Wimbledon 2010 Draw: The Best American Chances to Take Home the Hardware
For U.S.A. fans still looking to stick it to the Brits after their anti-climactic 1-1 tie in the World Cup last weekend, the sports world won't leave Americans waiting for very long.
Wimbledon begins on Monday in London, and with that, 13 Americans are vying to become the first U.S. Wimbledon champ since Pete Sampras won it all back in 2000.
Now, granted, some of these American guys stand about as much of a chance as the Detroit Lions do against the Indianapolis Colts on any given Sunday. (In other words, unless you hate money, don't bet on them winning Wimbledon.) Americans falling into that category include Jesse Levin, Ryan Sweeting, and Rajeev Ram, among others.
Then again, flash back to last year's phenomenal five-set Wimbledon final, and you'll remember that American Andy Roddick was rallying back-and-forth with the eventual champion, Roger Federer, in a fifth set that no one is likely to forget any time soon.
Without further adieu, let's check out the six best chances that the United States has to take home the Wimbledon men's singles championship on July 4.
No. 6: Robby Ginepri
Robby Ginepri has two major things working against him going into Wimbledon: his 5-9 singles record in 2010, and the fact that he's going up against No. 6-ranked Robin Soderling in his first round match.
Ginepri holds a 1-1 record all-time against Soderling, but Soderling has been on a hot streak in 2010. After taking down Roger Federer in the quarterfinals of the French Open, Soderling charged all the way into the Finals (where he was hacked apart by Rafael Nadal).
Ginepri has only advanced past the first round in Wimbledon one time in his career—in 2004—and a first-round match against Soderling won't make it easy to divert from his usual Wimbledon path.
If Ginepri plays well enough to upset Soderling, he won't face much resistance in the next two rounds of the tournament. Of any American with a remote shot of winning Wimbledon, Ginepri has the worst chance, largely due to his incredibly difficult first-round matchup.
No. 5: James Blake
James Blake, with his 8-7 singles record in 2010, wasn't going to be a Wimbledon favorite, no matter who he'd draw as an opponent in the early rounds. Still, Blake's early-round matchups certainly did him no favors in his quest to advance past the third round for the first time in his career.
Assuming Blake advances past 21-year-old Robin Hasse in the first round, he'll have a second-round date with none other than the world's No. 1 player, Rafael Nadal. An early matchup with Nadal typically isn't the formula for a lengthy tournament run.
The 30-year-old Blake hasn't had much success in singles at Wimbledon, but he did advance to the semi-finals in the men's doubles at the All-England club last year.
Given how well Nadal has been playing as of late, Blake will have to play a perfect game to score the upset over the Spaniard. His historical record at Wimbledon and his near-inevitable date with Nadal turns Blake into an American long-shot.
No. 4: Mardy Fish
Mardy Fish, the 70th ranked player in the world, is the first legitimate American dark horse on this list. Fish responded to an onslaught of injuries last year with a diet plan that helped him drop 30 pounds and reshape his body.
In turn, Fish has only been playing the best tennis of his career this year to this point. He just beat Andy Murray (No. 4 in the world) in a Wimbledon tune-up last week; Fish advanced to the finals, where fellow American Sam Querrey bested him in straight sets.
Fish will meet Australian Bernard Tomic in the first round of Wimbledon, a player who took No. 12 Marin Cilic to five sets in the second round of the French Open. If Fish advances against Tomic, ironically, Cilic will likely be waiting in the second round (assuming Cilic can beat Germany's Florian Mayer.)
If Fish continues playing as well as he did against Murray in the AEGON Championships last week, he'll have a real shot at making it to Wimbledon's second week—and causing some huge upsets along the way.
No. 3: John Isner
You know what you're getting against American John Isner—you're getting a 6'8" serving dynamo who hopes to simply out-power you on the court.
Isner has played well to date this year, having won his first tournament of the year (the ATP Heineken Open) and gone on to lose to Sam Querrey in two other ATP finals. Isner holds a 23-14 record in singles matches on the year, and has worked his way up to becoming the No. 19 player in the world currently.
His first-round opponent, Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, has played only 11 ATP matches in the past two years combined; then again, Mahut did best Isner in their only career meeting to this point (a 2008 match at Queens' club).
If Isner can exact revenge against Mahut for their 2008 match, Isner should stroll into a third-round matchup with the No. 13-seeded Mikhail Youzhny of Russia. Assuming Isner advances past Youzhny, the fourth round won't treat him any better, as Rafael Nadal will likely await the winner of the Youzhny-Isner match.
For what it's worth, three of ESPN.com's nine experts named Isner as their pick for men's sleeper.
No. 2: Sam Querrey
Sam Querrey is the best American hope who the casual tennis fan hasn't heard of yet. The 22-year-old from San Francisco has vaulted himself to the No. 21 ranking in the world after turning pro in 2006, and has been playing the best tennis of his career in 2010.
Querrey already has won three singles titles to date this year, including a win in the recent AEGON Championships over fellow American Mardy Fish for his first-ever grass court championship. Considering that Querrey was inches away from severing a crucial nerve all of nine months ago, he's had a heck of a turnaround in 2010 and looks to continue the momentum.
The 6'6" Querrey beat Andy Roddick back in February, proving that he's got the chops to hang with tennis' elite players when he's bringing his A game.
Querrey should cruise through his first two rounds before a possible matchup with Juan Carlos Ferrero looms in the third. If Querrey can advance, Andy Murray likely awaits in the fourth round—although given the pressure Murray will be under to win Wimbledon for the Brits, the match could end up being surprisingly even.
Unlike every American to this point, Querrey will be a heavy favorite in his first two matchups. Seeing Querrey knocked out before the third round would qualify as a major upset in the tournament.
No. 1: Andy Roddick
If you're putting your money on one American's chances to win Wimbledon, you're crazy not to put your money on Andy Roddick. In case you don't remember, Roddick lost an absolute heartbreaker in the Wimbledon finals to Roger Federer in 2009, falling in a 16-14 fifth set that can only be described as "epic."
While Roddick couldn't keep up the momentum in 2009 after the Wimbledon defeat, he's already come back roaring in 2010 with victories over Rafael Nadal and Robin Soderling in ATP events. Despite falling early in his most recent Wimbledon tuneup, Roddick is now en route to the courts where he played some of the best tennis of his career last year.
He'll need to play his best tennis at Wimbledon to have a chance to repeat his heroics from last year, as he landed in the most difficult of the four quadrants in the Wimbledon draw. To even advance past the quarterfinals, Roddick may have a matchup against the world's No. 3 player, Nodak Djokovic.
Roddick's draw luck didn't end there—if he can survive Djokovic, he'll have a rematch of last year's Wimbledon finals against Roger Federer in the semifinals this year.
With two titles to his name already this year, and wins over some of tennis' biggest names, Roddick has every reason to feel confident heading into the All-England club this year. If anyone's going to bring the hardware home from overseas, Roddick realizes the burden likely will fall on him to be the American hero.