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Wimbledon Men’s Draw Winners & Losers • Richard’s Picks For 10sBalls

Rafael Nadal of Spain in action during a training session for the All England Lawn Tennis Championships in Wimbledon, London, 27 June 2018. The Wimbledon Tennis Championships 2018 will be held in London from 02 July to 15 July. EPA-EFE/PETER KLAUNZER

 

 

By Richard Pagliario

 

Flashes popped like fireflies as Rafael Nadal crashed to the court out-dueling rival Roger Federer in the masterpiece match that was the 2008 Wimbledon final.

 

A decade later after collaborating on the greatest match ever played, the world’s top two can create a flashback rivalry reunion at The Championships.

 

The Wimbledon’s men’s draw was conducted today and both world No. 1 Nadal and defending champion Federer were major winners without striking a shot.

 

Hall of Famer and avid art collector John McEnroe sees the second-seeded Spaniad’s draw as visually captivating as a Turner landscape.

 

In the bottom quarter of the draw deep with dirtballers, Nadal opens against Dudi Sela.

 

If the seeds hold true to form the 17-time Grand Slam champion would play 14th-seeded Diego Schwartzman in a fourth round rematch of their Roland Garros battle followed by Indian Wells champion Juan Martin del Potro in the quarterfinals.

 

“The only guy that I’m looking at that is potentially that type of [aggressive] player is Mischa Zverev—other than that all the way to the quarters [Nadal’s] got as beautiful a draw as you can ask for on this surface,” ESPN analyst McEnroe told the media in a conference call to promote ESPN’s first-ball-to-last Wimbledon coverage which begins on Monday morning at 7.

 

here’s a reason Federer and Nadal have combined to claim six straight Grand Slams—they’re playing a level above the pack chasing them.

 

“It’s amazing,” McEnroe said. “They seem to want it more than the guys who haven’t won anything.

 

“They’re better than these other guys. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are all-time greats so when push comes to shove over a long period of time it’s tougher to beat them.”

 

Here’s a look at our picks for winners and losers from the Wimbledon men’s draw.

 

Winners

Of all Nadal’s astounding achievements, among the 11-time Roland Garros champion’s most impressive are capturing successive Roland Garros and Wimbledon championships in 2008 and 2010, when he swept the final three Slams of the season to complete the career Grand Slam.

 

Seven years removed from his last Wimbledon final, Nadal has been vulnerable to big servers at SW19, bowing to Lukas Rosol, Dustin Brown, Nick Kyrgios and Gilles Muller in recent years. He won’t see a massive serve in week one, and if Rafa gets a rhythm, he can go deep. Remember, Nadal carries a 30-2 record on the season into Wimbledon and tore opponents apart in Paris.

 

Reigning champion Federer should enjoy the view from the top of the field.

 

Federer opens against Dusan Lajovic, whom he swept 7-6, 6-3, 6-2, in the second round last summer.

 

Only two men with one-handed backhands have defeated Federer at Wimbledon—Tim Henman (2001 quarterfinals) and 116th-ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky (2013 second round)—and it’s unlikely Lajovic, who is at his best on clay, will join that exclusive club.

 

Last week, Federer lacked the sharpness he showed in his Stuttgart return when he fell to Borna Coric in the Halle final.

 

Playing back-to-back-weeks for the first time in three months combined with the faster grass of Halle contributed to some issues. The 20-time Grand Slam champion could face Coric again in the fourth round followed by a big-server —2017 semifinalist Sam Querrey or US Open finalist Kevin Anderson—with a possible rematch against third-seeded Marin Cilic in the semifinals.

 

Three-time champion Djokovic came within a point of winning Queen’s Club, gaining much-needed confidence for Wimbledon.

 

The 12th-seeded Serbian opens against American Tennys Sandgren with a possible third-round showdown against British No. 1 Kyle Edmund, who is dangerous playing first-strike tennis.

 

Though he sometimes slipped and struck off balance, Djokovic served with control at Queens using the slider wide to set up his first strike. Djokovic is a better mover than anyone in his quarter, takes the ball earlier and is far more experienced grass-court player (.818 winning percentage, four titles) than his possible fourth-round opponent, Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem.

 

Third-seeded Marin Cilic warmed-up for Wimbledon edging Djokovic to win his second Queen’s Club crown and solidify his status as a top contender for his first Wimbledon title.

 

The 2017 finalist, who opens against Yoshihito Nishioka, has reached the quarterfinals or better in four of his last five Grand Slams, including his runner-up appearance at the Australian Open in January. The 2014 US Open champion is one of the few men in the top half of the draw who owns a Grand Slam semifinal win over Federer. Cilic serves big, plays flat and can drive the ball down the line off both wings, particularly off his jolting two-handed backhand.

 

With a Wimbledon win over Nadal to his credit, the volatile Nick Kyrgios was a dangerous before the draw was made.

 

The 23-year-old Kyrgios rocketed 32 aces beating British No. 1 Kyle Edmund at Queen’s Club and matched that total defeating defending champion Feliciano Lopez in the quarterfinals.

 

If Kyrgios’ cranky elbow holds up, if he swings as freely as he did at Queen’s Club and avoids the self-implosions that can result from spiking stress (Kyrgios was fined $17,500 for simulating self-pleasure with his water bottle at Queen’s) the 15th seed can make a run to the second week though he may well have to beat Kei Nishikori and fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev to get there.

 

Losers

Eight months ago, Grigor Dimitrov charged undefeated through the London field to win his biggest career title at the O2 Arena.

 

Now, the sixth-seeded Bulgarian faces a major opening hurdle in Stan Wawrinka. Grass is Wawrinka’s least favorite surface, but the three-time Grand Slam champion says his surgically-repaired knee is fine and if he’s swinging freely the Swiss can be dangerous.

 

Dimitrov has won their last four meetings, including a 2014 straight-sets win en route to the Queen’s Club title on grass, but struggled with his second serve managing just five games in a Queen’s Club second-round loss to Novak Djokovic. If Dimitrov gets past Wawrinka, he could face potential encounters with talented Greek Stefanos, John Isner, Milos Raonic or Lucas Pouille with a possible quarterfinal vs. 2017 finalist Marin Cilic.

 

Fresh off the French Open final, Dominic Thiem needs a fast start to extend his Wimbledon stay. Thiem opens against 2006 semifinalist Marcos Baghdatis and could be looking at matches with David Ferrer or Karen Khachanov or 30th-seeded Fernando Verdasco just to get to a possible fourth-round clash with three-time former champion Novak Djokovic.

 

Major draws can be big-time buzz kills. Imagine you’re Borna Coric, who beat two of the world’s top three—stopping world No. 1 Roger Federer to win his first grass-court crown in Halle after sweeping third-ranked Alexander Zverev in round one—arriving at SW19 ranked a career-high No. 21. Only to find you open against dangerous powerhouse Daniil Medvedev.

 

The 22-year-old Russian opened the season winning his first career title in Sydney and toppled Stan Wawrinka in the 2017 Wimbledon first round. If seeds hold true to form, Coric would face reigning champion Federer in the fourth round.

 

An opening Bolt is a prelude to a thunder-dome quarter for No. 21 Kyle Edmund. The British No. 1 opens vs. Australian qualifier Alex Bolt in a loaded third quarter that could see Edmund face three-time champion Novak Djokovic in round three. Fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev, Queen’s Club semifinalist Nick Kyrgios, seventh-seeded Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori and Fernando Verdasco all reside in Edmund’s quarter.

 

Two-time Wimbledon winner Andy Murray has not yet confirmed he will play, but if he does Murray must bring urgency from the first ball against 48th-ranked Benoit Paire.

 

Former No. 1 Murray, who underwent hip surgery in January, has played just three matches since hobbling out of the 2017 Wimbledon quarterfinals after bowing to Sam Querrey.

 

Murray swept Paire in the 2017 round of 16, but the flamboyant Frenchman possesses a stinging serve, beautiful two-handed backhand and nearly knocked Roger Federer out of Halle last week.

 

The winner of the Murray-Paire match will face either 26th-seeded Denis Shapovalov or talented Frenchman Jeremy Chardy with Indian Wells champion Juan Martin del Potro looming as a third-round opponent.

 

Seeded at a Slam for the first time, Shapovalov is an exceptional shot-maker who surged through qualifying to the US Open fourth round last summer. Replicating that on Wimbledon’s lawns will be a tough task as the lefty opens against Queen’s Club semifinalist Chardy, who has a very productive grass-court resume.

 

“I’m saying Shapovalov has the toughest draw in the whole tournament,” said McEnroe, who coached the Canadian on the Laver Cup squad last summer.

 

French friends renew their major rivalry when 23rd-seeded Richard Gasquet meets Gael Monfils in a shot-makers duel between spin artists.

 

Grass can provoke aggression in two-time Wimbledon semifinalist Gasquet, whose low-bouncing slider serve can set up a fine volley game.

 

Gasquet has been vulnerable early at SW19: He’s failed to survive the second round four times in 12 appearances. The 41st-ranked Monfils has won nine of 16 meetings with Gasquet, including three of their four Grand Slam clashes. The pair have split their last two grass-court encounters and the winner here is looking at a likely third-round match with 2017 semifinalist Sam Querrey.

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