To much fanfare, the 2013 Wimbledon draw was released yesterday.
As many feared, no. 5 seed Nadal was drawn into Fed’s quarter. Fed, Nadal and Muzz are all in the same half of the draw, while Djokovic and Ferru headline the other half. This means Fed would have to defeat Nadal, Muzz and Djokovic in order to defend his title from last year. I’d say the main beneficiaries from this arrangement are Djokovic (who faces a tough but ultimately volatile and bird-brained QF opponent in Berdy) and Muzz (whose toughest test would be his potential QF opponent, Tsonga).
As for DelPo, he received a comparatively soft landing in the draw. This by no means guarantees success, given DelPo’s rusty form of late and his difficulties against the 4th seed, Ferrer, whose quarter of the seed he occupies.
DelPo’s potential route at Wimbledon: R1 Ramos – R2 Levine – R3 Dimitrov – R4 Nishikori/Llodra – QF Ferrer – SF Djokovic – F Federer/Nadal/God forbid Murray again…
If DelPo were in the same form he was last year, I’d appreciate this draw as a decent chance for him to not only earn his first QF spot at Wimbledon but to also make a play for his first SF showing at a Slam since 2009. However, DelPo’s virus issues have been considerable. 6 of his 8 losses this year have been to lower-ranked opponents. Yesterday, he lost an exho to Gasquet at the Boodles (against whom he is 5-1 in the competitive H2H). While the Boodles is just an exho, DelPo’s form was worrisome, as he seemed to rely mostly on winning easy points off his serve — his groundstrokes were off and Gasquet, whose questionable footwork has always held him back, was able to feast off DelPo’s tentative play. This does not inspire too much confidence, although one can’t read too much into an exho.
What was more worrisome was DelPo’s post-exho interview. The announcer at the Boodles asked DelPo how he was feeling after the match. DelPo’s grim reply was, “Tired.” He looked to be in relatively good spirits, but the questions surrounding his form continue to loom. It’s funny how almost comically paranoid Muzz and Rafa fans have been in the past over the various viruses that have struck their respective players, yet DelPo is the one who’s ultimately struggled the most with a virus.
Still, DelPo was in good enough spirits to attempt a penalty at the Boodles’ shootout:[tweet https://twitter.com/TheBoodles/status/348104448813461504 align=’center’]
In any case, DelPo will need to be in much better shape at Wimbledon. His R1 meeting against the no. 61-ranked Ramos should be a relatively straightforward match, given Ramos’ preference for clay over all other surfaces. Then again, we can’t take anything for granted at this juncture.
It’s tough to recall another time (since his comeback in 2011) when I’ve been so pessimistic about DelPo’s chances — perhaps the 2011 US Open, the 2012 Australian Open or the 2012 Olympics? It’d be lovely if DelPo could play to his seeding at Wimbledon this year, especially because he faces very tricky opponents in Dimitrov (the English-speaking media love Dimitrov — he’s their de facto show-pony now) and Nishikori (an underrated player who played DelPo very close last year at the Olympic QF). More than ever, DelPo will be vulnerable against the close-but-not-quite players who will find their time to shine if DelPo is playing at a sub-par level.
Still, there is always hope that DelPo will pull through. DelPo’s been training at the Wimbledon grounds:[tweet https://twitter.com/WimboGroundsman/status/348400534304194560 align=’center’] [tweet https://twitter.com/KennyWright_/status/348400606085513216 align=’center’]
Also, a nice photo of DelPo with his younger fans![tweet https://twitter.com/Janie5Jones/status/346751364849881088 align=’center’]
Play at Wimbledon will commence on Monday with the bottom half of the men’s draw (Fed is defending champion, so his half of the draw plays on Monday).