wertheim picks fed to win wimbledon
hopefully worthless actually is right for once
SI.com's Jon Wertheim breaks down the men's and women's seeds at Wimbledon. Read on for the top first-round matchups, dark horses to watch and his predicted winners.
Top 16 seeds
1. Rafael Nadal: He's the defending champ and he's proved he can win on any surface. But with the knee trouble, the lack of prep work and any residual mental effects from Paris, you figure the pendulum has swung back to Roger Federer. Even assuming he plays, it doesn't look promising. His second-round opponent could be Lleyton Hewitt, who beat Nadal in an exhibition Thursday.
2. Roger Federer: After walking the desert for this first five months of 2009 and only coming up with mouthfuls of sand, Federer is suddenly the player to beat again. Apart from a gimpy rival, he has the benefit of a soft draw. Will we have back-to-back French Open/Wimbledon winners for back-to-back years? The guess here is yes.
3. Andy Murray: He'll win a Slam sometime soon. And his games translates just fine to grass, provided he returns aggressively. But in addition to the immense pressure, he'll need to confront Federer. That's a lot to ask.
4. Novak Djokovic: These are not flush times for Djokovic, LLC. After a fine spring, he crashed at the French and then lost to Tommy Haas in the Halle final. Plus, he underachieved at Wimbledon last year with a second-round loss to Marat Safin. He sure could use a deep Slam run, but we just don't see it.
5. Juan Martin del Potro: He'll win Slams one day -- but unlikely this one, and certainly not now. The grass skills just aren't there yet. He's lost in the second round in each of the last two years.
6. Andy Roddick: He's probably the next best pick after Federer and Murray. The big serve is obviously a weapon and so is the knowledge that's he won six rounds in the past. The cause for concern: the right foot injury he sustained in Queens. And a nasty early draw that has him facing Jeremy Chardy and then, likely, Grigor Dimitrov.
7. Fernando Verdasco: Like many in this new era, he can play on hard courts and on clay, but grass is a foreign surface. He faltered in the tune-ups. Fortunately, he drew a British wild card in the first round. Otherwise, the Iberia lounge at Heathrow might await.
8. Gilles Simon: Gets better every year at Wimbledon, but still lacks the heavy artillery to survive past the middle weekend.
9. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: Always an intriguing player. He can serve, he can volley, he can return, he can hit the heck out of the ball. If he can dictate play and avoid being made to hit on the run, he'll keep winning. Until he faces Federer in the quarterfinals.
10. Fernando Gonzalez: He's coming off a strong French Open, which usually means he's due for a crash. A nice draw could enable him to win a few rounds, but then it gets dicey.
11. Marin Cilic: Croats tend to well here and Cilic is no exception, having waltzed to the fourth round last year.
12. Nikolay Davydenko: Credit the guy for sticking around and returning nicely from injury. But he's 4-7 lifetime at Wimbledon and unlikely to improve much on that this year.
13. Robin Soderling: Lots of eyes are on him after his upset of Nadal and his run to French final. Can he sustain it on grass, a surface that complements his game quite well? Interesting first-rounder against Gilles Muller.
14. Marat Safin: A semifinalist last year, perhaps he has some magic left for this, his swan song. And the draw certainly breaks well for him.
15. Tommy Robredo: The usual Grand Slam dance. A few wins, a forgettable loss. Nice press conference. Move on.
16. David Ferrer: Might win a round or two but no more. Not a surface that rewards expert retrieving.
17. James Blake: Half-Brit can start to salvage a forgettable season with a strong showing. Reaching the final at Queen's Club should be a source of inspiration. But the draw did him no favors: If he survives the frustrating Fabrice Santoro, Mikhail Youzhny awaits.
18. Rainer Schuettler: A semifinalist last year, Schuettler moves well and, like most Germans, has a knack for the greensward.
20. Tomas Berdych: Replacing Safin as the most erratic performer.
22. Ivo Karlovic: A bold prediction: He will serve at least a few aces and play at least one tiebreaker. If the Croatian Ace Machine is going to book an extended stay at a major, this is the one.
23. Radek Stepanek: A well-rounded veteran who knows how to win.
24. Tommy Haas: Backed up a strong showing in Paris by winning Halle tune-up.
25. Dmitry Tursunov/No. 29 Igor Andreev/unseeded Michael Youzhny: Erratic Russians have the requisite games and played well in tune-ups.
27. Philipp Kohlshreiber: Another key member of the German tennis renaissance.
Sam Querrey: American plays Ivan Ljubicic (who injured his ankle Thursday) and then, likely, Marin Cilic.
Oliver Rochus: Our man has been standing tall in tune-ups.
Fabrice Santoro: Though his days are numbered, he's been playing well lately. Catch him while you can.
Grigor Dimitrov: The 18-year-old is "better than Federer at the same age," according to coach Peter Lundgren. Stay tuned.
Benjamin Becker: We're stockpiling Germans here.
First-round matches to watch
Lleyton Hewitt vs. Robby Ginepri: Winner could draw Nadal next.
Andy Roddick vs. Jeremy Chardy: Not exactly a cakewalk first-rounder for Roddick.
Sam Querrey vs. Ivan Ljubicic: What's 13 feet tall and might last five sets?
Rainer Schuettler vs. Xavier Malisse: Two former semifinalists.
Blue-plate upset special: Fabrice Santoro over James Blake.
The Bryan brothers: They're due.
Roddick vs. Murray
Player outside the top 10 (Cilic?) vs. Federer
Murray vs. Federer