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Wimbledon Preview

June 25, 2007

By David Harrison

The Grand Slam tennis season resumes on Monday when this yearís Wimbledon Championships take to the grass in England.

On the menís side, Roger Federer is a huge favorite as usual on the hallowed lawns. Federer has won at Wimbledon the last four consecutive years, and will be looking to become the first player to win Wimbledon five years in a row since Bjorn Borg accomplished the amazing feat in 1980.

Federerís biggest, and possibly only, competition to derail his drive for five is his nemesis Rafael Nadal. In their last meeting, Nadal kept Federer from winning the French Open once again by dropping him 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

However, Federerís matches against Nadal have been much different on grass than they have been on clay.  Federer and Nadal clashed in last yearís Wimbledon final when Federer beat Nadal 6-0, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3.

If Nadal isnít able to topple Federer this year, the rest of the menís field probably doesnít stand much of a chance of doing so.

Third seed Andy Roddick is coming off a horrible performance in the French Open where he was upset in the opening round. Roddick has had some success on the English grass in the past, but heís never been able to seal the deal. In both 2004 and 2005 Roddick finished as runner-up to Federer, while last year he was bounced in the third round.

Unless Roddick is able to improve upon his 1-13 lifetime record versus Federer, heíll likely come up empty-handed at Wimbledon again.

On the womenís side, the field is the complete opposite of the menís. Over the last four years a different woman has won at Wimbledon on each occasion. In last yearís final, Amelie Mauresmo defeated Justine Henin 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Henin, who won her third straight French Open title earlier this month, is still looking for her first Wimbledon title to complete a career Grand Slam.

In 2005 Venus Williams won her third career Wimbledon title, but she enters this yearís tournament as the No. 23 seed and is not expected to make the semis let alone win a fourth Wimbledon. Venusí sister, Serena Williams, is a different story.

Serena is the seventh seed and won back-to-back Wimbledon titles in 2002-2003, but what makes her a real contender this year is her surprising Australian Open championship earlier this season.

Serenaís opponent in the Aussie final, Maria Sharapova, enters Wimbledon as a question mark. Sharapova may be the No. 2 seed and the 2004 Wimbledon champ, but she has had an up-and-down season so far, which included getting knocked out of the French Open in the semis.

Other contenders on the womenís side that bettors will want to keep an eye on include Jelena Jankovic, former U.S. Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova, and 2007 French Open finalist Ana Ivanovic.

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