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By Rohit Sharma
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The most prestigious Grand Slam event in the tennis calendar, the Championship at Wimbledon, once again sets the stage for the best in the business to produce absolute brilliance on court. This year, the Gentlemen's singles draw features several names that are worthy of 'going all the way' on the green grass. Let's take a look at the contenders at the 2010 Championships -
Interestingly, the Centre Court at Wimbledon has been dominated by the most famous tennis rivals over the years. During the 80's Becker-Edberg rivalry took the center Court by storm. The stage was then handed to Sampras-Agassi encounters that saw the former claim a record tying 7 singles titles. As one era came to an end, another began in the name of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who share wins from the past seven years.
Swiss Maestro Roger Federer's recent bad form is being seen by many critics as an opportunity for the challengers in his half to produce unexpected results. In the extremely unpredictable sporting arena, it's strange to hear that somebody's bad form can bring probable contendership to the other. Yet, according to many tennis pundits, Federer's below expectation performance may result in a brand new champion at SW19. Fact:- Federer has been on an all time low. Fact:- Federer's streak of consecutive semifinal apperance at majors came to a halt this year itself. MYTH:- Federer is being written off by the virtue of his recent losses. REMINDER:- Federer came through a long list of disappointing losses to win the French Open and followed his success with his 6th title on the Green Grass last year. Besides a common element of Nadal's absence, Federer's triumphant journey in 2009 silenced critics and opposition all over the world. Having said that, it is apparent that Federer biggest nemesis Rafael Nadal's absence did bring a huge difference in his phenomenal success. This year though, Nadal seems hungrier than ever to re-affirm his supremacy that suffered a major hit after his infamous loss to Swede Robin Soderling at Roland Garros last year.
Will Federer claim his record-tying 7th Wimbledon title, click here to know more about his possible opponents in the draw.
The Defending champion opens his campaign with a stiff competition from Columbian qualifier Alejandro Falla. However, Federer's first real test may come in the form of either Feliciano Lopez, who shocked Nadal at Queen's Club earlier this month or Romanian Viktor Troicki who stretched Murray to limits last year. Federer will most likely meet Czech Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals, who has already celebrated a win over the Swiss star in Miami in March. Russian Nikolay Davydenko, who is in the same half is not being considered as a possible threat due to his under preparations for the Championships. If all goes as expected, Federer will lock horns with American Roddick in the semifinals in a rematch of last year's final.
In the bottom half, second seed Rafael Nadal looks in invincible position. He opens his bid for the second title with a clash against Japan's Kei Nishikori. Nadal has been given a comparatively tougher draw with a possible second round clash with American James Blake, third round encounter with Latvian star Ernests Gulbis and an expected quarterfinal clash with French Open finalist Robin Soderling. If the Spaniard gets through this series of opponents, then most probably Scot Andy Murray will wait for him in the semifinals.
Track Rafael Nadal's opponents in the draw, click here.
Nadal's real success began after his 2008 Wimbledon triumph. Gold medal in Beijing Olympics, followed a successful fortnight at Australian Open and two masters series wins in Monte Carlo and Rome made Nadal the hot favourite for French Open and Wimbledon. Although a shocking exit at Roland Garros, followed by an unfortunate set of injuries put a disappointing halt in Nadal's run, an awe-inspiring winning streak on European clay revived the Spaniard's career. Nadal is the favourite to win the title on the Green Grass in every single aspect. The Mallorcan's biggest asset, his court coverage, is sure to see him through the most difficult of opponents on court. However, there is one factor that might go against Nadal's stakes at the title - a sound opposition from a good serve and volleyer. American Andy Roddick fits the billing the best. There's little Roddick can do from the baseline (the reason why his claycourt performance has been so dismal) as opposed to his superb control over the net that fetched him a runner up finish and loads of appreciation during the 2009 championships.
Roddick is definitely one player to watch out for at the 2010 edition. His impressive victory over the game's best got him a tier-I title in Miami. The American beat Nadal in the semifinal in three sets and proved that on the fast courts, he is still a force to be reckoned with. Similarly, his win over an in-form Andy Murray in last year's championships restored his faith in the style of play he followed since the beginning of his career. The three time finalist is seeded fifth here and chances are that a favourable draw will help him return to the finals.
Roddick's biggest opposition, Croatian Marin Cilic is drawn to meet him in the Round of 16. Cilic knocked out the American in the Australian Open quarterfinals earlier this year in five gruelling sets and is in good form from the past couple of weeks. Roddick may set up a blockbuster quarterfinal showdown with either third seed Novak Djokovic or an in-form Australian and 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt. But in many tennis pundits eyes, Roddick is probably looking at his best chance at winning Wimbledon.
Finally, the most sought after player during the Wimbledon fortnight, Andrew Murray, who is carrying the burden of Britain's hopes at this year's championships too. Interestingly, in the 133 year storied history, this is the first time that not even a single British player has managed a place in the main draw. Scot Andy Murray's impressive run was cut short by eventual finalist and near namesake Andy Roddick last year but the fact remains that ever since his wonderful start to the current season (which included a runner up finish in Melbourne), Murray has been in the worst form of his career. Infact Murray's semifinal berth last year came as a natural progression to his French Open quarterfinal finish. But this year seems far too different,.....and disappointing. The Scot's flop show started in Indian Wells and continued till the French Open (where he lost to Berdych in Pre-quarters), his worst quarter since 2006.
Murray opens his bid for a maiden slam title with a opening round clash with Czech Jan Hajek. Considering the bad form, every single round is a challenge in itself for Murray with a mouth watering showdown with Fernando Verdasco lined up at the quarterfinal stage. Although, before an expected quarterfinal appearance, there are names that might prove too much to handle for the 'Great English Hope'. Frenchman Gilles Simon and Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero will most definitely take Murray to a distance but chances are that this Wimbledon will bring some relief to an already shaken career of the Scot.
Will Murray claim his maiden major title on home soil, click here to know more about his possible clashes.
Can Murray go against all odds and claim his maiden Grand Slam title? Well, the British fans along with millions of spectators across the globe are eagerly awaiting the finish of the fortnight to know who walks away with the silverware from the All England Lawn tennis Club.
Follow the nail-biting action happening on the green grass at the All England Lawn Tennis Club with TennisEarth.com and get the minute-by-minute updates of the 2010 Wimbledon Championships.
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