Monday, June 27, 2016

Wimbledon preview: LeBron, Lady Gaga, Obama

   Wimbledon begins today at 4 a.m. PDT (ESPN) and continues through July 10. Here are some players to watch (seeding in parentheses):
Novak Djokovic
Photo by Paul Bauman
MEN
   Novak Djokovic (1) -- Only player who can cool him off, it appears, is LeBron James. Northern California connection: None.
   Andy Murray (2) -- Rehired Ivan Lendl as part-time coach after Lady Gaga turned down job. Considering withdrawing from players' union. NorCal connection: Won first of his 37 tour-level singles titles (fourth among active players) in now-defunct SAP Open in San Jose at 18 in 2006 and repeated in 2007. Also won Aptos Challenger in 2005.
   Roger Federer (3) -- Somehow, it's difficult to imagine Federer picking his butt like a certain Spaniard. It would be like Prince Charles spitting tobacco juice at Buckingham Palace dinner. NorCal connection: None.
   Stan Wawrinka (4) -- Goes back to being "other" Swiss with Federer's return from back problems. NorCal connection: None.
   Milos Raonic (6) -- Added John McEnroe to team as calming influence. NorCal connection: Never lost a set in 13 career matches in SAP Open, winning last three titles (2011-13) before tournament was discontinued.
   Tomas Berdych (10) -- Has worse record against Djokovic than 76ers vs. Warriors. NorCal connection: Reached quarterfinals of 2009 SAP Open as fifth seed in only San Jose appearance.
Serena Williams
Photo by Paul Bauman
WOMEN
   Serena Williams (1) -- Has been stuck on 21 Slams since Barack Obama had dark hair. NorCal connection: Won Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
   Garbine Muguruza (2) -- Rafael who? Muguruza becoming new face of Spanish tennis. NorCal connection: Won doubles title in 2014 Bank of the West Classic with fellow Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro.
   Agnieszka Radwanska (3) -- Might compete in gymnastics instead of tennis at Olympics. NorCal connection: Runner-up to Dominika Cibulkova in 2013 Bank of the West Classic.
   Simona Halep (5) -- Hasn't played a match since French Open. Then again, neither has Djokovic. However, Djokovic won the French Open and owns three Wimbledon crowns. NorCal connection: Lost in first round of 2011 Bank of the West Classic in only Stanford appearance.
   Madison Keys (9) -- Top-ranked American not named Williams. NorCal connection: Has lost in second round of Bank of the West Classic in both appearances there (2013 and 2015).
   Petra Kvitova (10) -- Lobbying WTA to hold all tournaments on grass, preferably at Wimbledon. NorCal connection: None.

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