Sunday, June 22, 2014

Players to watch at Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic, the 2011 champion, is seeded first at Wimbledon.
2012 photo by Paul Bauman
   Following are players to watch at Wimbledon, scheduled for Monday through July 6 (seedings in parentheses): 
MEN
      Novak Djokovic (1)   
   Why he'll win -- Djokovic has won six Grand Slam singles titles, including Wimbledon in 2011.
   Why he won't -- He has fallen short in the last five Slams, losing in the final three times and the semifinals and quarterfinals once each. The right-hander withdrew from an exhibition in London this week with a recurrence of a right wrist injury but said it won't affect him at Wimbledon.
   NorCal connection -- None.
    Rafael Nadal (2)
   Why he'll win -- Nadal has won Wimbledon twice (2008 and 2010) and finished as the runner-up three times (2006, 2007 and 2011).
   Why he won't -- He has lost his last three matches on grass, falling to journeymen Dustin Brown at Halle last week, Steve Darcis in the first round at Wimbledon last year and Lukas Rosol in the second round at the All England Club in 2012. 
   Northern California connection -- None.  
   Andy Murray (3)
   Why he'll win -- In 2013, Murray became the first British man in 77 years to win Wimbledon.
   Why he won't -- He underwent "minor" back surgery last September and hasn't reached a tournament final since his Wimbledon triumph.
   NorCal connection -- Murray won the SAP Open in San Jose in 2006 at 18 years old and repeated in 2007. He also won the Aptos Challenger in 2005.
Roger Federer seeks a record eighth Wimbledon men's
singles title. 2014 photo by Paul Bauman
Roger Federer (4)
   Why he'll win -- Federer can break the record of seven Wimbledon men's singles titles that he shares with Pete Sampras and Willie Renshaw (who played in the 1880s).
   Why he won't -- Federer will turn 33 next month and has lost before the quarterfinals at three of the past four majors, including a second-round exit to Sergiy Stakhovsky at Wimbledon last year.
   NorCal connection -- None.
Tomas Berdych (6)
   Why he'll win -- Berdych has gained experience and maturity since advancing to the 2010 Wimbledon final at 25 years old, losing to Nadal in straight sets.
   Why he won't -- Berdych has never reached another Grand Slam final. Also, he's 6-foot-5 (1.96 meters), and tall players struggle to reach low balls on grass.
   NorCal connection -- He made the quarterfinals of the 2009 SAP Open as the fifth seed in his only appearance in San Jose.
  Others
   Stan Wawrinka (5) -- He won his first Grand Slam title in this year's Australian Open but lost in the first round of the French Open.
   Milos Raonic (8) -- The 6-foot-5 (1.96-meter) Canadian has a monster serve but has lost in the second round in all three of his Wimbledon appearances. Raonic won the last three SAP Opens before it was dropped from the calendar this year.
   John Isner (9) -- The 6-foot-10 (2.08-meter) American's serve is the biggest weapon in tennis, but he has never been past the second round in five Wimbledons. Isner will always be known for winning the longest match in tennis history, 70-68 in the fifth set against Nicolas Mahut, at Wimbledon in 2010.
   Grigor Dimitrov (11) -- Nicknamed "Baby Fed" for his Federer-like game, the 23-year-old Bulgarian won the Queen's Club title on grass last week.
   Ernests Gulbis (12) -- The 25-year-old Latvian reached his first Grand Slam semifinal in the recent French Open, but he has failed to advance past the third round in six Wimbledon appearances.
   Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (14) -- The French veteran reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2011 (beating Federer) and 2012.
   Jerzy Janowicz (15) -- The 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Pole has struggled since gaining the Wimbledon semis last year. He could meet Federer in the fourth round. 
Champion
   Federer will summon the magic one last time.
Serena Williams has won five Wimbledon singles titles.
2012 photo by Paul Bauman
WOMEN
Serena Williams (1)
   Why she'll win -- Five of her 17 Grand Slam singles titles have come at Wimbledon, most recently in 2012.
   Why she won't -- She lost early in this year's first two Grand Slam tournaments and at Wimbledon last year.
   NorCal connection -- Williams won the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2011 and 2012, and was a semifinalist in 2008 and quarterfinalist in 2009. She is entered in this year's tournament, July 28-Aug. 3.
Li Na (2)
   Why she'll win -- Li has won two Grand Slam singles titles, the 2011 French Open and this year's Australian Open, and she's a three-time quarterfinalist at Wimbledon.
   Why she won't -- Li is coming off a first-round loss in the French Open, suggesting she's still celebrating her Australian Open crown.
   NorCal connection -- She lost in the first round of the 2009 Bank of the West Classic to top-seeded Williams in her only appearance there.
  Simona Halep (3)
   Why she'll win -- Halep advanced to her first Grand Slam final in the French Open earlier this month.
   Why she won't -- She has never been past the second round at Wimbledon in three attempts. The right-hander retired from her second-round match in a tuneup tournament this week with a right shoulder injury (but says she has recovered).
   NorCal connection -- Halep lost to Sabine Lisicki in the first round of the 2011 Bank of the West Classic in her only appearance.
Agnieszka Radwanska (4)
   Why she'll win -- The 2012 finalist and 2013 semifinalist has a favorable draw.
   Why she won't -- She is 0-8 lifetime against Williams. They could meet in a rematch of the 2012 final, which went to 6-2 in the third set.
   NorCal connection -- Radwanska was the runner-up to Dominika Cibulkova in last year's Bank of the West Classic. Radwanska also reached the semifinals in 2010, quarterfinals in 2011 and second round in 2009.
Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon 10 years ago at 17.
2014 photo by Paul Bauman
  Maria Sharapova (5)
   Why she'll win --Sharapova is coming off the French Open title and won her first Grand Slam crown 10 years ago at Wimbledon at 17.
   Why she won't -- She could meet Williams in the quarterfinals. Sharapova is 2-16 overall against Williams with a 15-match losing streak since 2004.
   NorCal connection -- Sharapova was the runner-up to Victoria Azarenka in the 2010 Bank of the West Classic, and she's a two-time quarterfinalist at Stanford.
  Others
   Petra Kvitova (6) -- The erratic left-hander won Wimbledon in 2011 for her only Grand Slam title.
   Eugenie Bouchard (13) -- The 20-year-old Canadian is the only woman to reach the semifinals of the first two majors, but she has a tough draw. Bouchard won the Wimbledon girls title two years ago.
   Sloane Stephens (18) -- A quarterfinalist last year at 20, she plays her best in the Slams.
   Sabine Lisicki (19) -- She knocked off Serena Williams in the fourth round at Wimbledon last year en route to first Grand Slam final.
Champion
   Williams' Grand Slam stumbles will only add motivation.

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