Pre-Wimbledon Men's Quick Hits
Tennis' most prestigious tournament is only a few days away, and as always, there's plenty on the line for the world's top players.

Players to Watch – The Top Dogs

Novak Djokovic – Though Djokovic again failed to capture the Roland Garros trophy, he's still looking formidable.  He's 41-3 this year with 5 titles, including the Australian Open, and he comes into Wimbledon as the defending champion and got lucky enough to have Murray, Federer, and Nadal all on the other half of the draw.  Still, there are questions about his emotional strength after a crushingly disappointing end to his clay season.  Plus, he's coming in with no tournament play on the grass courts and will face the dangerous Philipp Kohlschreiber first round.

Prediction:  Finalist

Roger Federer – Federer came within a hair's-breadth of winning last year's title and there's no doubt he's going to be hungry again this year.  At 33 years old, the Swiss is still playing well, but the fast courts of Wimbledon likely give him his best chance to add another Grand Slam to his collection.  He's got a pretty clear path into the semifinals, but he's been more vulnerable to unpredictable upsets over the past few years.

Prediction:  Champion

Andy Murray – Murray has been resurgent in 2015, compiling a stellar 41-6 record with 3 titles, a Grand Slam final and a Grand Slam semifinal in which he pushed Djokovic to the brink.  On the way to Wimbledon, Murray grabbed his fourth Queen's Club trophy and logged some serious grass court prep.  Unfortunately, he may also have the hardest draw of any of the favorites.  To win the title, Murray could potentially have to beat Nadal, Federer, and Djokovic all in a row… and that's a tall task even if those three aren't at the peak of their powers.

Prediction:  Semifinalist

Stan Wawrinka – In Paris, Wawrinka showed that he was more than a one-Slam wonder, but he remains inconsistent and unpredictable.  Unlike his first Slam, Wawrinka avoided the long post-win layoff this go-round, but he's still coming in with limited grass court preparation after an early loss at Queen's Club.

Prediction:  Quarterfinalist

Kei Nishikori – Nishikori had the misfortune to land in Djokovic's quarter of the draw, but the upside is that most of the really dangerous players are all the way on the other half.  Before facing Djokovic in the quarterfinals, Nishikori will probably need to get through the big serving of either John Isner or Marin Cilic.

Prediction:  Quarterfinalist
Rafael Nadal – Nadal's loss at the French Open wasn't exactly a surprise, but it was still a shock to see the nine-time champion bounced in the quarterfinals after a meek, straight sets loss to Djokovic.  His grass court results have been mixed; he won a small tournament in Stuttgart, then lost in the first round at Queen's Club.  Nadal hasn't made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon since 2011 and he's coming in ranked tenth in the world—his lowest ranking since April 18, 2005.  That does mean he's safe from the top four seeds until the quarterfinals where he could potentially meet up with Andy Murray.  The upshot for Nadal is that he's got very few points to defend the rest of the year, so virtually every match he wins should help boost his points total and his ranking.

Prediction:  Quarterfinalist


Players to Watch – Everyone Else

Jack Sock – Sock has said his favorite surface is clay and he made a good showing at Roland Garros, but his big forehand should be able to do some damage on the fast courts at Wimbledon, too.

Nick Kyrgios – Kyrgios is defending quarterfinals points from last year and most of the top seeds near him (Dimitrov and Raonic)


The Best Matches of the First Round

Novak Djokovic v. Philipp Kohlschreiber – This one looks to be the cream of the crop when it comes to intriguing first round matchups.  Djokovic has dominated the head-to-head 6-1, but Kohlschreiber showed just how dangerous he is last week when he nearly ousted Federer in the first round at Halle.  Plus grass is by far his best surface, so Djokovic could get a run for his money early on.

Nicolas Almagro v. Gilles Simon – Almagro is going to bash the ball and Simon is going to absorb all the pace thrown at him.  The pair haven't played since 2012 and right now, Simon looks to be the better player, but the contrast in styles could spice up the first round.

Sergiy Stakhovsky v. Borna Coric – These two have played twice this year, splitting both meetings.  Wimbledon's courts aren't as fast as they used to be, but you can be sure that Stakhovsky is going to take advantage of the low bounces and fast conditions to attack the net and end points early.

Jack Sock v. Sam Groth – Sock looks like the better player on paper, but Sam Groth is bringing an atomic serve to face off against Sock's monster forehand.  If you like points short with lots of hard-hit balls, this is the match to watch.


What are your favorite players wearing and playing with for the 2015 Wimbledon Grand Slam?