The third slam of the year is upon us with Wimbledon starting on Monday. Despite his current ranking of No.2, Roger Federer is seeded No. 1. To regain the top spot, he must defend his title while hoping that Rafael Nadal loses before the fourth round. Andy Murray does not get a seeding due to the rules of the seeding formula only applying to those currently holding the top 32 spots.
Federer will go into the event as heavy favourite given Murray and Djokovic are far from their best still while Nadal’s struggles on grass are well documented. He does come into the tournament on the back of a loss having been defeated in the final of Halle, a tournament he has dominated during his career. There seems little to worry about in week one as he opens against Dusan Lajovic and in round three could play an opponent he is 17-0 against in Mikhail Youzhny. Should Borna Coric navigate a tricky opener against Daniil Medvedev, he is projected to play Federer in round four. It would be a rematch of the Halle final in which Coric ran in three. The new and improved Coric in 2018 will be confident having also ran Federer close at Indian Wells – a match he probably should have won.
By landing in Federer’s quarter, Sam Querrey‘s chance of matching his 2017 semi final look fairly slim. However, the American will likely not be too downbeat with his draw to that stage. The American is slated to face Kevin Anderson in a big serving fourth round matchup, one that Querrey won in his run last year. Before that, he could face Richard Gasquet. The Frenchman is in decent form having won a grass court title this year but has otherwise been inconsistent in 2018. He will want to avoid a first round exit for the second year running having lost to David Ferrer in 2017. There are much easier opening rounds than Gael Monfils although the threat that his countryman poses is probably much lower than it looks on paper. Gasquet’s 2-17 record against Federer does not bode well were he to make a rare slam quarter final run.
Marin Cilic is looking more and more like a constant slam contender and it would not be outrageous to place him as the favourite were Roger Federer to exit from the tournament at any stage. Including last year’s final, he now has 2 slam finals on his record and matched his quarter final best at Roland Garros in the past year. He was outplayed in the final but outlined his credentials for victory again with a title at Queens. He should ease through an opening week headed by Filip Krajnovic before a potential big serving affair with Milos Raonic. The Canadian is the biggest beneficiary of the seeding formula as he moves from outside the top 30 to No.13. He made the quarter finals in three of the past four years and has only lost to Federer at the event in the past two years – once in the final in 2016.
Big serving will be the theme of the second quarter with John Isner also a top 10 seed. The American though is more famous for his match with Nicolas Mahut than any run at the event. Conventional wisdom would dictate that Isner should go well at Wimbledon often with his booming serve but he is yet to make the fourth round in 9 attempts at the tournament. He made the third round three years running before losing in round two last year. 31st seed Stefanos Tsitsipas may look to surprise at this tournament with Isner and Grigor Dimitrov the two expected to compete for a spot in the quarter finals. Dimitrov’s opener with Stanislas Wawrinka doesn’t quite look the blockbuster many would expect when you consider the Swiss’ constant difficulties on grass even as he began to establish himself as an elite player on other surfaces.
With injury doubts surrounding Murray, it will be Kyle Edmund that may turn out to be the home crowd’s biggest hope at this year’s event. In the top 20 after an impressive 2018, there will be expectations of a good run for the Brit. He should make the third round with ease, where Novak Djokovic likely awaits. Djokovic is another player to get a seeding bump with the former champ moving to the 12th seed a week after making the final of Queens, where he lost to Cilic. It was another good week for the Serbian as he looks to get back to his best but it would still be a shock if he made the second weekend this soon. Dominic Thiem may be the seed that is vulnerable early on with his grass results not matching his progress elsewhere. With Fernando Verdasco the first seed he can play, he may match his fourth round of last year but a deeper run would be unexpected.
Nick Kyrgios managed to make headlines on the grass but not for his play but for a fine at Queens for making an inappropriate gesture during the broadcast of his match. The Australian is placed perfectly for a lengthy run in the tournament, especially if his serve remains dominant as it has been previously on the surface. A potential third round with fellow Aussie Bernard Tomic could be interest but it’s more likely than not he will have to play Kei Nishikori at that stage with the potential of a Kyrgios-Alexander Zverev clash in round four. Zverev is still trying to get over his slam struggles but did make a first quarter final at the French Open. It was still far from impressive as he had to win several five setters against much lower ranked players to do so before Dominic Thiem saw him off with ease in the last 8.
Rafael Nadal comes into the tournament without a warmup tournament as has been customary when he wins the French Open. The Spaniard has been bumped down to second seed although for the purposes of the draw, there is no impact other than being in the opposite half of it. Losses to low ranked players have plagued him on the grass for years but the kind of zoned-in power hitter or grass specialist that has seen to him doesn’t look to have a place in the opening week. Fresh off his first career ATP title, Mischa Zverev could be that player in a section that has Diego Schwartzman, Fabio Fognini and Marco Cecchinato as the other seeds. Schwartzman gave Nadal an almighty scare in Paris but comes into this tournament with a career 0-7 record on grass.
All the talk about the draw this week has surrounded Andy Murray, who is still contemplating whether to play the event as he attempts to return to full match fitness. It would be hard to make a case for him winning the tournament right now and may even crash out early looking at the draw. He opens against Benoit Paire before a potential matchup with Jeremy Chardy. Chardy has had a lot of success on the grass this year but may be the underdog going into his match with Denis Shapovalov. It will be interesting to see how Juan Martin Del Potro after he made the French Open semi final while Jack Sock is definitely in need of a win. In playing Eastbourne qualifiers, he lost in straight sets to Daniel Brands – currently outside the top 300.
Prediction – Roger Federer defeats Rafael Nadal in the final