Wimbledon, England (SportsNetwork.com) – Top-ranked Rafael Nadal made a pair of hasty exits in the previous two Wimbledon championships, and he was dealt another tough draw this time around.
The two-time champion has a possible second-round rematch with Czech Lukas Rosol, who bludgeoned the mighty Spaniard at that same stage on the famed grass at the All England Club two years ago.
The second-seeded Nadal is expected to get past Slovak Martin Klizan in his opener next week, despite having lost to Belgian Steve Darcis at that stage a year ago.
The reigning French and U.S. Open champion Nadal could face big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic in the third round before a possible fourth-round date with France’s Richard Gasquet or Gael Monfils. And Canadian slugger Milos Raonic could loom in the quarterfinals.
If the draw pans out, Nadal’s 34th career meeting with seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer would take place in the semifinals. The fourth-seeded Swiss icon has won two of their three career grass-court showdowns, all in Wimbledon finals, and will launch his bid for an eighth crown at the AEC against Italian Paolo Lorenzi.
After that, Federer could face a tricky second-round matchup in either Frenchman Julian Benneteau or Luxembourg left-hander Gilles Muller. Fifteenth-seeded Pole Jerzy Janowicz, a Wimbledon semifinalist last year, could be a fourth-round opponent for the Swiss great.
A possible all-Swiss quarterfinal could happen between Federer and world No. 3 Aussie Open champ Stan Wawrinka, who is seeded fifth at the fortnight. Wawrinka will open against Portugal’s Joao Sousa next week. Russian Dmitry Tursunov could be a third-round opponent for Wawrinka, who potentially could face ninth-seeded American John Isner after that.
Top seed Novak Djokovic, the 2011 Wimbledon champion and last year’s runner-up to Andy Murray, is coming off a tough loss against Nadal in the French Open final, his fifth defeat in his last seven Grand Slam finals.
Djokovic will open up against Kazakhstan’s Andrey Golubev, with two-time Wimbledon semifinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as a possible fourth-round opponent.
The Serbian star could meet 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals and could be looking at a rematch of last year’s final with Murray in the semis.
The third-seeded world No. 5 Murray has arguably the easiest draw of the top- four seeds. He’ll open against Belgian David Goffin on Centre Court on Monday and could meet pesky Italian Fabio Fognini in the third round.
Murray could be opposed by Spaniard David Ferrer or rising Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the quarters. Dimitrov titled on grass at The Queen’s Club last week.