With defending champ Rafael Nadal out with a knee injury, picking the top five Wimbledon favorites is easy. On the men's side it's five-time champ Roger Federer, followed by Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Everyone else is no more than a dark horse. On the women's side it's five-time champ Venus Williams' tourney to lose. Sister Serena is her biggest threat, followed by Svetlana Kuznetsova, No. 1 Dinara Safina, and Maria Sharapova. Five others, though, could give the anointed ones hell, Matt Cronin says.
The 2006 champion has seen better days but is more comfortable serving and volleying and chip-and-charging than anyone else in the field. The French veteran has Safina well within her sights in the fourth round and is due for at least one more notable Slam performance.
This is a gut selection if there ever was one, because Blake has arguably been worse at Wimbledon than at the French Open, completely confounded by his footing and what strategy he should employ. But he's serving and returning more intelligently now and can certainly be a force at the net. The American just reached the Queens final and lost to the more competent Murray, but if he keeps his chin up, he should have a good shot at Djokovic in the Wimbledon quarters.UPDATE: Blake loses in first round
The young Dane loves the turf and has an impressive all around game, but has yet to show enough grit at the majors. On the positive side, she rarely has a terrible tournament. On the negative one, she's begun to show signs of choking at the Slams (see her loss to Sorana Cirstea at the French). She's in a tough but negotiable quarter with Kuznetsova and Safina. Let's see if she can teach them a thing or two about keeping the ball low and the points short.
Some think that the 2002 Wimbledon champ is done for, but then they don't realize how big his heart is or the depth of his on-court thinking. Hewitt has slowed a bit since having hip surgery, but his fast hands love the lawns and he's itching for shot at the vulnerable Nadal in the second round, who knocked him out in Paris.
The temperamental Belarussian was beside herself after she failed to maintain her momentum against Safina in Paris, but she showed there that's she's capable of dictating against the world's best -- if she can keep her emotions from making her hands shake.
It's high time the young Croatian bomber step up to the plate and claim the baton handed off to him by former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic. The towering Cilic is full of pure firepower and has the net game to back up his raging baseline attack. But has he matured enough to win a marquee match at a major?
There's been way too much talk from the Ivanovic camp about how the '08 French champ is ready to turn it around and too few positive results. It's really up to the Serbian to start playing with more confidence and letting her game fly, rather than being consistently befuddled by why her plan of attack isn't working. It's simple on grass: go for every forehand, take over the net and start playing tough again during the second week. The potential is there, she just has to prove it.
Talk about getting a deep whiff of confidence after an improbable Grand Slam run: the Swede stunned the planet in reaching the final of the French, impressively knocking off Nadal, Nikolay Davydenko and Fernando Gonzalez before going down to Federer. His game is based on brute power and he's an expert at first-strike tennis. Although a letdown is possible, if he gets hot again, no player will want to face his fearsome forehand.
The Aussie finally realized her singles potential in Paris by reaching the semis and with her formidable serve, threatening forehand and a more than competent net game, she's the first legitimate title threat from Down Under since Evonne Goolagong last won the title in 1980.
Juan Martin Del Potro
The giant Argentine finally showed in reaching the French semis and nearly knocking off Federer just why he's been tagged as the next great one, as perhaps no man 6-foot-6 or over has ever moved as well as Del Potro. Grass is a foreign surface to him, but with his huge serve, big groundstrokes, a respectable net game and renewed confidence, he could be standing in the semis again looking at a rematch with the great Swiss.