Looking at my crystal ball after the first week of Wimbledon I see the big four, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Roger Federer, at the top of the straight. None of them have had long energy-draining matches or picked up injuries, which can affect their performance in the second week.
Federer and Murray have not dropped a single set, while Djokovic has lost just one set. Nadal struggled to find his timing and rhythm and lost the first set in all his three matches.
All his opponents — Martin Klizan in the first round, Lukas Rosol in the second and Mikhail Kukushin in the third — started the matches as if they were going to blow the Spaniard off the court.
They huffed and they puffed but floundered against the rock like defence of Nadal. Only once did Nadal look vulnerable when Rosol, who beat Nadal two years ago at Wimbledon, had a point to take the second set and establish a two sets to love lead.
With two sets under his wing, Rosol would have taken off in the belief that he could repeat his victory of 2012. It was a pivotal point and Nadal’s response was a bold down-the-line forehand winner. This is what sets Nadal apart from some of the others.
His attitude embodies the spirit of the Samurai warrior. After each point, he preens himself with both a sartorial and cosmetic build up, pumps the adrenalin and throws himself into the next point with renewed vigour. Nadal’s three matches, in my view, have sharpened his game on grass without depleting his energy reserves. He will be very difficult to beat.
In sharp contrast, Murray went through his matches purring like a Rolls Royce on the motorway. For Federer the three rounds were like skiing down a gentle Alpine slope. Both of them would have been in better shape for the second week with a couple of good matches under their belts. Djokovic, in comparison, has had two good preparatory matches.
The feisty Czech, Radek Stepanek, with his audacious serve and volleys mixed with dropshots, slice and spin pushed Djokovic to a shaky tie-breaker in the fourth set. Giles Simon of France, a superclass baseline grinder, brought Djokovic back to his best. In the next round, Djokovic now faces the toughest player in the last 16 – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.
If Tsonga has fully recovered from the marathon match he won 14/12 against the giant big serving Sam Querrey of the USA, he could pull off an upset against Djokovic.
Murray’s road to the semi-finals seems clear. He has to beat the up-and-coming talent Grigor Dimitrov, who has a beautiful all court game. Seeded No.11, Dimitrov has yet to make a mark at Grand Slams.
Summing up, I expect the semi-finals as Federer vs. Nadal and Djokovic vs. Murray. Nadal will most likely beat Federer, while Djokovic and Murray could well have a very long hotly contested battle which could take the sting out of their games and hand Nadal his third Wimbledon crown.
Somdev Dev Varman, the lone Indian in the men’s singles draw, drew the 15th seed Jerzy Janowicz in the first round. He has been having bad luck in his draws and is reported to have lost in the first round in 15 tournaments! He lost once again, but in five good sets of high-class very competitive tennis.
There is no doubt that in spite of his run of losses, Somdev has made progress in his game. He served 19 aces in the match. Also, he has managed to beef up and sharpen his second service, which is a very important factor.
His ground shots are more powerful and he has become more aggressive. Somdev is on the right track and sooner or later, if he keeps trying, he is bound to break through to much higher levels in the rankings. If Kei Nishikori of Japan can make it to the top ten, so can Somdev.