Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray — tennis’ holy quaternity, or the “Big Four” as they are called — have been reigning supreme over the men’s game for more than a decade. Pundits and fans alike have been prophesying their decline. But here we are, three years after they were all last seeded as top four, they sit atop the 2017 seedings.
Wimbledon, unlike any of the other Grand Slams, uses a formula to calculate the seedings, which takes into account a player’s performance on grass courts over the past two years. Stan Wawrinka’s unflattering record on grass meant that the World No 3 was bumped down to five, while Federer and Djokovic were boosted into the top four.
If the women’s draw is wide open, with at least a dozen potential contenders for the title, in the men’s draw it’s impossible to look beyond the Big Four. However, just like the women, there’s a four-way battle for the top spot among the men as well. Here’s a breakdown of the men’s draw, and a look at the players who could stop the top four seeds from reaching the semi-finals.
Top seed, defending champion and home favourite — Murray has always played with extra baggage on his shoulders at SW19, but this year he has the added pressure of performing well after a slump in the first half of 2017. He is also racing against the clock to become fully fit for his first round clash with lucky loser Alexander Bublik.
Murray has an unfortunate record against lucky losers in 2017, having lost both his previous matches against lucky losers — Borna Coric in Madrid and Jordan Thompson last week at Queen's Club. The entertaining Dustin Brown, mercurial Fabio Fognini, explosive Nick Kyrgios and 2016 surprise quarter-finalist Lucas Pouille have the potential to make Murray’s first week quite challenging.
Wawrinka, the next-highest seed in the top quarter, has never made in the past the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, and he has a tough opening round against Next Gen’s Daniil Medvedev. Veteran Tommy Haas, who has been given a wildcard into his last Wimbledon, could be the Swiss player’s second-round opponent.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Sam Querrey and Fernando Verdasco have beaten members of the Big Four in the past, but if Murray is fully fit, he should at least make the last-four.
First round match to watch out for: Wawrinka vs Medvedev
Predicted semi-finalist: Murray
Two-time Wimbledon champion Nadal is coming off his 10th French Open title, but the Spaniard hasn’t reached the quarters at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in the past six years. He faces Australian John Millman in the first round, and either Donald Young or Denis Istomin in the second.
Nadal could have a tricky third-round clash against 21-year-old Karen Khachanov, who is making his Wimbledon main draw debut this year, but has already impressed with his performances at French Open and Halle. Also lurking in Nadal’s section are giant-serving Ivo Karlovic, always a handful on grass, and Gilles Muller, whose game seems tailor-made for grass and is the pick of the dark horses for all experts.
Marin Cilic, seeded seven, could make a deep run into the tournament but starts off against German Philipp Kohlschreiber, who has a deadly one-handed backhand. Cilic has been a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon for the last three years, and recently finished runner-up at Queen’s Club to a resurgent Feliciano Lopez.
Ninth seed Kei Nishikori could be a potential fourth-round opponent for Cilic, but the Japanese’s biggest obstacle could be his own injury-raveged body.
First round match to watch out for: Cilic vs Kohlschreiber
Predicted semi-finalist: Nadal
Federer is the leading favorite to claim a record eight Wimbledon trophy but his draw ensures that the next two weeks will not be a walk in the park for the Swiss. Federer’s first match is against the erratic but talented Alexandr Dolgopolov, and he could meet serve-and-volley specialist Mischa Zverev in the third round.
Federer, who has won a Slam and three other tiles in 2017, decided to skip the clay court season to better prepare for grass. If his ninth title at Halle was any indication, Federer seems well rested and focused to reign over SW19 for the eighth time. Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov is a potential last-16 opponent for Federer, and the former warmed up for Wimbledon by making the semi-finals at Queen’s Club.
Sixth seed Milos Raonic, who knocked out Federer in the semis here last year, heads the other end of this quarter. Raonic started 2017 on a strong note but injuries have since derailed his progress. The Canadian lost his only tune-up match to 698th-ranked Thanasi Kokkinakis, recently split with coach Richard Krajicek. Raonic faces a potential fourth round encounter with rising young star Alexander Zverev, which would make for a cracking match.
First round match to watch out for: Mikhail Youzhny vs Nicolas Mahut
Predicted semi-finalist: Federer
Djokovic, who headlines the fourth quarter, comes into Wimbledon 2017 after a miserable 12 months where he hasn’t won any Grand Slams. Djokovic has added former player Mario Ancic to his team, who will accompany Andre Agassi in his player’s box. The Serb’s title-winning performance at Eastbourne showed that he is slowly regaining his confidence and form.
Djokovic’s first-round opponent is the dangerous left-hander Martin Klizan from Slovakia, and it doesn’t get any easier for the fourth seed thereafter. He faces a potential third round against former 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, who has been steadily improving week-by-week after his return to the tour from injury.
Eight-seeded Dominic Thiem sits atop this section but he is far from comfortable on grass. Canadian Vasek Pospisil, who defeated Murray in March, should try to make the most of his first-round clash against Thiem. It also provides an opportunity for either 22nd seed Richard Gasquet or 11th seed Tomas Berdych to make the second week at Wimbledon.
Gilles Simon, Borna Coric, Antalya winner Yuichi Sugita and Queen’s Club winner Lopez are some of the other dark horses who could pull off an upset or two.
First round match to watch out for: Gasquet vs David Ferrer
Predicted semi-finalist: Djokovic
Published Date: Jul 02, 2017 05:44 pm | Updated Date: Jul 02, 2017 07:51 pm