Seed Report: Quarter #4
2. Andy Murray
Murray put the band back together by bringing Ivan Lendl back in to coach and promptly won the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club in the pre-Wimbledon phase. Murray has gone 46-9 all-time in London and been very consistent here. He has made the semifinals or better in six of the last seven years. He has to feel good about a draw that features good players, but players with injury question marks or form question marks. His opener against Liam Broady should be relatively easy.
Truly, round four looks to be his first big test. He could find Nick Kyrgios or Feliciano Lopez there. The Scot is 14-0 versus those two. The seed opposite of him in this quarter is #7 Richard Gasquet. Gasquet looked out of sorts in his lone grass tuneup in Queen’s Club, but is a returning semifinalist. The Gasquet match-up has been comfortable enough for Murray with an 8-3 mark against the Frenchman. He beat him going away in four sets at Roland Garros and has beaten Gasquet twice at Wimbledon previously in 2008 and 2011. This quarter looks about as nice as Murray could have hoped for in order to get to another semifinal.
7. Richard Gasquet
Gasquet has two semifinal runs to his credit at Wimbledon in 2007 and 2015. He is 25-10 all-time. Last year’s run broke a poor spell from Gasquet who had not made it out of round two since 2013. He draws Aljaz Bedene to open this year. Bedene scored his lone Wimbledon main draw win against Stepanek last year, but is normally over matched against top tier players on this surface. Gasquet, assuming good health, should prevail. Round two would see Marcel Granollers or Victor Estrella Burgos against the 7th seed. Advantage Gasquet. Round three gets tricky with 24th seed Viktor Troicki or perhaps Vasek Pospisil. Pospisil has troubled Gasquet a bit in the past, but needs to find some better consistency to win in that spot.
If Gasquet succeeds in round three, the seeds who could be waiting are #12 Jp-Wilfried Tsonga or #12 John Isner. Both are dangerous on grass. Tsonga needs to prove health and Isner needs to prove he can get out of round one, where he faces Baghdatis. Gasquet looks a decent shot to get to at least the fourth round and perhaps further.
12. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
The last time we saw Tsonga, he was retiring from the French Open due to a groin injury. We have not seen him since. He is a veteran player who has done this before though, so the lack of match play should not be a major issue. He starts with Inigo Cervantes. The Spaniard has a grand total of one grass court win in his career. Tsonga has a 24-8 record at Wimbledon alone with two semifinal runs in 2011 and 2012. If healthy, he’s good there and probably in round two where he would face the winner of Taro Daniel versus Juan Monaco.
Round three is the likeliest trouble spot with the winner of the Isner-Baghdatis first round match probable to be the opponent. Baghdatis is the friendlier match-up for Tsonga with the 12th seed at 7-1 against the Cypriot. That includes wins in both Grand Slams this year, although Baghdatis did push Tsonga to five sets at Roland Garros in round two. A date with Isner could spell doom for Tsonga who is 1-3 against the American, although they have not met since 2012.
15. Nick Kyrgios
The Aussie has found grass to his liking with a 7-2 record at Wimbledon in two trips and 9-5 mark overall on the surface. Kyrgios has made the quarterfinals and the fourth round in his two Wimbledon experiences to-date. He lost a tough three setter to Raonic in his lone pre-Wimbledon prep at Queen’s Club. His first round opponent, Radek Stepanek, will be tough. The serve and volley specialist knows how to win on these courts, but Kyrgios’ serve likely makes a difference for the win.
That win could lead to one of the most entertaining matches of the tournament potentially with wildcard Dustin Brown as the possible foe. Brown has scalps of Hewitt in 2013 and perhaps more famously, Rafael Nadal, last year at Wimbledon. Brown’s quirky play will test Kyrgios’ patience and could lead to another monumental upset. If Kyrgios avoids that pitfall, he could find 22nd seed Feliciano Lopez in round three. That will be another tough serve and volley test. The reward for all of that would be getting Andy Murray in round four. That seems the end point for the Aussie, but don’t be surprised if it comes a round or two earlier.
18. John Isner
Despite a tough match-up with Marcos Baghdatis to open, Isner should feel good about his 6-0 record against Baggy. Baghdatis has played him tough, but rarely been able to hold up against that big serve. Isner will be looking to improve on a 7-7 record at Wimbledon. He has never made it past round three, somewhat surprising considering how serve-centric grass has become. He could have a shot to change that this year with Tsonga perhaps as his main threat to prevent that. With Tsonga short on match play and on the losing end of the head-to-head with Isner, the Big American could find himself in round four if he has his serve humming. 68 aces in two Queen’s Club matches says he just might.
22. Feliciano Lopez
The lefty from Spain is a three time quarterfinalist at Wimbledon, but has not progressed that far since 2011. Once considered a sheik sleeper pick at the All England Club, Lopez has gone just 3-6 on grass the last two years. His volley game is still delicious and his serve can still be a weapon, but he has had a tough time turning that into big wins on grass at this stage of his career. He opens against another veteran renown for his grass court game in Rajeev Ram. Ram however has not ever produced at Wimbledon. He is 1-3 and appearing in the main draw for just the second time. It’s a tricky call, but Lopez should fight through.
The second round would see Fabio Fognini or Federico Delbonis. Fognini is 7-7 at Wimbledon, so the experience edge goes to him. Still, there is zero confidence in Fab Mode not showing up despite Delbonis’ lightweight status on grass. He’s 0-4. Either way, Lopez should fancy a shot at the third round. He could see Kyrgios or possibly an upset minded Dustin Brown. Lopez will be up against if it is Kyrgios and could be headed out.
25. Viktor Troicki
The Serb is 13-7 in his career at Wimbledon with last year’s fourth round finish his second trip that far here. Troicki comes in 0-2 in the build-up tournaments, but could be a sneaky pick in London. He opens against qualifier Tristan Lamasine. He should be good to get through against the Frenchman. Round two could turn tougher if Vasek Pospisil wins. The Canadian faces Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the opening round. Pospisil has struggled for consistency, but has the game to win on this surface as last year’s quarterfinal run showed. If Troicki survives, the third round could be it as he would face Gasquet.
26. Benoit Paire
Paire has gone 5-5 at Wimbledon all-time. The Frenchman lost his only grass court prep at Queen’s Club to Bedene in three sets. He gets qualifier Franko Skugor first-up. A win should be in the cards for Paire. The second round would pit him against the survivor of John Millman versus Albert Montanes. That realistically should set him up for the third round. That is where Murray would come in and Paire’s time in London would end.
Non-Seeded Dark Horses
Dustin Brown will draw a lot of attention due to his past history of upsets here. He has that flair for the dramatic here and could find it again in round two. Also keep eyes on Vasek Pospisil, Radek Stepanek and Marcos Baghdatis. The last two have difficult first round match-ups, but are both capable of springing a seeded upset. Pospisil simply needs confidence and a few early wins could do that. Don’t expect any of these guys to really throw things off late in the draw though, they will all likely be gone by the fourth round at best.
This is Murray’s draw to lose. He certainly has a couple of potential tough outs to get through, but historical he matches up against the best players in this draw extremely well. It would not be shocking to see another double digit seed in position to get to the quarters here either. A healthy Tsonga or Isner could fill the bill.