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Todd’s Tennis Takes – 2012 Wimbledon Preview

Nadal took the 2nd slam slam of the year, beating Djokovic in the French final in 4 very wet sets. This was the first time in history the same two men met in four straight slam finals. It also broke Nadal’s streak of 3 straight slam final losses to Djoker. Nadal was a heavy favorite in the final, as Djoker was a 5-2 underdog.

On the grass, defending champ Djoker is the 13-8 favorite to win the tourney, just barely favored over Nadal, who’s 2-1. Six time Wimby champ Roger Federer, who went down in the French semis rather meekly to Djokovic in 3 sets, is next at 9-2. Murray is the only other player at sub 20-1 odds, coming in at 11-1. The next 3 favorites are all much longer odds, starting with Tsonga at 28-1, then Raonic and Berdych at 33-1. Lots of respect for the big-serving, big-hitting young Canadian who will be playing just his 2nd Wimbledon (2nd rnd, 2011) and only his 8th slam. His best result is the 4th round at Australia in 2011.

My tennis fan buddies and I did our Wimbledon Draft (pre draw until 8th of 9 rounds), and included a heavily handicapped Nadal & Djoker, as well as more slightly handicapped Federer & Murray. Below are the results, with a few words on each player:

1) Fed – I don’t like the pick…really looked his age in that French semi against Djoker…has not been playing great lately, including a loss to 34 yr old Tommy Haas in the finals of the Halle tuneup tourney. Has a rather nice draw here, though…should have no problem making the QFs where he’ll likely face either Isner, Tipsarevic, or Youzhny. It would again be Djoker in the semis…and no finals appearance for the 3rd straight year. Cannot hang w/ either Nadal or Djoker at the end of a slam in best of 5 anymore, I believe.        2) Nadal – Was ridiculously dominant at the French, only stumbling in the 3rd set of the final, when the rain got heavier and Djoker got hot (winning an amazing 8 straight games at one point before the final was uspended until Monday). Looking for his 3rd Wimby title (’08, ’10), will likely meet 2011 Wimby semifinalist Tsonga in the QFs, Murray in the semis.     3) Djoker – The defending champ had very little trouble with Nadal in a 4 set final here a year ago…has been far less dominant this year overall, but is still clearly head and shoulders above everyone on the tour not named Nadal. Has been ranked #1 ever since winning here a year ago, is 36-6 on the year so far with two titles (Aussie, Miami) and 3 runner-ups (Monte Carlo, Rome, French – all to Nadal).  I think he’s the champ.      4) Murray – a semifinalist here the last 3 years, 3 time slam finalist (where he still hasn’t won a set yet), now coached by 8-time slam champ Ivan Lendl (who never did win Wimby). How healthy is he? Has to get by Raonic, then either Ferrer or Del Potro to make it 4 straight semis.   Played inconsistent vs. Ferrer in the French QFs and lost in 4 sets. Also was upset by Nicolas Mahut at the Queens Club Wimby tuneup event.       5) Berdych – A finalist here in 2010, that has so far been his career peak. He made the finals after making the French semis a month earlier, and has only made two slam QFs since (2011, ’12 Aussie), while also bowing out in round 1 of two slams since then (2010 US open, ’11 French). He’s still ranked #7 in the world though, and lost to Del Potro in the 4th round of this year’s French. Lost to Haas in Halle, 3rd round. I’da gone Tsonga.

6) Tsonga – Beat Fed in the QFs last year here before losing to Djoker in the semis…was tantalizingly close to a major QF upset in Paris last month as he held 4 match points in the 4th set against Djoker, only to have Djoker fearlessly defend those points and then romp in the 5th set. Has a pretty smooth path to the QFs here (Wawrinka, Tomic, Fish in the way) to play Nadal in semis.         7) Del Potro – Had some knee issues in Paris after taking a 2 sets to none lead over Fed in the QFs before then losing the next 3 sets rather meekly. Also made QFs in Australia this year. Made 4th round here a year ago (best Wimby result)…slated to meet either Ferrer or Roddick in 4th round this year, Murray or Raonic in QFs if his knee can hold up.        8) Isner – played yet another marathon match in a disappointing French, losing to another Frenchman, Paul-Henri Mathieu, 18-16 in the 5th in a dramatic and entertaining 2nd round encounter. Surprisingly, has never been beyond the 2nd round here, now playing his 4th Wimby. Might meet Mahut in the 2nd (which would be 3rd year in a row they’ve met here), then either Youzhny, Tipsarevic, or Nalbandian in the 4th round.        9) Ferrer – the Spanish Bulldog…made 4th round (career best) here the last 2 yrs, also ’06…won the grass tuneup in the Netherlands (weak field, #2 seed was Troicki, ranked #34), his 4th title of 2012…beat Murray in French QFs, then annihilated in semis by Nadal 6-2, 6-2, 6-1. Might face Roddick in 3rd, Del Potro in 4th. Has made at least 4th round of every slam since Wimby 2010…a semifinalist at every other slam (US Open ’07, Aussie ’11, French ’12).        10) Simon – Kind of a boring yet mysteriously effective player…took out Brian Baker in the 2nd in Paris, but then lost to Wawrinka in the 3rd…best Wimby was 4th rnd ’09…3rd last two yrs…likely to face Verdasco in the 3rd, Fed in the 4th if he wins.

Here below are picks #11 thru #25 with brief facts…

11) -Raonic – ATP #22…As mentioned above, 6’5″ 21 yr old is a rising talent w/ a big game.
12) Tipsarevic – ATP #8…1st rnd loser past two yrs, but made 4th round in ’07 & ’08. Youz in 3rd.
13) -Almagro – ATP #11…still just 26…4th at Aussie, QFs French this yr…3rd rnd 2 of last 3 yrs here…Gasquet in 3rd.
14) -Gasquet – ATP #19…fluky ’07 SF’s here (beat Roddick down 2 sets to 0 in QFs)…4th Rnd French…Almagro 3rd interesting.
15) -Cilic – ATP #18…3rd rnd French, won Queens Club grass tuneup this yr (famous Nalbo kick)…Raonic in 3rd.
16) Kev Andrsn- ATP #31…6’8″ giant won Delray this yr…3rd rnd French…lost to Djok in 2nd last yr…Dimitrov dangerous in 1st.
17) -F Lopez – ATP #17…QFs ’11…getting older (30), poor ’12 after 4th Rnd Aussie…just 12-15 on yr…plays Dolgop in 3rd.
18) -Youzhny – ATP #33…Turns 30 on opening day (June 25th), but hanging tough on tour. Smooth path to 3rd rnd.
19) -Haas – ATP #50…Was #112 a month ago, #205 to start ’12…and is 34yrs old! Won Halle over Fed…Kohlschreiber 1st Rnd!
20) -Nishikori – ATP #20…QFs Aussie, missed French…last played Barcelona late April. Kukushkin troublesome in 1st Rnd.
21) Dolgopolov – ATP #21…3 mtch losing streak includes French, Halle (Youzhny)…so fun to watch, should make 3rd (Lopez).
22) -Stepanek – ATP #27…sketchy pick…33 now, 14-16 on yr…has lost in 1st rnd 6 of last 8 slams, including French ’12, Wimby ’11.
23) -Tomic – ATP #28…still a teen (20 on Oct  21st)…QFs here a yr ago (Djoker in 4) after qualifying to get in…Goffin in 1st.
24) -Wawrinka – ATP #24…4th rnd French…4th Rnd here ’08 & ’09, but 1st & 2nd last two yrs…Melzer in 1st, Tsonga in 3rd.
25) Kohlschrbr – ATP #30…German turns 29 in Oct…3rd rnd best result in ’06, ’09, ’10…lost 1st rnd a yr ago (Istomin).
I won’t bore you w/ bios for the rest, but for diehard fans, I’ll just name the last 29 guys. Skip if you’d like.
26) Verdasco 41) Sam Q
27) Nalbo 42) Kubot
28) F Mayer Now we see the draw…
29) Troicki 43) Malisse
30) Seppi 44) Chardy
31) Roddick 45) Br Baker – qualied…loved getting him…Lopez beatable in 2nd – pick on that BH!!! (Rui Machado 1st rnd)
32) Haase 46) Chela
33) Istomin 47) Petz – qualied & made Netherlands finals (l. to Ferrer). Ranked #101.
34) Bags 48) A Kuznetsov – sneaky pick…Jr winner in ’09, took Hanecu to 5 sets ’10…qualified to get in this yr, nice draw.
35) Fish 49) K Beck
36) Monaco 50) Dimitrov
37) Benneteau 51) L Mayer
38) Ry Harrison 52) Sweeting – I like his draw, my last guy. I should get 1 win (over Starace).
39) Karlo 53) B Becker
40) Melzer 54) Bogo Jr – strange pick…he’s gonna beat Dolgop in 1st?!!!? Hope not, and don’t think so…9-18 on the yr.

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