2010 Wimbledon Draw: 10 First Round Upsets To Watch For
The draw for Wimbledon was made on Friday morning in London, setting the stage for a fortnight of grass court action that gets underway on Monday morning.
While Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal enter the men's tournament as the obvious favorites, there is pretty good depth throughout the seeds, from the hometown hero Andy Murray to John Isner and Victor Hanescu.
While the men at the very top of the game—the likes of Nadal, Andy Roddick, and Nikolay Davydenko—are all unlikely to lose in the first round, the draw has provided fans with a number of big potential upsets.
No. 3 Novak Djovokic faces a tough test in Wimbledon veteran Olivier Rochus, while No. 6 Robin Soderling has his work cut out for him against former Top 15 star Olivier Rochus.
With that in mind, here's a look at 10 potential first round upsets to keep an eye out for in the opening days of Wimbledon. Don't take your eyes off the action...if you go to get some strawberries and cream during these matches you might miss out on some of the best action of the first week.
10. Taylor Dent vs Juan Ignacio Chela
Dent may be on the downward slope of his career, but his run through qualifying this week puts him in great shape for a decent run.
His 2010 season has been disappointing so far, highlighted by early exits at Queen's Club and Nottingham following a beat down at the hands of Sweden's Robin Soderling at Roland Garros (0-6, 1-6, 1-6).
But the American will be buoyed by a testing but successful run through qualifying, which included coming back from an opening-set deficit to defeat Australia's Matthew Ebdon in the final round. Dent blasted through a second-set tiebreak 7-1 before being pushed in the third-set 'breaker 10-8.
He was the top seed in qualifying, and hopefully this early practice on the courts will send him into his first game full of confidence. He lost in four sets to relatively unknown Daniel Gimeno-Traver last year after making it through qualifying. It will likely be harder this time around, facing a man 46 spots above him in the rankings.
The pair have not met since 2005, but Dent won both previous encounters.
9. Robby Ginepri vs Robin Soderling
If a Top 10 seed is going to crash out in the first round, it may be Robby Ginepri who causes the upset.
He has played in the last seven Wimbledon tournaments without too much success, but he is certainly capable of being someone like Soderling, as he did in Channai 6-4, 7-5 earlier this season. In that game Ginepri served well and served all but one of the eight break points he faced.
If the Ginepri who made it to the final in Tallahassee in April and the last 16 at Roland Garros shows up, the No. 6 Swede could be in for a battle. Soderling has lost to either Nadal or Federer in each of the last three years here though, and he won’t want to go out to someone like the American.
8. Potito Starace vs Philipp Kohlschreiber
No. 29 Kohlschreiber will go into this match with the Italian as the favorite, but Starace cannot be overlooked.
Appearing in his seventh Wimbledon, 28-year-old Starace won’t be too unhappy with this draw, although I’m sure he would have rather avoided a seeded player in the first round. For the German though, Starace represents a potential stumbling block—a man who pushed Radek Stepanek to a fifth set in the second round 12 months ago.
There’s not a massive difference between these players, in my opinion, and even though Kohlschreiber leads their head-to-head 2-1, I wouldn’t bet against Starace pulling an upset here. He has a good touch at the net and a heavy double-handed backhand that just may lead him to a third-round encounter with Andy Roddick.
7. Peter Luczak vs Tommy Robredo
Robredo is one of the lower-ranked seeds in the Wimbledon draw, and he’s crammed in the same mini-section as Roger Federer in the top quarter.
The Spaniard might not make it that far though, as he has to face Peter Luczak in round one. While he is a clay-courter by trade, Luczak has a good style that adapts well to all courts.
He knocked off a Top 20 player in Tomas Berdych in Sydney, showing tremendous fight to claw his way back into the game, and he didn’t look overmatched when he lost narrowly to American Sam Querry in the round robin stage of last month’s World Team championships in Dusseldorf.
Robredo, ranked No. 36 in the world, was selected as the No. 30 seed, mainly because of the injuries to Radek Stepanek (knee), Juan Monaco (wrist), and Ivo Karlovic (foot).
But Robredo has already lost to guys like Santiago Giraldo (Australian Open), Mischa Zverev (Marseille), and Simone Bolelli (Barcelona) this year, and there's a good chance Luczak can dispatch him in round one.
6. Leonardo Mayer vs Gael Monfils
Another match in the second quarter of the draw to look out for is Leonardo Mayer against Gael Monfils.
It’s a battle of the 23-year-olds, and the Argentine Mayer will be looking to avenge a 2009 defeat at Acapulco when he was forced to retire with an injury.
Mayer is on the cusp of the world’s Top 50 and he has already beaten guys like Thomas Bellucci, Marco Baghdatis, and Julien Benneteau in the last five weeks.
He lost out to Fernando Gonzalez in the second round in ’09, and he’ll be looking to book his place there again. Monfils hasn’t really beaten a top player yet this year, and he was dumped unceremoniously out of Queens by German Rainer Schuettler. Mayer will be looking to catch Monfils cold.
5. Marsel Ilhan Vs Marcos Daniel
Daniel was on the verge of the Top 50 last year after winning challenger events at Marrakech, Zagreb, and Bogota, so he is absolutely a player who can cause damage even though his world ranking may not reflect the threat he poses.
Enter Marsel Ilhan, an up-and-coming qualifier eight years Daniel’s junior. Ilhan is not going to be a name that a lot of people are familiar with, but he’s certainly one to keep an eye out for. The Uzbeki-born 23-year-old, now living in Turkey, is yet to break into the world’s Top 100, but he has been making his way up since turning pro four years ago.
He pushed Lleyton Hewitt to three sets in Barcelona this spring, and he didn’t look particularly out of place across from Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny or Chille's Fernando Gonzalez in Rotterdam and at the Australian Open respectively.
After failing to get past the second qualifying round at Queens, Ilhan won all three of his qualifying matches to secure his place in the main draw for Wimbledon. He only dropped one set in making it into the Slam, penciling in his name alongside some of the greatest players in the game. He had never made it past the first qualifying stage before, so this will be a real treat for him.
4. Karol Beck vs Philipp Petzschner
Remember when Karol Beck was a half-decent player? No? You’ll have to take my word for it.
The Slovak has been lingering around No. 80 in the world for the last year now after once narrowly missing out on a seed for the US Open back in 2005.
After a year-long break from the game three years ago, Beck is looking to get back towards the Top 50, and a match with Philipp Petzschner could be just what he needs.
Petzschner is where Beck wants to be. He’s climbing towards the Top 32, and he pushed Federer for two sets last week in Halle before losing in the semifinals.
Beck’s year started well with three straight challenger finals (two victories) in February, but he needs to prove he can still beat men on the fringe of the elite group of players if he is to once again make his way up the charts.
3. Andreas Seppi vs Nicolas Almagro
Seppi is no slouch, and Almagro will have to be on the top of his game if he is to progress against the tall 26-year-old Italian.
While Seppi has often come up just short against the top four or five players in the world over the last year or so, he has fared pretty well on the grass of Wimbledon.
He beat American James Blake in straight sets in the first round last year and was only two tiebreak points away from upsetting Igor Andreev in the third round. He pushed Marat Safin in a thrilling third-round match in ’08, and he beat the higher-ranked Dominik Hrbaty the year before that.
The potential for an upset is there, and Almagro will have to be wary. Seppi will remember the difficulties Almago had when he faced Juan Monaco this time last year in the first round, when he had to rally from two sets down before eventually winning 6-7 (3), 6-7 (7), 7-6 (5), 6-4, 8-6.
Almagro has only been past the first round twice, and Seppi could put the breaks on the Spaniard again while kick-starting his own season into gear for the summer.
2. Xavier Malisse vs Juan Carlos Ferrero
Malisse will be looking to build on a decent run at Queens this week that saw him defeat Novak Djokovic in three sets.
The Belgian had already beaten Radek Stepanek, Tommy Haas, and John Isner this year prior to the grass court season, and three good wins at Queens, starting with a win over big-serving Russian Dmitry Tursunov, give him a decent amount of match practice.
Ferraro is expected to win this match, and an early look at the draw says he could potentially face Sam Querrey in round three and Andy Murray in round four. But if he overlooks Malisse, he could be watching the second round from the comfort of his London hotel.
Like fellow countryman Olivier Rochus, Malisse has been known to topple a big name or two at SW19, including Jiri Novak in the first round in 2004 and then-world No. 6 Yevgeny Kafalnikov.
Ferrero has never failed to advance past the first round, and he was made it to the second week twice in the last three years. But if Ferrero plays like he did in ’08 against unknown German Mischa Zverev, Malisse could give the former world No. 1 a real test.
1. Olivier Rochus vs Novak Djokovic
I know everything points to Djokovic advancing to the second round, but hear me out, because Rochus beat him at the World Tour Masters in Miami, and Rochus is 3-1 lifetime against the Serb.
The 5’6” Belgian simply knows how to get it done, and 2010 is no different. Besides beating Djovokic once already this year, Rochus also has impressive wins against Gilles Simon and Robin Soderling—both seeds at Wimbledon—under his belt.
For years people said that Rochus didn’t have a chance against the biggest names he encountered in the early rounds of Wimbledon. But remember this: He has defeated two No. 2 seeds and a No. 7 seed in either the first or second round three times before. Djovokic could well be number four.