Gentlemen’s Singles - Predictions

June 26, 2016 — When asked who's the favorite this year at Wimbledon, Nick Kyrgios said, “Probably Djokovic. It’s a silly question. No more questions for you, bro.”

The succinct response from the forthright Aussie was right on the money. Novak Djokovic is the probable champion. 

Djokovic has the tennis world by its collective racquet. He's at Wimbledon to win his fourth title and fifth consecutive Grand Slam, a feat no one has accomplished in the Open Era, although Don Budge won six consecutive majors from the 1937 Wimbledon to the 1938 U. S. Open. 

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Novak Djokovic. Photo credit Leslie Billman

Djokovic’s game and mindset are so elegantly intertwined with self-confidence and talent that he could go on to win Gold at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and top that off with a U. S. Open title to claim a Golden Calendar Slam for 2016. But we get ahead of ourselves.

Gentlemen’s Singles — First Quarter

Mr. Djokovic has a tall order, considering the big servers that abound in his section. 

There’s American Sam Querrey (No. 28), Kevin Anderson (No. 20), who was up two sets and a break on Djokovic last year as darkness shutdown the South African’s momentum, Milos Raonic (No. 6), David Goffin (No. 11) and American Jack Sock (No. 27). Mixed in with these seeds are Lukas Rosol, Querrey’s first-round opponent. Rosol is not consistent, but blossoms on grass. In 2012 he defeated Rafael Nadal in the second round, adding to the Spaniard’s span of digression at The All England Club. (Nadal has withdrawn from Wimbledon due to a continued left wrist injury, which forced him to leave Roland Garros in the first week.)

Raonic and Djokovic should meet in the quarterfinal where the Canadian has a chance to upend the defending champion. Raonic hired John McEnroe in Paris as a temporary (grass) coach. The selection made sense since Raonic wanted to expand his repertoire to include more serve-and-volley tactics, which perfectly compliment his monster serve. This year he’s won 90% of his service games and came oh-so-close to dismissing Andy Murray at Queen’s Club a week ago in that final. Raonic was up 3-0 in the third set, when Murray turned around the momentum to win his fifth title there. Bottom line, Raonic is primed for a breakthrough of the major kind.

First quarter semifinalist - Novak Djokovic

Gentlemen’s Singles — Second Quarter

Anchoring this section are 7-time champion Roger Federer (No. 3) and Kei Nishikori (No. 5). The Japanese has never gone beyond the fourth round and seems to have less confidence on this surface when compared to Federer, which is an unfair comparison. Roger remains one of the best grass-court players, even if the bounce is higher than it had been before 2002 when efforts concentrated on extending the durability of the lawn and switching to all rye grass. 

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Roger Federer. Photo credit Leslie Billman 

A scattering of threats also lay in wait in this section such as Ivo Karlovic (No. 23), Gael Monfils (No. 17), and Pablo Cuevas (No. 29). 

First-round thrills don’t get much better than the one between the 37-year-old six-foot-eleven Croatian and 19-year-old Borna Coric. The match is an unfortunate pairing for the teen and points to the downside of a lower ranking at No. 49. However the age gap — Coric was four when Karlovic turned pro — will draw attention.

Even with a rough road to Wimbledon — knee surgery, illness, bad back — Federer should come through to the quarterfinal and play Nishikori if, of course, their bodies hold up. It doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, but Centre Court at Wimbledon is Federer’s kingdom and he’ll rise to the occasion. 

Second quarter semifinalist — Roger Federer

Semifinal - Djokovic defeats Federer.

Gentlemen’s Singles — Third Quarter

Herein lie the newbies, the gang pushing against the old guard and, in the case of Dominic Thiem (No. 8), rising to the top ten. The 22-year-old Austrian upset Federer in Stuttgart's semifinal and went on to win his first grass-court title — his 8th overall — when grass was honestly his least likely surface for a title run. He is now 2-1 head-to-head against Federer.

Alexander ‘Sasha’ Zverev (No. 24) is another Federer slayer — Halle semifinal — and a likely opponent against Thiem in the fourth round. Bernard Tomic (No. 19), Lucas Pouille (No. 32) and unseeded American Taylor Fritz round out the young chasers in this section. Fritz will face Stan Wawrinka (No. 4) out of the gate and, frankly, could pull off the win if the Swiss doesn’t have a good day. 

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Tomas Berdych. Photo credit Leslie Billman

Smack dab in the center of this section sits Tomas Berdych (No. 10). The 2010 runner-up — he lost to Djokovic — reached an all-time career low in Rome. David Goffin throttled him 6-0, 6-0 in the third round. Berdych had never lost a match without scoring a game. He quickly fired Coach Dani Vallverdu, an Andy Murray throw off, and has entered Wimbledon without a coach. Berdych's talent should never be discounted and his coach-less situation could give him some freedom to swing out. 

Third quarter semifinalist — Tomas Berdych

Gentlemen’s Singles — Fourth Quarter

Great Britain’s favorite son, the 2013 Wimbledon Champion and last year’s semifinalist Andy Murray is on the launchpad at the bottom of the draw and should work his way to the semifinals. 

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Andy Murray. Photo credit Leslie Billman 

He could be challenged by Nick Kyrgios (No. 15) as early as the third round, and Richard Gasquet (No. 7) or Jo-Wilfred Tsonga (No. 12) in the quarterfinals. However badly he’s done against his likely opponent in the final — Novak Djokovic — Murray has shown signs of greatness and fortitude at Roland Garros and at Queen’s Club a week ago, coming from behind to win. Those challenges and victories over near-defeats point to a Murray that’s primed to push, if he doesn’t fall into a defensive posture. Ivan Lendl has re-joined Murray's team, a coaching relationship that won the Scot two Grand Slams — the 2012 U. S. Open and, as said, 2013 Wimbledon.

The biggest pressure for Murray is Murray and the British press/fans. He’ll want to keep a lid on his reading material and remain close to wife Kim Sears, who he married in April, and his infant daughter Sophia.

Fourth quarter semifinalist — Andy Murray

Murray defeats Berdych in the semifinal.

Championship match - Novak Djokovic defeats Andy Murray

© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013