- The Washington Times - Monday, June 22, 2009

HANDICAPPING THE FIELD

MEN

Roger Federer

No, he is not the defending champion. But he is the most recent champion in the field, having won every title between 2003 and 2007. With Rafael Nadal out, there is no player who can hang with Federer on grass.

Odds: 1-3

Andy Murray

He’s Great Britain’s best hope for a Wimbledon title in decades. And he has a legitimate shot, showing his grass-court prowess with a win at Queen’s Club last week. He has the game, and he’s in great shape. But can he handle the pressure? And can he get by Federer, who beat him easily in the final of last year’s U.S. Open?

Odds: 4-1

Andy Roddick

With a huge serve, his game is well-suited for grass. And his hard work with coach Larry Stefanki has led to some encouraging results, including a semifinal appearance at the Australian Open and a fourth-round appearance at the French Open. Nadal’s absence opens his draw, but he must avoid the type of inexplicable early losses that have plagued him over the years.

Odds: 8-1

Novak Djokovic

For a time, Djokovic looked like he was threatening to turn the Nadal-Federer rivalry into a three-way race. But over the past year he has been in the headlines more for his questionable fitness (see the Australian Open) or early-round losses (see the French Open). He has the talent to beat anyone, but to win in London he must dig deep and return to his form of two years ago.

Odds: 15-1

Others to watch: Juan Martin del Potro, Giles Simon, Tommy Haas, Marin Cilic

WOMEN

Venus Williams

She has won five times at Wimbledon, including each of the past two years. There’s nothing to suggest her power game can’t vault her to a third title, except for general rust from a lack of matches this season. Her biggest obstacle may be her sister Serena, whom she is lined up to face in the semifinals.

Odds: 3-1

Serena Williams

She was despondent after losing to sister Venus at last year’s Wimbledon, but that should give Serena perfect motivation this time around. She had an uncharacteristic stumble under pressure at the French Open against Svetlana Kuznetsova, but she’ll be a tough out here if she can stay focused.

Odds: 4-1

Svetlana Kuznetsova

After dominating Dinara Safina in the finals in Paris, Kuznetsova showed her 2004 U.S. Open title was no fluke. But she has never played great on grass, reaching the quarterfinals in London just three times.

Odds: 8-1

Dinara Safina

Never has a top seed received so little respect. But there’s a reason for that. Safina has yet to win a Grand Slam title and repeatedly allows her mental frailty to get in the way of her tremendous physical gifts. At Wimbledon, she has never advanced past the third round, and her loss to Tamarine Tanasugarn (who?) in a grass-court tuneup event didn’t bode well.

Odds: 16-1

Others to watch: Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic, Elena Dementieva, Ana Ivanovic

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