Wimbledon 2013: Men’s matches to watch out for

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The men’s draw for this year’s Wimbledon Championships are out and there are a lot of interesting matches that could take place throughout the fortnight.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal could meet as early as the quarter-finals; they have not been scheduled to meet this early since the 2004 Australian Open (in fact, at that tournament Lleyton Hewitt denied Nadal a fourth round showdown against Federer by beating him in straight sets in the third round).

With three of the Big Four in the bottom half of the draw, it could make for an interesting tournament as far as Federer, Nadal and Andy Murray are concerned.

Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych are the only two men in the top half of the draw that have reached the final at SW19. They are due to meet in the quarter-finals; Berdych won their only meeting back in the 2010 semi-finals, but Djokovic has beaten him twice at the Australian Open (2011 and 2013).

Now, let’s have a look at some of the matches that are projected to take place at this year’s Wimbledon Championships:

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Florian Mayer
First round

Florian Mayer must be the unluckiest man in the draw, having been drawn against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the first round of this year’s championships, in a repeat of last year’s one-sided quarter-final.

Mayer last year ended an eight-year Grand Slam quarter-final drought by getting to the last eight at Wimbledon last year, where he found the Djoker too good for him. But to have any chance of even getting that far this year, he’ll have to tackle the Serbian World No. 1 head-on in the first round, and this task appears beyond possibility given Djokovic’s good form this year.

Djokovic himself will be desperate to put his French Open disappointment behind him as he seeks a second title at the All England Club. The Serb is currently on a streak of 12 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals and will be favoured to make it 13 this year.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Tommy Haas (13)
Due to meet in the fourth round

Should the Djoker gets this far, as expected, he could face his first serious challenge in the form of German veteran Tommy Haas.

Haas may have upset Djokovic at Miami earlier this year, and also won their quarter-final meeting at Wimbledon in 2009, but the Serb easily dismissed him in straight sets just as recently as Roland Garros.

Once again Djokovic’s status as the World No. 1 should prove too much for Haas and the Serbian should advance to a 17th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Tomas Berdych (7)
Due to meet in the quarter-finals

This will be a rematch of the 2010 semi-final in which Tomas Berdych, coming off the upset of Roger Federer, backed up that victory by sending Novak Djokovic crashing out of Wimbledon in straight sets.

That would count as one of Berdych’s two victories against the World No. 1 – the other came in their most recent meeting, in the quarter-finals of the Rome Masters last month.

This will also be the battle of the only two men in the top half of the draw that have reached the final at SW19 – Berdych reached the final in 2010 after the aforementioned semi-final, while Djokovic won the title in 2011 in his only final at the All England Club to date.

Apart from those two matches, Djokovic has generally dominated Berdych in most of their matches, and have won their other two Grand Slam meetings – a pair of quarter-finals at the Australian Open in 2011 and 2013.

Question will be – which one of these two will pull through this projected quarter-final and reach a second final at SW19?

Grigor Dimitrov (29) vs. Juan Martin del Potro (8)
Due to meet in the third round

One of the most interesting third round matches to watch out for, as these two have proven their worth on grass at some point in their careers.

Dimitrov, winner of the boys’ tournament in 2008, is yet to get past the second round in the senior tournament. If he can reach the third round for the first time, then awaiting him will be former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, who has never reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon but did win the Bronze Medal play-off against Novak Djokovic at the London Olympics on these very same grounds a month later.

Both players were also recently beaten by Lleyton Hewitt at Queen’s, but they’ll be relieved that they won’t have to face him at SW19, despite the Australian’s declining status.

Rafael Nadal (5) vs. Stanislas Wawrinka (11) or Lleyton Hewitt
Due to meet in the fourth round

For the most part, Rafa Nadal should have no problems in trying to reach the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, but if Lleyton Hewitt can pull off an upset against Stanislas Wawrinka in the first round, then Nadal could be in for an intriguing fourth round showdown against the 2002 champion.

The pair have only met twice on grass, with Hewitt winning both times – first at Queen’s in 2006 after Nadal retired with the score at one set all, and the other during an exhibition match in 2009, played shortly before Nadal was forced to withdraw from his Wimbledon title defence due to knee tendinitis.

Nadal has, however, gotten the better of Hewitt historically, having won six of their ten meetings, five of them coming on Nadal’s best surface (and Hewitt’s worst) – clay. The Spaniard, though, has never beaten Hewitt on grass.

Wawrinka’s record at Wimbledon is poor – it’s the only Grand Slam tournament in which he has yet to reach the quarter-finals. And if he is to reach his first final eight at the All England Club, he’ll have to confront a man who he’s never beaten, and who only recently beat him easily in Paris.

Rafael Nadal (5) vs. Roger Federer (3)
Due to meet in the quarter-finals

If Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer pull through their pre-quarter-final sections of their draw, then they are in for their earliest ever meeting at a Grand Slam.

As has already been mentioned before, Nadal and Federer have not been drawn to face each other this early since the 2004 Australian Open, when they would have met in the fourth round (only for Lleyton Hewitt to beat Nadal in the third round before losing to Federer in the fourth).

The projected quarter-final that could take place will also be their first meeting on grass since the epic 2008 Wimbledon final which Nadal won, en-route to inheriting the World No. 1 ranking from Federer a month later.

Federer’s only two Grand Slam victories against Nadal have come on grass, so Nadal may want to equal the ledger here. The Spaniard also has two victories against Federer this year, on the hard courts of Indian Wells and the clay courts of Rome.

I also have a feeling that whoever wins this quarter-final could also go on and win the title, however, a very hungry Andy Murray could block either man’s path to the title.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (6) vs. Andy Murray (2)
Due to meet in the quarter-finals

Andy Murray should not be threatened as he shoots for a sixth consecutive quarter-final at Wimbledon, where his first genuine threat comes in the form of flamboyant Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Tsonga pushed Murray to three sets at Queen’s recently, but the fact of the matter is that he has not beaten the Scot since the first round of the 2008 Australian Open, where he reached the final, losing to Novak Djokovic.

Additionally, Murray has beaten Tsonga in each of their last two meetings at Wimbledon – in the semi-finals last year and the quarter-finals in 2010.

If Tsonga is to end British hopes of a home champion and reach a third consecutive quarter-final at the All England Club, then he’ll have to be on his game from the first serve and try to block out the support of the home crowd.

But Murray will be hungry to go one better than last year, as he seeks to become the first British male champion of Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.

So, what are your predictions for this year’s title?

Can Roger Federer shake off another Pete Sampras record by winning an eighth title at Wimbledon? Can Rafael Nadal continue his impressive comeback and claim a third title here? Can Andy Murray go one better and become the first British male champion since 1936? Or can Novak Djokovic claim a second title at Wimbledon to follow up his 2011 title?

All will be answered over the next fortnight – buckle up for what should be an intriguing and exciting edition of the Wimbledon Championships this year.

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