The most interesting aspect for me going into Wimbledon 2013 is the draw and the seeding which surrounds the newly patched up Rafael Nadal.
His current ATP ranking of 5 is quite misleading, he obviously belongs somewhere within the top 3 and with his withdrawal from Halle, Germany recently Nadal will likely see himself seeded 5 for Wimbledon which will change the dynamic of the whole tournament. The Spaniard is likely to face Murray/Djokovic/Federer in the quarter-finals with the semi an arguably easier tie against the 4th seed or their conqueror. Once again this will highlight the controversy surrounding the current ATP rankings and points system. At Roland Garros, Nadal won the final at a canter and had Rafael been correctly seeded we’d have seen an epic semi-final versus Djokovic take the centre stage.
Moving into Wimbledon we currently have the annual warm-up tournaments at Queen’s Club and Halle where the final ranking points will be won before the pre-Wimbledon grass conversion points are added, but it is highly unlikely there will be any change in the rankings.
As has been the situation for a few years now (with minor exceptions on the clay) there is a massive shift in ability outside of the well renowned top 4. I saw Murray as a clear hard courter living on the heels of the top 3, however this now seems to be shifting as Federer struggles to hang onto a top 4 berth. It is now surely only a matter of time before Roger Federer drops out of the top four and the top 3 breakaway!
As is with the top 4 of late, injuries seem to be taking their toll although you’d expect that with their reduced schedules when compared with their Top 100 counterparts this may stand them in good stead. In recent times we’ve had the knee injury to Nadal, but Rafael has returned strong winning 7 of his comeback 9 tournaments, albeit 8 of these being on his favoured clay. Although giving nothing away regarding his fitness, Nadal looks as though the injury problems which saw his early Wimbledon exit in 2012 and a 50% record on grass last year may have eased up. Obviously from watching Nadal at Roland Garros his knee was still strapped, but this is probably a permanent supporting measure now. I’ve heard rumours Nadal may miss Wimbledon, but I do not believe this for a second. With his defeat last year to Rosol giving him just 45 ranking points, a good show this year should propel him nicely back into the world’s top 4 with his adversaries having points from the quarters, semis and finals to defend.
Andy Murray showed once again at Queens that he’s more than adept on the grass and by missing Roland Garros this has left him in a good position moving into Wimbledon fortnight. The back injury which kept him out of the French Open seems to have eased with the additional rest and as once again it looks like a surface shift to clay did not help Murray. Extra sliding and body rotation on the clay surface seemingly compounding the Murray back injury. I’m not the biggest fan of Murray, but he seems to have gained more supporters after losing an emotional Wimbledon final last year and securing a historic Olympic Gold and US Open Grand Slam in 2012. I am now one of these converts, in previous years I’ve doubted his chances I now confidently see him with a great chance of actually taking the Wimbledon title. Andy Murray has always excelled during the US hard court season and it was no surprise that the US Open became the first of hopefully, many Grand Slam titles.
With regards to Wimbledon and focussing on player injuries coming into this tournament, the big serving Frenchman Michael Llodra recently pulled out of Queens with a hamstring problem. However after playing in the Topshelf Open it now looks as though this has cleared up, ranked 52 in the world, Llodra is unlikely to challenge for the SW19 crown but he is capable of the odd upset with his main successes of late coming as a doubles player where Michael is currently ranked 24 in the world.
Hammer hitting server Kevin Anderson from South Africa was another non-starter at Queens Club last week when the world number 23 dropped out with a shoulder injury. But once again this proved to be more of a precautionary measure having turned out at this week’s Eastbourne event. Although he was knocked out in the first round, losing in straight sets to Frenchman Julien Benneteau.
Overall there aren’t too many other injuries in the top 32/64/128 players at the moment and certainly nothing which will rock Wimbledon with a no-show. It seems most have managed to tailor their schedules perfectly to ensure they make it for the London showpiece.
Looking at the Championship, a quarter-final showdown between Nadal and ‘one of the top 3’ will be the key to Wimbledon this year as the Men’s game is pretty much cut and dried as far as the semi-finals are usually concerned. With no disrespect to Ferrer, who has won titles on grass, most of his ranking points came during the clay court season and although this may be a hangover from Roland Garros, his early exit in Hertogenbosch doesn’t bode too well for him. Expect Federer or Nadal to play Murray in the lower half SF while Djokovic versus AN Other in the upper draw.
Expect good showings from the evergreen Tommy Haas and Mikhail Youzhny, the rest of the field will fear the two more than capable of producing an upset on any given day.
With many thanks to this weeks guest writer Richard Legard with his first piece for PhysioRoom.com