Nadal Rocks Draw – Withdraws!

22 Jun 2009 by Hiland in Wimbledon 2009

rafael_nadalThe flamboyant defending champion and tournament top seed has rocked the tennis world once again. This time it is with his absence. The world’s number one has withdrawn from the grandfather and most prestigious of all the Grand Slams. Rafael Nadal announced his withdrawal after the original draw had been formed and sent tournament organizers into a tailspin. Critics score Nadal’s late decision as unfortunately typical. The Spaniard might have been better served by announcing his withdrawal earlier in the week, but that is not Rafa’s style.

There are many players who benefit from Nadal’s departure. Remarkably, the second seed, 14-time Grand Slam Champion and five-time Wimbledon Champion, Roger Federer has the most difficult path to the semi-finals.

In the greatest player of all-time’s quarter are heavyweights Fernando Verdasco (7), Ivo Karlovic (22), Jo-Wilfreid Tsonga (9), Robin Soderling (13) and Feliciano Lopez (21). If form holds, Round Four will be a rematch of the French Open finals pitting Soderling against the five-time winner. In the quarters, Verdasco should be looming, but Tsonga does not go away quietly. Tennis experts are shaking their collective heads and wondering how it could be any more difficult for the focused Federer to claim his 15th title.

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Meanwhile, Scotsman Andy Murray, winner of the Queen’s and now top seed in the top half of the draw, has a comparative cakewalk to the quarters. His chief combatants will be Stanislaus Wawrinka (19), aging Marat Safin (14), Fernando Gonzalez (10), Victor Hanescu (31) and 8 seed Gilles Simon, who is not at the top of his game. If form holds, Murray’s fourth round would pit the testy Scot against Wawrinka. The Scotsman would meet the Frenchman, Simon, in the quarters. For Murray the path is clear to the semis.

The fourth seed is Serb Novak Djokovic, who escaped a quarterfinal matchup against Juan Martin del Porto when Nadal withdrew. Djokovic’s quarter has Mardy Fish (28), Tommy Robredo (15), Rainer Schuettler (18), Marin Cilic (11), Tommy Haas (24) and the struggling James Blake (17) who was moved to fill del Porto’s slot. What a mess!

If form holds, Djokovic will meet the tough Robredo in the fourth round and Cilic in the quarters. Djokovic is unaccustomed to such a relaxed draw and this may be just the spark the moody Serb needs to make a big move.

Juan Martin del Porto (5) slides into Nadal’s place. He is far and away the biggest beneficiary of Nadal’s damaged knees. In his quarter are Radek Stepanek (23), David Ferrer (16), Nikolay Davydenko (12), Tomas Berdych (20) and probable quarterfinal matchup Andy Roddick (6).

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Like del Porto, Roddick must be licking his chops. Roddick is two-time runner-up at Wimbledon and is enjoying a fine year. It has been a long time since the American has been positioned so well at a Grand Slam.

The Ladies Singles’ Draw

dinara-safinaWimbledon will be Dinara Safina’s most difficult Grand Slam Draw of the year. The number one seed will be challenged to get through the quarters where her decisive Roland Garros conquerer, Svetlana Kuznetsnova (5), will be waiting. The top of the draw looks to provide some other hefty challenges for the nervous Safina, who has a more difficult path than Svetlana to the probable quarterfinal pairing. Fiava Pennetta (15), Amelie Mauresmo (17) and Caroline Wozniacki (9) stand in the way of the French rematch.

Third seeded Venus Williams looks to have the most favorable quarter. The five-time winner at Wimbledon has not needed a lot of help in the past. She is an expert grass-court player. With her sister in the lower half of the draw, the possibility of a Williams-Williams final matchup looks very possible. However, there are stumbling blocks aplenty for both sisters. The main competition in Venus’s quarter will come from the well-conditioned Samantha Stosur (18), Ana Ivanovic (13), Agnes Radwanska (11) and French disappointment Jelena Jankovic (6). Stosur is in top form and poses a stern test for the three seed. Jankovic looks to have a clear path but seems to stumble in Grand Slam tournaments.

Number two seed, Serena Williams is chomping at the bit to regain her former number one ranking. The tough American is well suited for the Wimbledon grass and plays her best when the pressure is highest.

The younger Williams should have smooth sailing to the quarters. A likely fourth round pairing with Patty Schnyder (21) should not present much of a test. However, the quarter possibilities are intriguing. 24th seed and fast returning to form Maria Sharapova (24) is a strong candidate along with hard-hitting Victoria Azarenka (8), and Nadia Petrova (10). There are four potential champions in this quarter.

Elena Dementieva whose sub-par performance in Paris has raised previously unasked questions about her fitness and heart will need to play better to knock off Dominika Cibulkova in the fourth round. Elena will probably face the always-ready Vera Zvonareva (7) or Marion Bartoli (12) in the quarters.

Our longest shot of the Wimbledon event is American 17 year old Melanie Oudin who arrived in the main draw via three qualifying wins. A month ago, the pretty Georgian was finishing her junior year in high school. Oudin plays 29th seed Sybille Bammer in the first round. Oudin could well surprise but will certainly be game.

Two surprising draws are bound to provide great play, loads of emotion and more than the usual number of upsets.


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