Men's Tennis: Roger Federer & Top 10 Players to Succeed on Wimbledon Grass
Another great men's grand slam championship was just put into the books earlier today by the great Rafael Nadal. Luckily for tennis fans, the next major event is just two weeks away.
It will come on the great lawns of Wimbledon.
Nadal and Roger Federer have combined to win the last eight titles at the All-England Club, and they highlight the top 10 players that should be successful at the 2011 Wimbledon Championships.
10. David Ferrer
David Ferrer is obviously not a typical player that you would expect to play well on grass, and his Wimbledon career results back that up. However, he's one of the most consistent players on tour and has been playing the best tennis of his life.
Ferrer's best result at Wimbledon is reaching the fourth round, which he's done twice, including last year. He narrowly lost to Robin Soderling in five tough sets.
Ferrer doesn't have the aggressive game that takes well to the grass, but he doesn't beat himself and it usually takes an amazing effort to knock him out.
9. Richard Gasquet
Richard Gasquet is still relatively young, but has been long regarded as one of the most talented players to ever pick up a racquet. He hasn't done much with that talent, but his biggest success on a grand stage has been at Wimbeldon this year, and has made some good strides throughout 2011.
Gasquet reached the semifinals of Wimbledon back in 2007, coming back from two sets down to take out Andy Roddick in the quarters, one of the best grass court players of today's generation. He will look to draw on that run and bounce back from a tough loss to Novak Djokovic in this year's French Open.
8. Tomas Berdych
Tomas Berdych had a great 2010 season, especially at Wimbledon.
He ended Federer's run of reaching seven straight Wimbledon finals by knocking him out in the quarterfinals. He ended up losing to Nadal in the championship match, and it looked like he was finally ready to stay at the top of the men's game.
However, the reason he is not higher on this list is his poor play since that Wimbledon run. He was upset in the first round of both the 2010 U.S. Open and the 2011 French Open. After reaching the semifinals at Roland Garros last season, his ranking is in serious danger of falling off heavily if he does not rebound at Wimbledon.
Berdych certainly has the type of game that can give anyone trouble on grass. He has a big serve and forehand, but inconsistency mires his full potential.
7. Andy Roddick
While Andy Roddick's best days are clearly behind him, his world class serve still gives him at least a small chance at Wimbledon. Between 2004 and 2009, he was the only player besides Nadal or Federer to reach the finals.
The American has dropped out of the top 10 and is dealing with a shoulder injury, but maybe the tournament where he's had his most consistent results can rejuvenate him.
The three-time Wimbledon runner-up is just two years removed from coming up painfully short of winning it. He had numerous chances of taking out Federer in the 2009 final but found himself on the losing end of a 16-14 fifth-set epic final.
However, Roddick has never seemed to recover from that match, where he blew a set lead and a 6-2 lead in the second set tiebreaker (missed a put away volley at 6-5 that would have given him a two-set advantage).
He has only reached one quarterfinal of a major since and every aspect of his game has seemed to decline other than the serve.
6. Robin Soderling
Robin Soderling's two biggest wins of his career have been at Roland Garros, but for the most part has had consistent results at the other majors since making a splash in 2009. He has a similar game style to Berdych but has really solidified himself as he matured.
Soderling lost in last year's Wimbledon quarterfinals to Nadal. He's reached at least the quarters of every major since the 2009 French Open except two, but keeps running into Federer or Nadal on most of those occasions.
5. Juan Martin Del Potro
While Juan Martin del Potro is not yet back into the top 10 after missing most of 2010 with an injury, he is clearly the most dangerous player at the grand slams after the big four. Grass has been his worst surface in the past, but there is no reason he can't play well on any surface.
The Argentine is almost fully back to the player that he was late in 2009, when he won his first grand slam tournament in New York. He defeated Nadal and Federer in back-to-back matches on the final weekend to win that tournament, and it's clear that none of the top players want to see him in their section.
Until del Potro's ranking get's back to where it belongs (top 10 at worst), he is likely to be a tough match for a top-four player in the first week of majors. He took a set off Novak Djokovic at the French Open in the third round.
4. Novak Djokovic
Djokovic is having one of the best seasons up until this point in tennis history. However, after failing to set the all-time best winning streak and grab the No. 1 ranking away from Nadal by losing to Federer in the French Open semifinals, his state of mind is less than stellar heading into the grass-court season.
The Serbian star has already pulled out from next weeks warm-up tournament at Queens. He has never reached a Wimbledon final as well, and he does not produce his best stuff on grass.
Djokovic has been serving the best of his career in 2011, and that could help him if he wants to take the next step at the All-England club. It will be interesting to see if the quick turnaround hurts Djokovic after the emotional loss to Federer, or if he will loosen up a little after having a loss under his belt and the streak being history.
3. Andy Murray
Andy Murray is the only player that has made the semifinals of the last two Wimbledon championships. The hometown hopeful will look to take the next step in 2011 and try to bring home the title.
Murray's best results of his career have been on a hard-court (reaching three slam finals), but his best efforts come at Wimbledon. His start to 2011 has been his best yet, and he will be taking some momentum from a good clay court season into the grass season.
The crowd support in London could be just the edge Murray needs to get over the hump on the grand slam stage. He seems more focused than ever as well, not even letting an ankle injury stop him from reaching the semifinals in Paris.
2. Rafael Nadal
At the 2011 Wimbledon Championships, Nadal will be looking to do something he was unable to even attempt in 2009, which is to repeat his title. Injuries have been about the only thing that have stopped Nadal from winning every major he enters over the last few seasons.
The Spaniard won here in 2008 and 2010, as his serve has really improved from early on his career. If he plays his best game, it will take an amazing effort to keep him from repeating in London.
That being said, even though Nadal just won his sixth French Open title, he didn't look his best for most of the tournament. The grass court is not his best surface, and he will be a little more vulnerable if he's not clicking on all cylinders than he was at his second home in Paris.
1. Roger Federer
Roger Federer has won six of the last eight Wimbledon championships, and is one of the best grass court players of all time. Only Pete Sampras (seven) has more titles in the open era.
Federer was clearly not himself at last year's Wimbledon, almost going out in straight sets in the first round before having his run of seven straight finals ended by Berdych in the quarters. However, if he plays the way he did the last two weeks in Paris, he will easily prove last year to be an anomaly.
Federer's 2011 French Open run to the finals should give him extreme confidence heading into his favorite surface. He hadn't played that well in a grand slam in a year and a half, and it seems like the Swiss Maestro is officially back.
Federer rediscovered his mental toughness in defeating Djokovic, then nearly had Nadal on the ropes in the finals. Those two figure to again be his biggest roadblocks in winning Wimbledon, as he has a good match-up with Murray.
Look for Federer to finally hold another grand slam trophy in four weeks from now.
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