The Grass Court Season and this year's Wimbledon Contenders

Michael GathaganContributor IJune 7, 2010

Now that we are able to dust off our shoes from the red clay, we look to the green grass and the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon.

With the two grass court warm-ups underway, (Halle and Queens), we wonder who will have momentum heading in Wimbledon. In the two warm-ups, we have two different tournaments. First at Halle, we have the normal draw of Roger Federer with the #1 seed. And at Queens, we have a stacked draw of six of the top 15 players in the world.

As far as momentum goes, the results of these two tournaments will provide a glimpse of what is to come at Wimbledon. We know that Rafael Nadal will carry momentum from his triumph at Roland Garros and his drive to defend his crown that he never lost. As for other players, that begs that a few questions be asked. Now, on to this year’s contenders and players to watch.

Rafael Nadal
: With his recent success on the grass courts, I believe that Rafa can make a great run and has to be considered a strong contender to win. He has something to prove though. With him not defending his Wimbledon crown last year, he must come to Wimbledon with the same determination that he did two years ago, when he dethroned Roger Federer. My prediction: A run to the final.

Roger Federer: With a terrible first half of the year, what better place to try and turn it around than his home away from home, Wimbledon. But with another year comes another chance to prove that he is still the best. We remember that Pete Sampras had his ranking and his level of play drop, but still he won at Wimbledon. Federer has that ability as well. When he steps on that crisp grass it just brings the best out in him. My prediction for this year: Another run to the final.

Andy Murray: For the fiery Brit, another year, another disappointment for the British fans. But look on the bright side, he did make a deep run last year and was defeated by finalist Andy Roddick who came within a point or two of defeating Federer. But this year is a little different; he isn’t playing nearly as well as last year. Since his run to the Australian Open final, he hasn’t made it past the QF of a tournament. I look for him to have a letdown this year, my prediction: A run to the QF.

Andy Roddick: After the letdown that he went through last year at Wimbledon, it is hard to believe that Roddick could even make his way back. Don’t get me wrong he played the best match I have even seen him play, but it just wasn’t enough. If it was against anyone but Federer it would have been his title. But, that was last year, this year he has had his best start to a season overall. Playing some great tennis this year, I believe that he can make another deep run. My predication: A SF run.

Novak Djokovic: Let’s just cut to the chase here. He is good on every surface but just not great. His lone Grand Slam came against an emotionally drained Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. His runs at the slams are always consistent, but he is just too inconsistent overall. He made a run to the QF at the first two majors of the year and that is where I see him here. My prediction: A QF run.

Players to watch: I have a few here. First off, you have to include Robin Soderling. His steady performances and huge ground stroke’s speak for themselves. Second, you have to include Marin Cilic. His serve and net play can get him through the early rounds quickly.

Third would be Tomas Berdych. With his surprise run at the French Open and a 4th round run here last year, I think he could make a splash.

Finally, I would like to include the two young American men, John Isner and Sam Querrey. Both have had great years already and look to use their big serves and ground stroke’s to push through the draw.

Now I know everyone is thinking I am a follow the leader type of person by picking Nadal vs. Federer in the final, but I feel that these two need to clash at Wimbledon just one more time for the crown.

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