Group 1 – Climbing the All Time Ladder
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic is the only member of this group. A second Wimbledon title would give Nole 7 major titles and a good foundation for finishing a third consecutive year ranked number 1 in the world. 7 majors would, to my mind, place Novak ahead of Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and Mats Wilander on the Open Era list of greats. Novak would be positioned to overtake Andre Agassi and John McEnroe with an 8th major title. From there only Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl would stand between Novak’s career totals and the top tier of Open Era players (Bjorn Borg, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Pete Sampras [in alphabetical order]).
Group 2 – Confirming a First Grand Slam Title
Either Andy Murray or Juan Martin del Potro would gain a great deal of historical clout with a Wimbledon title. Murray would also be the first male player from the UK to win this title since Fred Perry. Murray’s 5 Grand Slam runner-up finishes, Olympic gold medal in singles, Masters 1000 titles and silver medal in mixed doubles already have him as a lock for the International Tennis Hall of Fame. JMDP could end any debate about his Hall of Fame credentials with a second slam title.
Group 3 – Confirming a Long Drive Toward Grand Slam Excellence
David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych have each been runner-up at one Grand Slam event and posted a number of other big results. A Wimbledon title would place either man’s career in a new light. Each man also might be able to mount a charge at the number one ranking over a 52 week period of time with a title.
Group 4 – An Epic Capstone to a Veteran’s Career
Tommy Haas, Mikhail Youzhny and Jurgen Melzer each have posted big upsets in Grand Slam events. Each man has reached at least one Grand Slam semifinal. As unlikely as it may seem, any of these three men could make a run for an improbable Grand Slam title and cap a solid career.
Group 5 – I’m the Next Big Thing
Jerzy Janowicz and Bernard Tomic could each make a major statement and claim to the future of men’s tennis with a title run. Tomic has posted three surprisingly strong wins to reach the round of 16. He plays a bit like Murray and could have a defiant ride to the top prize in tennis. Having said that, I am more intrigued by Janowicz. He came out of nowhere last fall and is now rising fast. He has big weapons and a nasty side. Maybe he can do something along the lines of what Boris Becker did in 1985. He has quite a few weapons. Still, Tomic’s win over Richard Gasquet was a statement.
Group 6 – You were Wrong to Sleep on my Talent
Bernard Tomic becomes the first and only man to belong to two groups on this list. Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco is the other member of this group. Anyone who has seen Verdasco’s live arm knows he has an ability to generate power. His 2009 Australian Open semifinal finish looked like a step forward, but he’s never been able to capture the brass ring. A lot of people sold their Tomic stock after his family drama earlier this year. Either man is capable of playing great tennis. That likely won’t be enough to take the title, but a title would be the ultimate “I told you so.”
Group 7 – A Title would be Bigger than NC State and Buster Douglas Rolled into One
Ivan Dodig knows that an unexpected Croatian took the title in 2001. Andreas Seppi is the #23 seed, but no one has him on their radar of potential champions. Lukasz Kubot is another solid player who no one expected in the second week at Wimbledon. Kenny De Schepper and Adrian Mannarino each have a chance to be the first French player since Yannick Noah to claim a Grand Slam title. A title by any of these five would be more unexpected than Gaston Gaudio’s 2004 French Open title.