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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Analysis: The men's draw


Photo Titled Nadal wave
Nadal wave
The shockwaves from Rafael Nadal's withdrawal from Wimbledon 2009 reverberate throughout the men's draw. When the draw took place on Friday morning, Nadal's name was inked at the top as top seed, defending champion and world no.1. By the end of the day, the Spaniard had removed himself from contention.

The loss of Nadal is a blow for the tournament, especially after the manner in which Nadal beat Roger Federer in last year's classic final. The hole at the top of the men's draw left by Nadal will be filled by the fifth seed, Juan Martin del Potro. Del Potro's place will be taken by the 17th seed James Blake of the USA. The next to be seeded, Nicolas Kiefer moves to line 56 to take Blake's position as the 33rd seed. Thiago Alves takes Kiefer's position on line 61 and is a lucky loser.

Andy Murray, the British No.1 and third seed, had been drawn to meet Nadal in the semi-finals. He is now the highest ranked player in the top half of the draw.

Murray opens against the Californian Robert Kendirck, who finished in the top 100 in the world last year for the first time. Kendrick has played at Wimbledon three times, winning one match. In 2006 he served 32 aces and led two sets to love against Nadal in the second round before being beaten.

Murray was a quarter-finalist here last year and a runner-up to Federer in the US Open. This will be his fifth Wimbledon and he comes into the tournament having won the title at Queen's to become the first British winner for 71 years.

Murray can only conclude that Wimbledon have given him a great opportunity to progress to the later stages. Potentially he could run into last year’s semi-finalist Marat Safin in the last 16 and seventh seed Simon Gillles in the quarter-finals. Andy Roddick is also in Murray's half of the draw.

There are no questions on the form and fitness of five-time Wimbledon champion Federer: the second seed returns to competition after winning the French Open for the first time which completed his set of Grand Slam trophies.

Federer's projected semi-final opponent is the Serb Novak Djokovic, who was beaten in the second round last year after being a semi-finalist in 2007.

Federer, who opted to rest instead of playing his traditional warm-up at Halle, will play Yen–Hsun Lu of Taipei in the first round. Lu is playing at Wimbledon for the sixth time and has twice won his first round match.

For the British wild cards there are demanding starts. Daniel Evans opens against the twelfth seed Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, Alex Bogdanovic plays the twentieth seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, James Ward plays seventh seed Fernando Verdasco of Spain and Josh Goodall plays the Frenchman Michael Llodra.

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