nadal will play Nishikori in the Quarter Finals.
1st round matches to watch:
Marin Cilic vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber
Cilic losing in the first or second round
Semifinalist: Rafael Nadal
The third quarter is highlighted by the third seed Roger Federer. His build up to Wimbledon has been pretty good. He lost his first match on grass to Tommy Hass before going on to win the ATP 500 tournament in Halle, Germany. Federer is on the bottom part of this quarter and faces a dangerous Alexander Dolgopolov in the first round. Should he get through that, he has a pretty easy second round match before potentially facing Mischa Zverev or Bernard Tomic in the third round. Federer could face a tricky fourth round match against either the big-serving American John Isner or Grigor Dimitrov. Isner and Dimitrov could face each other in the third round with my prediction being Dimitrov will come through. The matchup between Federer and Dimitrov is always dubbed Federer vs. baby fed due to their very similar styles. I would back Federer to come through this match as he has never lost to Dimitrov in their five previous meetings.
The other seed in this quarter of the draw is Milos Raonic who beat Federer in the Semi-Finals here last year but the word is he isn’t in the same kind of the form but he is always dangerous on the grass. His passage through to the fourth round is pretty straightforward, with the only tough match he could face being Albert Ramos-Vinolas but he is a clay court specialist. To find Raonic’s fourth round opponent, we could potentially see one of the best third-round matches featuring Alexander Zverev and Jack Sock. This would be an interesting match up, and when they meet twice last year they split matches. I would back Zverev to get through this match but I wouldn’t be surprised if this match went five sets. A fourth round matchup between Zverev and Raonic would be very tight. Zverev won their only match previously on the clay courts of Rome earlier this year. I’m backing Zverev to get through this match and face Roger Federer in the quarter-finals. I put this down to his form on the grass leading up to Wimbledon and the year he’s had so far.
A quarter-final matchup between Federer and Zverev would be an intriguing match. Federer leads the head-to-head 2-1 but has split their matches on the grass. But most importantly Federer thrashed Zverev in Halle a couple of weeks ago so I would go with Federer in this match.
1st round matches to watch:
Albert Ramos-Vinolas vs. Jordan Thompson – Thompson beat Andy Murray in straight sets in Queens a couple of weeks ago
Mischa Zverev vs. Bernard Tomic – Tomic beat Zverev a couple of weeks ago in straight sets
Taylor Fritz vs. John Isner
Jordan Thompson beating Albert Ramos-Vinolas
Taylor Fritz beating John Isner
Alexander Zverev beating Roger Federer (Potential Quarter Final Match)
Semifinalist: Roger Federer
The fourth quarter is highlighted by Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem. Thiem is at the top of this quarter so we will look at him first. His lead into Wimbledon has been pretty average compared to how his year has been going. He lost in the second round at Halle to Robin Haase and lost to 6-3 6-2 to a player ranked 222. Thiem’s first two matches are pretty tough. He faces Vasek Pospisil in the first round, who is in pretty good form and a dangerous player to face in the first round. If Thiem is to get through that he would probably face Giles Simon a former top ten player. I would back him to get through that and then an easier third round match awaits. In the fourth round, he could face a number of players, with this section of the draw being incredibly strong.
A very interesting first round match between David Ferrer and Richard Gasquet opens this section of the draw. Young Croation player Borna Coric faces Ryan Harrison in a tricky first round match for both players. I think Harrison will come out on top in potentially five sets. Lastly, Thomas Berdych rounds out this section of the bottom quarter. I think Ferrer will come through against Gasquet in potentially the best first round match of the entire draw. I see Ferrer going on to make the third round where he will face Berdych who I think will get the better of Ryan Harrison. I see Berdych getting through against Ferrer to face Thiem in the fourth round. By this part of the tournament, I see Thiem being in good form by then and will be too strong for Thomas Berdych.
The bottom part of this quarter is highlighted by second seed Novak Djokovic. Djokovic is off the back of winning the Eastbourne tournament last week and has a pretty nice draw through to the third round where he could face Juan Martin Del Potro. The only match stopping this meeting is Del Potro’s first round match against Thanasi Kokkinakis. I see this being pretty close but I think Del Potro will come through in four sets. A third round meeting between Djokovic and Del Potro would provide a lot of fanfare. I think Djokovic will be too strong for Del Potro as Novak has won all three of their matches this year. Djokovic will probably face Gael Monfils in the fourth round who has a pretty nice draw. I think Djokovic will be too strong for Monfils. Djokovic has a 14-0 head-to-head record and beat Monfils last week in the final of the Eastbourne tournament.
I’m predicting a quarter-final between Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem. The last time these two meet was at the French Open where Thiem thrashed Djokovic in straight sets. I think the match will be closer but I still think Thiem will come out on top. By this time of the tournament, Thiem would have been tested Pospisil, Simon and Berdych, so should be too strong.
1st round matches to watch:
Dominic Thiem vs. Vasek Pospisil
Richard Gasquet vs. David Ferrer
Borna Coric vs. Ryan Harrison
Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis
Pospisil beating Thiem
Kokkinakis beating Del Potro
Semifinalist: Dominic Theim
Roger Federer beats Dominic Thiem
Rafael Nadal beats Stan Wawrinka
Roger Federer beats Rafael Nadal