Change of surface, change of colors and change of tactics - Adios Roland Garros and Welcome to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Its that time of the year again, and the most prestigious championships are here buzzing with excitement that was missing in its past few editions.
Roger Federer played his first round y'day and it was as smooth a ride as it could have been. Pummeling Gabashvili in straight sets, it was a total no contest. Roger's been switching blazers every Wimbledon now, and the little doubts remain that he'll adorn a new one next summer with 5 crests on it.
However, certain players have been breathing down his neck pretty hard, and its not just Nadal that I'm talking about, but a certain Serbian force who has the game and the power to stop the Federer juggernaut. Novak Djokovic, who impressed one and all at Roland Garros earlier this year has been playing some terrific tennis of late and should his double handed backhands find themselves within the legal baseline boundarides.. man, he'll be more than a force to reckon with! Sample this - he started 2006 ranked 78th, but here he's now, ranked 4th and very much in the reckoning of causing some serious flutters.
The thing that impressed me most about Djokovic at the French was a lethal combination of speed and power - at 6 foot 2, this lanky looking athelete is pretty quick, otherwise how many times have we seen Rafa struggling on clay. Well, though Nadal won their semi final encounter in straight sets, but then there was ample display of talent from Djokovic, who somehow looks to be suited more to the faster courts.
He ain't got an easy draw for sure though - in all probability he'll take on either of Mardy Fish or Nicholas Kiefer or Volandri or Santoro - all capable of springing a suprise on their day. But then, to get the queen's crown you've got to beat 'em all!
Few matches that I'll be looking out for should the open go on as expected - Fed taking on the ever so volatile Marat Safin, Andy Roddick takin' on Dominic Hrbaty, David Nalbandian taking on Marcos Baghdatis, Hewitt facing Canas and Nadal taking on Grojean - all Round-3 matches.
Everything said and done, Federer still starts as favorite and more than just a couple of notches above the rest and anyone else aspiring to win on 8th of July would need to seek some serious inspiration and do that that quickly.