Wimbledon 2013: Top Men's 1st-Round Matches

Michael Ann McKinlayContributor IIIJune 23, 2013

Wimbledon 2013: Top Men's 1st-Round Matches

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    When the men’s draws came out last Friday, much of the focus was on where the “Top Four” were placed. 

    The result was a loaded bottom half of the draw that features Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the same quarter, with Andy Murray in the other bottom quarter, while Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer landed in the top half.

    But we still have a first week of play before potential matchups and this year’s first-round matches did not disappoint. 

    As Wimbledon begins Monday, lets take a look at the top five most intriguing first-round matches at the All England Club on the men’s side.

Lleyton Hewitt vs. [11] Stanislas Wawrinka

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    Thanks to a successful run at the Aegon Championships (London/Queen’s Club) reaching the semifinals for the first time since lifting the trophy back in 2006, Hewitt is playing like his old self, which should worry the No. 11 seed, Wawrinka. Though Hewitt's second Grand Slam came at Wimbledon a mere 11 years ago, he still produces the same tennis, as we saw him take out big servers Sam Querrey and Juan Martin del Potro

    Wawrinka has also had a successful grass court campaign, reaching the final at the Topshelf Open in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, before losing to Nicolas Mahut in straight sets. After a good French Open, Wawrinka hopes to bring the same momentum to Wimbledon.

    The two have met earlier this year in Indian Wells, where Hewitt (after defeating John Isner) lost in straight sets to the Swiss. However, Wawrinka best results at Wimbledon was the fourth round back in 2008-09, and he lost in the first round last year to veteran Jurgen Melzer, which gives Hewitt more of a shot of an upset. 

    Bottom Line: When Hewitt is confident, he can be dangerous on any surface and will come into this match believing he can win and still make a dent at majors. If Hewitt is going to win, he’ll need history and his vintage grass court game to back him up.  But look for Wawrinka to relish in the fight and win in four tight sets. 

Bernard Tomic vs. [21] Sam Querrey

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    For Tomic, this match would get attention no matter the opponent thanks to his recent Madrid scandal. His recent struggles both on and off the court (losing early at basically every tournament since Marseille) would suggest an easy win for Querrey. 

    But not so fast.

    Tomic knows how to play on this surface, reaching his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon in 2011 after winning in the qualifying draw the previous week. In that year, Tomic defeated strong servers Igor Andreev, Robin Soderling and grass court specialist Xavier Malisse. His all-court game is enhanced on the fast grass, allowing him to track down serves. 

    The good news for Querrey is a lot has changed over the last two years, including his battle last year with Marin Cilic, losing 17-15 in the fifth set. Querrey has had the most success at Wimbledon compared to his other compatriots in the draw, reaching the fourth round in 2010. 

    And unlike John Isner, Querrey is not in a loaded quarter, and has the best chance to go the furthest at Wimbledon for the American men.

    Bottom Line: It really depends on who shows up in this match. If Tomic brings his A game, he can neutralize Querrey’s serve and outrun him on the court. But if Querrey is having a good serving day, the match is more in his favor. Look for Querrey to get through in extra sets.

[6] Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. David Goffin

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    Tsonga comes to Wimbledon after a disappointing French Open, losing badly in his first semifinal appearance in Paris. Despite that, Tsonga has had far greater success in London, reaching the Wimbledon semifinals the last two years, including a surprising win over Federer in 2011, coming back from two sets to love.

    But his first round will be tough, as he face young gun Goffin, who broke out last season by reaching the fourth round in Paris and the third round last year at Wimbledon.

    Goffin has had a rough sophomore season, after his close loss against Fernando Verdasco in the Australian Open first round, he has failed to improve on last season's results, but has a good chance to turn it around at Wimbledon.  He played well against Djokovic at the French Open, challenging the Serb in the first round and is still considered a future star in the coming years on the ATP tour.

    Bottom Line: This will not be an easy match for Tsonga and after Paris, could be the most vulnerable top-10 seed in the first round. Look for Goffin to almost pull off the upset, like in Australia, but ultimately lose in five sets. 

[19] Gilles Simon vs. Feliciano Lopez

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    A repeat of Saturday’s Eastbourne final features the No. 19 seed Simon and Spaniard Lopez, where Lopez needed three sets to beat Simon for his first grass court ATP title with the score line of 7-6(2), 6-7(5), 6-0.

    Wimbledon is Lopez’s best Grand Slam result, reaching the quarterfinals in 2005, 2008 and 2011. Unlike most of his countrymen, Lopez excels on the fast courts and said Saturday (via ATP World Tour) that “grass is my best surface.”

    Simon, on the other hand, has only reached the second week at Wimbledon once, back in 2009 and since then has lost to Murray, del Potro and Malisse, all big servers. Although he fought his way back into the match Saturday, Simon can’t be happy that he has to face Lopez again so soon. 

    Bottom Line: Simon will be looking for revenge, obviously, but Lopez will be the more confident player in the match. Look for the same result, with Simon being one of the first seeds to fall. 

Marcos Baghdatis vs. [10] Marin Cilic

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    Baghdatis comes into Wimbledon having not won a match since February, so why does this match even make the list?

    Because he’s a dangerous player at Wimbledon, as last year proved, as he battled against Murray under the roof, taking the second set before losing in four sets. Even though his 2006 semifinal result seems like another decade ago, Baghdatis knows how to win the crowd over in England and if playing well, could give Cilic all sorts of trouble.

    Cilic comes into Wimbledon almost defending his Queen’s title, losing in three sets to Murray. Twice making the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2008 and last year, Cilic has the game to go the distance in the second week, but as luck would have it, landed in Murray’s quarter. Cilic defeated him at the 2009 US Open, but has not beaten the Scott at a Grand Slam or any tournament since.

    Bottom Line: This should be a fun match to watch, as Baghdatis always put on a show, and will take a couple of sets from the Croat thanks to the crowd support. But Cilic has the stronger game and wants another rematch against Murray, and should get through in four sets. 

Other 1st Round Matches Worth Mentioning

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    Robin Haase vs. [20] Mikhail Youzhny

    [14] Janko Tipsarevic vs. Viktor Troicki

    Ryan Harrison vs. [28] Jeremy Chardy

    Fernando Verdasco vs. Xavier Malisse

    Play begins Monday.