Commentary

Early danger for Rafael Nadal

Updated: June 17, 2011, 10:34 AM ET
By Ravi Ubha | ESPN.com

Can anyone disrupt the big four at Wimbledon?

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray all reached the semifinals at the French Open, and it's not hard to see them getting that far at the All England Club, even though Friday's draw threw up some interesting possibilities.

Federer will be encouraged by his French Open display, a boost as he tries to tie Pete Sampras by collecting a seventh title at Wimbledon. A victory for Nadal, meanwhile, would give the Spaniard a third French Open-Wimbledon double, pulling him even with Bjorn Borg.

Always making history, or on the brink of it, those two.

Djokovic hopes to rebound from his only defeat of 2011, while Murray again shoulders the load of an entire country -- or countries.

Here are five takeaways from the draw, with one focusing on a particularly enticing first-round match.

Little early danger for Fed

Those longing for a Federer-Nadal final, rejoice. Given that they surfaced in opposite halves, it's a possibility.

As Federer's buddy Sampras said this week in an interview with ESPN.com, the Swiss is "oozing" with confidence after ending Djokovic's 43-match winning streak and testing Nadal in the Roland Garros final.

For the most part, Federer's serve was working in Paris, a good sign as he transitions to grass.

The first seed Federer is due to face is No. 28 David Nalbandian. Although he reached the 2002 Wimbledon finals, Nalbandian returned from a three-month injury layoff at the Aegon Championships only last week. No danger for Fed.

The possible seeds waiting in the fourth round aren't in form, so Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the Queen's finalist, figures to be Federer's toughest challenge -- in the quarterfinals -- before a probable rendezvous with Djokovic.

You get the feeling Federer will indeed make it past the quarterfinals, at least, unlike in 2010.

Tricky for Rafa

In his four previous Wimbledon visits, Nadal has reached the final. On three of those occasions, he was stretched to five sets in the first week. Robin Haase and Philipp Petzschner made Nadal work in 2010.

Milos Raonic is Nadal's potential third-round foe. Inexperienced on grass, Raonic, this year's breakthrough artist, nonetheless scares all his opponents with that mammoth serve.

Looming in the fourth round is Juan Martin del Potro. His least comfortable surface is grass, yet we're guessing Nadal would much prefer playing Gilles Simon, a higher seed than del Potro, in the round of 16.

Remember Tomas Berdych, the reigning Wimbledon finalist? Nadal and the Czech, who is coming off an embarrassing defeat at the French Open, are scheduled to battle in the quarterfinals.

A step up for Murray

Players can't control the draw, so it wasn't Murray's fault (and it was to his delight) that the Scot received comfortable paths to the semifinals at the Australian Open and French Open.

Murray, worried more about snapping his personal Grand Slam drought than Great Britain's 75-year men's funk, has it much tougher at SW19 beginning in the third round. He could meet either the dangerous Sergiy Stakhovsky or Ivan Ljubicic, both winners of grass-court titles.

There might be real drama in the fourth if he confronts Richard Gasquet, he of the newfound mental toughness. How Gasquet would like to inflict trauma on Murray for a change -- having lost two-set leads to Murray at Wimbledon and the French Open.

Should Murray land Andy Roddick in the quarterfinals, it can't be as easy as it was at Queen's, can it? If not Roddick, don't discount Feliciano Lopez or Ivo Karlovic.

After that, Nadal figures to be waiting in the semis.

Unpredictable for Nole

After Djokovic was finally vanquished in 2011, we await his reaction. Truth be told, it's difficult to envision his suffering from any troubling aftereffects because he's taken his mental toughness to another level.

However, his route to the semifinals is interesting.

Right away, he's up against the huge-hitting Jeremy Chardy.

From then on, it could be: Kevin Anderson, the towering South African who's in the form of his career and who has beaten Djokovic; former Wimbledon semifinalist Marcos Baghdatis, who kept Djokovic on court for five hours in their 2007 quarterfinal; Viktor Troicki, a threat to Djokovic at the U.S. Open last year and who appears to be on the brink of a massive win; and Robin Soderling.

Isner-Mahut, Part 2

As much as John Isner being drawn against Nicolas Mahut has given a kick -- and chuckle -- to tennis fans, we're guessing the players themselves didn't want a repeat of the 11-hour, 5-minute serve-fest. They've discussed last year's epic ad nauseam.

Isner, in particular, is keen to move on, mindful that he needs to start putting together results to let people know he's about more than just the 2010 match.

Still, intrigue certainly won't lack in the buildup. Will Wimbledon organizers stick the pair on Court 18 again or give them a larger court? And will Mohamed Lahyani be in the chair?

Whatever the setting, maybe it's best to put them first up.

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com.