No Federer, Nadal match at Wimbledon this time

Monday, June 22, 2009 4:00 AM UTC

Monday, Jun. 22, 2009 4:00 AM UTC

Rafael Nadal's early exit from the French Open paved the way for Roger Federer to finally claim the clay court major.  Nadal is making an even earlier exit from Wimbledon with bad knees keeping him from tennis' biggest event.  Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray appear to be the biggest obstacles for Federer as he looks to stand alone atop the record books and break Pete Sampras' mark of 14 Grand Slams.

<p>It was such a different world back then, before YouTube.</p> <p>It’s been four years since the TV-killer app first appeared on the Internet. It’s also been four years since Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal haven’t met at the Wimbledon finals. Sadly, they won’t be adding to their collection of video highlights this year – their reading of the Rudyard Kipling poem If will have to do for now. Nadal has withdrawn from the 2009 Wimbledon Championships due to tendinitis in his knees.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <table align="center" border="1" style="background-color:#dfe1e0"> <tbody> <tr> <td><span style="color:#ffffff"><span style="font-size:small"><span style="font-family:comic sans ms,sans-serif"><i><span style="color:#000000">Don't forget to check out the </span></i></span></span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff"><span style="font-size:small"><span style="font-family:comic sans ms,sans-serif"><i><span style="color:#0000ff">SBR Contest Calendar</span></i></span></span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff"><span style="font-size:small"><span style="font-family:comic sans ms,sans-serif"><i><span style="color:#000000"> for your chance to win great prizes</span></i></span></span></span></td> </tr> </tbody> </table> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p><img alt="Roger Federer" height="250" src="" style="float:right;margin-left:5px" title="Roger Federer" width="200" />That leaves the five-time champion Federer as the -130 favorite to regain the title he lost to Nadal in 2008. He’s going to have to work for it; the men’s draw includes a potential semifinal matchup with Novak Djokovic (+1400) and a tough final against Scotland’s Andy Murray (+250), who would undoubtedly be the fan favorite at Center Court. Djokovic and Murray have each beaten Federer twice in two attempts this year.</p> <p>The market says it will be Federer and Murray in the final, and who am I to argue? Federer is 65-0 in his last 65 matches on grass against anyone other than Nadal. Murray is one of the sport’s rising young stars and the winner of last week’s warm-up tournament at Queen’s Club. There are other fresh new faces on the men’s side, like Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro (+2200) and France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (+2500), but neither has made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon.</p> <p>I’d still take either of those two newcomers over Andy Roddick (+2500). Not to pile on or anything, but Roddick’s career peaked right about the same time YouTube arrived on the scene. He reached the finals in 2004 and 2005, but lost both times to Federer and hasn’t gotten past the quarters since. As a value pick, I’m always looking at fading Roddick in the early rounds, starting with Tuesday’s opener (6:00 a.m. Eastern) against Jeremy Chardy at +650. The 22-year-old Frenchman won the boys’ title at Wimbledon in 2005 and made a splash by reaching the fourth round of the 2008 French Open. Roddick has yet to face Chardy on the ATP Tour.</p> <p>On the women’s side, I hate to be a vulture but Maria Sharapova has a bad shoulder going into this year’s Championships. From a handicapping perspective, she’s already prone to having her betting odds inflated by her faithful public, so her +900 price as the third favorite is already dubious. Sharapova had to pull out of the Australian Open with her injury and has played just three tournaments all year, losing to Li Na at the WTA Tour’s Wimbledon warm-up in nearby Birmingham.</p> <p>Sharapova was due up early Monday morning (8:00 a.m. ET) against Viktoriya Kutuzova (+600). Of the women getting started Tuesday, my vulture eyes turn toward Jelena Dokic, who has a bad back heading into her first-round matchup with Tatjana Malek. Dokic is otherwise a great story this year as a former top-tier player (she reached the 2001 French Open final) who is trying to rebuild her career after troubles with her father and former coach Damir Dokic. Malek is 22 years old this August and has never faced Dokic, spending most of her time on the ITF circuit, where she has wins this year in Sweden and Croatia.</p> <p>The women’s draw is set up with Serena Williams (+230) on one side and Venus (+300) on the other. I like the two sisters to play in the final for the second year in a row and the fourth time since 2002. Sharapova (2004) and Amelie Mauresmo (2006) are the only two women besides the Williamses to win the Championships this decade. That’s how important the grass surface is at Wimbledon – especially to Venus, who’s won this event five times. And you almost always get more betting value out of Venus than Serena, the more recognizable of the two sisters (2,220 YouTube search results to 1,620). The numbers don’t lie.</p>
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