Sunday, June 21, 2009

2009 Wimbledon Preview

It's truly a pity that Rafael Nadal won't be back to defend his Wimbledon crown. Even worse, perhaps, is that Roger Federer's eventual record-breaking 15th Grand Slam title won't come with quite as much fanfare ... in fact, an asterisk may be included just because he didn't have to face Nadal to knock Pete Sampras off the mountaintop. (Not, like, a steroids-related asterisk; but an asterisk nonetheless.)

However, that shouldn't suggest this won't be a fantastic fortnight of tennis. I'm going to make my picks here, and for all second-round matchups, I'll tell you why, in 15 words or less (to match Federer's GS total pending this tournament) I'm taking that winner. The idea of picking second-rounders, is so that you can automatically see who my 1st-rounders are based on the matchup. At the end, I'll list my quarterfinal, semifinal and championship picks. I'm going mano y mano with mi papa. We'll see how it goes.

SECOND-ROUND PICKS, starting from the top of the draw
(5) Juan Martin Del Potro def. Lleyton Hewitt
No Nadal at the top means opportunity for Hewitt, but JMDP is ultra-talented
(25) Dmitry Tursonov def. Philipp Petzschner
A suddenly relevant match, what with Rafa taking his bad knees back to Mallorca
(23) Radek Stepanek def. Potito Starace
Two of the better names in the draw go head to head, with experience prevailing
(16) David Ferrer def. Fabio Fognini
Does Fabio have golden locks? What a weak upper eighth of the draw this is
Daniel Evans def. Bjorn Phau
Upset special of the tourney: homeboy Evans knocks out 12-seed Davydenko in 1st round
(20) Tomas Berdych def. Paul Henri-Mathieu
'Cuz now everybody's heard about the bird. Bird bird bird, the bird is the word
Benjamin Becker def. (26) Jurgen Melzer
The boy who ended Agassi's career has to be better than this, right?
(6) Andy Roddick-Decker def. Grigor Dimitrov
Apparently this Grigor kid is "better than Federer at 18". Uh-oh, Andy.

(3) Andy Murray def. Ernests Gulbis
Along with Roddick-Dimitrov, these could be two wildly entertaining 2nd-round battles
Daniel Gimeno-Traver def. (30) Viktor Troicki
The man with three names knocks out washed-up American Taylor Dent in opener
(19) Stanislas Wawrinka def. Martin Vassallo Arguello
Swiss Prince (to Fed's King) is steadily making this tiny country a two-man band
(14) Marat Safin def. Christophe Rochus
How in the world is Marat back in the top 15? Stealing his sister's points?
(10) Fernando Gonzalez def. Oscar Hernandez
Since he did that much damage on dirt, imagine what Gonzo can do on sod
Mikhail Youzhny def. Fabrice Santoro
Along with former French champ Ferrero and 33rd seed Kiefer, an interesting quartet lies here
(31) Victor Hanescu def. Nicolas Lapentti
There are three "Nicolas"-named players within five draw spots. Thought I'd point that out
(8) Gilles Simon def. Andrei Pavel
The highest-ranked dude you don't know. Mainly because he's never done anything substantial

(17) James Blake def. Marc Gicquel
Can the American Revolution (half-Yank, half-Brit) capitalize on his reshuffled, weaker draw?
Evgeny Korolev def. Paul Capdeville
I'd love to pick Vincent Spadea here, but his rap is better than his tennis
(24) Tommy Haas def. Michael Llodra
Isn't this guy like 43 years old now? How does he keep winning?
(11) Marin Cilic def. Sam Querrey
This might be young Sam's time to shine. But same goes for the lanky Croat
(15) Tommy Robredo def. Edouard Roger-Vasselin
Soft draw for the Spaniard, with two qualifiers likely in the offing
Dudi Sela def. (18) Rainer Schuettler
Shahar Peer already had her breakout '07 Open. Is it time for the Israeli man?
(28) Mardy Fish def. Janko Tipsarevic
Hey, Mardy, welcome back to the rankings. 'Bout time for Andy's old buddy
(4) Novak Djokovic def. Simon Greul
Loud-mouthed Serb hasn't done a whole lot since 2008 Aussie win. Comeback alert?

(7) Fernando Verdasco def. Kristof Vliegen
Now the top Spaniard in the field, we'll see if Verdasco's game translates to grass
Grega Zemlja def. Guillermo Canas
Because I don't trust No. 32 Albert Montanes and I like Grega Zemlja's name
Frank Dancevic def. (22) Ivo Karlovic
Karlovic is the only man alive who can nail 60 aces and still lose
(9) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga def. Simone Bolelli
Floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee. He's a bad man, he's Muhammed Ali!
Gilles Muller def. Andreas Beck
13th seed Robin Soderling will suffer a MAJOR letdown after dream run in Paris
(21) Feliciano Lopez def. Nicolas Almagro
There are 14 players in the draw from Espana, including this pair. Good gravy
(27) Philipp Kohlschreiber def. Maximo Gonzalez
Great name for Gonzalez. And baby-faced Kohlschreiber has game, but this is his ceiling...
(2) Roger Federer def. Agustin Calleri
...because there's a certain Swiss gentleman whom nobody in this field has defeated at Wimbledon

In the quarters, I have Roddick downing Del Potro, Murray besting F. Gonzalez, Cilic crashing the party over Djokovic, and Federer, well, you know, destroying Frank Dancevic.

Federer vs. one of the Andys in the final...doesn't matter which one. Roger will ease to his 6th Wimbledon and 15th Slam losing no more than a set.


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