|ESPN.com: Wimbledon 2010||[Print without images]|
WIMBLEDON, England -- Unlike at the French Open, most of the favorites have survived unscathed so far. Expect that trend to continue, but some of the big guns will eliminate each other early thanks to some blockbuster fourth-round matchups. Here are the players, in order, of who's most likely to be left standing at the end of the Wimbledon fortnight.
1. Serena Williams: It's not just the curtsy that Serena has been practicing lately. She went away and worked on her serve after losing at the French Open, and it seems to be paying off. She has served 43 aces and dropped just six points on her first serve en route to the second week. She's also bageled all her opponents in the first set. If the defending champion keeps up that performance, it's hard to see anyone taking her down.
2. Venus Williams: Venus might be a little further down this list if it weren't for her draw -- Jarmila Groth and then Marion Bartoli or Tsvetana Pironkova to reach the semifinals. And the five-time former champ is always a force to be reckoned with on grass, even if she hasn't done anything spectacular so far this season.
3. Andy Roddick: All right, but who's looked more solid during the first week? Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have both wobbled, while Roddick has neatly navigated his way past a couple of tricky tests. Make him the slight favorite against either Novak Djokovic or Lleyton Hewitt, and give him even money against Nadal or Andy Murray in the final. In between is Federer, but there's no guarantee the Swiss will make it to the semifinals -- and even if he does, there's always hope for Roddick after last year's Wimbledon final.
4. Andy Murray: Again, not someone who had the best lead-in to the tournament, but Murray has handled himself well both on the court and in his social duties during the first week. Usually at some point in a Slam, he runs into a big hitter who's playing well and gets blown off the court. That means his next match against Sam Querrey will be dangerous. But if Murray can force himself to take charge of his matches rather stringing out the points, there's really no one he doesn't have a good shot against.
5. Rafael Nadal: Before Saturday's match, Nadal would have led this list. But after getting taken to five sets for the second time in a row and having the trainer look at four or five different body parts while the Spaniard faced Philipp Petzschner, he's looking like potential cannon fodder for Robin Soderling in the quarters. Everything else is going his way -- the weather is good; the draw has parted nicely thus far -- so it's mostly a question of how the knees are behaving.
6. Roger Federer: Let's not get carried away; he's still in good shape to defend his title. But every player he'll face from now on is going to be thinking, "If Alejandro Falla can take him to five sets, why can't I?" Talented lefty Jurgen Melzer and Czech bomber Tomas Berdych could be more dangerous during the next two rounds as a result, and Federer has been going through error-ridden patches.
7. Kim Clijsters: It's a close call between the two comeback Belgians, particularly because they play each other next. Give Clijsters a slight edge because she's won their two matches so far this year and played better overall in her three matches here, and she might be the more relaxed player this week.
8. Justine Henin: Conversely, Henin has dominated her Grand Slam meetings versus Clijsters, and her game is better-suited to the grass. She was in fine form against Nadia Petrova, the first time she's looked like a potential champion here. With Clijsters always a threat to choke against her old Belgian rival, Henin has a real shot at getting through. But is she ready to go on and win the whole thing right now?
|A healthy Maria Sharapova is hoping to repeat her 2004 Wimbledon championship performance.|
9. Maria Sharapova: She's yet to prove her shoulder will hold up through seven matches in two weeks, and a very tough meeting with Serena is next. But she's a former champion, and if an opportunity opens up, she can be counted on to walk through that door.
10. Robin Soderling: He hasn't dropped a set during the first week, and grass suits his game even better than clay, on which he has reached the French Open final two years in a row. Soderling is highly dangerous against any of the big names.
11. Tomas Berdych: He showed he might finally be ready to live up to his potential by reaching the French Open semifinals earlier this month. But although he won a tight tussle in Miami against Federer -- a potential quarterfinal opponent -- he still has a tendency to gag during tight five-setters.
12. Lleyton Hewitt: He knows how to win this thing, having done it in 2002, and he's playing impressively well after two hip surgeries in the past two years. He even beat Federer in Halle, Germany, two weeks ago. But he might have to record a second consecutive win against Federer on grass to get to the final, and that might be even harder than winning Wimbledon.
13. Novak Djokovic: His recent serving and stamina crises made it hard to consider him a real contender coming in, but he served pretty well in his past match and survived five sets against Olivier Rochus in the first round. He's still sniffling, though, so the allergy problems (or whatever they are) still could be affecting him. Getting past Hewitt and Roddick will take a ton of energy, and it's hard to believe he's got enough.
14. Na Li: She won the warm-up event in Birmingham, England, and beat Venus at the Australian Open this year. Don't count her out in a possible quarterfinal against Serena, and if she wins that, why stop there?
15. Jelena Jankovic: She was down a break in the second round and got yards of bandages wrapped around her thigh in the third round -- in other words, just an average first week of a Slam for the drama-prone Serb. It's hard to see her going all the way with all the power hitters still in the draw, though.
16. Caroline Wozniacki: The knock on Miss Sunshine is that her current game isn't quite big enough to beat the top guns and win a Grand Slam. But she's a fighter and she likes grass, so give her an outside shot if others stumble.
17. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: It wasn't clear whether he'd even play after getting injured at the French Open. But the Muhammad Ali look-alike reports that the muscle tear he suffered has healed and that he has plenty of reserve for the second week. If Tsonga hits top gear as he did in Australia a couple of years ago, he can steamroll anyone.
18. Sam Querrey: He's certainly put himself back on track after flaming out at the French Open. He's almost getting better match by match, so there isn't necessarily a ceiling on how far he can get this week. Murray in the next round will be the biggest hurdle to a breakthrough run, but Querrey should at least enjoy all the attention the match gets.
19. Marion Bartoli: She's a former finalist whose flat, two-handed groundies work well on this surface. Bartoli has benefited from a cakewalk draw, but things will get a lot tougher from the quarterfinals on. Still, there's nothing that's absolutely unwinnable, and she sure likes being the center of attention.
20. Agnieszka Radwanska: The Pole has more craftiness than power, a rarity on the tour these days and the reason she's not going all the way. But although Radwanska hasn't played her best this season, she's still a two-time former quarterfinalist.
|David Ferrer might be more comfortable on clay, but he's proved that he's no pushover on grass.|
21. David Ferrer: Clay is normally his forte, but the good weather means he's feeling quite at home on the grass. He won't win the tournament but says he's ready for Soderling in the next round.
22. Vera Zvonareva: The game is there for a decent run, but she's in no shape for it mentally.
23. Paul-Henri Mathieu: The Frenchmen are having a good Wimbledon after flaming out at the French. Mathieu has struggled a bit after coming back from injury but had a good win over Mikhail Youzhny to get to this point. With Nadal up next, though, Mathieu's run likely will end.
24. Petra Kvitova: We know one thing: If a top player is falling apart in front of her, she's willing to step up and take the win.
25. Kaia Kanepi: Don't be fooled by the "Q" next to her name -- she's been as high as No. 18 and knows how to hit the ball. But she's played a lot of matches to get to this point, and fitness isn't her strong suit.
26. Jurgen Melzer: The talented Austrian lefty reached his first Grand Slam semifinal at the French Open, and his style is even better suited to grass. But there's a real question as to whether his game is quite big enough to take him all the way, and his form changes almost as frequently as his girlfriend.
27. Klara Zakopalova: Last year, Serena Williams was asked about the toughest opponent she'd ever faced and replied, "Klara Zakopalova." After two three-set battles against the Czech veteran, Serena was only half-kidding.
28. Julien Benneteau: The veteran Frenchman normally reserves his best performances for the French Open, so it's a surprise to see him get this far at Wimbledon even though he's been playing well of late. And his higher-ranked compatriot Tsonga is likely to enforce the pecking order in their upcoming match.
29. Jarmila Groth: She's been on a bit of a run at Slams, reaching the second week at the French Open and now Wimbledon. But with Venus Williams up next, it stops here.
30. Tsvetana Pironkova: How'd she get here? Oh, right -- by beating the player who beat Francesca Schiavone and beating the player who beat Yaroslava Shvedova.
31. Daniel Brands: He's 6-foot-5. Other than that, it's hard to tell what he's doing here in the second week.
32. Yen-Hsun Lu: What? How? Why? When? Where? Actually, he's quick and hits a nice, solid ball, but expect a stomping from Roddick in the next round.
Kamakshi Tandon is a freelance tennis writer for ESPN.com.