Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wimbledon Men's Preview: Back to the Federer

All right, everybody into the De Lorean. We're about to take a trip... back to the future.

With defending champion Rafael Nadal's withdrawal from the Wimbledon draw, the entire landscape of the happenings at the All-England Club changes. Why, it's going to be like we've jumped into a time machine, but ended up back in the current day. Roger Federer is the top seed. Andy Roddick is a legitimate threat to reach the final (as he did from 2004-05, before the run of three straight Roger/Rafa matchups). And a Brit (now named Andy, not Tim) will be carrying the hopes of a nation on his back.

Keeping with the theme, the crowning of an old-but-also-new champion that would set yet another all-time slam record would seem to be in the cards. Hmmm, do I sense a well-worn prediction coming on?

**ROUND OF 16**
Hewitt d. #23 Stepanek
#6 Roddick d. Mathieu
#3 Murray d. #19 Wawrinka
#10 Gonzalez d. #8 Simon
#24 Haas d. #17 Blake
#4 Djokovic d. #18 Schuettler
#9 Tsonga d. #7 Verdasco
#2 Federer d. #13 Soderling

...Blake usually disappoints, but I'll save his vanishing act until this round rather than earlier. The absence of Nadal really opens up the top section for the likes of Hewitt. Federer meet a familiar Roland Garros foe... but his name is Robin, not Rafael.

#6 Roddick d. Hewitt
#3 Murray d. #10 Gonzalez
#24 Haas d. #4 Djokovic
#2 Federer d. #9 Tsonga

...maybe Haas' recent title is pushing a too-deep pick here, but so be it. Britain's hopes are still afloat.

#6 Roddick d. #3 Murray
#2 Federer d. #24 Haas

...if we're going back to the future, then we have to go back to the last time we didn't have a Roger/Rafa final, right? And that would mean the American, possibly the most helped by Nadal's absence here, returns to the final Sunday, preventing "Murray McFly" (who, even now with a grass title under his belt, isn't a sure thing at Wimbledon) from commandeering the De Lorean and turning the Gentleman's Championship into something to behold.

#2 Federer d. #6 Roddick

...if anyone didn't see this one coming, they weren't paying attention. Really, Murray is the only "second pick" for this title, and I just can't see everything lining up to allow that to become a reality. Federer seems destined to finally overtake Pete Sampras on the career grand slam list at the end of the fortnight. Unless, of course, the PSEUDO-Roger returns. But, especially after RG and the career Grand Slam, will that happen at SW19? Probably not.

Back to THE Federer... and away we go.

All for now.


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