Wimbledon 2014: Americans with the Best Chance of Reaching Week 2

Brendan O'MearaFeatured ColumnistJune 23, 2014

Wimbledon 2014: Americans with the Best Chance of Reaching Week 2

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    Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    There's no love for the USA.

    In the World Cup, the States were put into the Group of Death, as it was so affectionately called. And for Serena Williams? The No. 1 seed for The Fortnight (not just any of the 26 fortnights over the course of a given year, but The Fortnight. So pretentious. So British.)?

    No love here either.

    Williams is the best American talent playing today, but she's going to be the most tested of them all. If she gets to Week 2 for the start of the fourth round, she could face one of two of the French Open semifinalists. You don't even want to know who she could face in the quarterfinals. Just. Don't. Go. There. Not yet, anyway.

    For the men? John "The Big Lanky" Isner is the Great American Hope to reach Week 2. Crickets chirp for the rest of the American draw, with exception of one, who matches up favorably against men in his territory.

    Things aren't looking up for the Americans, but that's why they play the matches. The following is a list of the Americans—men and women—who have the best chance at a birth in the second week in the Mother Country.

Serena Williams

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    Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    May as well start with the one American who has the best chance at an extra helping of strawberries and cream. 

    Serena Williams, the player ranked No. 1 in the world, has a Bracket of Death of her own. Here are three players in her bracket who you may have heard of: Andrea Petkovic, Eugenie Bouchard and Maria Sharapova. All three reached the French Open semifinals, and Sharapova won the French. 

    Williams will likely run into Alize Cornet, the player ranked No. 24 in the world, in the third round. Williams is 3-1 against Cornet, having only dropped one set to her, that being in the Olympics.

    Petkovic and Bouchard could meet in the third round, with the winner facing Williams to kick off the fourth round in Week 2. 

    Williams is 3-0 in her career against Petkovic. They have never played on grass. After dropping the first set against the Canadian in Cincinnati, Williams is 1-0 against Bouchard

    Yes, Williams is the favorite. However, there's a whole lot of confidence swinging her way that will make it awfully tough to reach Week 2. Should Williams reach the quarterfinals she'll only have to beat Sharapova. Baby steps.

John Isner

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    Of all the American men, John Isner drew the best. British wild-card Daniel Smethurst is the only one standing in Isner's way in the first round. Isner should win. Let's face it, typing Smethurst into the head-to-head tool against Isner pulls up this message: "One or more of the players you entered does not exist. Please try again."

    Isner could face Finland's Jarkko Nieminen in the second round, and Isner is a perfect 4-0 against him. But if Federico Delbonis defeats Nieminen, it's Delbonis with the 1-0 edge over Isner. Granted it was a match this year on clay. On top of that it was a three-setter that went to a tie break in the third set. 

    The third round is where Isner may face his biggest hurdle to reach Week 2: Feliciano Lopez. They haven't played since 2012. Isner has the slight 2-1 advantage over Lopez, the player ranked 26th in the world. 

    It's definitely possible for Isner, more so than anyone else in the men's draw.

Venus Williams

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    Venus Williams, a five-time winner at Wimbledon, snuck through the first round by defeating Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor in three sets. The match sets up a second-round tilt against Kurumi Nara. 

    "It was great," Williams said in The Independent. "[Torro-Flor] played amazing. It was definitely a challenge today. She was playing inspired tennis. It feels good to win. It feels good to play well against an opponent who is playing well."

    Williams now faces an opponent in Nara who won relatively easily, 6-4, 6-4, in her match against Anna-Lena Friedsam. 

    Williams hasn't played Nara, so it's hard to gauge just how well she'll perform against her. Nara is currently ranked 41st in the world. 

    Say Williams advances into the third round. That's likely where her run will stop. Her probable opponent will be 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, currently ranked sixth in the world. Kvitova rolled over her first opponent, and she will likely breeze into the third round. 

    Kvitova has the 3-1 edge over Williams. Williams can't get by on reputation any longer.

Sam Querrey

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    Sang Tan/Associated Press

    Pete Sampras isn't walking through that door, as they say—"they" being every unoriginal analyst when talking about the American men. Sam Querrey, should he get through the first round, gets to beat (for the second time in his career) his fellow American Bradley Klahn. It's a classic battle for the state of California!

    So Querrey has that edge, and he has reached Week 2 once in his career in 2010 at Wimbledon. Should he advance to Round 2, he'll face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who is seeded at No. 14. These two are all square against one another, 1-1. Querrey won the last match. Granted, that match was three years ago and on hard court, but it's still the slight advantage. Mentally, perhaps.

    After Tsonga, Querrey could face Mikhail Youzhny, who is seeded at No. 17. On paper that looks like a sure loss for Querrey. But wait, Querrey is 2-0 lifetime against Youzhny, with Querrey's latest win coming in 2013.

    It's a stretch, but Querrey has had success against the "heavy favorites" in his section of the bracket. It's not entirely out of the question for Querrey to stick around for another Monday.

Madison Keys

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    Alastair Grant/Associated Press

    Madison Keys is fresh off her first career singles title in the Aegon International in Eastbourne. Earning her first title in her first final is a jolt of confidence to strong to ignore.

    "It was a bit surreal playing in my first final, but I tried to stay calm and not overthink it," Keys told the BBC. "Hopefully there will be many more [titles] to come."

    She's only 19 and younger up-and-comers have won this title before. See Sharapova, 2004. So it's not entirely out of the question that Keys could have an epic run through Week 1 and into Week 2. 

    Her first significant test will come in the second round against Klara Koukalova, who is seeded at No. 31. The pair have never played one another, and they are separated by 13 years in age. Koukalova has made it as far as the fourth round in her Wimbledon career, but this year she's been bounced in the first round at both Grand Slams.

    Should Koukalova get out of the first round, she then runs into the highly confident Keys.

    If Keys can advance to the third round, that's where things could get sticky. Awaiting her in the third round will be Jelena Jankovic, who seeded at No. 7 and ranked No. 8 in the world. At first glance it would appear Jankovic has the distinct advantage, yet Keys is 1-1 against Jankovic in her career. 

    And where did Keys beat Jankovic? In the round of 32 in the Eastbourne tournament Keys just won. 

    Perhaps the timing is ripe for Keys to break through into Week 2 at a Grand Slam for the first time in her career.