The Wimbledon main draw that came out yesterday gives me a golden opportunity to think outside the box and offer a few words about the first round matches that promise to be difficult, not so much in terms of possible match duration rather than because of the identity opponents for each of them.
So here is, I admit, a rather subjective listing of the heartbreaking first round matches, starting with the top half. Those matches will be played on Monday.
Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Juan Carlos Ferrero
Former World number 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero will face current World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. After undergoing knee and wrist surgery last year and missing two months of action before making an impressive comeback in Stuttgart, Ferrero, this year, has had to deal once again with injury, this time being forced to pull-out from both Indian Wells and Miami Masters 1000 and coming back only in Madrid. At 32 years of age, the Spaniard still remains a favourite for many and to see him face the defending champion in the first round is pretty harsh, when we know that his visit at the All-England Club may very well end there.
Leonardo Mayer vs. Juan Mónaco (15)
For me, this is quite a sad matchup, as the Tandil native is one of my favourite players, but also, I confess, because I love Corrientes native Mayer’s game. An all-Argentine clash it is, then. I admit, however, that despite Pico’s ranking, I wouldn’t dare predict the outcome of this match, considering that Mónaco isn’t the best grass court player, and that Mayer, with his serve and good net play, can cause many surprises.
Paul-Henri Mathieu vs Gilles Simon (13)
We’re going from an all-Argentine clash to all-French one that saddens me just the same, since both players deserved to go a little further. However, only one, of course, will reach the second round, which is rather unfortunate. On one hand, Mathieu has made a great comeback after a 2011 season completely lost due to knee surgery and he was one of the great stories of Roland Garros, with his marathon victory over John Isner, among other feats. On the other hand, Gilles Simon continues to work very hard to try to achieve one of his goals, which is to return to the top 10. Too bad we will lose one of them right at the beginning of the tournament.
David Nalbandian vs. Janko Tipsarevic (8)
Before the sad incidents of the Queen’s final, David Nalbandian, who is celebrating the tenth anniversary of his Wimbledon final, showed a level of fitness and game that we had not seen him display for some time on this surface. To have him facing World No 8 (and no 8 seed) Tipsarevic is rather unfortunate. However, a surprise the likes of the one he caused in Indian Wells remains a possibility for the Argentine. After all, he is rested, fit, and without any significant injury.
Coming up tomorrow: the first round heart-breakers of the bottom half