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Wimbledon 2012: men’s preview

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Busted Racquet previews the men's draw at Wimbledon 2012

• Defying mathematical odds, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer were placed on the same side of the draw for the 13th time in the past 15 Grand Slams. The main beneficiary of this news: Rafael Nadal, who would see Wimbledon's favorite son and greatest disappointment, Andy Murray, in a potential semifinal instead of Federer. Bryan Graham of Sports Illustrated calculates that the Djoker/Fed pairing would happen 32 times in every 10,000 scenarios.

• On the bright side for Federer: Because of the way the draw works out, he's guaranteed to get back to No. 1 in the rankings if he wins at the All England Club. With one more week at No. 1, he'll tie Pete Sampras for most weeks at No. 1 all time. Though you're likely to hear that this is Federer's last great chance to regain the top ranking, he'll probably be in a similar position at the US Open, provided he doesn't flame out of Wimbledon too early. Federer isn't defending many points until the year's final Grand Slam. Oh, and his draw isn't a piece of cake as much as it's an entire cake. No seed in his quarter has ever advanced to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and most have historically gone out long before then.

• Who wants Isner-Mahut III? No one? Too bad; you may get it. Though 2010's marathon men avoided another first-round rematch, they could potentially see each other in the second round.

[Women's preview: Maria Sharapova has a fairly easy path to the final]

• Djokovic will face off against a fellow Grand Slam winner in the first round when he plays 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero. The world No. 1 could see Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals. Can the Czech pull off another grass-court stunner?

• Is Andy Murray one of those players who doesn't look ahead in the draw? If he's not, he might want to be. The struggling world No. 4 has a tough draw at a bad time. His path to the semifinals could be: Nikolay Davydenko, Ivo Karlovic, Kevin Anderon, Milos Raonic/Marin Cilic, David Ferrer/Juan Martin Del Potro.

Best first-round match: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (5) vs. Lleyton Hewitt

Best first-round match, MMA edition: Janko Tipsarevic (8) vs. David Nalbandian

Best first-round match, train wreck category: Mikhail Youzhny vs. Donald Brown

Best first-round match in need of longer signage-ov: Alexandr Dolgopolov (22) vs. Alex Bogomolov Jr.

Who will play Rui Machado in the Brian Baker Disney movie: Zac Efron

Best potential third-round match: Cilic vs. Raonic

Worst potential third-round match: Federer vs. Julien Benneteau (thus guaranteeing the Benneteau upset)

Best possible quarterfinal: Djokovic vs. Berdych

Semifinal predictions: Berdych vs. Federer, Murray vs. Nadal -- At some point, Novak Djokovic isn't going to make a Slam semifinal. That could be in five years -- Federer-style -- or it could be sooner. (In-depth analysis, I know.) Given his uneven play at Roland Garros, I say Berdych pulls another big upset at Wimbledon and advances to face the man he defeated in the 2010 semifinals. Flip a coin to figure out who's coming out of Andy Murray's quarter. Milos Raonic was my initial pick but then I remembered one of the great lessons of sports: The instant you start counting out a guy like Murray is the instant he surprises you.

Finals prediction: Federer over Nadal. It would be the first time the rivals have played at Wimbledon since their epic 2008 final.

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