2014 Wimbledon: Top Stars with Most Difficult Path to Championship

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJune 20, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 07:  Novak Djokovic of Serbia reacts during the Gentlemen's Singles Final match against Andy Murray of Great Britain on day thirteen of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 7, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Always the biggest tennis event of the year, Wimbledon kicks off on Monday with the biggest stars in the sport vying to make history. The tournament held at the All England Club is the one event that everyone wants to win, yet lately it only seems that a few are capable of victory.

In fact, dating back to 2003, there have been four players on the men's side and six players on the women's side who have won in England.

However, there seems to be more parity in the sport now than ever. It's still top-heavy, especially on the men's side with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Roger Federer, but the gap between those four and the rest of the top 10-12 seeds is shrinking.

As we go through the men's draw, these are the top stars who are going to find the path to a title in England extremely difficult.

Wimbledon 2014: Men's Seeds
1Novak Djokovic (SRB)
2Rafael Nadal (ESP)
3Andy Murray (GBR)
4Roger Federer (SUI)
5Stan Wawrinka (SUI)
6Tomas Berdych (CZE)
7David Ferrer (ESP)
8Milos Raonic (CAN)
9John Isner (USA)
10Kei Nishikori (JPN)
11Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)
12Ernests Gulbis (LAT)
13Richard Gasquet (FRA)
14Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)
15Jerzy Janowicz (POL)
16Fabio Fognini (ITA)
17Mikhail Youzhny (RUS)
18Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
19Feliciano Lopez (ESP)
20Kevin Anderson (RSA)
21Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR)
22Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
23Tommy Robredo (ESP)
24Gael Monfils (FRA)
25Andreas Seppi (ITA)
26Marin Cilic (CRO)
27Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)
28Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP)
29Ivo Karlovic (CRO)
30Marcel Granollers (ESP)
31Vasek Pospisil (CAN)
32Dmitry Tursunov (RUS)

Courtesy of Wimbledon.com.

Novak Djokovic (No. 1)

Michel Euler/Associated Press

What has been so fascinating about the tennis season thus far is how much of it has been solely defined by Djokovic vs. Nadal. They have met in three finals already, with Djoker winning twice. Nadal got the most recent laugh at the French Open.

With that said, Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times notes that the Wimbledon gods did Djokovic no favorsat least early in the tournamentwith a strong second-round contender:

Djokovic and Radek Stepanek have played once this year with the former winning in straight sets at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia event in May.

Stepanek is peaking at the right time to pull off a huge upset. He is coming off an impressive run at the AEGON Championships event, advancing to the semifinals with wins over 2013 Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and Kevin Anderson before falling to Feliciano Lopez.

Roger Federer (No. 4)

Darko Vojinovic/Associated Press

Every year, we keep talking about the end of Federer's peak, yet he always manages to pull off one big victory that brings us back on the bandwagon. That hasn't happened so far in 2014, as the 32-year-old owns two wins in smaller events (Gerry Weber Open and Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships).

Despite the lack of titles, Federer has been making deep runs in all the events he's participated in. The former world No. 1 played in the semifinals of the Australian Open as well as the finals of the Paribas Open and Monte Carlo-Rolex Masters. 

However, Rothenberg noted that Federer's draw is among the more difficult for a top seed in England:

Federer went out in the second round last year with a loss to Serhiy Stakhovsky, so another early exit from the All England Club wouldn't be a surprise.

Unfortunately, he's reached the point where past reputation is more impressive than recent performance.

John Isner (No. 9)

David Vincent/Associated Press

American men's tennis has been in a rut for yearsso much so that John Isner has become the only hope for the country in major events. He's the only American male ranked in the top 32 at Wimbledon.

Making matters worse is the fact that Wimbledon has always caused Isner problems. The 29-year-old has played in this event five times and never advanced past the second round.

Rothenberg once again points out the difficulty of Isner's draw in the early rounds, which only makes his chances of getting past the second round for the first time hard to envision:

To compound matters, Isner hasn't advanced to the finals of any event since the Heineken Open in early January and has been knocked out in his first match four times in 12 events.

No American has won at Wimbledon since Pete Sampras won four straight times from 1997-2000. If Isner is the only hope this year, that streak is all but guaranteed to continue until at least 2015. 

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