The Latest

TTI Talks: State of the ATP (Wimbledon 2016 Edition)

Embed from Getty Images

The whites are pressed, the strawberries are washed and the Pimms are flowing — it’s Wimbledon! The TTI crew returned to the vault with draws in hand, ready to break down all the damage that awaits at this year’s fortnight at SW19.

Of the ATP, who is/has:

Embed from Getty Images

1. The biggest dark horse?

JEFF

No one has been talking about Jo-Wilfried Tsonga much lately. He had a late-2015 surge, upsetting Rafael Nadal on the way to the Shanghai final, but has otherwise since had few noteworthy results. Grass, however, is a surface that has always suited the huge-hitting Frenchman’s game and his draw is light enough (in theory) that he could — if recovered well enough from his French Open injury — be primed for an exciting run this fortnight.

RENÉ

As with previous slams, picking a dark horse on the men’s side is not necessarily the easiest task due to the dominance of the big names — still with some of the top seeds in doubt after a short grass court swing and lack of preparation, there might be openings here and there. I’ll go with my compatriot Alexander Zverev to make some noise and move into the second week of a slam for the first time in his career — after all, he did end up in one of the two less predictable sections of the draw.

SAM

He doesn’t seem more like a bright horse than a dark horse at this point, but Gilles Muller is my pick here. He loves grass and has the draw — the only seed in his way to the third round is Pablo Cuevas, and Kei Nishikori (on his least comfortable surface) would be his opponent if he gets there. I like Muller’s odds of a second week run.

NICK

Ivo Karlovic, equipped with arguably the greatest serve the sport has ever seen, will have a real shot at reaching the second week and possibly going further. His attacking style of play facilitated by his monster serve is trouble for almost any opponent. He has a tricky first round opponent in Borna Coric and could face Marin Cilic in the third round. A potential fourth round clash against Kei Nishikori could see Karlovic facing an out of form Federer in the quarterfinals. With his serve, Dr. Ivo may be poised for a great run.

Embed from Getty Images

DIEGO

I put my money on Juan Martin Del Potro — even if he seems the easiest name to pick. The Argentinian is clearly the name who can create the most damage on the bottom side of the draw, especially because he could play Stan Wawrinka in the second round — he reached the quarterfinal last year, but you could say that grass is his weakest surface.

VIKA

As I said when welcomed over at Britwatch Sports, I’ll also have my eye on Ivo Karlovic, who could make some noise at the No. 23 seed. The serve of all serves has compatriot Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori in his section, but might we see Big Ivo bust brackets and make the quarterfinals again? I can see it.

2. The Early Exit?

JEFF

Stan Wawrinka‘s made a habit of bringing his best to the Slams as of late, but his luck with the Wimbledon draw won’t help his cause this year — he’s slated to face the streaky teen sensation Taylor Fritz in the first round and then Juan Martin Del Potro in the second. The Swiss has never played his best on grass, and those two dangerous players could send him packing early this year.

RENÉ

I’ll have to go with Kei Nishikori here, merely because the pattern seems too similar to last year to ignore.

Embed from Getty Images

Gets injured in Halle, hopes to be healthy by Wimbledon, falls fairly early at Wimbledon even though he has a draw that seems manageable enough.

Dominic Thiem and Stan Wawrinka would be the other two solid picks, with potentially tricky opening and second round matches, respectively.

NICK

Stan Wawrinka could be hitting the exits early in this event. He faces Taylor Fritz in the first round and could face Juan Martin Del Potro in the second. No other top eight seed will see this level of competition this early in the event.

SAM

Betting against the Dominic Thiem Machine seems naive. I’m going to do it anyway because, well, the guy has to run out of energy at some point, right? No? A matchup with Halle champion and grassophile Florian Mayer awaits in the first round.

Embed from Getty Images

DIEGO

Considering the draw, I can’t see any of the first Top ­8 seed going out too early. I can say maybe Stan Wawrinka, because there could be Del Potro in his way, though I see the No. 4 seed in a position of advantage; in addition, Dominic Thiem, who will play against Florian Mayer (again!), is the favorite for a place in the second round — but the German has made the quarterfinals at Church Road twice and grass is a surface that suits pretty well with his style of play. Who knows?

VIKA

Dominic Thiem‘s rise has been one of the stories of 2016, but absent evidence that he is a remotely-programmed cyborg, he has to run out of gas eventually. A match with Halle champion Florian Mayer first up is a tough place to start, and a potential match with either Alex Zverev or Tomas Berdych to live up to his seeding and make the quarterfinals is even tougher.

3. The Toughest Road?

JEFF

BREAKING: Dominic Thiem is a Top 8 player now.

His draw could be interpreted as fairly light or fairly heavy, depending on the perspective. I, personally, think he might struggle with a dense section occupied by BFF Alexander Zverev and the ever-consistent Tomas Berdych, who has had plenty of strong results on the lawns of Wimbledon. Thiem’s first opponent is a resurgent Florian Mayer, who beat the Austrian in the semifinals of Halle just over a week ago. It’s not an impossible draw, but it’s far from easy.

Embed from Getty Images

RENÉ

Stan Wawrinka pops out. First round against Taylor Fritz and a likely second round against Juan Martin Del Potro? That’s not a first week cakewalk by any means of the imagination.

NICK

Kei Nishikori‘s first four matches could potentially come against Sam Groth, Julien Benneteau, Gilles Muller, and Ivo Karlovic. All four of these players have excellent serves and can rattle Nishikori by moving forward and taking him out of his comfort zone in baseline rallies. Grass is probably Nishikori’s worst surface, and his draw does not make things any easier for him.

SAM

I can’t really pinpoint the exact match I think Stan Wawrinka will lose, but there are just enough potential landmines on his path that I will give him the nod for toughest road. Taylor Fritz played Roger Federer closely in Halle; Juan Martin Del Potro, as we all know, is capable of playing fantastic tennis on the biggest stages, and Bernard Tomic, Tomas Berdych, or Alexander Zverev are all really tough outs in a potential fourth round matchup. Wawrinka will need to bring his best to survive.

Embed from Getty Images

DIEGO

I’m actually going with Andy Murray, because after a couple of “easy” rounds, he’ll have a tough time in the fourth (and that’s after a third round against Benoit Paire…) with one of these sharks: Nick Kyrgios, Radek Stepanek (don’t underestimate the Czech!), Dustin Brown, Fabio Fognini or Feliciano Lopez.

VIKA

I’ll be singing the same tune — not only did Stan Wawrinka have to deal with Switzerland’s heartbreaker in the Euros this weekend, but he got handed this early-round draw. Yikes.

(But he got to go to the WTA Wimbledon party, so — not a total loss.)

4. Most Exciting R1?

Embed from Getty Images

JEFF

Nick Kyrgios vs. Radek Stepanek is both a hilarious contrast in styles and a compelling comparison of polarizing personalities. Both play unique brands of flashy tennis and have had great success on grass courts.

Praying for a wacky five-setter.

RENÉ

Opposed to some of the other slams, there are so many tremendous first round matches on the men’s side that it’s tough to just pick one.

Particularly the Australian No. 1 and 2, noted enfants terribles Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic have some difficult first courses on their plates with Radek Stepanek and Fernando Verdasco. But I’ll go against the grain here and pick the rematch of the Halle semifinals: Dominic Thiem vs. Florian Mayer — one of the biggest upset watches for the first round and hopefully an incredibly fun encounter.

Embed from Getty Images

NICK

This is an incredibly tough question because there are so many: but I think the correct answer here is Stepanek vs. Kyrgios. Both players present so many challenges to their opponents. Stepanek has the variety and net game whereas Kyrgios has the serve and the baseline weapons. Both of these guys bring tons of energy and character to the court. I would be shocked if this is not a Center Court match.

SAM

Bernard Tomic vs. Fernando Verdasco.

Bernie loves (and always tries his best at) Wimbledon. Fernando loves to play long five set matches at majors. Bring it, boys.

Embed from Getty Images

DIEGO

Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Stephane Robert. I’m so here for the Frenchman. The 36-year-old has almost come out of nowhere with a look like someone who’s been picked up from St. Kilda’s Beach in Melbourne while he was ready to surf the ocean — he is absolutely one of the most entertaining guys on ATP Tour.

It’s a real pity that we might not see him much longer due to his age, but 12 months ago he was far from Top­ 300 due to a terrible injury, but now he’s in the Top 100 and even better in the ATP Race at No. 53. That’s incredible, and he plays the kind of game which could be really dangerous on grass — thanks to really quick movement and hitting with no spin on both sides.

VIKA

John Isner and Marcos Baghdatis both have experience playing, for lack of a better term, stupid-long matches at Wimbledon.

I expect shenanigans in this one.

5. The Unheralded Opposition?

Embed from Getty Images

JEFF

Juan Martin Del Potro looked solid in Stuttgart and I expect that sort of form to follow into Wimbledon. His more vulnerable backhand won’t matter as much in a grass court game of serves and forehands… that is, if his body manages to hold up.

RENÉ

In a semi-contrarian pick, I’ll go with Grigor Dimitrov to snap his losing streak dating all the way back to his meltdown in the Istanbul final. Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils, the seeded players in Dimitrov’s section also played each other last year, finishing a five-set match underneath the roof of Wimbledon Centre Court but with Monfils’ injury issues and Simon’s form dipping, maybe there’s an opening — or even a lifeline — for the Bulgarian to slowly turn around his not so great, terrible 2016 season.

NICK

Florian Mayer, Juan Martin Del Potro, Gilles Muller and Fernando Verdasco also seem like viable choices, but I’m going to go with ‘s-Hertogenbosch champion Nicolas Mahut. Mahut, famous for his 2010 match with John Isner, has proven year after year that he can do damage on grass. I like him to score a “big” upset over David Ferrer in the second round and reach the second week.

Embed from Getty Images

Florian Mayer, the Halle winner, would be my second choice, but he has the daunting task of facing Dominic Thiem in the first round in what will surely be one of the most closely followed first round encounters.

SAM

Grigor Dimitrov  — how far the 2014 semifinalist at SW19 has fallen. And yet, I (perhaps stupidly?) feel like he might find a spark this fortnight. A guy with that much talent has to figure out eventually.

Embed from Getty Images

Right?

DIEGO

I hope to see Sergiy Stakhovsky playing at his best. Maybe we can discuss about the person, but as a tennis player, he is still one of the best on this surface who showed up in 2013 and beat Roger Federer. He uses the serve and volley almost every time, owns a sublime half volley when approaching the net and a vintage game — all the elements who make him one the toughest players out there on grass. He was little bit lucky with the draw, as he has to play against Yoshito Nishihoka, and then with Marin Cilic — he could find another great day and create one of the first major upset of the tournament. The only question mark is his physical condition, as he picked up an injury that forced him to retire from Halle.

VIKA

It’ll come as no surprise, but I’ll take the wildcard Dustin Brown — partially because of the kind of tennis he’s shown on grass, and partially because of where he is in the draw. A second round match against either Kyrgios or Stepanek would be must-see viewing.

6. The Semifinalists?

JEFF

How do you not pick Novak Djokovic? If Milos Raonic was in any other part of the draw, I’d comfortably pencil him in for a semifinal, but Djokovic always find a way past big serving opponents. Roger Federer‘s draw is quite safe, and, barring a treeing Marin Cilic, he should be able to find a way to the semis in the best-of-five format.

The bottom half is a bit more unpredictable, but if Dominic Thiem can continue riding the wave of confidence he’s been on over the past few months he should be able overcome his competition, despite all the dangerous floaters in his quarter and his relative inexperience on grass. Andy Murray managed to win Queen’s this year (again) but I wasn’t overly convinced on his form, just barely scraping by after Raonic’s capitulation. I mentioned Tsonga earlier and I’m gonna stick with him to produce a series of upsets this week.

RENÉ

Novak Djokovic
Roger Federer
…. Alexander Zverev
Andy Murray

I’ve got fairly high confidence in Djokovic and Murray making it into the semifinals of their respective sides — particularly Djokovic shouldn’t be complaining about the sort of draw he’s been handed.

Embed from Getty Images

As for the second and third quarters, these throw up a few more question marks, particularly the third. Roger Federer has been playing decent but not spectacular tennis in his warm up events in Germany — still, as long as he remains injury free he should stand a solid chance to make it back to the semifinals even if there are a couple of trapdoors in his way. As for the third quarter — who knows? Dominic Thiem fought his way through to his first grass court title in Stuttgart and made semifinals in Halle but he himself is hardly convinced of his grass court prowess yet. Stan Wawrinka is still looking to unlock his full potential on what’s probably his least favorite surface, so maybe there is room for another surprise semifinalist? Bernard Tomic could go a certain distance but I’ll stick with my dark horse pick and go with Alexander Zverev to make a breakthrough run here — and I’ll be ruing this decision when he flames out in the second round against Mikhail Youzhny.

NICK

Djokovic vs. Federer and Murray vs. Berdych

Murray and Djokovic are a step above the rest of the competition right now. I would be extremely surprised if they aren’t playing two Friday’s from now. Berdych is in the same quarter as Wawrinka and Thiem. Wawrinka and Thiem both have some complicated matches along the way, and I think Berdych can trouble two guys who prefer having time off the ground on a faster surface. Federer has won this event seven times and despite not being anywhere near his best, he’s still Federer and will likely find a way to pull things together, having been given a draw that isn’t terribly difficult.

SAM

Djokovic vs. Federer and Zverev  vs. Murray

Djokovic vs. Raonic could be an interesting quarterfinal if Raonic plays the kind of tennis he did in the first few months of this year, but Djokovic shouldn’t be too troubled. I’m mostly relying on Federer at Wimbledon magic for the second quarter; I’m not confident in the Swiss’ form but I’m hard pressed to pick anyone in front of him to beat him on Centre Court.

I think Alexander Zverev is ready for a career-best slam result. It won’t be easy — potentially facing Berdych, Tomic, and Wawrinka along the way — but he feels due in a way for something like this. I don’t see an early #BREXIT (sorry, everyone) in Andy Murray’s future; he should be through to the semifinals in relatively easy fashion.

DIEGO

Djokovic­ vs. Federer and Zverev­ vs. Murray.

#whatheysaid

VIKA

I may or may not still be reveling in my “Richard Gasquet to the semifinals” pick from a year ago, which I was duly laughed at for, and then got to gloat about.

I’m less likely to go out on a wing this year — and I think that No. 1 and No. 2 of Djokovic and Murray will find their way to the final four relatively untroubled.

Their opponents, though? While Federer didn’t answer too many questions about his form in the lead-up, he got fortunate in the draw lottery and it’s tough to see anyone in his quarter taking him out. I think the winner of a Zverev vs. Berdych third round meeting is going to be the one to meet Murray. While I’m on board with ATP #NEXTGEN, I think this time, Berdych will sqeak by.

7. The Champion?

Embed from Getty Images

JEFF

Do I want to be right or do I want to be bold? A bold (and slightly nostalgic) pick would go with Federer, but I value being right more, and there’s no better return on investment in tennis these days than Djokovic. Who knows if he’ll have a hangover from his Roland Garros heroics, but he’s the two-time defending champ at Wimbledon and is thus currently the best on grass over five sets. Hard to pick against that.

RENÉ

Novak Djokovic, defeating Andy Murray in the final.

All good things come in threes, right? I know people have been drumming up a lot of hype around the Lendl-effect and whatnot but I don’t see Djokovic lose until someone converts match point against him — and I’m struggling to see who that is supposed to be.

NICK

My champion is Andy Murray. Murray will likely be inspired by the recent political events that have taken place in Britain. Additionally, we saw Murray play some excellent tennis in Rome and early on in the French Open final against Djokovic. The aggressive style of tennis he needs to play to beat Djokovic is tougher to execute over the long run on clay. On grass, it’ll be easier for Murray to push the action and take it to Novak.

SAM

Djokovic def. Murray. If there were a time and place for someone to end Djokovic’s chance for a calendar slam, Murray on Centre in the Wimbledon final might be it. Alas, I will make the smart pick: Djokovic to lift his fourth trophy at the All-England Club.

DIEGO

Novak Djokovic.

#emoughsaid

VIKA

Novak Djokovic — the World No. 1 hasn’t given me even a shred of evidence to pick against him, so I won’t.

Who are your ATP Wimbledon picks? Sound off in the comments!

Advertisements

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. TTI Talks: State of the WTA (Wimbledon 2016 Edition) – The Tennis Island

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: