The third slam of the year is upon us with Wimbledon kicking off on Monday morning. Novak Djokovic looks to defend his title and get back to winning ways after failing to make it four in a row in Paris. Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal will hope to keep his form going after the same event. Nadal is one of a few to suffer in the Wimbledon seeding formula, moving from No.2 to No.3.
Full draw here: Wimbledon men’s 2019 Draw
Last year’s champion Djokovic had to face Rafael Nadal in the semi finals last year but will have no such issues this time round with both the Spaniard and Roger Federer in the bottom half of the draw. There was a period of time earlier in the year where Djokovic was struggling by his incredibly high standards. This included a loss to his first round opponent here, Philipp Kohlschreiber. The German often is one of the tougher unseeded players in a draw but it shouldn’t be too difficult for the World No.1 on this occasion. The first seed he could play is Dusan Lajovic, who sneaks in at 32. The Serbian is far more comfortable on clay and with just 1 warm up match this grass season, it’s easy to see where his priorities lie. A fit and healthy Felix Auger-Aliassime would provide an intriguing matchup for Djokovic in the fourth round. After missing the French Open, the young Canadian has been one of the standouts on the grass. He made the Stuttgart final and Queens semi final, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas along the way in the latter. Gael Monfils rounds off the first set of seeds at No.16. The Frenchman is 1-2 on the grass this year but will be eager to at least match his career best of the fourth round from last year.
Stefanos Tsitsipas doesn’t have a great deal of grass experience in his young career but you still couldn’t bet against a deep run from the Greek given his dramatic improvements over the past year. He already has a fourth round from last year and should repeat that given his draw and the benefit of a top 8 seeding. Kyle Edmund is the first seed he will play and that could provide a tough matchup for him in front of a vocal centre court who will look to cheer on the top male Brit hopeful. Daniil Medvedev boasts a powerful game and will look to seize this part of the draw but there may be concerns over the injury he picked up at Queens, that eventually led to his semi final loss to Gilles Simon. The Russian will be confident should he find himself in a match up Tsitsipas, having already four matches in a row against the Greek so far. That includes one at Monte Carlo this year while the rest were on hard courts in 2018.
The biggest beneficiary of the Wimbledon seeding formula has to be Kevin Anderson, who finds himself in a top four seeding due to his finals appearance of last year. Being in the same half as Djokovic will make it hard for him to repeat that run but he will have a good crack at it with the benefit of his high seeding. It will be tough for the South African who has played very little over the past three months. He made his return at Queens after last playing in Miami, losing his second match to Gilles Simon. With both a rising Stanislas Wawrinka and Milos Raonic both in this part of the draw, it is going to be a huge ask for Anderson to repeat his run of last year. Raonic is similarly low on matches but did pick up some wins on the grass swing earlier in the month, making the semi finals of Stuttgart before withdrawing and adding a quarter final at Queens. Anderson could be vulnerable in round one to Pierre Hugues Herbert but otherwise may be able to ease his way into the tournament with Guido Pella the first seeded opponent he could face.
Alexander Zverev rounds off the top half of the draw, looking to build on his quarter final run at Paris. It was an unconvincing warmup for the 6th seed though, with losses to David Goffin and Dustin Brown in home tournaments on the grass. His relative struggles at slams are well documented but he may well be figuring it out with a 4th round and quarter final so far this year. He is far from certain to advance from this part of the draw and earn his first quarter final at Wimbledon. Benoit Paire is far from an easy opponent but the troubles likely await in round four. Feliciano Lopez is in inspired form coming off a singles and doubles title at Queens while Karen Khachanov is always going to be dangerous. Khachanov is more than capable of overpowering the German in a matchup and will be relieved to not be facing Matteo Berretini early on in the tournament. His losses at Stuttgart and Halle both came to the Italian, both in straight sets.
The bottom half of the draw sees both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who are scheduled to meet in the semi finals. Nadal has often found it difficult against zoning power hitters in the early rounds of Wimbledon and he faces the most dangerous of them in Nick Kyrgios in a potential round two epic. Kyrgios’ motivation will always be in question but he is absolutely a threat to knock out Nadal early on if he is on his game. If Nadal avoids defeat there, there are a few more troublesome opponents for him over the first 8 days of the tournament. Denis Shapovalov and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are amongst his potential third round opponents with Tsonga’s grass talents well known. The Frenchman is getting on however and his days of springing a shock at SW19 may be over. Former finalist Marin Cilic is also placed in this nightmare section and may find it tough to go far, especially if his performance in defeat to Diego Schwartzman is anything to go by
A French Open final rematch could be on the cards in the last 8 with Dominic Thiem and Nadal placed in the same quarter. Unsurprisingly the Austrian is not the force he is on the clay at Wimbledon and holds an uninspiring record at the tournament. He has made it past the second round on just one of five attempts, getting to the last 16 in 2017. With Eastbourne finalist Sam Querrey in confident form, there’s a possibility he could go out very early. The big serving American is dangerous on the grass and will be fancying his chances of a good run in a section that could be otherwise considered weak. Laslo Djere and Fabio Fognini are clearly more comfortable on clay. Former quarter finalist Gilles Simon is in this section and comes off a Queens final, stringing together an impressive set of marathon matches along the way. Frances Tiafoe looks the best of the rest here but his grass court tune-ups left a lot to be desired.
The final quarter is headed by Roger Federer, who will be eager to bounce back after his disappointing loss to Kevin Anderson in last year’s quarter final. He begins against a slightly less dangerous South African in Lloyd Harris, who was picked up some good results on the Challenger Tour this year. Federer won Halle once again in his sole warmup tournament, taking home the title in Germany for the 10th time. He could well play one of the other form players on tour right now in round four. Matteo Berretini has been zooming up the rankings this year and finds himself in the top 20 for the first time at this tournament. The Italian won Stuttgart without dropping a set and followed that with a run to the semi finals in Halle, eventually losing to David Goffin. He could well be the one to end the career of Marcos Baghdatis, who has chosen to retire at this event after receiving a wildcard to compete.
Having made the semi finals last year, John Isner will be eager to deliver a similarly deep run this year. It will be tough for the American though, who is another player low on matches having not competed since Miami. He made the final there but the lack of matches may hinder him here. Eastbourne champion Taylor Fritz might be the one to take advantage should he beat former finalist Tomas Berdych in his opener. There are a lot of similarities between Fritz and Isner’s game and he should take confidence from the run of his compatriot last year. Borna Coric’s late withdrawal pushes Jan Lennard Struff into a seeding spot at No.33 while Kei Nishikori finishes off the list of top 8 seeds. Nishikori was a quarter finalist last year, finally seeing his tournament end at the hands of Novak Djokovic in four sets.
Prediction – Novak Djokovic def. Roger Federer