I am pretty depressed that Rafa Nadal is sitting out this Wimbledon, especially considering last year's epic. So the preview this time will be different. How? Well, I guess you'll just have to read on to find out ...
The way it'll go down:
Quarterfinals: Andy Roddick v. Juan Martin del Potro, Andy Murray v. Fernando Gonzalez, Tommy Haas v. Novak Djokovic, JoJo Tsonga v. Roger Federer
Semifinals: del Potro v. Murray, Djokovic v. Federer
Final: Murray v. Federer
Winner: Murray ...?
Yeah, I'm off the charts! OK, first of all, I believe in Andy Murray. Kind of. I've listened to all my tennis buddies trash him for the last few days, and enough is enough. Yes, the British pressure to win Wimby just about killed Tim Henman, but Andy Murray is a more complete player than Tim Henman. However, he is playing in a time when men's tennis is unbelievably deep. But without Nadal, the top half is wide open. There is Andy Roddick, who flourishes at Wimbledon, but does he have the confidence of recent success against the big boys? Like del Potro? Like Murray? Del Potro would really have to alter his game, shorten those swings, improve that movement to be a force on grass. Murray's the best player left in the top half. The big question will be the pressure for Murray. In the bottom half, Fed is easily the most established there -- certainly on grass. Djokovic would have to show me something on grass in order to have any part of the second week of the draw.
Which leaves us with Murray and Federer as the last men standing. In such a (hypothetical for now) situation, both would be playing under a great deal of pressure. This is what I've come to, folks. I'm now trying to envision a final that could even approach last year's final. (Now, that's some pressure.) Once can only hope.
Come back, Rafa!
Quarterfinals: Amelie Mauresmo v. Caroline Wozniakcki, Venus Williams v. Jelena Jankovic, Razzano v. Dementieva, Azarenka v. Serena Williams
Semifinals: Mauresmo v. Venus, Razzano v. Serena
Final: Venus v. Serena
Let's just start by saying here that there are some floaters out there. Maria Sharapova especially. She is still knocking off some rust, but she has a favorable draw, with Nadia Petrova and Azarenka looming. So those could go either way depending on the shoulder. Obviously, I favor Azarenka.
While I'm not willing to just give the title to Venus, really ... who's going to beat her? Jankovic? Grass is Venus' thing, but I have problems with fully endorsing her candidacy. I just don't get it -- how can you play aggressively on one surface, and the rest of the Slams, you don't look like the same person? Why wouldn't aggression work for Venus on any other surface, especially considering her serve? It's frustrating to me, but not quite enough to discount Venus. She's the hesitant favorite because anything can happen in the women's draw and because Dinara Safina is not yet ready to deal with Slam nerves.