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Whether it’s about lush green courts or tinge of Royal flavour blended with other time-honoured attributes – when it comes to Grand Slams, Wimbledon undoubtedly stands forth as one illustrious event that has become a synonymous with sublime tennis action and regal affair. There is something pristine and elegant associated with this event that adds more to its overall appeal and makes it a hugely followed event – all across the world.
Like every year, we are ready to witness another fortnight of scintillating tennis action on the greens of SW19 – a favourite destination for these 14 days for some of the most notable names in the history of tennis. Let’s shed some light on this year’s action and what we can expect at 2012 Championships in men’s department.
For the last two seasons, Djokovic and Nadal have clearly dominated the scene at Majors with both reaching the finals in the last four Grand Slams. Besides these two, others are Federer, Murray and Tomas Berdych, who made it to the final here at The Championships – two years ago. And, it would be pretty apt to say that the way things have been going on in the new season, we can have another Djokovic-Rafa final – until other contenders come forth to make their presence felt. Let’s start with our analysis:
The Frontrunners: Undoubtedly, we have World No. 1 and No. 2 as the clear favourites. They have the precision, speed and extensive range of devastating shots in their artillery to subdue all those who would come in their way. Though, Djokovic is a defending champion here, we must not forget that Nadal has looked better than him in the new season. Last season, Djokovic outplayed Nadal in every department of the game and left him in a lurch – battling with mental demons. But, this year, the Spaniard did his home-work well and solved the Nole riddle. Interestingly, here comes another twist – we should not forget that Nadal’s last three victories against Djokovic have come on clay – undoubtedly his own territory, where he rules with an iron forehand (pun intended). But, momentum does matter in any sport and Nadal has it at the moment. The Spaniard was jolted to the core by Djokovic in the last season, as he lost six finals against him. But, like a true warrior, Nadal worked hard on his game and earned back his devastating form that made it a lot easier for him to tackle the Serbian in 2012. The Spaniard is playing a high level of tennis at the moment but we should not forget that Djokovic showed the glimpses of his last year’s form in the Roland Garros final, but two rain breaks and a few ill-timed unforced errors made it difficult for him to a make a comeback at the crucial juncture of the match.
All players do take their time to acclimatize to grass at Wimbledon, but after a few matches, when it gets beaten up – the surface behaves pretty like clay and that comes forth as another positive sign for Nadal, who struggles with low bounce. Nadal can face stiff resistance from big hitters and servers like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Milos Raonic and Philipp Kohlscheiber, who beat the Spaniard in Halle recently. But, if the Spaniard manages to earn easy victories in the first three rounds then it would be a herculean task to stop him afterwards. After Nadal, we have World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who made a thumping start to the new season with Aussie Open win earlier this year, but then struggled to maintain the consistency – like he did in the last season. Though, the Serbian has fared really well against other contenders, he has a 1-3 win-loss record against Nadal in the new season. By all means, Nadal tops the list as the favourite at Wimbledon.
The Second Bests: After Djokovic and Nadal, we have sixteen times Grand Slam winner Roger Federer, who has not won a Major title in two years. Last time he got hold of the holy grail of tennis in the 2010 Aussie Open where he beat Andy Murray in the final. Yes, Federer is not the same old contender, who was way ahead of his opponents in his heydays, but he is there in the mix of things – and he has the ability and temperament to claim the title this year too. Besides that Federer is also there in the race of World No. 1 as he is right behind Nadal and Djokovic. He can reclaim his numero-uno ranking if Djokovic fails to reach the final and if he claims it. The Swiss Wizard is a role-model for all those players, who believe that they can defy age by maintaining high level of fitness and consistency on tour. Last year, Federer finished the season on a high note with three titles in a row: with Basel, the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Paris and the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals title. This season, the Swiss has reached the semis or more in nine tournaments and claimed four titles so far with Indian Wells, Madrid, Rotterdam and Dubai. But, the Swiss has to maintain the same intensity against Nadal and Djokovic. He looked pretty feeble in the Roland Garros semis against Djokovic, but that should not bother him here at Wimbledon, where he has triumphed six times. A few good wins early on can set the momentum for this great Swiss. After Federer we have the enigmatic British hope Andy Murray, who baffles his fans every now and then – with recurring injuries and dwindling form against weaker contenders. By any means, Andy Murray has not shown any decent consistency in the new season, as he has an ordinary 26-9 (by his standards) win-loss record in the new season and could only win a single title this year so far. The Scot looked somewhat out-of-sorts in the Roland Garros quarterfinal encounter against David Ferrer and lost the battle in four sets. Well, Murray would once again feel the pressure to perform before his home-crowd but before that he needs to do some kind of soul-searching to fine effective solution for inconsistency.
The Gate-Crashers: After these four contenders, we have 2010 finalist Tomas Berdych, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and David Ferrer. Both Berdych and Tsonga have not showed much of consistency in the new season – something that you need desperately to muster victories against Nadal, Federer and Djokovic. We cannot call them heavy favourites, but yes they can upset the trio. Tsonga certainly had Djokovic on the back-foot in the Roland Garros quarter-finals, but once again he gave into the situational pressure – due to his feeble temperament that hurts him a lot during the most crucial moments of his career. On the other hand, Berdych is also not looking great in the new season. Though, Berdych has a perfect game of serve and volley to test the bests in business on grass, he needs to make that count on that given day, when he would be up against any of the contender in Top 3. After these two, we have David Ferrer, who has not produced any notable results at Wimbledon – in his past appearances. But, you can expect a good fight from him. All these three guys must remember one thing that they need to go through, Djokovic and Nadal to get their hands over coveted trophy so they need to play out of their skin to make that happen – throughout the tournament. Any sort of complacency would once again make the feel bad – if they would be pitted against the top trio.
The surprise package: If the top list is filled up with the apparent heavyweights of the game, it would look somewhat incomplete without the names of some surprise contenders – who can add that desired mirth and melodrama to make this Wimbledon more exciting – something we all crave for. The first notable contender that can surprise this time is John Isner, who must be feeling highly pumped up as this time he would get a relatively easier draw – as compared to his past appearances. Currently ranked as World No. 10 in the ATP Rankings, Isner wounded in-form Djokovic earlier this season in Indian Wells semis and since then he has been maintaining some decent consistency on tour. With his devastating serve and powerful ground-strokes, this lanky American is a clear threat to Top 3. After Isner, we have rising Canadian Milos Raonic, who is also blessed with a potent serve. The Canadian can make the most of his serve by complementing it with his devastating forehand, but he needs to work on his return. Obviously, no one in the top 3 would take him lightly and he should justify his talent – this time. After the Canadian, we have lanky Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro, who broke all the barriers to make his presence felt in 2009, when he beat defending champion Roger Federer in the final to win the US Open title. But, it would be a sheer folly to expect same sort of performance from him in the 2012 Wimbledon. Hopefully, his usual progress would not be halted by ill-timed injuries.
Well, the picture would become clearer – once the draw will be out.
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