I don’t practice Santaria, I ain’t got no crystal ball. But some Wimbledon picks….
1. Andy Murray (GBR)
The defending champ has given little indication he’s up to defending. But Murray—and this will go down as a top-line virtue—warms to the occasion at Wimbledon. Galvanized and not cowed by the pressure. You worry about his level. You worry about his hip. You pick against him at your peril.
2. Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Where to begin? He comes to Wimbledon holding no Slams, his confidence fissuring and nursing a 0-6 borderline tank job in his previous set of Grand Slam tennis. And he’ll be tested early against Klizan. On the plus side, his record at the All England Cub since 2010: 32-3 with three titles. You pick against him at your peril.
3. Roger Federer (SUI)
A few weeks from turning 36, Federer might as well be the favorite. He goes for his eighth Wimbledon title on the heels of winning Halle… knowing that the top two players above him are reeling….and he’s 3-0 this year against the guy beneath him. You pick against him at your peril.
4. Rafael Nadal (ESP)
The French Open winner has won each of the last 21 sets he’s played at the previous Slam and 13 of the 14 Grand Slam matches he’s played. That said, he hasn’t gotten out of the first week since 2011. And you worry about Gilles Muller looming so close in the draw. You pick against him at your peril.
5. Stan Wawrinka (SUI)
The one player who got truly jobbed by the seeding. He’s ranked third, but lost his Top Four seeding. (Did they consider that Wawrinka is working with the mighty Paul Annacone this season?) Then again, Wawrinka has never been beyond the quarters and his movement is not well suited for slick and fast grass. Plus he'll get a workout off the bat against Medvedev.
6. Milos Raonic (CAN)
The hard-serving Canadian reached the finals in 2016 and he’s back on his best surface. But he comes in with little momentum. Then again, he is working with Mark Knowles now.
7. Marin Cilic(CRO)
Been to the quarters three straight years. But between the low bounce and the little-margin-for-error tennis, if he wins his second major, it’s unlikely to be on grass.
8. Dominic Thiem (AUT)
You admire the ascent, the work ethic. You shrug at the inveterate playing schedule, resigned that it’s not changing and maybe he knows what is best for him. You worry that grass is too fast a surface for his extravagant strokes.
9. Kei Nishikori (JPN)
Different as their games and physiques are—Kei’s Dev to Milos’ Arnie—he and Raonic share much overlap in their Venn diagrams. Professionals, clinicians, the best players their countries have produced…. and physical risks, especially in best-of-five formats.
10. Alexander Zverev (GER)
Lots to like here, but the lack of full physical strength/maturity can make it hard for him to win best-of-five matches. Ought to improve on his French Open showing (a first round exit); but is he ready to win majors?
11. Tomas Berdych (CZE)
A former finalist (2010) and a semifinalist last year. But, not unlike Cilic, the low bounce can give him trouble. Berdych has so much talent—and still does even at this advanced age— but putting it together for seven rounds has always been a challenge.
12. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)
Always dangerous—perhaps especially on grass—but his best days, sadly, are in the rearview mirror.
13. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)
He was a hot prospect (never more so than when he reached the 2014 semis, beating Andy Murray along the way.) He backslid. He returned. Unimpeachable talent. Unimpeachably likable guy. But it’s still unclear whether he’s capable of truly competing for majors.
14. Lucas Pouille (FRA)
A surprise quarterfinalist last year, Pouille can try and improve upon his 2016 breakthrough.
15. Gael Monfils (FRA)
Come for the party, stay for the substance.
16. Gilles Muller (LUX)
A hot pick and for good reason. The Luxembourgish lefty (perhaps the Luxembourgish lefty?) has a serve-based game that is tailor made for grass.
17. Jack Sock (USA)
Top American still seeks that Grand Slam breakthrough.
19. Feliciano Lopez (ESP)
Roger Federer isn’t the only 35-year-old with a chance to go far. Queen’s Club winner is the rare Spaniard who plays best on the blades and not the granules.
20. Nick Kyrgios (AUS)
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Nick Kyrgios, where potential and self-sabotage come to wrestle. Kyrgios can win this event. He can also—especially with a groin injury not fully healed—bow out early. Not unlike the Celtics, lots of upside here. Not unlike the Celtics, he may still be a year or two away from the peak.
21. Ivo Karlovic (CRO)
Fifteen years ago, Karlovic served his way past defending champ Lleyton Hewitt. Here he is at 38, still packing heat.
22. Richard Gasquet (FRA)
His prime is past his meridian, but always capable of playing dashing tennis, especially on grass.
23. John Isner (USA)
Was the 70-68 match really seven years ago?
26. Steve Johnson (USA)
Rough spring for the American. Wish him well.
27. Mischa Zverev (GER)
Player to watch—perhaps even more than his brother. Love the lefty serve-and-volley combo on grass.
29. Juan Martin del Potro (ARG)
A top five player, provided he’s healthy. Sadly, that is seldom the case.
30. Karen Khachanov (RUS)
You wish the movement were better. But after a fine French Open why can't he replicate his success on grass?
Dark horse nation
Anyone German. Dustin Brown. Phil Kohlschreiber. Tommy Haas.
Frances Tiafoe: Losing a lot of close matches. But improving steadily.
Kevin Anderson: Had Djokovic on the ropes two years ago. Now hard-serving South African is back from injury.
Fernando Verdasco: Not a great track record but can play on a fast surface.
Daniil Medvedev: The best player you’ve never heard of.
First round matches to watch
Djojovic could be tested by Klizan, a tricky and colorful lefty.
Thiem vs. Vasek Pospisil: The Canadian has already beaten the world No.1 this year.
Del Potro vs. Thanasi Kokkanakis: The tennis fates owe them both.
Wawrinka vs. Medvedev: Brutal first match for both.
Tiafoe vs. Zverev
Murray vs. Dustin Brown
Kohlschreiber d. Cilic. (Can’t quite pull the trigger on Medvedev d. Wawrinka.)
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares
Murray d. Muller
Federer d. Djokovic
Federer d. Murray