2018 Wimbledon Preview – Gentlemen’s Singles

The sight of glorious green grass, the sight of delicious strawberries and cream, the embracing of tradition and prestige, a special place with the motto “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same”.

It is the All England Club, it is Wimbledon, and it is The Championships, and the defending champion Roger Federer is going for an unprecedented ninth crown after winning his eighth without dropping a single set last year, but he has plenty of competition, with a number of contenders, including Rafael Nadal, Marin Čilić, Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov, Novak Djokovic, Nick Kyrgios, Alexander Zverev, and Juan Martín del Potro, looking to dethrone the king at SW19.

So, here is a look at the gentlemen’s singles draw for 2018.

 

Section one

Roger Federer, who is looking for his 21st Grand Slam singles title, and is seemingly in better form than what he was last year after winning in Stuttgart, and making the final in Halle will be very satisfied with his draw with a couple of comfortable matches to start off with, a potentially complicated third round against either Ivo Karlović, Mikhail Youzhny, Jan-Lennard Struff, or Leonardo Mayer, but it will get tougher from the start in the second week, where he will likely meet Borna Ćorić, the man who defeated Federer in Halle, and has really come on in 2018, rising 27 spots from 48th to 21st in the ATP World Rankings. However, Federer is primed for another shot at the trophy.

 

My predicted fourth round match-up: (1) Roger Federer vs. (16) Borna Ćorić

 

Section two

This section looks weaker on paper compared to some, but it is deceptively strong, with all-French battle in the opening round between Gaël Monfils, and Richard Gasquet being the headline act, but are not the two strongest players with Sam Querrey, who made the semi-finals last year, and the 2017 US Open finalist Kevin Anderson appearing the most formidable opponents, with one of them likely to meet the king in the quarter-finals.

 

My predicted fourth round match-up: (11) Sam Querrey vs. (8) Kevin Anderson

 

Section three

And talking about formidable opponents, there are two potential championship contenders here with both Marin Čilić and Milos Raonic, who have lost the last two Wimbledon finals to Federer (2017) and Andy Murray (2016) respectively, set to meet in the fourth round blockbuster with five sets written all over it, with perhaps the winner being the biggest threat to the No.1 seed in the top half of the draw. Only Lucas Pouille can really trouble these two at his best, but Čilić, after winning at the Queen’s Club, and Raonic, after making the final in Stuttgart and having an injury-affected year so far, look ready to peak.

 

My predicted fourth round match-up: (3) Marin Čilić vs. (13) Milos Raonic

 

Section four

John Isner and Grigor Dimitrov, who of course made the semi-finals here in 2014, have the most-suited games to the grass at Wimbledon, and should meet in the fourth round for a place in the quarter-finals, but Dimitrov has a tough one in the opening round on paper against Stan Wawrinka, but hasn’t found form on his return from a knee injury, and has slipped to 225th in the world, so really should be a comfortable one for Dimitrov, and while Pablo Carreño Busta and Stefanos Tsitsipas are very capable, it is tough to see them getting past Isner and Dimitrov to make it to the quarter-finals.

 

My predicted fourth round match-up: (9) John Isner vs. (6) Grigor Dimitrov

 

Section five

The three-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic is in this section of the draw, as well as Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem, and while Djokovic has a good draw in front of him for the first two rounds before meeting Australian Open semi-finalist Kyle Edmund in the third round, Thiem, who hasn’t made the quarter-finals at any other Grand Slam outside of Roland Garros, has a difficult draw, facing Marcos Baghdatis, who is nearing the end of his career, in the opening round, before meeting either David Ferrer or Karen Khachanov in the second round, with Fernando Verdasco or Julien Benneteau waiting in the third round before he can think about Djokovic, who should have Thiem’s measure on grass in four or five sets.

 

My predicted fourth round match-up: (7) Dominic Thiem vs. (12) Novak Djokovic

 

Section six

This is a blockbuster section of the draw with two possible championship contenders in Nick Kyrgios, who made the semi-finals in Stuttgart and at the Queen’s Club, and Alexander Zverev, and while Zverev looks to have a comfortable passage through to the fourth round, Kyrgios has couple of complicated opening round matches, facing Denis Istomin (first round), and Robin Haase (second round), before meeting either Kei Nishikori, or fellow Australian Bernard Tomic, who he was due to meet in the opening round at Roland Garros before Kyrgios pulled out due to injury.

In saying this, Kyrgios should get through this draw, including Zverev, and is a real chance of becoming the first Australian male to win at the All England Club since Lleyton Hewitt in 2002.

 

My predicted fourth round match-up: (15) Nick Kyrgios vs. (4) Alexander Zverev

 

Section seven

Juan Martín del Potro is in this section of the draw, and despite a difficult second round against Feliciano López, who makes his 66th consecutive Grand Slam main draw appearance, breaking Roger Federer’s record, and Denis Shapovalov in the third round, the Roland Garros semi-finalist should make it through to the second week, where despite the presence of Jack Sock and David Goffin, could meet a surprise packet in the form of Matthew Ebden, who made the quarter-finals in Halle, as well as the semi-finals at Stuttgart, and the challenger event in Surbiton, before the challenge gets tougher.

 

My predicted fourth round match-up: (5) Juan Martín del Potro vs. Matthew Ebden

 

Section eight

And that challenge is the man who he lost to in the semi-finals at Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal, and the 11-time Roland Garros champion, who hasn’t made the quarter-finals at SW19 since 2011, has a favourable draw to make it through to the final eight. Only Vasek Pospisil appears to have the game to bring Nadal down on grass, and while there are numerous good players in this section, including Australian young gun Alex De Minaur, who won the challenger event in Nottingham, they don’t have the game at this stage to create problems for the two-time Wimbledon champion before he faces del Potro in the quarter-finals, whose game matches up better to Nadal on grass compared to the clay of Roland Garros.

 

My predicted fourth round match-up: (14) Diego Schwartman vs. (2) Rafael Nadal

 

My predicted quarter-final match-ups

(1) Roger Federer vs. (11) Sam Querrey

(6) Grigor Dimitrov vs. (13) Milos Raonic

(12) Novak Djokovic vs. (15) Nick Kyrgios

(5) Juan Martín del Potro vs. (2) Rafael Nadal

 

My predicted semi-final match-ups

(1) Roger Federer vs. (13) Milos Raonic

(15) Nick Kyrgios vs. (5) Juan Martín del Potro

 

My predicted final match-ups

(1) Roger Federer vs. (5) Juan Martín del Potro

 

My predicted 2018 Wimbledon champion

(1) Roger Federer

2018 Roland Garros Preview – Men’s Singles

After a clay court season where one man, that man, has dominated, winning 17 of his 18 matches on-route to claiming his 11th title in Monte-Carlo, his 11th title in Barcelona, and his eighth title in Rome, with his only blemish being a loss in the quarter-finals in Madrid to Dominic Thiem.

And with his great rival in Roger Federer sitting out the clay court season for a second-straight year, can anyone stop Rafael Nadal from claiming an astonishing 11th title at Roland Garros, and a 17th Grand Slam title overall to move to within three of Federer’s record of 20?

So, let’s have a look at the men’s singles draw for Roland Garros 2018!

Section one

Of course this section of the draw features Nadal, who needs to defend his crown to retain the No.1 ranking, and while there are a couple of potential dangers that at their best could give Nadal trouble, most notably Denis Shapovalov, who made the semi-finals in Madrid, and perhaps Jack Sock, who has had a poor start to the year with just five wins from 15 matches. However, I cannot see either of them, let alone anyone else in this draw defeating him this year at Roland Garros.

 

My predicted fourth round match-up: (1) Rafael Nadal vs. (24) Denis Shapovalov

 

Section two

Section Two is a wide-open section featuring Diego Schwartzman, Borna Ćorić, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Feliciano López, who will equal Roger Federer’s record of 65-consecutive Grand Slam appearances, and Kevin Anderson, who are all capable of going deep here, but none of whom have reached the quarter-finals before at Roland Garros, with the best results being fourth rounds from Kohlschreiber (2009, 2013), López (2004), and Anderson (2014, 2015, 2017)!

However, in terms of form, Schwartzman (18 wins from 30 matches) and Anderson (20 wins from 28 matches) are clearly to two most in-form players in 2018 from this section, and without any truly obvious selections, one of these two will meet Nadal in the quarter-finals!

 

My predicted fourth round match-up: (11) Diego Schwartzman vs. (6) Kevin Anderson

 

Section three

This section of the draw is also an interesting section, but one that contains a clear three standouts in Marin Čilić, who made the quarter-finals in Monte-Carlo and the semi-finals in Rome, Fabio Fognini, who made the quarter-finals in Rome, and Kyle Edmund, who made the quarter-finals in Madrid, as well as the final in Marrakesh, and the quarter-finals in Estoril before that.

While I expect Čilić to make the fourth round, it will be a tough third round battle to decide who will meet him in the round of 16, one that the Italian will be favoured to win over the Brit.

 

My predicted fourth round match-up: (3) Marin Čilić vs. (18) Fabio Fognini

 

Section four

If Juan Martín del Potro is fit and healthy, he can go deep into this French Open, but has only played four matches during the clay court season as he struggles to overcome a groin injury, but as long as he is right, he will at least make the fourth round where he will meet either John Isner, who made the quarter-finals in Madrid, or Tomáš Berdych, who lost in the first round in Monte-Carlo, Madrid, and Rome, but is capable of producing on the big stage.

 

My predicted fourth round match-up: (9) John Isner vs. (5) Juan Martín del Potro

 

Section five

In section five of the draw, David Goffin is the clear favourite to at least make the fourth round, if not the quarter-finals, after quarter-final appearances in Monte-Carlo and Rome, as well as making the semi-finals in Barcelona, but who he could meet in the fourth round is an interesting prospect! He could meet either Nick Kyrgios, who hasn’t played for over a month as he attempts to overcome an elbow injury, but is capable of finding form at short notice, or Pablo Carreño Busta, who made the semi-finals in Barcelona, as well as in Estoril, and looks to be in good form!

Kyrgios will face fellow Australian Bernard Tomic in the opening round in what could be an encounter full of tension!

 

My predicted fourth round match-up: (8) David Goffin vs. (10) Pablo Carreño Busta

 

Section six

Section six contains the 2016 champion Novak Djokovic, who seems to be finding some form after a poor start to the season in his troubles from coming back from an elbow injury (10 wins from 17 matches) after making the semi-finals in Madrid, but faces a tough draw here, potentially facing David Ferrer in the second round, Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round, and Grigor Dimitrov or Fernando Verdasco in the fourth round, but in saying that, other than Dimitrov, who made the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo and the quarter-finals in Barcelona, looks the most in-form player here!

 

My predicted fourth round match-up: (20) Novak Djokovic vs. (4) Grigor Dimitrov

 

Section seven

Dominic Thiem is in this section of the draw, the only man to defeat Nadal during this clay court season, and has made the semi-finals here for the last two years, but while he is the favoured player in this section, he faces a tough second round match-up with the Greek teenage sensation Stefanos Tsitsipas, who made the final in Barcelona, and the semi-finals in Estoril, before he can make a smooth passage through to the fourth round to probably face Kei Nishikori, who made the final in Monte-Carlo, and the quarter-finals in Rome on his comeback from a wrist injury suffered before the US Open last year.

 

My predicted fourth round match-up: (7) Dominic Thiem vs. (19) Kei Nishikori

 

Section eight

The 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka is in this section of the draw, but comes into the French Open in such poor form (three wins from eight matches), and his first round loss in Rome was his first match in just under three months in his struggles to overcome his knee problems.

The only player I can trust in this section is Alexander Zverev, who has been in amazing form, winning in Munich and Madrid, but also making the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo, and the final in Rome off the back in winning in Madrid. In my view, Zverev is the only player I truly believe can trouble (or beat) Nadal this year at Roland Garros!

 

My predicted fourth round match-up: (15) Lucas Pouille vs. (2) Alexander Zverev

 

My predicted quarter-final match-ups

(1) Rafael Nadal vs. (11) Diego Schwartzman

(3) Marin Čilić vs. (5) Juan Martín del Potro

(8) David Goffin vs. (20) Novak Djokovic

(7) Dominic Thiem vs. (2) Alexander Zverev

 

My predicted semi-final match-ups

(1) Rafael Nadal vs. (5) Juan Martín del Potro

(8) David Goffin vs. (2) Alexander Zverev

 

My predicted final match-ups

(1) Rafael Nadal vs. (2) Alexander Zverev

 

My predicted 2018 Roland Garros champion

(1) Rafael Nadal

2018 Australian Open men’s singles draw: preview and predictions

After a year in 2017 where Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer turned the clock back to their glory days of being the top two players in the world after coming back from serious injuries suffered in 2016, with Nadal winning at Roland Garros for the 10th time as well as the United States (US) Open for a third time, and Federer winning the Australian Open for the fifth time in a classic, and Wimbledon for the eighth time.

2017 was a year where their rivals, including Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray (who sadly won’t be at the 2018 Australian Open) suffered serious injury setbacks of their own, what will the 2018 Australian Open bring?

Can Federer continue his remarkable form at 36, and win his sixth Australian Open crown to equal the records of Djokovic and Roy Emerson? He will move to within one of Lleyton Hewitt’s record of 20 Australian Open appearances.

Can Nadal back up the 2017 he had when he returned to world number one for the fourth time in his career by going one better and winning his second title at Melbourne Park?

Can Djokovic make an extraordinary comeback from a serious elbow to win a record seventh Australian Open?

Can Grigor Dimitrov, who won four titles including Cincinnati and the ATP World Tour Finals, and Alexander Zverev, who won five titles including Rome and Canada, justify their high seedings and their brilliant years in 2017 to contend for their first Grand Slam singles titles respectively?

Can Dominic Thiem make a Grand Slam quarter-final for the first time outside of Roland Garros?

Can Marin Čilić, who is of course a former semi-finalist here back in 2010, back up his performance at Wimbledon last year, and make his third Grand Slam final?

Can David Goffin or Jack Sack back up their wonderful years and be surprise contenders at the 2018 Australian Open?

Can 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka and 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic comeback from their injury troubles to challenge for the trophy?

Can 2017 US Open finalist Kevin Anderson and 2009 US Open champion Juan Martín del Potro continue their strong comebacks from injury, and challenge for their first Australian Open crowns?

Can one of the other seeds, or a dangerous floater shock the world to contend at the first Grand Slam of the year?

And, what about Nick Kyrgios? Can he deliver Australia their first singles champion at Melbourne Park?

There are so many tantalising storylines leading into the 2018 Australian Open, so let’s have a look at the men’s singles draw, and determine who will win the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup!

 

Section one

Rafael Nadal is the clear favourite to make the quarter-finals from this section of the draw, and will likely meet big-serving American John Isner, who made the US Open quarter-finals in the fourth round in what will be his greatest challenge before the quarter-finals.

With this draw, Nadal will be perfectly placed to contend and possibly win his 17th Grand Slam singles title!

My predicted fourth round match-up: (1) Rafael Nadal vs. (16) John Isner

 

Section two

Both 2014 US Open champion Marin Čilić and Pablo Carreño Busta, who of course made the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows last year look to be the ones to beat in this section, although there a few strong players, such as two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Gilles Simon, Gilles Müller, who of course defeated Nadal in an epic fourth round match to make the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year, Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas, three-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Mikhail Youzhny, and American Ryan Harrison, who are all capable of causing serious damage!

My predicted fourth round match-up: (10) Pablo Carreño Busta vs. (6) Marin Čilić

 

Section three

Grigor Dimitrov has a good draw for the opening two rounds, meeting qualifiers, but the thing that really stands out from this section is the opening round match-up between David Ferrer, who made the Roland Garros final back in 2013, and 2017 US Open quarter-finalist Andrey Rublev, which should be one of the best first round matches, and they are both in great form with Ferrer making the semi-finals this week in Auckland and Rublev making the final in Doha the week before.

The other thing that stands out is the difficult draw that 2008 Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has got, potentially facing either Denis Shapovalov or Stefanos Tsitsipas, both talented youngsters, in the second round before meeting Nick Kyrgios in the third round. Kyrgios has a slightly easier draw, potentially facing Viktor Troicki in the second round before meeting Tsonga, and then Dimitrov in a round of 16 blockbuster on Rod Laver Arena.

Both Dimitrov, but particularly Kyrgios are showing the right signs that they can go deep at Melbourne Park.

My predicted fourth round match-up: (3) Grigor Dimitrov vs. (17) Nick Kyrgios

 

Section four

An evenly-matched section of the draw, but one which Kevin Anderson and Jack Sock should negotiate with little trouble to make the fourth round.

However, they must be wary of the likes of British youngster Kyle Edmund, Denis Istomin, who of course defeated Novak Djokovic in the second round last year at Melbourne Park, Lucas Pouille, who made two Grand Slam quarter-finals in 2016, German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber, who made the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2012, Japanese youngster Yoshihito Nishioka, who is on the comeback trail from a serious knee injury, Andreas Seppi, who defeated Kyrgios in the second round at last year’s Australian Open, a match that was considered the unlosable match for Kyrgios, and 2009 Wimbledon quarter-finalist Ivo Karlović, whose big serve will always be a major threat!

My predicted fourth round match-up: (11) Kevin Anderson vs. (8) Jack Sock

 

Section five

Dominic Thiem, who has made the semi-finals at Roland Garros in the last two years, and three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka are the two best players in this section and should meet each other in the fourth round.

However, they will be wary of the likes of American journeyman Steve Johnson, Czech player Jiří Veselý, French player Adrian Mannarino, the consistent Roberto Bautista Agut, 2009 Australian Open semi-finalist Fernando Verdasco, and to a lesser extent Lithuanian player Ričardas Berankis who could make their runs to the second week difficult.

My predicted fourth round match-up: (5) Dominic Thiem vs. (9) Stan Wawrinka

 

Section six

This section contains 12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic, who is returning to tennis after six months out due to an elbow injury, which has affected his service motion, and has received a tough draw as the 14th seed. He plays American journeyman Donald Young in the first round before playing two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist Gaël Monfils in the second round! If he can get through this, he could play either American youngster Jared Donaldson or 2016 Roland Garros quarter-finalist Albert Ramos Viñolas in the third round before playing Alexander Zverev in the round of 16.

Zverev appears to have a simpler path, but could face older brother Mischa Zverev, who of course made the quarter-finals at last year’s Australian Open after defeating Andy Murray in the fourth round, in the third round in what would be an intriguing match-up in so many ways!

My predicted fourth round match-up: Gaël Monfils vs. (4) Alexander Zverev

 

Section seven

David Goffin, who was the finalist at last year’s ATP World Tour Finals and the injury-plagued Juan Martín del Potro look like the players most likely to make it to the second week of the Australian Open.

Although Goffin could meet French veteran Julien Benneteau in the second round, and the enigma that is Italian player Fabio Fognini in the third round, he should have no problems making the fourth round, while del Potro could meet 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomáš Berdych in the third round after meeting rising star Karen Khachanov in the second. It should also be noted that Berdych plays Australian young gun Alex de Minaur, who made the final in Sydney, in the opening round in what will be one of best first round matches of the tournament!

My predicted fourth round match-up: (7) David Goffin vs. (12) Juan Martín del Potro

 

Section eight

The 19-time Grand Slam champion, and defending Australian Open champion Roger Federer is in this section, and easy first two matches before meeting Richard Gasquet in the third round, and will likely meet 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic in the fourth round.

Raonic also has a comfortable draw before meeting either 2017 Wimbledon semi-finalist Sam Querrey or Feliciano López, who will move to within one of Federer’s record of 65 consecutive Grand Slam singles main draw appearances, in the third round.

In my view, Federer is the championship favourite!

My predicted fourth round match-up: (22) Milos Raonic vs. (2) Roger Federer

 

My predicted quarter-final match-ups

(1) Rafael Nadal vs. (6) Marin Čilić

(17) Nick Kyrgios vs. (11) Kevin Anderson

(5) Dominic Thiem vs. (4) Alexander Zverev

(12) Juan Martín del Potro vs. (2) Roger Federer

My predicted semi-final match-ups

(1) Rafael Nadal vs. (17) Nick Kyrgios

(4) Alexander Zverev vs. (2) Roger Federer

My predicted final match-ups

(17) Nick Kyrgios vs. (2) Roger Federer

My predicted 2018 Australian Open champion

(2) Roger Federer