Wimbledon 2011: 5 Potential Men's Finals Matchups That May Surprise Us

Solomon RyanCorrespondent IIJune 24, 2011

Wimbledon 2011: 5 Potential Men's Finals Matchups That May Surprise Us

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    Although some fans are looking forward to a Nadal/Federer or Nadal/Djokovic matchup at Wimbledon, there is a big possibility that could change.

    The top half of the draw Wimbledon this year is wide open. There are a lot of quality opponents that could threaten Nadal to reach the finals.

    Here is a list some potential surprise finals at Wimbledon this year.

5. Gilles Simon vs. Marcos Baghdatis

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    Simon and Baghdatis are two veterans who still are still young enough to have a chance at a few more titles. Simon has always had the potential to win, he just isn’t consistent. He plays Del Potro in the next round, which will be tough. Simon is a great counter-puncher and that will give Del Potro problems because after a few shots, he goes for too much.

    If Simon advances he will have to play Nadal. Simon needs to not play his usual game, which might be difficult for him. Playing more aggressive is a most, not just getting the ball back like he usually does.

    After Nadal, the road to victory comes a little easier. If Simon plays Berdych, it won’t be too difficult because he is not afraid of Berdych’s powerful groundstrokes because he is so good at getting the ball back. He currently has four wins and two losses to Berdych, Simon winning the last two meetings.

    Playing Murray or Monfils in the semi-finals is a tough task. Simon would definitely much rather play Gael Monfils instead of Andy Murray because Murray has a similar counter-punching game and is better at it. Simon beat Monfils the only time they played.

    In the bottom half of the draw, Baghdatis’ toughest task will come against Novak Djokovic next round. Baghdatis is one of the streakiest players on tour, but no one wants to face him when he’s hot. Again, he must change his game if wants to beat Djokovic. The usual baseline shots won’t do it for Baghdatis, he must come to net.

    His next difficult opponent will be Robin Soderling. This matchup favors Baghdatis slightly. They are 3-3 overall, but Baghdatis needs to win the first set, for momentum. If he accomplishes this, he can win.

    Playing Roger Federer is not going to be easy for Baghdatis. No one intimates Baghdatis when he is on, and Federer isn’t any different. In order to win, Baghdatis needs to attack Federer’s backhand and his second serve.

    In the finals, Baghdatis will pull out a close victory against Simon. They are equally matched, but Baghdatis’s backhand and serve will be too much for Simon to handle.

4. David Ferrer vs. Gael Monfils

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    When Ferrer and Monfils played at the French Open this year, it was one of the best matches of the tournament. They both hit the ball extremely well and Monfils eventually won in five sets.

    Monfils first test will be against Andy Roddick in the round of 16. There is no need to worry for Monfils; he won’t have a problem returning Roddick’s serve.

    In the quarterfinals, Monfils will play Gasquet or Murray. Whoever he plays, it will be a good matchup. In both scenarios Monfils has to do one thing to win the match: come to net. At the French, he had a chance to beat Federer and make the match shorter against Ferrer if he just came to net.

    Monfils will have a tough time playing Nadal, more so than Del Potro, if he reaches the semi-finals. As previously stated, the key for Monfils is confidence and coming to net.

    At the bottom of the draw David Ferrer will have to face Tsonga in the round of 16. Tsonga is perfect for Ferrer’s game because Tsonga goes for too much a lot of the time.

    In the quarterfinals, Ferrer will go up against Roger Federer. Ferrer will have to hope more than anything that Nalbandian can beat Federer. Federer is by far the favorite against Ferrer. True, Ferrer gets everything back, but the catch is Federer has masterful ball placement, which is exhausting for any opponent, even for the fit Ferrer.

     If he gets through to semi-finals, Ferrer can breathe a little bit because he will likely play Djokovic. Ferrer can get on Djokovic’s nerves very easily. Djokovic likes to end the points quickly, but Ferrer won’t let that happen.

    In the finals, it will be a match for the ages, but Monfils will win. He has better ground strokes, is more athletic and has a bigger serve.

3. Richard Gasquet vs. David Nalbandian

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    Gasquet and Nalbandian aren’t the first two names you think of in tennis, but this year, they have a chance to be household names. Gasquet is one of the best grass court players, making it all the way to the semi-finals in 2007.

    Playing Andy Murray in the fourth round will not be easy for Gasquet, but Murray has a history of getting nervous at Wimbledon and this year, it won’t be different. Gasquet and Murray have baseline games, so it will be fun to watch. He has also won the last two meetings against Murray.

    Next, Gasquet will face Gael Monfils or Andy Roddick. Roddick won’t be a problem because he only has a serve, but Monfils is a different situation. Both of these talented Frenchmen have a world of talent, and what it really comes down to is who is playing better that day. Gasquet has a slightly better net game and backhand, but Monfils has a better serve and forehand.

    Here is where the problem lies. Like many people who look at a draw and see Nadal, they usually aren’t happy. Gasquet probably fears Nadal more than anyone, never beating him in the eight times they have played. Gasquet has to hope for an upset.

    Nalbandian has a lot of game, but it doesn’t translate sometimes. His groundstrokes are among the best in tennis, but sometimes he doesn’t show up to play. In 2002, he made it all the ways to finals at Wimbledon.

    His first test will come quickly against Roger Federer in the third round. The two have a history between each other and it looked like for a time that this could be a major rivalry for tennis. Nalbandian had Federer’s number, but as of late Federer has dominated. They haven’t played each other since 2008. Nalbandian has showed he can beat Federer, and this could be his year.

    Playing Nicolas Almagro or Mikhail Youzhny will be easy for Nalbandian. Both Almagro and Youzhny are not elite players. Almagro doesn’t have a serve and Youzhny makes a lot of careless errors.

    Next, will be Tsonga and Nalbandian. The one time they played, Tsonga won in three sets. Nalbandian can win this match because he is very smart on court and can get in Tsonga’s head.

    If Nalbandian plays Djokovic it will be difficult for him to win. Nalbandian needs to be aggressive because Djokovic can outhit him any day.

    The finals will not be close. Gasquet has never beaten Nalbandian in the eight times they have squared off. Zero wins will stay the same for Gasquet because Nalbandian is one of the few players to have better ground strokes than Gasquet. In order for Gasquet to win, he has to adjust, which he doesn’t seem to do a lot.

2. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Tomas Berdych

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    Berdych and Tsonga are two players who haven’t really lived up to their potential. They are both tall, athletic and cover the court tremendously well.

    Tsonga has to play Fernando Gonzalez next, which shouldn’t be too difficult because he can pound Gonzalez’s backhand.

    He will likely play veteran David Ferrer in the round of 16. Ferrer will be a tough matchup for Tsonga because he is a human backboard. Tsonga sometimes gets impatient and goes for winners, causing him to miss most of the times If he wants to win this match, he has to come to net and shorten the points up.

    Unfortunately Tsonga has to face the best grass court player of all-time, Roger Federer in the quarterfinals. Tsonga has to play his game against Federer and he will do fine. Sometimes Tsonga is a head-case so he can’t let the emotions get the best of him. If he beats Federer, it will be easier for the rest of the tournament.

    Tsonga has to play Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, which will be an easier match than Federer.

    Tsonga isn’t afraid of Djokovic because he is too powerful for him. Djokovic is rattled when he Tsonga because his groundstroke don’t give Tsonga problems. Overall, he beat Djokovic five times and lost only twice.

    Shifting over to the Berdych side of the bracket, he will have to play Del Potro or Nadal in the quarterfinals. Berdych must have the match of his life if he wants to beat Nadal. In order to win, Berdych needs to attack Nadal’s backhand side.

     After he beats Nadal, he will play Murray or Richard Gasquet. Berdych has won his last two matches against Murray. The reason he matches up so well against Murray is his groundstrokes are stronger.

    Gasquet and Berdych are evenly matched, but Berdych has won three of his last four appearances against him.

    When Tsonga plays Berdych in the finals, it will actually be entertaining. Tsonga will win because his momentum will carry him to victory. In addition, Tsonga is slightly more athletic and has a bigger serve.

1. Robin Soderling vs. Juan Martin Del Potro

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    A Soderling/Del Potro would not be good for tennis, but it can happen. They both have boring personalities and have the same game. If you like powerful baseline rallies and big serves, this would be the perfect match. Del Potro versus Soderling is not out of the question.

    In order for Soderling to reach the finals he has a pretty easy stretch. He plays either Bernard Tomic or Igor Andreev next, which shouldn’t be too difficult and in quarterfinals plays Jurgen Melzer, Dmitry Turnsonov or Xavier Malisse. In all likelihood, he will play Melzer in the quarters.

     Melzer is a crafty veteran, but that’s about it. His game scares no one, and Soderling won’t be challenged. Soderling has played Melzer twice, both times winning in straight sets.

    In the semi-finals Soderling will play Novak Djokovic or Michael Llodra. Djokovic has played Soderling six times and won five. The stats are deceiving because Djokovic played Soderling a lot in the beginning of his career when he wasn’t playing the way he does now. In order for Soderling to win this match, he must switch his game up and be aggressive with his big forehand, attacking Djokovic’s second serve.

    Now, in order for Del Potro to get to the finals it will be more difficult because the top half is much stronger than the bottom half of the draw. Next round will be difficult because he has to play talented Frenchmen Gilles Simon. They are an even matchup because when Simon is on, he is one of the toughest to beat.

    If he does make it past Simon, the toughest task of the tournament awaits him: beating the reigning Wimbledon champion, Rafael Nadal. This has been repeated many times, but Nadal has trouble with tall players. For example, he lost to Soderling at the French and got destroyed by Del Potro in the US Open. It will be fun to watch and see if Nadal can adjust to Del Potro’s power.

    Playing Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals next won’t be easy either. He made it to the Wimbledon finals last year. This is about as even a matchup there is, but Berdych is a little quicker to the ball, so Del Potro has to end the points soon to avoid being in long rallies.

    Next, Del Potro would have to play Andy Murray in the semi-finals. Murray has played Del Potro in one grand slam match, and Murray eeked out a victory in the 2008 US Open in straight sets.

    Murray has slightly better groundstrokes than Del Potro, which gives him problems. Del Potro can win the match just because of Murray’s nerves.

    In the final, it will difficult for Del Potro to win. Fatigue will take over Del Potro because of the previous difficult matches and he will lose to Soderling not because Soderling’s better, just because Del Potro is more tired.