Wimbledon 2013: Top Contenders Bound for Semifinal Appearances

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Wimbledon 2013: Top Contenders Bound for Semifinal Appearances
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Wimbledon semifinals are bound to feature at least two of the top tennis players in the world this year.

Due to the secret that is the Wimbledon draw, it’s tough to predict where on the bracket the top-ranked players will end up. Just because Novak Djokovic is the world No. 1 doesn’t mean he’ll land the No. 1 seed for the coming weeks, although that seems unlikely.

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But no matter what seeds the favorites get, it doesn’t take away from how dangerous they can be once they take the court in the coming days. The top five or six players all have similar odds to take home the Grand Slam title, but only four—at the most—are going to make it through to the final four.

That same goes for the women's side of the tournament, where it's unlikely that a non-contender makes her way through the quarterfinals and into the semifinals. There is, however, the chance of an upset, like we saw a year ago when Serena Williams was taking on Angelique Gerber in the semifinals.

So, which top contenders are guaranteed to advance to the semifinals at the very least? Let’s take a look at two in particular who have played the Grand Slam well in the past, are great on grass and both have something to prove.

 

Novak Djokovic

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There’s no question that Novak Djokovic is going to make a run at Wimbledon this year. After winning the Grand Slam in 2011, Djokovic was ousted in the semifinals by Roger Federer a year ago. He has reached the semifinals in each of the last three years, which makes him an obvious favorite to contend in 2013.

The No. 1 player in the world has a bad taste in his mouth, too. He recently failed to reach the final at the French Open, falling to Rafael Nadal in the semis. The loss ended any hope of winning back-to-back Grand Slams and potentially winning all four tournaments in one year. He still has a chance of winning three, which he did in 2011.

Djokovic is built to succeed on any type of surface. While grass isn’t his best, he has won 78.1 percent of his matches on the surface, which is the second highest, right behind hard courts. He also has an 82.1 win percentage at Wimbledon, which is the third highest of the four Grand Slams.

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

The Joker is expected to be the No. 1 seed this year at Wimbledon. That being said, there is a chance that he’d have to take out Nadal—who could be the fifth seed—in the quarterfinals in order to advance to the semifinals for the fourth straight year.

That’s still not a guarantee, and seeing that Nadal just beat him, Djokovic would certainly like to get his revenge. B/R’s Tim Daniels doubts that his loss at the French Open will cause Djokovic any troubles once he takes the court at Wimbledon, and I completely agree. He’s more than capable of rebounding, and he’ll show that once he makes his way through the tournament and into the semifinals yet again.

 

Serena Williams

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Serena Williams absolutely dominated the competition at the French Open, winning her 16th career Grand Slam title. At Wimbledon, she’ll be seeking her 17th Grand Slam, back-to-back Grand Slams and back-to-back titles at Wimbledon. In essence, Williams could do a lot of damage with another championship in the coming weeks.

While Williams has been great at nearly every Grand Slam tournament, Wimbledon is the one where she’s been the most successful. She has five career tournament victories at the Grand Slam and 67 victories—which is two more than any of the other three major tournaments.

Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Williams will absolutely be the No. 1 seed at Wimbledon and it’ll be tough for anyone to stop her. She only lost one set over the course of seven matches at Roland Garros. That’s impressive. It’ll be even more remarkable if she can top her French Open performance, which would mean winning each match in straight sets.

It’s definitely possible, as you should never doubt what Williams is capable of.

As Chris Chase of USA Today writes, Serena might be playing the best tennis of her life. Chase lists a couple of intriguing statistics about Williams’ play lately, but nothing is crazier than the fact that she’s won 26 of her last 28 matches against top-10 opponents. Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka could give Serena a run for her money, but with so much success over the best in the world, a ninth trip to the Wimbledon semifinals is nearly a lock.

 

Roger Federer

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Wimbledon is Roger Federer’s baby. He’s owned the tournament over the course of his career, winning the Grand Slam seven times. He has a 90.4 win percentage there, which is easily the highest of the four major tournaments. He just loves playing on the Wimbledon grass.

So, to count him out of semifinals would be foolish.

While Federer was eliminated from the French Open in the quarterfinals to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, he rebounded nicely this past week. Federer took home the title at the Gerry Weber Open to regain some confidence before he takes the court at Wimbledon.

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Here is what Federer told Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times about heading into the Grand Slam with a recent victory:

Winning sort of solves everything, really. So for me it’s great, in terms of confidence. I feel like I know what I need to do. It’s good to fight as well as the last couple of matches now after two easy ones at the beginning. I had to come from losing the first set twice, then coming back to win is a great feeling. There’s still things I believe I can improve on, but I think that will then happen when the moment is there, when Wimbledon starts. But over all I’m very pleased with the way I play and I’m happy with the week.

With Federer playing well of late and entering his favorite tournament, his opponents should be on alert. Federer has lost 111 matches in his career and just five of them have come on grass. If Federer is going to lose the sixth, it certainly won’t be before the semifinals. 

 

Andy Murray

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Andy Murray is one of the best players in the world to never win at Wimbledon. Djokovic has done it. Nadal has done it. Federer tends to do it very often. Murray, though, has only made one appearance in the final, losing to Federer a year ago. He has, however, made it to the semifinals in each of the last four years.

Murray recently withdrew from the season’s second Grand Slam, the French Open, after citing back pains, according to Christopher Clarey of The New York Times. His back appears to be just fine now, as he just won the title at the Aegon Championships. He had to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Marin Cilic in order to do so.

After missing out on the opportunity to win his second Grand Slam in Paris, he’s sure to be looking forward to playing Wimbledon. He’s likely to be the No. 2 seed in the tournament considering he’s the No. 2 player in the world. We'll have to wait and see if that's the way the draw plays out, though.

Murray recently wrote a column for BBC and said that he’d “sign up to be in the quarterfinals against Rafa tomorrow if someone offered me that.” What he meant by that, as he goes on to say, is that if he would beat Nadal in the quarters, the semifinals might not be as tough. He also said that if he is going to win, he has to beat the best.

Murray will attempt to beat the best and improve his 30-7 record at Wimbledon, coming off a big confidence-boosting victory. Murray has won more matches and has a higher win percentage at Wimbledon than at any other Grand Slam—even though he’s never won it all. He’s very good on grass and will be tough for any of the other seeds to knock out before the semifinals. 

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