Wimbledon 2018: Men's singles draw preview and analysis
It is strawberries and cream time in the tennis calendar. We are in for a visual treat as tennis stars adorn themselves in crisp whites for Wimbledon, with tradition and the gentle green grass promising to offer a breathtaking backdrop at SW19.
The grass court Major, which attracts maximum eyeballs, is the third Grand Slam of the season and is almost knocking at the door. The 132nd edition of the prestigious Championships is set to commence from 2nd July.
Swiss great Roger Federer will be playing his 20th consecutive Wimbledon. He is set to draw level with Jimmy Connors, who also made a record 20 Wimbledon appearances. Federer is once again the favourite to clinch his ninth title at SW19; a staggering 91-11 win-loss record at the All England Club stands testimony to the fact that the fast grass courts are his forte.
The Gentlemen's singles draw that was announced on Friday came with a lot of intrigue, as always. Federer is placed in a relatively sparse top half of the draw alongside Marin Cilic and Kevin Anderson, while the bottom half weighs heavy with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Juan Martin Del Potro.
Spanish great Rafael Nadal, who is fresh from his Roland Garros triumph, is likely to play the Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-finals, or Andy Murray - who is jostling to find his feet on his comeback.
With some notable first round matches like Stan Wawrinka vs Grigor Dimitrov, Gael Monfils vs Richard Gasquet and Andy Murray vs Benoit Paire, tennis fans can expect a cracker of a menu served hot for them to savor.
We take a dip into the Men's singles draw and try analyse the players who hold the potential to make it deep into the tournament.
Projected quarter-final by seeding: #1 Roger Federer vs #8 Kevin Anderson
The World No. 2 Roger Federer will set foot at the All England club for his 103rd singles match as he begins his title defense on Monday. The Swiss lacked steam last week in Halle, losing to Borna Coric in the finals, but the Stuttgart title a week before showed that the 36-year-old has the weapons to wade through the grass. By ousting 7th seed Milos Raonic in the finals in Stuttgart, Federer made a convincing comeback after skipping the clay season.
The defending champion, who has eight Wimbledon titles to his resume, has been handed a favorable draw this season, which could pave the way for a 99th career and a 21st Grand Slam title. He opens against Serbia's Dusan Lajovic. The earlier meeting between the two was in the second round of Wimbledon 2017 when the Swiss defeated Lajovic in straight sets. Federer is expected to replicate the feat this time too.
The World No. 57 Dusan Lajovic is not the most accomplished player on grass. A fourth round finish in Antalya this week is his only preparatory heading into the impending Major. The Serbian has managed to make it to the second round at the Wimbledon Championships in 2014 and 2017. In 2015 and 2016, Lajovic bowed out in the opening round itself.
The second round for Federer could be either against Lukas Lacko or Benjamin Bonzi. This would likely not pose any threat to the World No 2. A projected third-round meeting with #32 Leonardo Mayer is on the cards, but there also looms the dangerous Ivo Karlovic who can take down Mayer and sneak into the third round instead. Even if that happens, Federer should probably make it safely to the fourth round to possibly meet Halle Champion Borna Coric.
Coric's best result at Grand Slams has been a third round appearance at the French Open in 2015, 2016 and 2018, but he has never made it beyond the 2nd round at Wimbledon. The World No. 21, Coric needs to put his best foot forward as he begins his campaign against the Russian Daniil Medvedev who is a tricky opponent. A potential third round clash with the 22nd seed Adrian Mannarino looks likely for the Croat.
On the other side of the top quarter is 8th seed, Kevin Anderson. The South African has never made it beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon, but he has an impressive 27-12 win-loss record in the season.
That said, the World No.8 is not going to have it easy. A potential third round clash with Gilles Muller could be a bit tough for the South African. Muller had famously taken out Rafael Nadal last year in the fourth round at Wimbledon and eventually lost to Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals at the championships. He could meet either Sam Querrey or Richard Gasquet in the fourth round. The American Querrey, who had a semi-final finish at SW19 in 2017, will be a tough nut to crack for Anderson.
Meanwhile the 32-year-old Frenchman Richard Gasquet is going to pose a threat to Anderson too. Gasquet has been a picture of consistency this season, a 24-13 win-loss being a statement in itself. Coming off a title in Hertogenbosch, Gasquet had also dismantled teenage Greek sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals of the tournament.
But whoever makes it ahead, it seems very likely that the Swiss great will cruise into the semi-finals.
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