As the top 32 Men are revealed for this years Wimbledon championships, lets take a look at the players who are in for a tough (and potentially very short) ride.
Wimbledon is unique in its seeding structure. Unlike every other tournament, a player’s ATP rank doesn’t directly translate to his seed within the tournament. To compensate for the short length of the grass court season, all competitor’s grass court points from the last year are added to their current points total, with the addition of a further 75% of the points total from their best grass court performance in the 12 months prior to that. Confusing right?
For example, Novak Djokovic has 5,805 points as it stands. He’ll receive an extra 90 points from his grass court performance over the last 12 months and a further 1,750 points (75% of his best grass tournament the 12 months previous, his Wimbledon 2015 victory) giving him a total of 7,645 which allocates him seed two despite being world number four.
Now that’s clarified, which will be the first big names to be scalped?
I would be utterly shocked if either of the Italians, Fognini or Lorenzi made it to round four or even three in truth. Fognini, seeded 28th, has the ability to beat any player on his day but over his career he has proven to be his own worst enemy, too quick to press the self-destruct button when the going gets tough. Grass court success is built on consistency, a word which hasn’t quite made its way into the flamboyant 29 year old’s playbook.
Seeded 32nd and arguably the weakest of the seeds, I can’t imagine Lorenzi lasting too long either. At 35, he has prolonged his career by honing his skills on the clay, not by mastering the grass. If I was an unseeded player, I would be begging to take on Lorenzi, in the knowledge that if victorious the next opponent would be unseeded.
Towards the top end of the draw, I still think there’ll be some high profile casualties in week one. In fact I think the draw could be blown wide open, with the dismissal of three or four of the top 10 in the first week. Milos Raonic arrives having been dumped out of Queens in straight sets, a shadow of the player who made the final last year at the expense of Federer. He just doesn’t look as ominous an opponent as he did 6 months ago. Federer’s fellow countryman Wawrinka also looked shaky against Feliciano Lopez at the Aegon Championships so a tricky draw for him could be the end of his tournament, as it was last year when he was beaten by Del Potro.
But I think the biggest casualty in the first week will be one of the top four seeds, probably either Djokovic or Nadal, potentially both. As a massive Nadal fan I have grown used to the last week of June (now first week of July) signalling the Spanish maestro’s prompt exit from SW19. He’s obviously recaptured the form on clay that made him so domineering in his 20’s but it remains to be seen whether he can translate that onto grass. I’m doubtful. As for Novak, who knows? Something off court has happened, something unseen. Such a dramatic loss of form for a player who was so consistent is startling. If Nadal and Djokovic are due to meet in the semi-finals, their exits would leave the draw wide open.
But it’s not all doom and gloom! I think some of the lower ranked seeds have a wonderful opportunity to make the latter stages. Firstly, due to combination of his grass court prowess and the injuries to Carreno-Busta and Goffin, Gilles Muller sneaks into 16th seed, despite an ATP career high ranking of 26, a massive jump. The most famous Luxembourger in the world of sport (and probably the word, full stop), I feel he’s entering Wimbledon at just the right moment, having captured a grass court title in the Netherlands in early June. Unfancied and largely unheard of, he has the ingredients to brew quite an upset.
Another man to watch is 30th seed Karen Khachanov. The 21 year old is brute force personified, with a thunderous serve and a killer forehand to match. He was made for grass court tennis. Standing at 6”6, the bulky Russian is to be written off at your peril. With nothing to lose and a hell of a lot to gain, I expect him to make some very positive headlines indeed.
While I’m sure to be proven wrong by at least of the few of the players I have either bigged up or played down, I can guarantee there’ll be shocks a plenty in a weeks time.