Andy Roddick Ripe for Elusive Wimbledon Title

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Andy Roddick Ripe for Elusive Wimbledon Title
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Quite understandably, and probably deservedly so, much of the attention at this year's Wimbledon has been focused on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

With Nadal back in absolutely devastating form, at least on the red dirt, and Federer admittedly "relieved" to be back on grass, it is no small wonder that talk has resumed of the world's top two players renewing their rivalry at SW19.

For Nadal, it is time to prove that his 2008 victory was no one-time wonder, though I doubt anyone would doubt the Spaniard's prowess on grass after that epic final victory against arguably the best grass-courter of all-time in Federer. For Federer, it is a matter of pride to prove that, at least on grass, he is still the one to beat.

The third name that appears most often, at least among the British press, is Andy Murray. However, it would be somewhat of a shock if Murray actually pulls it off at Wimbledon.

Murray's loss to Federer at the Australian Open final seems to have had a devastating effect on the Scot and one wonders if he has recovered from it. The hard courts at Flushing Meadows still appear to be the best surface for him.

One name that has lurked in conversations but is still a little bit of an afterthought is Andy Roddick. The 27-year-old American won the hearts of many around the world with his gutsy performance against Federer in last year's final and is a three-time finalist here.

If there is ever a time for Roddick, it is now.

With Federer being handed a relatively easy draw, it will be a shock of epic proportions if the Swiss isn't around come the semifinal. Meanwhile, Roddick will have to go through Lleyton Hewitt or Novak Djokovic and it is hard to fathom Roddick not making it through that group.

This time around, there are a few things that are in Roddick's favor.

After having lost, Federer hasn't entered Wimbledon since 2003. While not much can be read from that loss to Hewitt, we should take into account the fact that this loss, combined with the scoreline of last year's final, should give Roger pause and Roddick inspiration.

Additionally, Federer has lost to more lower-ranked players in the last six months than in recent memory.

If Roddick does get through Roger, it is very likely that the final opponent is Nadal. The two have only met on grass once, in 2008 at Queen's club, where Nadal won rather convincingly. However, Nadal did not play on grass last year and has played only a few matches this year, falling early in his warm-up to fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez.

As great as Nadal's resilience and learning curve are, he has to be a little rusty, and Roddick should be able to overpower him.

All in all, while it is never a good idea to predict anyone other than Roger or Rafa winning a Grand Slam title, if there is a year and place to do it, it is now. And what do you know? The final is on the Fourth of July this year, and Roddick's 16-to-1 odds with the bookmakers might make him the smartest bet.

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