Roger Federer is seeded No. 1, but will Rafael Nadal claim another title at Wimbledon?
The King of Grass
If Rafael Nadal is the King of Clay. Then, of course, Roger Federer is the King of Grass. The Fed took home his eighth title at The Championships last year. All at age 35. It was his 19th Grand Slam title. And he did it in Fed-like fashion, not dropping a single set and defeating well-known ATP players like Grigor Dimitrov, Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic, en route to his final-round victory again Marin Cilic, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4.
While he won the Australian Open earlier in 2017, the trophy lifting on the esteemed grass courts came five years after Federer’s last Grand Slam win at Wimbledon.
After winning the title down under last season, he skipped the entire clay court season, including the French Open. Then he won the warm-up grass court tournament, the Halle Open.
Then came 2018.
The King of Clay
He may dominate clay, but the d-word and grass have no business in the same sentence with Nadal’s name.
The Swiss, now 36 years old, fell short of winning his 10th Halle Open title this week when he was upset by Croatia’s Borna Coric, who was—wait for it—playing in his first grass-court final. The 21-year-old Coric’s 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 6-2 victory kept The Fed from taking home his 99th tour title.
That gave Rafael Nadal the spot atop the world rankings. While Nadal has won an absurd amount of French Opens (see: 11), he did win Wimbledon in 2008 and 2010. But he hasn’t advanced past the fourth round at the tournament since 2011. So why are odds so high for him to win this year’s grass-court championship? He may dominate clay, but the d-word and grass have no business in the same sentence with Nadal’s name. But he obviously has done it before.
So who are some key players to watch besides Roger and Rafa?
There are other players on the ATP too!
We may shock you with this but Marin Cilic. He’s 27-9 this season with a title, the world No. 5 ranking and the No. 3 seed (behind—you guessed it—Federer and Nadal at 1-2, respectively). And he’s been to the quarterfinals or better every year since 2014, including the finals last year.
Alexander Zverev rounds out the top four seeds. The German is 34-10 this season with two titles but has never won a Grand Slam. His quarterfinal appearance at the French Open this year is his best to date.
Past champions Novak Djokovic (2015 and 2014) and Andy Murray (2016 and 2013) both make their return to Wimbledon. Murray did just pick up his first win on tour in 350 days, beating former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka, 6-1, 6-3. But Murray is coming back from a hip injury that leaves him still questionable for his quality of play at Wimbledon.
As for Djokovic, he was actually just defeated in the finals of the Queen’s Club Championship by none other than Cilic, 5-7, 7-6 (4), 6-3. But before you go and call him washed up and void of recent Grand Slam titles, Djokovic just picked up his 800th tour win last week. Plus only two players were named Wimbledon Champion since his last Wimbledon titles.
Stick with those who have been there before
There’s always a chance that someone like Borna Coric could win something like Wimbledon. But when you look back at the results, it’s current or former world No. 1s: Federer, Murray, Djokovic, Nadal. That goes all way back to Lleyton Hewitt in 2002.
The last person to not hoist the trophy at the All England Club who never achieved the No. 1 ranking on the ATP? Goran Ivanisevic.
And if you got that right, let’s be friends.
Our point is this: While Marin Cilic and Milos Raonic can make it to the finals, and there will be a day and time when this is no longer the Federer/Nadal/Djokovic show, for now, enjoy the beauty of Roger Federer on grass. There may never be another one like him in your lifetime.