2009 Wimbledon: Top Five Contenders Not Named Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer

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2009 Wimbledon: Top Five Contenders Not Named Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer
(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Many people think tennis is all about Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, but a lot of that is because Federer's best days were when the ATP tour field was relatively weak—not to take away from Federer's accomplishments (he is the best player of all time).

But the tour is quite deep today, and when you look at the quality of the matches, you feel that you are about to be in one of the great eras in the history of tennis.

Everyone thinks Wimbledon is going to go to Federer or Nadal; however, the field this year is looking good. This will be a look at the five players from the field that are most likely to surprise us at the grass court major.

 

5. James Blake

A good grass player, Blake made it to the finals at the Queen's Club Tournament and played a good game against Murray.

He generally plays well on big occasions (except, like every American, he suffers at the French Open), but he often loses against a higher-ranked player in the fourth round or quarterfinals.

 

4. Andy Roddick

Roddick is a great grass player, even better than on hard courts. It all lays out on his serve, and if he has a career day on the serve, he can beat anyone.

His biggest enemy is himself, of course, and when things go south, he tends to sink. Although, to be honest, he has become a better mental player since his time with Jimmy Connors.

 

3. Juan Martin Del Potro

Although grass doesn't seem to be his preferred surface, I would say Del Potro has the tools to become a legend on grass. He played absolutely great at the French Open this year and has been to three straight Grand Slam quarterfinals.

 

2. Andy Murray

Murray has been looking great, and grass is his best surface by far. But the real question is whether or not he can deal with the pressure of playing at home.

The pressure is enormous—no British player has won Wimbledon since 1936—and the expectations for him are even greater than those mounted on England native Tim Henman at his prime.

I really think Murray will be the guy to break the curse, and it may very well be this year. After all, Nadal is hurt, and to be honest, Federer is clearly past his prime.

 

1. Novak Djokovic

We all know his talent, yet we tend to ignore him. When we do, he does good, like at the 2008 Australian Open and the Tennis Masters.

He should come into Wimbledon quite fresh since he lost in the third round at the French. He made the finals at last week's Halle Open, a grass court tournament in Germany.

My gut is telling me Djokovic will win Wimbledon, and last time that happened to me was after the US Open—I was asked who would win the Masters, and I was spot on.

 

Others worth mentioning are Robin Soderling, the 2009 French Open finalist, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who made the finals at the 2008 Australian Open.

In golf, the question is always "Tiger or the field?" In tennis, it used to be "Roger or Roger?" Then it was "Federer or Nadal?"

Today, the question has become "Federer, Nadal, or the field?"—and the more I think about this Wimbledon, I might just pick the field.

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