If you like feast or famine narratives, this Wimbledon ATP draw is tailor-made for the "feast" junkies among you. Just how many rich storylines would you like to mull over?
There's top-ranked Novak Djokovic, coming off a French Open loss that just can't be that easy to get over. Rafael Nadal breaking bad. Roger Federer re-inserting himself in a conversation he never really left. And Andy Murray on the rise again. And let's remember the fella everyone tends to forget at this time of the year, French Open champ Stan Wawrinka.
So let's get right to our analysis of the men's singles draw:
Best first-round match
Djokovic had better be tanned, rested and ready to go for his first-rounder Monday, because he'll be facing Philipp Kohlschreiber. Although he's a mere 5-foot-10 and weighs barely 150 pounds, this 31-year old German veteran is a multifaceted player who has won a title on every surface but indoor hard courts, and comes to Wimbledon with excellent grass-court credentials.
Kohlschreiber, a former champion at Halle, lost there last week in the first round against top-seeded Federer, but pushed the eventual champ to three sets, the first and third tiebreakers. All the while, Djokovic was reportedly lounging around on the Riviera. They ought to put up one of those yellow signs at the entrance to Centre Court: "Proceed with Caution."
Luck of the draw
No. 11 seed Grigor Dimitrov has had trouble making the breakthrough many predicted when they bestowed the "Baby Federer" nickname on the 24-year-old Bulgarian. He reached the semifinals last year at Wimbledon, but has been struggling in 2015 (Dimitrov hasn't won two matches in a row since mid-May). So, he probably breathed a great sigh of relief to see that his section of the draw is peppered with clay-courters and qualifiers. Getting through that first round or two is of critical importance to a guy down on his luck. Dimitrov caught a nice break here.
Hard luck of the draw
Third-seeded Murray has his work cut out for him. His first-rounder against Mikhail Kukushkin is definitely a challenge and it just gets worse from there; he has prodigies (Borna Coric), tricksters (No. 25 Andreas Seppi), bombardiers (No. 23 Ivo Karlovic), titans (Nadal), showmen (No. 13 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga) and the all-time Grand Slam singles champion (Federer) in his half. OK, so there are a couple of Brits in there too. Still, good luck with that, Andy.
Who is most ripe for the picking
And you thought May was "Pile on Rafa Month." The sad fact is that Nadal has slipped to No. 10 in the world, and while he won a grass-court event immediately after the French Open (Stuttgart), he was upset the following week in the first round at Queens. There is no sign he has overcome the shakes.
Best positioned for sailing
As if that $2 million-plus prize money check Wawrinka got for his massive win over top-seeded and heavily favored Djokovic weren't enough, the No. 4 seed at Wimbledon also received a nice handout from the Wimbledon draw gods. He opens his campaign against Portuguese clay-court expert Joao Sousa and should have clear sailing in the bottom half until a potential quarterfinal meeting with either of two 2014 semifinalists, struggling Dimitrov or No. 7 seed Milos Raonic.
Best Cinderella candidate
No one ever mentions Wawrinka as a contender on grass, and there's good reason for that: He has struggled on the surface. In the four years ending in 2013, he won a grand total of two singles matches at Wimbledon. But Wawrinka made the quarters last year (losing to finalist Federer), he's coming off a spectacular win and he can hit anyone off any court at any time. So, why not?
American with the friendliest path
John Isner, the No. 17 seed, has room to maneuver this year. He meets Japan's Go Soeda in the first round and another beatable opponent before a potential third-round meeting against No. 9 seed and defending U.S. Open champ Marin Cilic. The rangy Croatian has struggled with injuries since he won his lone major and his seeding is based on his protected ranking; in reality, he's ranked No. 26 and 10-9 on the year. This is a great opportunity for Isner.
Fish out of water
Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia-Herzegovina has never played a grass-court match as a pro, not even at the lowly Futures level. He's going to the right guy to learn how to do it: His first-round opponent is No. 2 seed and seven-time Wimbledon champion Federer.
Most likely to hit the reset button
Although Djokovic has a dangerous first-round opponent and must show that he's moved on from a devastating Roland Garros final loss, does anyone really think he's lost the game or confidence that drove him so spectacularly through the first five months of the year?
Most desperate for a good run
Isner recently declared he was not "desperate" to have a good run on grass, but a lot of other people are desperate for him to have one on his behalf. And why not? Given that big serve, it's amazing his career record at Wimbledon is a dismal 5-6.
Match we'd like to see
Let's go with the one co-starring the emerging American star. No. 31 Jack Sock could meet No. 2 Federer in the third round. The battle between the one-two punch of Sock's killer serve and atomic forehand versus Federer's skill and precision would be fascinating.