Sunday, July 1, 2012

Wimbledon Week 2: The Men

Rafael Nadal
The early and surprising exit of No.2 Seed Rafael Nadal signaled that anything can happen on the Wimbledon grass. But most of the big guns are still firing, including seven of the top ten seeds.

The Top Ten 
Novak Djokovic
No.1 Seed and Defending Champion Novak Djokovic still hasn’t shown his best stuff, but he is still the man to beat going into the second week of Wimbledon. He has Viktor Troicki in the Round of 16. 

Viktor Troicki
Troicki, a fellow Serb, downed No.15 Seed Juan Monaco in the previous round in straight sets, but I suspect he won’t be moving past “Da Djkoka.” Troicki has lost the last 11 times the two have played.

Roger Federer
No.3 Seed Roger Federer is still holding onto the hope of claiming a seventh Wimbledon title, after hanging tough through five sets with Julien Benneteau. After taking the first two sets, and losing the third, Benneteau was within points of stymieing Roger’s quest, but Roger gutted out the 8-6, fourth-set tiebreak, and cruised in the fifth.

Xavier Malisse
Federer will face Xavier Malisse, himself a five-set survivor against No.17 Seed Fernando Verdasco. Federer holds a 9-1 record over Malisse, and the one loss came 13 years ago. Anything can happen on court, but Roger should make the Quarters.

Andy Murray
No.4 Seed Andy Murray dropped the second set en route to his four-set victory over Marcos Baghdatis, and will battle No.16 Seed Marin Cilic next. 

Marin Cilic
Cilic outlasted unseeded American Sam Querrey in the second longest match in Wimbledon history, taking the fifth and final set 17-15. Murray has won five of the six times the two have played, including the only one on grass, and should get past Cilic to the Quarters.  

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
No.5 Seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga downed unseeded and 60th-ranked Lukas Lacko in three straight, but should have quite a bit more work to do in his first match of Week 2. Tsonga faces No.10 Seed Mardy Fish, who took out unseeded, French Open crowd favorite David Goffin in three sets, the final two in tiebreaks. 

Mardy Fish
Fish gutted out a five-setter in the previous round against British qualifier James Ward, and may be more battle tested than Tsonga, who has lost just one set thus far. This match has Match-of-the-Day potential.

David Ferrer
No.7 Seed David Ferrer continued his march into Week 2 by defeating No.30 Seed Andy Roddick in four sets. Ferrer dropped the first set and allowed the second to get to a tiebreak to give the Roddick fans hope. But Ferrer won the tiebreak, and the final two sets weren’t really in question.

Juan Martin Del Potro
Ferrer goes up against No.9 Juan Martin Del Potro who, without much fanfare, has eased his way into Week 2. Delpotro dispatched No.19 Kei Nishikori in straight sets, with the only challenge there a tiebreak in Set 2. Ferrer has won four of the six times the two have met, including the only time on grass, but that was in 2008. Del Potro is a much different player today and has the potential to blow anyone off the court if he’s on.

My advice to Ferrer? Win the first set. Del Potro’s win percentage is over 90% when he wins the first, and under 30% after losing the first. Ferrer’s record after winning and losing the first set is almost identical, so that first set is critical for these two. Neither has been past the Round of 16, although Ferrer has been there three times and Del Potro just once. This is one of the more intriguing matchups of the next round.

Mikhail Youzhny
No. 8 Seed Janko Tipsarevic’s run was ended by No.26 Mikhail Youzhny in four sets. Youzhny takes on twenty-five year-old, unseeded Denis Istomin next. 

Denis Istomin
Istomin upset No.23 Seed Andreas Seppi in Round 1, and beat Alejandro Falla, who upended No.11 John Isner, in the previous round. Youzhny won their last meeting in 2011, and the two stand 1-1 in head-to-head.

Other Americans
Brian Baker
Previously unheralded and unseeded Brian Baker, ranked 126th in the world at the start of Wimbledon, is the only American man to join Mardy Fish for Wimbledon’s second week. Baker is surely hoping to capitalize on Rafael Nadal’s  absence at the bottom of the draw. 

Phillipp Kohlschreiber
Baker will take on No.27 Seed Philipp Kohlschreiber in his effort to reach the Quarters. Kohlschreiber will be the obvious favorite, especially with a win over Nadal in Halle a few weeks ago.

Sam Querrey
As noted above, Sam Querrey was on the comeback trail but was derailed by No. 16 Seed Marin Cilic. Querrey had bested No.21 Seed Milos Raonic in four tough sets in Round 2, but couldn’t outlast the determined Cilic in that 17-15 final set. 

The two played three tiebreaks, with Querrey winning two. Perhaps at the U.S. Open, where the fifth set goes to a tiebreak, Querrey might have pulled it off. Instead, he gets the ole “Good try ole boy” and perhaps a boost of confidence to help him along on his comeback. 

Fish and Baker are two American feel good stories remaining on the men's side, but we all know this comes down to Novak, Roger, Murray and Tsonga. I hate to drop the Niles Jinx on the two I think will play for it, soooooo...Game, set, match. T. A. 

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