The green grasses of the Wimbledon tennis courts in England, are ready to be graced by the world's most miraculous tennis players.
Unfortunately, we will not be seeing the raging Spaniard Rafael Nadal this time around.
A Roger-Rafa IV final for Wimbledon just isn't meant to be, at least not yet. Although Wimbledon is missing its defending champion, does that mean we can't have fun watching everyone else? No way.
We are still going to be able to witness the likes of Marat Safin, Gilles Simon, Lleyton Hewitt, Juan Martin Del Potro, Tommy Haas, Ivan Ljubicic, Ivo Karlovic, Fernando Gonzalez, Nikolay Davydenko, Radek Stepanek, David Ferrer, Arnaud Clement, James Blakeoh, basically another 112 tennis players!
Now that we know the draws, and Wimbledon is set to get under way, I have taken place in a game called "Draw Challenge Circuit". Basically, I make picks for every match of Wimbledon, all the way to the finals.
I had in mind to make an article like this of my picks for possible winners of Wimbledon, but now with the Draw Challenge Circuit, I am going even deeper on possible upsets and possible players who go far.
Some players are so unpredictable they may be in each category of upset: noise maker, and winner, go figure.
Without further ado, here are my Wimbledon 2009 predictions.
Players Who Can Make Some Noise (key word *can*, not will):
Juan Martin Del Potro
The big man with a huge backhand. He has gone through many obstacles, and now stands somewhere many thought he would take a few more years to get to, the world number five ranking.
Yes, Del Potro has certainly risen through the rankings.
However here at Wimbledon, he has not gotten past the second round.
Although his current stat sheet may not show it, Del Potro could rage through to the quarter finals. He has taken the spot of Rafael Nadal in his absence, and he has some tough obstacles ahead, but with his current play and confidence, don't be surprised if you see this guy make it far.
The Swiss player in the top ten, not named Roger Federer. Wawrinkahas stood in the shadow of Roger, but with his all-court game and work ethic, he has cracked the top ten
In Wawrinka's draw, Marat Safin and Andy Murray can be found lurking. If he can make it to the round of sixteen, he certainly has a shot at pushing himself to the semi-final.
Murray seems like the odds-on favorite to reach the final, but if you see him losing to the likes of Stan Wawrinka, don't be surprised.
Although Murray poses a threat, Wawrinka has nothing to lose if he meets Murray.
Murray has a tons of pressure on him. Can he deliver when Rafa Nadal is not there? Is he going to be the first British player to win at Wimbledon in decades? Surely, there will be nerves that Murray must face, but no competitor will feel sorry for him and let him ease through.
If Wawrinka meets Murray, that means Wawrinka has matched his last year result at Wimbledon. At that point, he is either maintaining his ranking points, or going higher. Not much pressure compared to Murray.
Since beating Roger Federer in the Beijing Olympics, Blake has been relatively quite. he has lost some forgettable matches, to some not-so-famous players.
But now, Blake is fresh off a finals appearance on grass, in which he gave Andy Murray some trouble, but didn't prevail.
Although I can't see Blake making it past the semi-finals, I do seem him being able to reach somewhere from the fourth round all the way to the semi-finals. However, I see a road block ahead, and in my prediction in the Draw Challenge Circuit, Blake is out in the third round.
This is one of the young guns that no one is really expecting much of. He made it to the round of 16 last year at Wimbledon, and this year he could very well go farther.
A quarter final spot for the Croat is very possible, but to me, not so probable.
The man has all the talent, size, and coaching behind him to be a top-notch player.
I say, watch out for him at Wimbledon.
Canas, to me, makes it to the third round but loses. Although I don't have him making it deeper, that doesn't mean he doesn't have the possibility to make it to the quarters.
I don't have too much to say about Canas. He is moreso a clay court specialist.
He's a veteran, who is looking to make a push in some grand slam. He has a relatively nice head-to-head record against quite a few people in his draw.
I'm not so sure he will get through all, but I do seem him going into a tight match.
Of course, almost a lesser version of Goran Ivanesevic. He is tall, Croat, big server, and I do mean big.
Karlovic is very unpredictable. When he is serving with no remorse, no one can beat him. For an example, look back at his match against Roger Federer in Cincinnati 2008.
The big guy could lose in his first round match, yet he can win this whole tournament when he serves huge for the entire two weeks.
I have him making it to the quarter finals.
This guy came alive in the 2008 US Open. He became famous when he beat Andre Agassi.
But he never had too much success in grand slams. That is, until the US Open. He came back from two sets down to a rusty Tommy Haas, and won. He went on to have a great tournament, making it to the quarter final.
Similar to the US open, the courts are quite fast.
Muller can get to the fourth round, but I have him falling out in the third.
Juan Carlos Ferrero/Mikhail Youzhny
They meet each other in the first round. Whoever wins will have a good shot at reaching to quarter finals.
Each has been looking to redeem their rankings, as each has fallen off a bit.
While Ferrel has played well as of late, winning a tournament about a month ago. I am not sure how he can compete on grass.
The reason I think one of these guys could go far is because they have the game to beat anybody they could meet in the first four rounds or so, especially with a worn out Fernando Gonzalez.
I think their match will be close, with Youzhny prevailing.
In the last two Wimbledon's, Tipsarevic has reached the round of sixteen.
I reluctantly picked him to lose in the third round to Novak Djokovic, but I did so with a lot of regret. I am definitely not picking Djokovic 100%.
I really think that if they meet, Tipsarevic will win. But the reason I picked Djokovic in my draw, is so he plays someone later, someone that would make the match very interesting.
Tipsarevic should be able to defeat the mentally and psychically un-stable Djokovic.
Ljubicic was the world number three a few years ago, but injuries set him back, and the losses were piling up for him. He lost his ranking, and his confidence.
But in 2009, it looks like he is regaining both.
I believe Ljubicic has a great shot at returning as a top 10 player. This season he has beaten three top 10 players a total four times. Impressive, don't you think?
Plus, he was very unlucky to lose to world number three Andy Murray.
Ivan has one of the biggest serves.
I think Ljubicic has the fire power to make it to the semi-finals. But he can be out as early as the first round as well.
He faces another big server in Sam Querrey. I expect it to be a match of several tie-breakers, but Ljubicic prevails in the end. However I picked him falling in the 3rd round in a close match.
Early Exits and Peculiar Upsets
It seems everyone is writing off the Serbian/Montenegrin superstar, Novak Djokovic. After several people thought he would face Nadal at the French Open final, people are jumping off the band wagon.
Djokovic is a former semi-finalist, but he has admitted to being psychically and mentally tired after that semi-final with Nadal at Madrid.
I can't help but expect something happening to Djokovic. Like I said, I think there is a big chance he'll lose if he meets Tipsarevic in the 3rd round.
It's a tough call, but don't give up on Djokovic completely. I am seeing a quarter final spot with his name on it, but it is hard to say he won't fall early.
Juan Martin Del Potro
Yes, I did say he could make it to the quarters, but at the very same time he could lose very early.
Most people will think I'm saying that Hewitt is the one who beats Del Potro. While I do think Hewitt would beat him, Del Potro could very well be out in the first round.
He faces last years quarter finalist, Arnaud Clement. I am pulling for Clement because he's a good player, and someone who was so very close to being in the semi-finals last year. He had such an impressive run, and his five-set loss was a classic.
We could see him make another upset by tossing out Del Potro.
If he does, I think Del Potro will be very upset with Nadal for giving him Clement to play.
Blake is another guy that I claimed could go far...well, he can be out in the 1st round as well.
He plays Andreas Seppi. Seppi is an exceptional player, who has had some very bad luck of playing Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the first through third rounds of grand slams.
Seppi is determined, and seeing as he has some competition he can beat, he should be a good test.
I think Blake will win, but don't bet your money on it.
This is the guy who reestablished himself as a top 25 player, and it started with a scorching run to the semi-finals of Wimbledon last year.
He ran into Roger Federer and suffered a loss. But he gained so much, that he couldn't have been too upset.
However, he has such an unpredictable mind and game. At times, he's the best in the world. Other times he is drunk, angry, and losing to not-so-famous players.
I think Safin can make a big run again, but I'm not so optimistic in his recent results.
I am really not so sure that he will get past the third round. If he meets Stanislas Wawrinka, it will be tough, and he will have to bring his "A" game.
If not, he may suffer quite the loss in points. I really hope he doesn't lose.
Surely he has the game to make it far, and his draw is not that tough in its early rounds. But he's played a lot of tennis, and is mentally and psychically worn.
That loss to Robin Soderling at the French, seems like one that could likely carry over. I am not going to be suprised if the hard hitting Gonzo falls in the first few rounds.
Simon built on some great momentum last season, then he started off well with a quarter final appearance at the Australian Open.
But since then, he has been losing some winnable matches.
It's not very certain what has come up, but he has fallen off considerably.
I am not optimistic on his play, and can't see him going far. If you add on to his poor play, he has never been known as a great grass court player.
When a player makes a final at a grand slam for the first time, he is psychically worn. It is something they never went through before, and Soderling will learn how to deal with it, especially if he keeps coming up with results like the French.
But this time around, I am sure he will be worn.
Grass is not his court of pleasure. I can't see him getting past the third round.
Oh yeah, you read that right.
Murray seems to be the favorite, after Roger Federer, to win at Wimbledon in 2009.
I am not so sure he will get that far. For him to lose, say around the round of 16, is relatively an upset, compared to what people think he will do.
In his draw, the likes of Stan Wawrinka and Marat Safin stand in his way, and they pose a great threat.
If you don't see Murray in the final, make that semi-final or even quarter final, I for one will be standing here, saying "not surprised".
The Long Shot, Noice Maker, In What Would Be a Great Story
Okay, so in my draws, I was having some fun with some picks, I saw some matches that were long shots, but also seemed to be possible.
Fabrice Santoro has never been a great grass court player in singles.
This season may be his last on tour, and he may just wonder us by with some more magic that he can pull up his sleeve.
In Santoro's draw, he has players that he has a good record against, players who are not very comfortable on grass, and players who are worn out from the French (F. Gonzalez).
I think Santoro will amaze some people, and get far. When I unveil my draw, you may be surprised, but I think it would make an awesome story, and something that can very well become a reality. I hope something like it happens. I just love that guy. He is a great player and person, who's stunning array of shots and form keep me laughing and astonished all at once.
I wouldn't be suprised if he served with two hands.
Check out some great shots and matches of his:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tI8gxsQnvQw go to the last two minutes.
http://www.break.com/usercontent/2008/4/Fabrice-Santoro-extraordinary-point-482000.html definately check this out!
Words can't describe him!!!
My Five Favorites To Win Wimbledon 2009
5. Marat Safin - He claims this will be his final year on the ATP Tour. It is very sad to hear. But I can't do anything but hope for the best from Safin.
Marat stunned us when he defeated Novak Djokovic in the third round in Wimbledon last year. He then reached the semi-final but lost to Roger Federer. (Come to think of it, each person that Rafa and Roger played in last years Wimbledon semi, was a surprise).
Safin has all the talent, and he has the game to beat any tennis player to play on tour.
Hard hitter, good serve, good movement, nice size. He just needs to get past that mind game of his, He has been going through the year nicely. He has had some bad loses, but hopefully he can spark something here.
It is a toss up with Safin. If he shows up, like last year, or plays better, he can win this tournament. It will be great to see him back in the semi-final. I am pulling for him.
If he is not going to play at top level, he will lose early to me, if he is playing at his best, a third and fitting grand slam could be made in Wimbledon 2009.
4. Lleyton Hewitt - The two time grand slam champion has always had great results at Wimbledon.
He usually makes it to the quarters, semi's, finals, or wins the whole thing. The past couple of years have shown good results but not great, round of 16's.
But with Rafael Nadal out of his way he can return to possibly the quarters. I have him stop their in my picks. But it is the toughest of calls. He can very well be back in the final, if he is up to it, and ready.
I am going to be pulling for Hewitt, and I think he will show us he is still the champion he use to be. He has the fight and grit in him, as well as talent. It'll be fun to see what he can do.
3. Andy Roddick/Tommy Haas - Roddick may be the third or fourth best grass court player on tour. he has an impressive serve, and this season he has lost weight.
His movement is much improved, and his game is growing all around. He is playing his best tennis now.
With Nadal out of his draw, his eye's have lighten up even more. He is hungry and determined for another grand slam. Remember, before Rafa came onto the scene, it was Roddick that Federer use to meet in the Wimbledon finals.
Roddick will be very dangerous.
Tommy Haas has arguably the best form for a backhand on tour. He has an all-around game.
Haas has really impressed lately. At the French he was five points away from defeating eventual winner, Roger Federer. Then he goes on, and defeats Philipp Kohlschreiber, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Mischa Zverev, and Novak Djokovic to win his first grass court tournament in his hometown Halle, Germany.
His condfience is steaming. I tell everyone, Haas should be a top 10 player, if it wasn't for his injuries. In 2007 he made the quarters at the US Open, and semi's at the Australian Open. Then in 2008, he missed most of the year, and lost a lot of points.
Now he is making it up, and showing his resilience and will. He is definitely in my mind a possibility to capture the Wimbledon title of 2009.
2. Andy Murray - I didn't pick him to make the final, but he may be the best bet to defeat Roger Federer. While others pose a threat, it seems Murray's record may take him far.
I am not so sure if I should put him so high. But he has played very well, and he is going to be very determined to win.
With no Rafael Nadal in his way that boosts his confidence. Also, he was very impressive last year, and with the England homeboy there, the crowd may give him that extra boost.
1. Roger Federer -What to say, what to say? Roger Federer is fresh off a French Open victory. He has all the confidence, and he is in the prime of his career. Nadal is not in his way, and he must be focused on the goal of regaining the Wimbledon crown.
With that in mind, it returns Roger to his dominant form, his number 1 ranking, and most of all, it breaks Pete Sampras record for the first time, and sets the new record with a mind-boggling 15 Grand Slams!
I picked Roger Federer to win Wimbledon with Rafael Nada in the tournament, healthy or not, I see no one that will stop Roger from getting the job done.
The tide can be re-shifted and Roger will be back on his thrown, and it would only have been a matter of time. See my article http://bleacherreport.com/articles/121052-now-that-the-aussie-heat-has-cooled-down-what-is-next-for-roger.
I hope on seeing someone like Marat Safin, Lleyton Hewitt or Fabrice Santoro against Roger in the final, while I hope to see someone like Tommy Haas or Ivan Ljubicic meet Roger in the semi-final.
It will be a test for Federer, Nadal or not.
Ladies and gentlemen Wimbledon is upon us.
To see my draws, and my picks, and to finally unravel the mystery in who loses, wins, and really....what happens to Fabrice Santoro, follow me here, and it will tell all: http://challenge.atpworldtour.com/atp/user-bracket.php?X=1245639747