Wimbledon 2011: 10 Men Who Can Win the Remaining Majors
With the 2011 tennis season at its midway point, it's time to assess the men in the field and predict who can win a major this season.
The two completed Grand Slams have produced two different champions in Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. These two, who are also at the top of the world rankings, are hot favourites to take the remaining two majors.
But they face stiff competition from the rest of the pack who are, forever, snapping on their heels. The pack includes former world No. 1s and multiple Grand Slam winners, to players who have never won a Grand Slam.
Here's a list of 10 men who have what it takes to go all the way on the big stage.
10. Nikolay Davydenko
The Russian veteran earns a wild-card entry into this list quite simply because he is one of the greatest players to have never won a Grand Slam.
Davydenko is one of the very few players on the tour who lead Rafael Nadal in head-to-head records. Davydenko has won six meetings out of the 10 he's played against the Spaniard, which includes winning the last four times the pair have met.
Even though Davydenko has been ranked as high as No. 3 in the past, he's never been able to get past the semifinals of a Grand Slam. He did, however, win the year-end tour finals in 2009.
Davydenko isn't getting any younger and will be aiming for that elusive Grand Slam trophy with even more purpose as he approaches the twilight of his career.
9. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
The 6'2" Frenchman is the second wild-card entrant in this list due to his strong showing at the recently concluded Queen's Club tournament.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated world No. 1 Rafael Nadal (although the Spaniard was very deflated following the grueling clay-court season) for the second time in his career in the quarterfinals of the pre-Wimbledon tournament. The first time he had done so was in the 2008 Australian Open.
On both occasions, Tsonga went ahead to lose in the final of the tournament.
The Frenchman is known for his aggressive and entertaining serve-and-volley type of play and, thus, thrives on faster playing surfaces such as grass and hard courts. His best performances have come on these surfaces.
Tsonga's forehand is known to be one of the most powerful on the circuit and if he improves on his backhand, which isn't that bad either, he could then go those extra few yards and win that coveted Grand Slam trophy.
8. Tomas Berdych
Tomas Berdych had a stellar 2010 summer in which he ripped through Roger Federer twice and reached his first-ever Grand Slam semifinal at the French Open. At Wimbledon, he went one step further as he reached the final to eventually lose to Rafael Nadal.
The 6'5" player from the Czech Republic is known for his powerful groundstrokes and thrives on faster surfaces. His huge serve is another important weapon in his artillery.
Can Berdych cross the final hurdle this time around?
7. Juan Martin del Potro
Juan Martin del Potro won his first Grand Slam at the age of 20 when he defeated Roger Federer in the final of the 2009 U.S. Open. Del Potro was talked up a lot following the win and was touted to go ahead and win multiple Grand Slams in the future.
Unfortunately for the Argentine, a wrist injury ruined almost the entire 2010 season for him and he could not defend his crown at Flushing Meadows that year.
After his return from injury at the end of the 2010 season, del Potro has never really looked the same. However, he did show some promising signs in the 2011 season by winning a couple of ATP 250 series.
Del Potro was looking strong in the 2011 French Open and even took a set off a red-hot Novak Djokovic in the third round to eventually lose 3-6, 6-3, 3-6, 2-6.
The towering 6'6" Argentine can never be underestimated and, rest assured, will be looking to resume normal services as soon as possible.
6. Andy Roddick
Andy Roddick has won just one Grand Slam in his long career—the 2003 U.S. Open. He's come close on several occasions, reaching three Wimbledon finals and one other U.S. Open final, but was deprived of the silverware by someone called Roger Federer on all four occasions.
A-Rod is known for his tracer-bullet serves, which travel at close to 150 mph. His serves employ a heavy topspin and are often unplayable.
If only he could develop and improve upon the other aspects of his game, Roddick could just go on to break his Grand Slam dry spell before it's too late.
5. Robin Soderling
Unless Robin Soderling forever wants to be remembered as the guy who beat the top seed in the French Open and then went on to lose in the final on two occasions, he has got to improve upon his Grand Slam performances.
Other than his two French Open final appearances, the big Swede has never gotten past the quarterfinals of a major; it is quite surprising for a man measuring 6'4", known for his humongous serve and power-packed return of service.
Soderling enjoyed a good start to the 2011 season by winning titles in Brisbane, Rotterdam and Marseille. However, he fell to Nadal in straight sets in the quarterfinals of the 2011 French Open.
Soderling is known to prefer fast surfaces, but should look to improve on his Grand Slam record on grass and hard courts.
4. Andy Murray
Andy Murray is yet to break his Grand Slam duck but, going by his recent performances, the time could come very soon for the Scotsman.
Murray played his best ever clay-court season this year by reaching the semifinals of the French Open, where he lost to Rafael Nadal.
Murray followed up that strong showing by winning the Queen's Club tournament for the second time in three years.
A crowd favorite at SW19, Murray will be looking to perform well in his "home" Grand Slam this year. He has never made it past the semifinals on previous occasions.
3. Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic was a hot favorite at the 2011 French Open after embarking on a stellar unbeaten run this season, winning his second Grand Slam—the 2011 Australian Open—on the way.
The Serbian was looking unbeatable until Roger Federer decided enough was enough in the semifinals of the French Open.
Djokovic was robbed of a potential world No. 1 ranking due to the loss and also the world record for the best start to a season—held by John McEnroe (42-0).
Djokovic will be eyeing the remaining two Grand Slams with even more vigor following the loss. An added motivation factor for the Serb is that he is just 65 ranking points behind world No.1 Rafael Nadal going into Wimbledon.
2. Roger Federer
When everyone was talking about Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic during the 2011 French Open, Roger Federer was discreetly making his way through the draw.
Roger then put an end to Djokovic's 43-match unbeaten run in the semifinals of the tournament before losing to Rafael Nadal for the sixth time in a Grand Slam final.
However, Federer had rediscovered the form that eluded him since the beginning of the season and will be quite happy and confident following his showing at Roland Garros—historically his weakest major.
Roger enters the 2011 Championships at Wimbledon on a bid to equal Pete Sampras' record seven titles. A win here could forever define his magnanimous career.
Federer will also be gunning for a record sixth U.S. Open title at Flushing Meadows in August.
1. Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal had, by his standards, a pretty mediocre start to the 2011 season in which he bowed out in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. He then went on to lose four ATP Masters finals to Novak Djokovic on hard and clay surfaces.
Nadal entered the French Open—his favorite Grand Slam—as the top seed, but endured a difficult start to the tournament. The Majorcan found his stride as the tournament progressed and was back to his flowing best as he reached the final.
Roger Federer gave him a fight, but it wasn't enough to stop Nadal from picking up his record-equaling sixth French Open trophy and 10th Grand Slam title.
After a jam-packed clay season, Nadal could have taken a break before he set out to defend his Wimbledon crown, but the Spaniard decided to take part in the Queen's tournament. Nadal lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinal after looking deflated throughout the tournament.
An extra few days of rest prior to Wimbledon could just do the trick for the Spaniard as it gives him some time to recuperate.
Nadal is a favorite to win at Wimbledon, despite grass not being his preferred playing surface, and a third win at the All England Club will just be another stepping-stone toward his ambition of being the G.O.A.T.