Wimbledon 2012: Federer, Nadal, Djokovic And The Other Top Contenders For This Year's Men's Title

  @JasonLeMiere on June 14 2012 5:39 PM
Roger Federer
In keeping with his customary pre-Wimbledon routine, Roger Federer has been honing his grass-court skills at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, this week. Reuters

After the excitement of the French Open, attention will shift from the red clay to the grass courts of Wimbledon.

The two weeks of tennis that take place at the All England Club are among the most thrilling for tennis fans around the world. Although the grass-court season is short, it is a time of year that is relished by players as they look to make their mark on arguably tennis's grandest stage.

With several players at the peak of their game, picking the winner for the men's draw is extremely difficult. There are a few individuals, however, who have managed to perform consistently well on the grass.

Here are six contenders for the 2012 Wimbledon crown.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic is not the ultimate grass court player. However, the Serbian has plenty of weapons and confidence to go all the way at this year's Wimbledon. Djokovic has dominated the men's game for the last 18 months and he will head to Wimbledon as defending champion after defeating Rafael Nadal in four sets to claim his first title at SW19 last year. Djokovic will also go into Wimbledon with confidence, having won 27 consecutive Grand Slam matches before defeat to Rafael Nadal in the French Open final.

2011 Result: Champion

2010 Result: Semifinals

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal won a record-breaking seventh French Open title with a 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 victory over Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday. After coming up short to the world No. 1 in their three previous Grand Slam meetings, the victory at Roland Garros should give him the extra belief that he can get the better of Djokovic on the big stage. While Nadal is more comfortable on clay, he has seen success on grass in years past--winning at Wimbledon in both 2008 and 2010--and has proven he can adjust his game for the surface. After his dominant performance during the clay court season, Nadal will transition onto the grass with confidence. More importantly, the Spaniard appears to be injury-free for the first time in many years.

2011 Result: Finalist

2010 Result: Champion

Roger Federer

Nadal and Djokovic have become the dominant forces on the ATP Tour with their consistent play and incredible athleticism. Yet, though the world's top two have overshadowed Roger Federer in the past three years, the Swiss legend remains a dangerous player on grass. He may have failed to get past the quarter-finals of Wimbledon since 2009, but having already picked up six titles at the All England Club, Federer has already cemented his status as one of the greatest grass-court players of all time. With his all-court game and success on the surface, Federer will go far at Wimbledon. However, the Swiss star will have to get past Nadal or Djokovic if he hopes to win the title.

2011 Result: Quarter-finals

2010 Result: Quarter-finals

 

Andy Murray

Andy Murray is the home favorite at Wimbledon. The Scot has performed well on grass in the past having made the semifinals of Wimbledon for the past two years. And in 2011, Murray defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final of Queen's, a pre-Wimbledon warm-up tournament. The world No. 4 will have to battle a persistent back injury if he hopes to go far at Wimbledon, but should develop extra resilience from his vocal support. Grass-court points are typically shorter than those on clay, which, given his injury concerns, is a factor that should work in Murray's favor.

2011 Result: Semifinals

2010 Result: Semifinals

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Despite being the fifth ranked player in the world, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga often remains overlooked at the Grand Slams. The Frenchman is a dangerous grass court player and has notched up huge wins on the surface in previous years. Tsonga has also proven that he can threaten Nadal and Djokovic on any surface. As recently as this year's French Open, he held four match points against Djokovic before dropping the match in an epic five set encounter. With his big shots and powerful serves, Tsonga reached the final of Queen's and defeated Roger Federer in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon in 2011. The charismatic 27-year-old will be a dangerous player during the two weeks at Wimbledon and has the potential to upset the top four seeds.

2011 Result: Semifinals

2010 Result: Quarter-finals

Dark Horse: Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic has shot up the ATP rankings in the past two years and become a Canadian star. Ranked 21 in the world, Raonic has one of the most impressive serves on tour. It frequently tops 130mph and has even reached the 150mph mark. That kind of serving should prove particularly effective on a quick surface like grass. Raonic surprised many by making it to the fourth round at the Australian Open in 2011 and has wins over players such as Andy Murray, David Nalbandian, and grass-court specialist Philipp Petzschner. Though the retired in his second round match at Wimbledon in 2011, he has shown that he has an aggressive game that wins on grass.

2011 Result: Second Round

2010 Result: DNP

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