Tomorrow morning, bright and early, the Fortnight begins. The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club is set and ready to host the Championships at Wimbledon for the 136th year. When you say those sacred words to a tennis fan, their minds immediately go to pristine grass courts, all white attire, and probably Roger Federer. Federer has won 7 titles at the All England Club in his illustrious career, including last year’s championship, and the Swiss Maestro has been tops on grass for nearly all of his time on the tour. And even though Federer is the 3rd seed in a tremendously skilled draw this year, he has a chance of playing in the best match of the entire tournament long before the finals, as he can potentially play 5 seed Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals. But more on that later… World number one Novak Djokovic, hometown favorite Andy Murray, and all of the big 4 spoilers are still out there to discuss. I’m going to preview those marquee matchups later in the week, so for now, let’s get things rolling with the best four matchups in the first week of action you need to watch; ones that could provide some early fireworks. Everybody knows that the second week of the tournament will provide some truly great moments in tennis, but finding the right matches to watch early on will make you enjoy this spectacle of sport on a whole new level.
Sam Querrey (21) vs Bernard Tomic– Querrey is one of America’s best and brightest young stars, slowly working his way up the ATP rankings over the past few years, and Bernard Tomic is Australia’s best hope at a tennis superstar once Lleyton Hewitt retires. Both are under 25 and vying to take that next step into the tennis spotlight, but they face off in the first round at these hallowed grounds at Wimbledon and their contrasting styles of play, in addition to the hot headedness of Tomic, will make for a fun match to watch. In the end, I think Tomic will come out on top with his hard serve and great forehand, but a 5 set match is fully expected out of these two.
Gilles Simon (19) vs Feliciano Lopez – this matchup should not be treated as a first round matchup. Plain and simple. These two faced off in the Eastbourne FINALS last week, going three sets with two tiebreakers before Lopez came out on top. Simon is talented enough to face off with the big guns, but his lack of consistency hurts him. Lopez is a formerly high ranked player entering the twilight of his career, but consistency is his strong point. These two contrast each other so well that the potential for another five set match is obvious, and even though I believe Lopez will go 2-0 on grass this year against Simon and move on, I think this match can go either way. It will definitely be a fun one to watch.
Marin Cilic (10) vs Marcos Baghdatis- Both of these players are in extremely interesting circumstances in their careers. On one hand, Marin Cilic is a ridiculously skilled bomber that can trade forehands with the best of them, but his lack of consistency has kept him from making a big splash in the rankings. Will he ever take that big next step? And then there is Marcos Baghdatis. A fan favorite, Baghdatis is known for putting on a show in every match he is a part of. He gives 110% effort in every match, and has proven his skills early on in his career despite no real success late in majors. These two will put on a great show for the crowd, and even though Cilic will come out on top, the fight Baghdatis puts in is more than deserving of a spotlight.
Nicolas Almagro (15) vs Jerzy Janowicz (24)– this is the non marquee matchup that I am praying to get a chance to watch. Almagro has been steadily improving his reckless, winner-bashing style of play for the past few tournaments and is becoming a more and more daunting opponent to face, and Jerzy Janowicz has been my man-crush tennis player for the past year because of how he plays. He rocks 140+ mph serves, drills winners seemingly out of nowhere, and didn’t really have a buildup in his career. He just started beating big name players and appeared in the rankings out of the blue earlier this year. These two will have a knock down, smash-mouth tennis match that could easily go 5 sets if both are on their game. The potential for these guys to be at their best for an entire match is enough for me to tune in, and you absolutely should too.
These are just some of the morsels of entertainment that the rest of the draw has to offer you before the big guns get working later on, and I’ll be taking a look at those matchups later this week. For week one at Wimbledon, enjoy watching the lesser names get thrust into the spotlight at the All England Club. There may not be another Roger Federer hiding in the draw, but there are definitely some fantastic matches that will be played. Don’t let the time difference scare you off: it’s totally worth it to wake up at 5 AM as long as there’s good tennis on. Trust me, I’ve been there before. Sleep can wait.