A couple of weeks after my controversial football World Cup XI, I’m still arguing the case as to a) why I refused to consider Cristiano Ronaldo, and b) how I have managed to jinx every team that had a player listed. And yet, thoughts have turned to Wimbledon this week, and inevitably to my Top 10 players to watch. So here, after a couple of weeks of consideration and serious scientific research, is my official top 10. I waive all responsibility if they under-perform (like every French player on my football list). In no particular order:
1. Feliciano Lopez, Spanish, 28, ranked 30 in the world. Has got as far as Wimbledon quarter-finals twice, and ended Tim Henman’s career there in 2007. Unfeasibly pretty.
2. Tommy Haas, dual German/American nationality, 32, ranked 34 in the world. Was no.2 in the world in 2002, before the yo-yo dominance of Federer and Nadal. Currently injured so shouldn’t really be on this list, apart from for the obvious reasons.
3. James Blake, American, 30, ranked 109 in the world. Has never reached further than the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam, so glimpses of him on court are likely to be tantalisingly short.
4. Roger Federer, Swiss, 28, ranked 2 in the world but was no.1 for a record 237 consecutive weeks. Apart from the matter of six Wimbledon titles, he’s best known at SW19 for his retro tennis outfits (I liked the cardigan and long trousers look the best).
5. Rafael Nadal, Spanish, 24, no.1 in the world. Secured his place in the list when coming back after a long layoff from injury looking less bulky and more handsome. His appearance in a Shakira video is also worth viewing.
6. J??r??my Chardy, French, 23, ranked 55 in the world. Won the Wimbledon boys’ title in 2005 – my, hasn’t he grown…
7. Mardy Fish, American, 28, ranked 70 in the world. The best name on the ATP tour. Photos aren’t an accurate reflection.
8. Tommy Robredo, Spanish, 28, ranked 36 in the world. Apparently his nickname is Disco Tommy.
9. Andy Roddick, American, 27, ranked 7 in the world. Married to a Sports Illustrated model, and a very funny tweeter. Won over loads of new fans when losing to Federer in the Wimbledon final last year.
10. David Ferrer, Spanish, 28, ranked 11 in the world. Another in a line of high-class Spanish players. US Open semi-finalist in 2007.
There are a few that didn’t make the top 10 – here is the subs’ bench:
1. Stanislas Wawrinka, Swiss, 25, ranked 23 in the world. Won doubles gold at the 2008 Olympics (partnering Roger Federer) and caught my eye when playing Andy Murray in the 4th round at last year’s Wimbledon. He lost in five sets.
2. Gilles Simon, French, 25, ranked 32 in the world. Is the only man (apart from Roddick and Andy Murray) to have beaten Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.
3. Juan Carlos Ferrero, Spanish, 30, ranked 7 in the world. Was in the top 10 but was knocked out in the first round (with this performance, he was not spoiling us etc). Was devilishly handsome as a 20 year old, when I saw him win in Dubai. Nice se??or as well.
4. Fernando Verdasco, Spanish, 26, ranked 9 in the world. Yet another Spaniard and, like Ferrero, knocked out in the first round so lost his place in the top 10.
1. Marat Safin: tempestuous Russian. There’s no-one quite like Marat. Apparent
ly, his ex-girlfriend is the current squeeze of Roman Abramovich.
2. Pat Rafter: greatest Wimbledon match I ever saw was the final between Rafter and Agassi. Rafter – possibly the greatest man to play on the hallowed courts of SW19 – divine inspiration.
3. Goran Ivanisevic: good Goran, bad Goran, any Goran.
4. John McEnroe: you still would.