Wimbledon. The name itself is legendary, but the two weeks of tennis that grace the courts of the All England Club can cement a name in history forever.
This time of year is one of the most exciting for tennis fans around the world. Although the grass court season is short, it is one of the most significant and exciting times of the year where players try to make their mark.
This year Rafael Nadal will try to defend his crown, while Roger Federer will try to make history by tying Pete Sampras for most Wimbledon wins.
Along with the two previous champions, Novak Djokovic, who has only lost one match this year (in the French Open semis to Federer), will attempt to win his first Wimbledon title and overtake Nadal for the number one ranking.
When talking about the All England Club, it’s impossible not to mention the local favorite, Andy Murray of Scotland. Ever since Tim Henman, Andy Murray has taken over the role as the English hopeful for a Wimbledon crown.
Andy Murray is the number four player in the world and has yet to capture his first Grand Slam title.
Murray is a two time Australian Open finalist, as well as the 2008 US Open runner-up. He has reached the semi finals of Wimbledon the past two years, but has been unable to progress past that point.
You can never rule out any of the top 10 players in the world, but in my mind, it’s down to the top four.
Novak Djokovic has been nearly unstoppable this year. He had won every tournament he had played in, 41 matches straight in 2011, until his loss at the French Open.
When a player is that hot, it is impossible to rule them out of winning any title. Novak is a two-time Australian Open champion and was a semi-finalist last year at Wimbledon.
The biggest task for Novak Djokovic will be defeating Roger Federer who is in the same half as the Serb in the draw.
Roger Federer has won Wimbledon six times and will be attempting to equal Pete Samrpas’ record of seven Wimbledon titles.
Although Federer has won only one of the last three finals at Wimbledon, he is still known as the best player on grass. When a man makes a final for eight years in a row, it’s hard to believe that it would end while he is still playing well.
The man standing in the way of Federer winning the past two years has been the world’s current number one player, Rafael Nadal.
In the past three years Nadal has won every single Grand Slam tournament, including Wimbledon twice.
The defending champion has had a great year, winning the French Open for the sixth time.
Although Nadal is known as a clay court player, which fits his game best, he has had great success at Wimbledon. He has learned how to be successful on many different surfaces and is always a force to be reckoned with.
The thing I’ve noticed with Nadal is he always suffers early in tournaments. If he reaches the quarterfinals, he plays incredibly well and is always in contention for the title. As long as he makes it past the early rounds he’ll have a great shot at the title.
Pete Sampras told ESPN.com in a phone interview that he thinks Roger Federer will win Wimbledon to equal his record of seven Wimbledon titles.
After reaching the French Open final, Sampras is quoted with saying that Federer is “oozing with confidence”.
There you have it, Pistol Pete predicts Roger for the title. Sampras was also quoted saying that he believes Nadal is right behind Roger, saying that Rafa is a “machine” who surfaces “once every 25 years,” as well as mentioning Djokovic as a contender for the title.
Along with the top four players in the world, there are many other contenders who have made history at Wimbledon before.
Andy Roddick has reached the Wimbledon finals twice and is one of the top Americans in the tournament with the eight seed. He will face qualifier Andreas Beck in the first round on Monday.
The other seeded American in the tournament is Mardy Fish who is seeded tenth and will face unseeded Marcel Granollers in the first round.
James Blake will have a tough first rounder against 32 seed Marcos Baghdatis, while Donald Young will play Alex Bogomolov in the first round.
Local Southern Californian Sam Querrey injured his elbow while competing at Queens and was forced to pull out of Wimbledon. He underwent surgery for bone spurs in his right elbow and could be out for a couple of months according to his doubles partner, John Isner.
Speaking of John Isner... The match that everyone has been talking about is a rematch of the longest match of all time. John Isner and Nicolas Mahut will meet on Tuesday to play a match that will likely not last the 11 hours and five minutes that it did last year, ending in a Isner victory of 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (3), 70-68.
When asked about the match, Isner told reporters “My first thought was the draw is rigged, but it’s obviously not as it’s a complete coincidence. We both didn’t think that it was ever going to happen, and it did, and now we have to duke it out again.”
Isner said when the two heard they would play each other again at Wimbledon, they high-fived in the locker room. Isner concluded, “I don’t know if the tennis gods had it out for us, but they want us to meet again.”
If you ask me, the top four players in the world will show why they are the top for players this tournament. They will all reach the end of the tournament, and I expect that Roger Federer will play one of his best tournaments ever in pursuit of tying Pete Sampras’ record. If there is any time for Roger to win another tournament, this is it.
You can watch Wimbledon on NBC starting Saturday the 25th for the third round at 10 A.M. PST. The Ladies Final will air live on NBC on Saturday, July 2nd at 6 A.M. PST. The Gentleman's Final will air live on NBC on Sunday, July 3rd at 6 A.M. PST.
To read the whole ESPN.com interview with Pete Sampras and to get his take on Wimbledon, head over to ESPN.com and search “Wimbledon: Pete Sampras’ take on the big four”.