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Djokovic, Federer On SF Collision Course; Murray's Tough Task

Wimbledon, England

Djokovic© AFP/Getty ImagesDefending champion Novak Djokovic could face Roger Federer in a semi-final clash that would have implications for the No. 1 ranking.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic will open his Wimbledon title defence against Juan Carlos Ferrero, a former World No. 1 and the 2003 Roland Garros champion. The 32-year-old Spaniard has reached the quarter-finals at Wimbledon twice before and has split his two previous meetings with Djokovic.

The 25-year-old Djokovic is bidding for his second major title of the season at SW19. Should he advance to the second round it does not get any easier though, with either American Ryan Harrison or Chinese Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu waiting. The Belgrade native is set for a third-round clash with No. 28 seed Radek Stepanek, and is seeded to face No. 15 Juan Monaco in the fourth round.

No. 6 Tomas Berdych is the second highest seed in the top quarter of the draw and is a potential quarter-final opponent for Djokovic. The Czech reached the Wimbledon final in 2010, finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal. He opens his campaign against Latvian Ernests Gulbis and could face former semi-finalist Richard Gasquet in the fourth round.

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For the 16th time in the past 21 majors, Djokovic finds himself in the same half as Roger Federer. The six-time champion is seeded third and faces Spain’s Albert Montanes in the first round. Federer and Djokovic recently squared off in the Roland Garros semi-finals, with Djokovic prevailing in three sets. Federer has the chance to regain the No. 1 South African Airways ATP Ranking, should he beat Djokovic in the semi-finals and go onto win the title.

Federer’s second-round opponent would be either Italian Fabio Fognini or France’s Michael Llodra. He has a potential third-round meeting with No. 29 seed Julien Benneteau, while No. 13 Gilles Simon is his seeded fourth-round opponent.

Marathon men John Isner and Nicolas Mahut are on yet another collision course at The Championships. After their record-breaking first-round clash in 2010, which Isner won after 11 hours and five minutes over three days, they met again in the first round last year, with Isner winning in straight sets. This year they have the possibility of meeting in the second round, should Isner beat Alejandro Falla and Mahut overcome Paolo Lorenzi.

The 11th-seeded Isner is a possible quarter-final opponent for Federer, as is eighth-seeded Serbian Janko Tipsarevic, who opens against 2002 runner-up David Nalbandian. Tipsarevic has lost in the first round both of the past two years, but did go as far as the fourth round in 2007 (l. to Ferrero) and 2008 (l. to Schuettler).

The third quarter of the draw is arguably the toughest. Fourth seed Andy Murray leads British hopes at The Championships, but faces a whole host of obstacles. The Scot opens against former World No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko in the first round and could come across big-serving Ivo Karlovic in the second round. No. 32 seed Kevin Anderson, improving Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov and former semi-finalist Marcos Baghdatis are all potential third-round opponents for Murray.

Queen’s champion Marin Cilic, the No. 16 seed, begins against Cedrik-Marcel Stebe and could face No. 21 seed Milos Raonic in the third round, with the winner to meet Murray in the fourth round. Seventh seed David Ferrer is seeded to meet Murray in the quarter-finals, but the Spaniard must first overcome the likes of Andy Roddick in the third round and ninth seed Juan Martin del Potro in the fourth round. Ferrer, a semi-finalist at Roland Garros two weeks ago, has never been past the fourth round at Wimbledon.

Two-time former champion Rafael Nadal, fresh from winning a historic seventh Roland Garros title, begins his campaign to reclaim the Wimbledon trophy with a match against Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci. He would face either Lukas Rosol or Ivan Dodig in the second round, with one of two Germans – either No. 27 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, who beat Nadal in Halle, or last week’s Gerry Weber Open champion Tommy Haas – likely third-round obstacles. No. 22 seed Alexandr Dolgopolov and No. 14 Feliciano Lopez are the other two seeds in Nadal’s fourth-round section.

The match of the first round sees fifth seed and last year’s semi-finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga take on 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt. Another interesting first-round contest in the fourth quarter of the draw sees No. 20 seed Bernard Tomic face talented Belgian David Goffin, who caused a stir by reaching the fourth round at Roland Garros. Tenth seed Mardy Fish makes his return from illness to face Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo in the first round and is seeded to meet Tsonga in the fourth round, with the winner to face Nadal.

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