Wimbledon 2014 is finally upon us. The world’s greenest tennis championship runs from Monday, June 23rd until Sunday, July 6th.
With England’s recent World Cup performance, the hometown crowd at Wimbledon are likely looking forward to Monday morning, when the matches begin at the All England Club. If there is a momentary lack of national pride in the game of soccer, perhaps the Brits will be redeemed in the individual sport of tennis — in the form of defending men’s singles champion, Andy Murray. Last year, Murray put an end to Britain’s 77-year desire for a men’s champion they could call their own; long live King Andy and long live the reign of tennis in the British headlines. Can he repeat the performance, now that he has a new coach in Amélie Mauresmo?
Murray is not without serious competition, of course. Spain’s Rafael Nadal is the top-ranked player, and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic is the top-seeded player. Switzerland’s Roger Federer, about to celebrate his 33rd birthday in a month or so, hopes for at least one final championship. So do many of the world’s tennis fans. Last year, Federer lost in the second round (his earliest exit from a grand slam event in 10 years), but last week he won a Wimbledon warm-up at Halle, Germany.
In the women’s draw, chances are good that this will be Maria Sharapova’s year to win again; she has one Wimbledon title (in 2004 over Serena Williams). True, she’s won only two of 18 matches against Williams, and they’re in the same quarter of the draw this Wimbledon, but she has the momentum in 2014.
And then there are the Americans.
The American men include Ryan Harrison, No. 9 seed John Isner, Bradley Klahn, Denis Kudla, Alex Kuznetsov, Sam Querrey, Steve Johnson, Jack Sock, Donald Young and Michael Russell.
The American women include Lauren Davis, Victoria Duval, Madison Keys, Vania King, Varvara Lepchenko, Christina McHale, No. 18 seed Sloane Stephens, Anna Tatishvili, wild card Taylor Townsend, CoCo Vandeweghe, No. 1 seed Serena Williams and No. 30 seed Venus Williams.
For the United States, 2014 Wimbledon could go one of three ways. Either…
1) this year’s tournament will be another necessary wait in the development of America’s younger generation of top players (Ryan Harrison, Madison Keys)…
2) or there will be a surprising run from one of the younger crowd (Jack Sock or Sloane Stephens)…
3) or else one of the veteran Americans (John Isner – the guy who still has it in him to go further, Serena Williams – who still hasn’t won a Slam this calendar year) will go into the tournament with a relaxed approach that spins well on the grass, and they will make a run to the finals. John Isner, at ninth, is the only U.S. male seeded in the tournament, but he carries American hopes in the men’s draw. Williams is the top seed in the women’s competition.
Photo: John Isner in his legendary 2010 Wimbledon match, where he defeated France’s Nicholas Mahut after three-days on the grass.
Here are Americans in the men’s and women’s first round draws for Wimbledon 2014… (q-qualifier, w-wild card, l-lucky loser)
Bradley Klahn, United States, vs. Sam Querrey, United States
Steve Johnson, United States, vs. Roberto Bautista Agut (27), Spain
q-Alex Kuznetsov, United States, vs. Fabio Fognini (16), Italy
Grigor Dimitrov (11), Bulgaria, vs. q-Ryan Harrison, United States
Donald Young, United States, vs. Benjamin Becker, Germany
Michael Russell, United States, vs. Julian Reister, Germany
w-Daniel Smethurst, Britain, vs. John Isner (9), United States
q-Pierre-Hugues Herbert, France, vs. Jack Sock, United States
q-Marsel Ilhan, Turkey, vs. q-Denis Kudla, United States
Serena Williams (1), United States, vs. Anna Tatishvili, United States
Chanelle Scheepers, South Africa, vs. Christina McHale, United States
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (26), Russia, vs. Alison Riske, United States
q-Victoria Duval, United States, vs. Sorana Cirstea (29), Romania
Klara Koukalova (31), Czech Republic, vs. w-Taylor Townsend, United States
Madison Keys, United States, vs. Monica Puig, Puerto Rico
CoCo Vandeweghe, United States, vs. Garbine Muguruza (27), Spain
Tsvetana Pironkova, Bulgaria, vs. Varvara Lepchenko, United States
Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, Spain, vs. Venus Williams (30), United States
Sloane Stephens (18), United States, vs. Maria Kirilenko, Russia
Lauren Davis, United States, vs. Alisa Kleybanova, Russia
Vania King, United States, vs. Yvonne Meusburger, Austria
Photo: The patient crowd waiting to enter Wimbledon on Day One