The coolest thing about the 2014 Wimbledon championships is that it appears to be wide open in both the men's and women's draw.
Sure, Serena Williams is the favorite to win on her favorite surface, but coming off a stunning second-round loss at the French Open, there's reason to wonder whether she'll be her usual dominant self.
On the men's side, the favorite could be any of a group of four to five players. Novak Djokovic received the top seed, but can anyone truly say he has the decided advantage over world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, defending champion Andy Murray or Roger Federer?
This could be one of the most fun and unpredictable years at the All England Club in years. The field of 128 on both sides of the draw will begin play on Monday, June 23.
Here's a closer look at the top four seeds in the men and women's draw. For a look at the entire bracket, click here to follow the action at the event's official website.
1. Novak Djokovic
The 27-year-old won his only Wimbledon crown during his magical 2011 season. Coming off a defeat to Nadal in the final of the French Open, Djokovic will likely be eager to try his hand at winning a Grand Slam not played on the red clay.
He has advanced to the semifinals every year since 2010.
Anything short of a deep run as the No. 1 seed would be a huge disappointment.
2. Rafael Nadal
Nadal won Wimbledon in 2008 and 2010, which is pretty impressive considering grass isn't his best surface.
That said, he's had epic failures in his last two attempts at the All England Club. A second-round exit in 2012 was followed by a first-round defeat in 2013.
The King of Clay is looking to improve his performance on the premier grass tournament in the sport.
3. Andy Murray
After winning Wimbledon in 2013, injuries have slowed Murray significantly. He'll obviously be the crowd favorite whenever he plays, but he hasn't exactly looked dominant this season.
He's just 27-11 on the year and hasn't reached a final in any tournament. If energy and motivation from the crowd won a player points, Murray would have quite the edge. That's not the case.
Can he defend his crown against a stellar field despite not playing his best tennis this year?
4. Roger Federer
If there's anywhere Fed can still produce magic on the tennis court, it's at Wimbledon. The seven-time champion last won the tournament in 2012. He bowed out in the second round last year, so you can bet he wants to return to the site of his greatest achievements.
At 32, Federer's best days are behind him, but one has to wonder if he can create one more magical run in London.
1. Serena Williams
The world No. 1 doesn't necessarily need any motivation, but the decision-makers at the All England Club might have given her some.
Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times has the details:
For further clarification as to why Serena not starting on centre court is a big deal, Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated offered:
The good folks at the All England Club explained to us that they have a few choices: the slot can go to the champion two years ago, the current top seed or most recent finalist. Given that Serena Williams meets two of those three criteria, the guess is that she gets the call.
An angry Serena can be a dangerous foe for her opponents and herself. When she's on her game, she's still unbeatable for any women currently playing in the world. But when she gets too emotional, she can unravel. We'll see if this snub has any effect on the future Hall of Famer.
2. Li Na
The grass courts of Wimbledon have never been kind to Li Na. She's never made it beyond the quarterfinals, and it would be a bit of a surprise if she was a major factor this year.
There are quite a few difficult potential opponents on her side of the draw. Samantha Stosur, Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova and even Venus Williams could give her fits.
Still, the reigning Australian Open champion shouldn't be ignored. Because of her play overall this season and experience, she's one to keep an eye on.
3. Simona Halep
The intense 22-year-old is on a roll this season. She reached the finals at the French Open and advanced to the quarterfinals in Australia.
She seems to be peaking, and that makes her a serious threat to play well at Wimbledon this year. Simona Halep did suffer a minor injury during a Wimbledon warm-up, but per WTA Tennis, she said:
I think it was a good match today. The injury isn't very dangerous, but I was cold on the court and the muscle at my shoulder and rib was contracted, and the physio [doctor] told me I should stop playing, because it could have gotten worse. But I will be fine for Wimbledon.
Seeded No. 3, you can't call her a sleeper, but she's not exactly a household name.
Be on the lookout for her at Wimbledon and for the rest of the year. A Grand Slam title is in her future, we'll just have to wait and find out if her time is now.
4. Agnieszka Radwanska
Agnieszka Radwanska is still in search of her first Grand Slam title. The 25-year-old reached the Wimbledon final in 2012, but that was the closest she's gotten to winning one of the big four.
She'll be looking to break through this year. She reached the semifinals at the Australian Open but was upset early at Roland Garros.
While everyone is watching Williams and Na, could Radwanska sneak in to win it all?
Per Odds Shark, Serena Williams is a 6-5 favorite and Djokovic is the man to beat at 7-4 odds. To see all of the odds, click the link above.
While it's easy to tab Williams and Djokovic as ones to watch, 12-1 underdog Eugenie Bouchard is a sleeper in the women's draw, and Stanislas Wawrinka is a live dog at 14-1 odds on the men's side.
Bouchard has looked to be on the cusp of a signature win over the last 18 months. A win at Wimbledon would qualify. The 20-year-old could conceivably have to face Serena Williams in the fourth round, but if she can win there or if Williams is somehow upset before then, Bouchard's prospects for going deep into the tournament are good.
Wawrinka's career has been marked by inconsistency, but when he puts it all together, he can be as tough as anyone. He proved that when he won the Australian Open in January.
For Wawrinka, confidence is huge. If he plays well early, he could find a rhythm and be tough to beat.
The sleepers are enticing, but when it comes to a prediction, let's stick to the script. Williams will rebound from a horrid performance at the French Open to remind us just how dominant she can be on grass.
She's the pick to win in the women's draw.
In the men's bracket, Nadal just isn't the same player on grass. This makes him beatable early in the tournament for a second straight year.
Djokovic is the pick to win his first Grand Slam since the 2013 Australian Open.
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