The draws for this year’s Wimbledon aren’t up, but the seedings are out. Wimbledon, as is custom, takes greater liberties with seedings than the other majors.
They can justify doing so knowing that grass-court play is a specialty; as much an acquired technique as crisp volleys or a kick serve.
So here’s a rundown of the tournament’s top seeds, as well as a few players who could surprise them.
He may have lost his No. 1 ranking in Roland Garros, but the Superlative Swiss is still No. 1 in the eyes of the All-England Club. And why not? He’s only won it six times in seven straight finals appearances.
Federer hasn’t had a great year, aside from his Australian Open win, finally having his semifinal streak snapped in Paris, and then losing in Halle for the first time in eight years to Lleyton Hewitt. But does anybody really think he’ll lose before finals weekend in a best-of-five match on grass?
2. Rafael Nadal
The Stringent Spaniard got no rest between his emphatic RG triumph, and his initiation into the grass court season. He’ll be happy to have won two matches, though his loss to Feliciano Lopez leaves questions about his ability to hit all the targets on grass.
Fortunately for him, he has come into Wimbledon having won just two Queens matches on two occasions—the 2006 and 2007 seasons, in which he reached the final. The key in each of those encounters was round two, where Robert Kendrick and Robin Soderling pushed him to five sets.
After adjusting to those tests, the Spaniard could be stopped by no one but Federer in the finals. This year, if he makes that adjustment and Federer can’t rediscover the glory of the mid-‘00s, look for Nadal to go all the way.
The Singular Serb is ranked higher than Andy Murray—by a wide margin—but is unlikely to make a greater impact on the lawns. His year has been up and down, he has less affinity for lawns than any other surface, and he is still struggling with his serve. A lot may depend on the floaters in his bracket.
4. Andy Murray
The Super Scot took advantage of lowered expectations on clay to reach the second week. Though unhappy with the conclusion to his Queens campaign, falling 7-6 in the third to Fish, Murray’s game appears headed in the right direction, and he’ll be able to count on plenty of crowd support. Look for Murray in the semis, at least.
5. Andy Roddick
Had he come directly off his Miami win, I’d be giving the American Avenger a real shot at another final round appearance. Between then and now, though, he’s missed a lot of time on court, taken a real beating in Paris, and had a stunted grass warm-up.
This year, he looks similar to 2007, about to put forth the kind of earnest performance that takes him to the quarters, where he will suffer a crushing blow.
6. Robin Soderling
The Swedish Slugger has the serve for grass and the returns, which allowed him to push Nadal to five in 2007 and give Federer a two-tiebreak tussle last year.
Grass penalizes mediocre movers, though, making Soderling unlikely to get past the quarters.
The Russian Rumbler doesn’t like grass, and with just two matches played since March, this doesn’t looked like the year to change his mind.
The Suave Spaniard shows reasonable comfort on the grass, but not enough to suggest that he’ll go past round four.
9. David Ferrer
The Scrappy Spaniard, on the other hand, has only been to the fourth round of Wimbledon once, and will probably not equal that mark this year.
The Frenetic Frenchman is just the kind of athlete who could make a brilliant run on the grass, but predicting when and where his hot streaks will take place is asking for a headache.
Other Seeds to Watch
12. Tomas Berdych
The Charmed Czech is coming off his best Grand Slam result ever, having reached the RG semis. With his accurate serve and economical, potent ball-striking, he should be a threat at Wimbledon, but has thus far reached just one quarterfinal. This should be his year to match that.
15. Lleyton Hewitt
The biggest bump in the selective seeding system went to the Aggressive Australian, whose win in Halle broke Federer’s immaculate winning streak there. He’s been bumped up 11 spots from his ranking of No. 26, which should net him an easier third round match. Unfortunately, No. 15 might see him paired with Nadal in the fourth, or a vengeful Federer.
C’mon mates, give us a break!
18. Sam Querrey
The Alpine American is due for a Grand Slam breakthrough, having won a total of one match in three appearances here, and five matches in 11 GS events not taking place in America. We’d love to see that change here, given his Queens win last week, but won’t be counting on it.
24. John Isner and 25. Ivo Karlovic
Which of the Two Towers will go further? Will it be the Altitudinous American who’s having the better year? No, I’ll go with the Colossal Croat, who has actually won matches at Wimbledon before.
29. Ernests Gulbis
First of all, will the Lusty Latvian even play? Coming off an ab injury and with insufficient practice, he may not find his footing on grass. We’ll save his coming out party for New York.
Richard Gasquet (ranked No. 45)
The Fluctuating Frenchman won the title in Nice the day before the RG started and would probably have won more matches there, had he not drawn Murray immediately. The lawns of London should reward his intrepid play more than the clay did anyhow.
If he doesn’t draw one of the top guns early, a second-week appearance may be his fortune.
Mardy Fish (No. 70)
This Angular American has always had the game for grass—he won the only set Federer lost in the 2003 Wimbledon—but never a favorable draw or the clutch play required to reach week two. The draw-sheet may determine if this is the year to buck the trend.
David Nalbandian (No. 150)
Yes, last we checked, the Ample Argentine was going to play Wimbledon. He couldn’t make the Australian Open or Roland Garros due to injuries, but he’s signaled his intent to play at the site of his Grand Slam breakthrough in 2002.
He may have more baggage now than he did then, but on his day, he’s still the best returner in the world, who no top seed wants to run into early.
The Swiss and the Spaniard make forecasting the finals an easy one. Though it’s tough to pick against Federer, that’s just what I’m going to do this time, in picking a Nadal victory.
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