Friday, June 21, 2013

2013 WIMBLEDON: The Draw Is Out; Rafa-Raja QF Likely

Oh my! When the news was confirmed that 2-time champion (and 3-time finalist) Rafael Nadal was seeded #5 at this year's Wimbledon, the immediate question was, whose quarter would he be in? It turns out that he landed in 7-time champion Roger Federer's quarter. This is both good and bad news for Roger. It is bad because he has lost to Nadal twice so far this year, on hard courts in Indian Wells and on clay in Rome and all of his losses at Wimbledon have occurred in either the quarterfinals (2011 l. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or 2010 l. Tomas Berdychor in the 2008 final to Nadal. However it is also good news for Federer fans, because while Nadal still has a 20-10 overall head-to-head lead on Federer, the Great One has a 2-1 lead on grass. The quarterfinal, if it occurs would be Federer 37th consecutive in a major, and occur on Monday July 1.

In fact, the bottom half of the draw not only contains former champs Federer and Nadal, it also contains Andy Murray, the #2 seed and the Great Hope of Britain for the first homegrown Wimbledon champion since 1936. Murray could meet Tsonga in the quarters, a repeat of last year's semifinal won by the Brit in four nervy sets. Also lurking in the bottom half of the draw are 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt, John Isner and Mikhail Youzhny. In the top half of the men's draw 2011 champion and World #1 Novak Djokovic has Berdych in his quarter, with the other quarter being an unlikely match-up between David Ferrer and Juan Martin del Potro.

On the women's side of the draw World #1 and defending champion Serena Williams is the clear favorite to win the tournament. She should have no problem getting to her quarterfinal against Angelique Kerber, last year's semifinalist (if the German gets past Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the first round). In the bottom quarter of the top half of the draw, last year's finalist Agnieska Radwanska (Andy Murray's favourite WTA player!) could face Li Na in the quarterfinals. Just like with the men, the bottom half of the draw is where all the action is. 2013 Australian Open champ Victoria Azarenka and 2004 champion Maria Sharapova could meet in yet another major semifinal, while 2011 Wimbledon champion also lurks, as the Belarussian's potential quarterfinal opponent. Sharapova could potentially meet Sara Errani in a quarterfinal matchup, but most likely either Marion Bartoli or the winner of the first round slugfest between American youngsters Sloane Stephens and Jamie Hampton will be the Russian's opponent there.

Other first round match-ups of note are Heather Watson versus Madison Keys, Daniela Hantuchova versus Klara Zakopalova, Sabine Lisicki versus Francesca Schiavone, and Laura Robson versus  Maria Kirilenko.

Men's first rounders to keep an eye on are Hewitt versus Stanislas Wawrinka, Bernard Tomic versus Sam Querrey and Marcos Baghdatis against Marin Cilic.

Last year I correctly predicted all men's and women's quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, so it is unlikely I will repeat that performance again. However, I am sure this year will of course be an exciting tournament.


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