June 20, 2008

Nadal Poised to Claim Federer's Crown

Is it finally time for someone to dethrone the mighty Roger Federer? After losing to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, Federer was destroyed by Nadal in the French Open final. A little bit of the mystique and swagger is gone, but now Wimbledon is here, on Federer's best surface. The Wimbledon grass has always been good to Federer, and is just the opposite of the slow clay on which Nadal dominates.

Rafael Nadal has just won his 4th straight French Open, but has yet to follow it up with a victory at Wimbledon. Could this be the year? Last year, Nadal took Federer to the absolute limit in the Wimbledon final, forcing Federer to gut out one of the toughest victories of his career. A year later, Nadal is a better player and supremely confident after crushing Federer at Roland Garros. Federer is no better than last year, maybe he's even slipped a little.

On top of the momentum arguments, the draw noticeably favors Nadal. The two highest ranked players in Nadal's half of the Wimbledon field are (4) Davydenko and (6) Roddick. Davydenko is notorious for early exits in London, and Roddick is coming back from injury, with this as his first major tournament. Neither should pose a threat to the Spaniard. On the other side, Federer seems to have tough matches every step of the way, culminating in a potential rematch with (3) Novak Djokovic, the Australian Open champion.

Djokovic wants to quiet the Federer/Nadal talk

Everything is on the line over the next two weeks. If Federer wins, he maintains his title as the best of men's tennis at least a little longer. If Nadal wins, he's the de facto #1 men's player in the world after two consecutive major titles, even if he doesn't take over in the rankings. If Djokovic wins, he's positioned to claim Federer's title of #1 on any surface but clay. I wouldn't put money on anyone other than those 3, they are by far the best players in the game today.

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