That sound you hear is every tennis fan penciling Novak Djokovic into the Wimbledon final in their office bracket pools. (What, you don’t have a Wimbledon bracket pool?)
The draw for The Championships came out Friday, and Djokovic got an absolute gift. Here’s more on that and nine other things that stand out to us about the lineup.
Well, Novak Djokovic is going to the final
You could easily make a case for any of the Big Four to win this tournament, but none of the other three members of that quartet are in Djokovic’s half of the draw.
Djokovic, the No. 1 seed is paired with No. 4 David Ferrer, No. 7 Tomas Berdych (no slouch as a former Wimbledon finalist) and No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro as the other top players on his side.
Meanwhile, Federer-Nadal could be a quarterfinal
We’ve grown so accustomed to watching these guys duke it out in finals as the top two players in the world, in some order, that we forget that’s not exactly normal. For this tournament, if they are to meet, it will be in the quarters.
Federer, the No. 3 seed, and Nadal, the No. 5 seed, were pulled into the same section. Wimbledon does not always stick with the world rankings in determining its seeds, but this time it was so.
On the bright side, fewer things have to go our way for this dream matchup to happen. Four wins each and we’ll get an early July treat.
Lukas Rosol is in Federer and Nadal’s quarter too
You’ll remember him as the guy who successfully employed everyone’s frustrated ping-pong strategy of "knock the stuffing out of the ball until you either win or lose" in a stunning upset of Nadal last year in the second round.
But can he get there? He would be a third-round opponent for Federer and a quarterfinal foe for Nadal, but there’s little in his year since to suggest he has to goods to do so. he was easily dispatched by Philipp Kohlschreiber in the third round in 2012, fresh off the Nadal win.
James Blake’s farewell tour still going strong
It has been six years, roughly, since James Blake was a player to watch at a Slam. But he has still played pretty much all of them since. Here he is again, going up against unseeded Thiemo De Bakker of the Netherlands in the first round.
Time is running out to reminisce about James Blake, so enjoy this.
These are our favorite random men’s matches of the first round
Second, we’ll go with Lleyton Hewitt against No. 11 Stan Wawrinka. Hewitt’s on the way out, but he did win this thing once upon a time and he has the dogged competitive style that always makes him fun to watch.
Let’s see … yep … Serena’s in the tournament
So I may as well conclude the women’s portion of this here. But I won’t …
Tough break for Victoria Azarenka
The question for the women’s draw was which half would Maria Sharapova end up on? She landed on Azarenka’s side, not Serena’s, meaning a potential Sharapova-Serena path to the title for Azarenka, still seeking her first breakthrough in London.
The whole "Melanie Oudin as next generation of American tennis" thing hasn’t exactly panned out yet, but her match against Sharapova in the fourth round of the 2009 US Open was the highlight of her career and one of the best moments in recent tennis history.
But Oudin hasn’t been past the second round of any Slam since. She has only to beat Michelle Larcher De Brito to set up the clash. We’re not sweating Maria’s first-round match.
Can Sloane Stephens make a run?
The No. 17 seed is in Sharapova’s quarter, but on the other end of it. The top seed in her portion is No. 5 Sara Errani, who is probably still recovering from getting shellacked by Serena at Roland Garros.
The first seeded player Stephens might encounter would be No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki in the third round. Errani would potentially be next in the fourth.
Hope for the local favorite?
Laura Robson has a tough early draw, getting No. 10 seed Maria Kirilenko in the opener. But from there, it’s a very doable path to the quarters.
Of course, that’s where Serena Williams will be waiting. Annnd we’ve come full circle.