Former world No.1 Juan Carlos Ferrero will soak up a return to Centre Court as the first match of this year’s Wimbledon Championships, but he knows it is nothing personal, more a formality having been drawn to play defending champion Novak Djokovic.
While the duo’s head-to-head is locked at one apiece, they haven’t played in five years – at a time when Djokovic was yet to win his first Grand Slam title. The top seeded Serb will rightly start a clear favourite against the veteran Spaniard and should be untroubled until a projected quarter-final showdown with 2010 Wimbledon finalist, seventh seed Tomas Berdych.
The Czech faces a dangerous first-round task in negotiating a way past Latvian Ernests Gulbis.
Six-time Wimbledon Champion Roger Federer also finds himself in the top half of the draw and should have few difficulties opening against Spaniard Albert Ramos.
The Swiss third seed is on a path to meet 13th seed Gilles Simon with big-serving 10th seed John Isner lurking as a potential quarter-final obstacle.
The towering American avoided facing his marathon man adversary Nicolas Mahut in the first round for a third straight year, however the pair are on course to meet in Round 2. Isner would likely meet eighth seeded Serb Janko Tipsarevic in the fourth round but Tipsarevic, with arguably the toughest first-round assignment of the seeds, would have to get past last week’s fiery Queen’s finalist David Nalbandian.
Second seed Rafael Nadal and British fourth seed Andy Murray head the bottom half of the draw. Nadal, a two-time Champion on the grass at SW19, has a straight forward first round match with Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci but could run into trouble in the third round where he is drawn to meet his Halle conqueror, German Philipp Kohlschreiber. Kohlschreiber has drawn his and Roger Federer’s Halle conqueror Tommy Haas first up. Either of the two Germans could give Nadal a few headaches.
In a marquee quarter-final match-up, the Spaniard is on course to take on the hugely talented Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Frenchman will not be looking beyond his opening task, however, with Australia’s 2002 Champion and perennial grass-court performer LLeyton Hewitt his opponent.
Hoping to overturn a 0-3 win-loss record on grass against Nadal should they meet in the semi-finals, will be home hope Andy Murray.
On paper the Scot has the trickiest start of the top four seeds, against former world No.4 Nikolay Davydenko. While Murray narrowly leads their head-to-head 5-4, they’ve never met on grass and Murray should find himself in a projected second-round showdown with the Croatian man mountain, Ivo Karlovic. Always a dangerous floater with his monstrous serves, how Karlovic will shape up to Murray is somewhat a lottery but expect the Scot to find a way through.
From there, his job would not get any easier. In the fourth round Murray would likely run into another big-serving giant, Canadian 23rd seed Milos Raonic or last week’s Queen’s Club Champion, Croatian Marin Cilic.
While his French Open roadblock David Ferrer again looms as his quarter-final opponent, the switch in surface would favour Murray. First Ferrer would have his work cut out to get past three-time Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick in the third round.