Wimbledon draw: Potential Murray-Nadal match; Djokovic avoids Big Four
LONDON – The Wimbledon 2015 draw was released on Friday morning as Novak Djokovic and Petra Kvitova look to defend their titles at the All England Club. Here's a breakdown of the draw, including projected quarterfinals, matches to watch and top storylines to watch throughout the tournament.
Men's draw at a glance
No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic and French Open champion Stan Wawrinka are in the top half of the draw, while No. 2 Roger Federer and No. 3 Andy Murray are in the bottom half. No. 10 Rafael Nadal was drawn into the bottom half. Djokovic opens play on Centre Court on Monday against No. 33 Philipp Kohlschreiber.
Projected quarterfinals: Novak Djokovic vs. Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka vs. Milos Raonic, Andy Murray vs. David Ferrer/Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer vs. Tomas Berdych.
Women's draw at a glance
No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 3 Maria Sharapova have been drawn into the top half together, with defending champion and No. 2 Petra Kvitova and No. 3 Simona Halep in the bottom half of the draw. Serena will open against Russian qualifier Margarita Gasparyan on Tuesday.
Projected quarterfinals: Serena Williams vs. Ana Ivanovic, Maria Sharapova vs. Lucie Safarova, Simona Halep vs. Caroline Wozniacki, Petra Kvitova vs. Ekaterina Makarova.
Thoughts on the draw
Andy Murray could face Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals: The good news for Murray is that the only man he's lost to in the last four months, Novak Djokovic, is on the other side of the draw. The bad news is he may have to go through Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to get to the final. Nadal is projected to play Ferrer in the Round of 16, and if he wins, he could play Murray in the quarterfinals. Of course, they have to get there first. Nadal has a potentially tough opener against Thomaz Bellucci, who may not be comfortable on grass but is in the midst of a strong year. Next comes either the flashy Dustin Brown, who beat him in Halle last year, or Rendy Lu, with No. 22 seed Viktor Troicki, who he beat in the Stuttgart final, looming in a potential third round match. All that to possibly play No. 8 seed Ferrer.
Serena Williams quest for the Serena Slam could go through Venus: The top seed has a manageable draw, with the biggest landmines coming in a potential Round of 16 duel with No. 16 Venus and quarterfinal against No. 23 seed Victoria Azarenka. But will those matches even happen? It's hard to know what form Venus is in after a strong start to the season on hard courts only to go 2-3 on clay. As for Azarenka, she's twice had Serena on the ropes this year but pulled out of the grass lead-up tournaments citing a left foot injury.
A semifinal against either Maria Sharapova or French Open finalist Lucie Safarova is also a possibility, though Sharapova has made it past the fourth round just once since 2006. And given their head-to-head—Sharapova has not beaten Serena in over a decade—that potential semifinal won't have Serena quaking in her Nikes. All in all, with all the question marks surrounding the top seeds in her half, this is a good draw for Serena.
Novak Djokovic has, yet again, a tough path to the title: The No. 1 seed and defending champion may breathe a sigh of relief seeing Federer, Murray and Nadal all in the opposite side of the draw, but he still has the trickiest round-by-round draw of any of the tournament favorites. He opens on Monday against the highest-ranked unseeded player, No. 33 Philipp Kohlschreiber, who came a few points away from knocking off Roger Federer two weeks ago in Halle. Next he would play either Jarkko Nieminen or Lleyton Hewitt, who are both playing in their final Wimbledon. From there he could play No. 26 Bernard Tomic in the third round, Queen's finalist Kevin Anderson in the Round of 16, No. 5 Kei Nishikori in the quarterfinals and then a French Open final rematch could come in the semifinals against Stan Wawrinka.
A comfortable draw for Roger Federer: Last year's finalist has a very workable section of the draw. No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych is the highest seed in his quarter and he'll open against Damir Dzhumhur, who he beat handily at the French Open. Federer's projected path to the semifinals: Dzhumhur, Sam Querrey, Jack Sock, Feliciano Lopez, Berdych. Given their respective forms, a Federer-Murray semifinal would be very intriguing.
Petra Kvitova is surrounded by strugglers: Can the Czech find her grass court magic to defend her title? Who knows. When it comes to the uber-talented, uber-erratic two-time Wimbledon champion, you're better off trying to predict the London weather. She opens against No. 108 Kiki Bertens, who came into the year having won just one match on grass in her career (though she won three two weeks ago in s'Hertogenbosch). The rest of Kvitova's path to the final: Kurumi Nara, Jelena Jankovic, Agnieszka Radwanska or Elina Svitolina, Ekaterina Makarova or Eugenie Bouchard (who could play No. 21 Madison Keys in the third round), and either Caroline Wozniacki or Simona Halep. Given how Radwanska, Bouchard and Halep have been playing lately, that's not an impossible path.
Mixed bag for the Americans: There are six American men and 16 American women in the main draw this year. No. 1 American man John Isner is still looking to get past the third round for the first time in his career. He has two straight-forward matches to start against Go Soeda and then either Matt Ebden or Blaz Rola. Then comes a possible third round against Marin Cilic, with the winner likely to play Nishikori. Both Sam Querrey and Jack Sock are possible opponents for Federer in the second and third rounds, respectively, while Donald Young opens against Marcos Baghdatis. But keep an eye on Steve Johnson. He plays Lukas Lacko in the first round with the winner possibly paying No. 11 seed Grigor Dimitrov. That's an upset opportunity.
As for the women, Venus Williams opens against fellow American Madison Brengle in the first round. Sloane Stephens, who is building her confidence on grass with a good run in Eastbourne this week, is in Sharapova's quarter of the draw and opens against No. 27 Barbora Strycova and could play Safarova in the third round. Madison Keys, the No. 3 American after Serena and Venus, opens against Stefanie Voegele and could play Bouchard in the third round.
First round men's matches to watch
Novak Djokovic vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber, Lleyton Hewitt vs. Jarkko Nieminen, Donald Young vs. Marcos Baghdatis, Fabio Fognini vs. Tim Smyczek, Rafael Nadal vs. Thomaz Bellucci, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Gilles Muller, Borna Coric vs. Sergiy Stakhovsky, Tomas Berdych vs. Jeremy Chardy, Ernests Gulbis vs. Lukas Rosol, Jack Sock vs. Sam Groth.
First round women's matches to watch
Venus Williams vs. Madison Brengle, Belinda Bencic vs. Tsvetana Pironkova, Maria Sharapova vs. Johanna Konta, Caroline Garcia vs. Heather Watson, Sara Errani vs. Francesca Schiavone, Sloane Stephens vs. Barbora Strycova, Sabine Lisicki vs. Jarmila Gajdosova, Ana Konjuh vs. Alize Cornet, Eugenie Bouchard vs. Duan Ying-Ying, Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Lucie Hradecka, Petra Kvitova vs. Kiki Bertens.