Always the biggest tennis event of the year, Wimbledon kicks off on Monday with the biggest stars in the sport vying to make history. The tournament held at the All England Club is the one event that everyone wants to win, yet lately it only seems that a few are capable of victory.
In fact, dating back to 2003, there have been four players on the men's side and six players on the women's side who have won in England.
However, there seems to be more parity in the sport now than ever. It's still top-heavy, especially on the men's side with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Roger Federer, but the gap between those four and the rest of the top 10-12 seeds is shrinking.
As we go through the men's draw, these are the top stars who are going to find the path to a title in England extremely difficult.
|1||Novak Djokovic (SRB)|
|2||Rafael Nadal (ESP)|
|3||Andy Murray (GBR)|
|4||Roger Federer (SUI)|
|5||Stan Wawrinka (SUI)|
|6||Tomas Berdych (CZE)|
|7||David Ferrer (ESP)|
|8||Milos Raonic (CAN)|
|9||John Isner (USA)|
|10||Kei Nishikori (JPN)|
|11||Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)|
|12||Ernests Gulbis (LAT)|
|13||Richard Gasquet (FRA)|
|14||Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)|
|15||Jerzy Janowicz (POL)|
|16||Fabio Fognini (ITA)|
|17||Mikhail Youzhny (RUS)|
|18||Fernando Verdasco (ESP)|
|19||Feliciano Lopez (ESP)|
|20||Kevin Anderson (RSA)|
|21||Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR)|
|22||Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)|
|23||Tommy Robredo (ESP)|
|24||Gael Monfils (FRA)|
|25||Andreas Seppi (ITA)|
|26||Marin Cilic (CRO)|
|27||Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)|
|28||Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP)|
|29||Ivo Karlovic (CRO)|
|30||Marcel Granollers (ESP)|
|31||Vasek Pospisil (CAN)|
|32||Dmitry Tursunov (RUS)|
Courtesy of Wimbledon.com.
Novak Djokovic (No. 1)
What has been so fascinating about the tennis season thus far is how much of it has been solely defined by Djokovic vs. Nadal. They have met in three finals already, with Djoker winning twice. Nadal got the most recent laugh at the French Open.
With that said, Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times notes that the Wimbledon gods did Djokovic no favors—at least early in the tournament—with a strong second-round contender:
Not an easy opening draw for Novak Djokovic: opens with Andrey Golubev, then possibly Radek Stepanek in R2. #Wimbledon— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) June 20, 2014
Djokovic and Radek Stepanek have played once this year with the former winning in straight sets at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia event in May.
Stepanek is peaking at the right time to pull off a huge upset. He is coming off an impressive run at the AEGON Championships event, advancing to the semifinals with wins over 2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and Kevin Anderson before falling to Feliciano Lopez.
Roger Federer (No. 4)
Which top-four seed will have the earliest Wimbledon exit?
Every year, we keep talking about the end of Federer's peak, yet he always manages to pull off one big victory that brings us back on the bandwagon. That hasn't happened so far in 2014, as the 32-year-old owns two wins in smaller events (Gerry Weber Open and Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships).
Despite the lack of titles, Federer has been making deep runs in all the events he's participated in. The former world No. 1 played in the semifinals of the Australian Open as well as the finals of the Paribas Open and Monte Carlo-Rolex Masters.
However, Rothenberg noted that Federer's draw is among the more difficult for a top seed in England:
Roger Federer opens vs Paolo Lorenzi and then gets a TOUGH second round against Julien Benneteau or the surging Gilles Muller. #Wimbledon— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) June 20, 2014
Federer went out in the second round last year with a loss to Serhiy Stakhovsky, so another early exit from the All England Club wouldn't be a surprise.
Unfortunately, he's reached the point where past reputation is more impressive than recent performance.
John Isner (No. 9)
American men's tennis has been in a rut for years—so much so that John Isner has become the only hope for the country in major events. He's the only American male ranked in the top 32 at Wimbledon.
Making matters worse is the fact that Wimbledon has always caused Isner problems. The 29-year-old has played in this event five times and never advanced past the second round.
Rothenberg once again points out the difficulty of Isner's draw in the early rounds, which only makes his chances of getting past the second round for the first time hard to envision:
John Isner opens against British WC Daniel Smethurst, then gets much tougher against Nieminen or Delbonis. #Wimbledon— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) June 20, 2014
To compound matters, Isner hasn't advanced to the finals of any event since the Heineken Open in early January and has been knocked out in his first match four times in 12 events.
No American has won at Wimbledon since Pete Sampras won four straight times from 1997-2000. If Isner is the only hope this year, that streak is all but guaranteed to continue until at least 2015.
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