Get in while the grass is good


LONDON -- The lawns are sparkling, the players jovial, and the feeling of optimism is permeating throughout the All England Club. It's eerily serene, actually, but it won't be for some in the coming days. So much to watch, so little time.

But, we're here to make life a little easier as you embark on your Wimbledon watching. Here are 50 things to know in 50 sentences.

You're welcome.

1. Unless you've been injecting Pimm's into your bloodstream for the past decade, you'd be wise to pick someone from the Big Four, winners of 35 of the past 37 Grand Slam titles, to hoist the Wimbledon trophy in two weeks.

2. And if the draw holds up, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who have played an Open era-best 42 times, will meet in another final.

3. Yet the oddsmakers believe Andy Murray has a greater chance to win than Nadal, even though Rafa and Djokovic have won 13 of the past 17 Slam titles.

4. And it should be noted that Nadal really can't do worse than last year, when he lost to No. 135-ranked Steve Darcis in the opening round, the only time in 38 majors the Spaniard lost his first match.

5. And further proof, aside from common sense, that Nadal won't suffer the same ugly fate: He leads the ATP Tour with four titles and a 41-7 record this season.

6. But then again, Nadal hasn't won consecutive matches on grass in two years.

7. For his part, Nadal needs to win his opener Tuesday to become the 11th player in the Open era to have 700 wins.

8. Speaking of wins, Murray's Wimbledon title last year alleviated an enormous weight off his shoulders -- and brain -- but he hasn't won a title since.

9. Now Murray heads into this event under the tutelage of new coach Amelie Mauresmo, who like Murray struggled with nerves for a long time before winning a first major.

10. And speaking of nerves, Roger Federer says he comes into Wimbledon absolved of any pressure since he lost in the second round a year ago and has few points to defend.

11. The consensus is Federer, who last won a Slam title two years ago here in London, has one more shot to add to his record 17 majors, and that will come at these Wimbledon Championships.

12. On the flip side, the feeling is there won't be a repeat women's champ, considering Marion Bartoli retired last summer.

13. Seems reasonable enough, unlike, say, someone outside the top four on the men's side winning Wimbledon, a feat that hasn't happened since Goran Ivanisevic way back in the summer of 2001.

14. Though, Stan Wawrinka was an 8-seed when he snared the Aussie crown earlier this season.

15. But Stan's numbers -- three losses before the quarterfinals in his past four events -- suggest he is struggling.

16. One player who is not, though, is the ubertalented Grigor Dimitrov, who just won his first career grass-court title last week at the Queen's Club.

17. Dimitrov, the lucky dog he is, also happens to be Maria Sharapova's boyfriend.

18. This Wimbledon coincidentally happens to be the one-year anniversary of the Dimitrov black-heart saga between Sharapova and Serena Williams.

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