2013 Wimbledon Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 6/21/2013
The Masters of the tennis world begins Monday at the All England Club outside of London with the most prestigious tennis tournament on the planet, the Championships at Wimbledon. The French Open and Wimbledon are somewhat foreign to a vast majority of Americans because unless you grew up rather entitled, you probably never played on clay like in Paris or the grass as at Wimbledon.
When I grew up watching classic McEnroe-Borg matches or Boris Becker diving around at Wimbledon, I figured play on grass must slow the ball down so much compared to hardcourts. Yeah, I was wrong when I finally played on the surface. Plus, the additional challenge is the spin the ball takes on some of those worn-down parts of the court, especially around the serving area.
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There will be no Grand Slam on either the men's or women's side this year. Serena Williams looks completely invincible right now, but she was upset by young American Sloane Stephens in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. Serena has lost once since, in mid-February, and actually has only three total losses in 77 matches since being shocked in the first round of the 2012 French Open. Unbelievable run. The gap between Serena and the rest of the field is about as wide as it has ever on the women's side. Steffi Graf had Monica Seles, at least until the stabbing. Martina had Chrissie. Who does Serena have? She has won 13 straight matches against No. 3 Maria Sharapova, usually in blowout fashion, and 12 of 14 against No. 2 Victoria Azarenka.
If Serena wins Wimbledon, and she is the massive -200 favorite on BetOnline, she would become the first woman after her 30th birthday to win four Grand Slam tournaments. Williams will turn 32 not long after the U.S. Open. Honestly, I'm not going to even preview the women's side because the only way Serena loses is if she tweaks a muscle or something, which isn't impossible at her age. She won't have to face sister Venus, who had to pull out and probably is done as a competitive player. Also out is 26th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam champion. Serena is, of course, the defending champion and five-time winner at Wimbledon, tied with Venus for third all-time in the Open era. Serena won't be catching Martina Navratilova's record nine championships, however.
As usual, all the drama is on the men's side of the draw. Can you believe this is the first Grand Slam where the Big 4 of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have all been in the field since last year's Wimbledon? Nadal missed the 2012 U.S. Open and this year's Aussie Open with his troublesome knees. Murray pulled out of last month's French Open with back issues -- he wasn't going to win on clay regardless and wanted to be 100 percent for the tournament that means most to him. One of the Big Four has taken 32 of the past 33 Grand Slam titles. The lone outlier was Juan Martin del Potro winning the 2009 U.S. Open. Djokovic and Nadal have combined for 11 of the past 13 titles.
The big story of the seeding and the draw is that Nadal, who won his record eighth French Open title last month in Paris, is No. 5. Wimbledon is the one tournament that can decide to seed how it wants and not by the ATP rankings, but it stayed chalk. Nadal is No. 5 in the rankings because he missed so much time with his injury. Somehow he's behind No. 4 David Ferrer, whom Nadal smoked in the French final.
Because Nadal is No. 5, we will not see a potential Federer-Nadal final as we last did at Wimbledon in 2008, the greatest tennis match I ever saw and the first of Nadal's two Wimbledon titles. Those two would meet in perhaps the best quarterfinal matchup in history. I am curious to see if Federer's time as a true contender in Slams has passed. He tied Pete Sampras with a record seventh Wimbledon title last year, beating Murray in four sets. However, Federer has reached only one Slam final other than that since winning the Australian Open in 2010, finishing as runner-up at the 2011 French Open. He's been knocked out of the quarters in two of the past three Slams and used to be a lock to reach at least the semis. Federer is the long shot of the Big 4 at +550, with Nadal at +350.
Murray is aiming to become the first Brit to win Wimbledon since 1936. He has reached the finals of the past three majors he has played, finally breaking through at last year's U.S. Open. Murray's loss to Federer a year ago was the first time he reached the finals there. Murray is the +300 second-favorite this time; of course, Murray won the Olympics at Wimbledon a year ago. He is on track for a quarterfinal matchup against No. 6 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat Federer at the French and has reached the Wimbledon semis the past two years. Murray then presumably would face the Federer-Nadal match winner.
Djokovic is the +120 favorite and I hate to go totally chalk, but he should win the tournament. The world No. 1 should skate to the finals, avoiding all of the other Big 3 until then. If form holds, he'd face Ferrer in the semifinals, and Ferrer is not a great grass-court player. Djokovic had Nadal on the ropes in their excellent semifinal at the French Open, and he can sit back and watch Nadal/Federer/Murray have to expend tons of energy against one another. I expect a Djokovic-Nadal rematch of the 2011 final -- I'd pick Murray to get out of that side of the draw but am not convinced he's 100 percent -- with Djokovic winning in four sets as he did back then.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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