Wimbledon 2012: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on Path to Final

Eric Brach@EBrachWritesCorrespondent IJune 27, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 25:  Novak Djokovic of Serbia serves the ball during his gentlemen's singles first round match against Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain on day one of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 25, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Grass. Summer. Strawberries and cream. At last, it’s time for Wimbledon.

The big headlines to date have all been focused on four-time former women’s champ Venus Williams and her first-round flub and early exit. But the real story lies in the men’s draw, where three men—Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic—are poised to battle it out for the 2012 All-England Club title.

Realistically, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are the only men with any real chance to win Wimbledon. To wit: The last time anyone other than Federer, Nadal or Djokovic took home the trophy was in 2002. That was 10 years ago. What’s more, even though the tournament is in its early stages yet, with the first round just wrapping to a close, seeded players across the draw have been struggling mightily. 

Former finalist Tomas Berdych (6) has already lost. So has John Isner (11), who made his name here two years ago by winning the longest tennis match in history. Other seeded first-round losers include Feliciano Lopez (14), Bernard Tomic (20), Andreas Seppi (23), Marcel Granoliers (24), Stanislas Wawrinka (25) and Kevin Anderson (32).

Meanwhile, the big three have been cruising. Djokovic easily handled former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, winning 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. The No. 2-seeded Nadal won 7-6, 6-2, 6-3, and No. 3-seeded Federer won 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.

Britons, of course, might argue that this is not a three-way contest, but a four-way one. World No. 4 Andy Murray—who is, coincidentally, the No. 1 player in the UK—won a convincing 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 tournament opener. He also made it to all four Grand Slam tournament semifinals last year.

But that’s just the point: against the high level of skill displayed by Novak, Rafa and Roger, Andy Murray is always the also-ran. He’s never won a Grand Slam tournament, having lost all three of his career finals appearances (two to Federer and one to Djokovic). And despite British pride, he’s never so much as made it to the finals here at Wimbledon.

Round two began this morning, and in one of the first matches, Roger Federer outplayed his opponent to an easy 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 victory. Based on the bracket, it seems more than likely that, come next Friday, he and Djokovic will be battling it out for the right to face Nadal in the finals once again.