After a COVID-enforced absence last year, Wimbledon is back this fortnight with Novak Djokovic looking to win the event for the third time in a row after victories in 2018 and 2019. He would also make it a three-way tie in total slams with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, both of whom currently sit on 20. Federer was last a slam winner at the 2018 Australian Open while the absent Nadal has been stuck on 20 since last year’s French Open.
Djokovic heads into this tournament as the favourite, especially with two of the top five out of the tournament in Nadal and Dominic Thiem. The World No.1 will face an up and coming Brit in Jack Draper to open the tournament in what is sure to be a great experience for the youngster. While it is very unlikely he wins a set, Draper has picked up wins over Jannik Sinner and Alexander Bublik recently which bodes well for the future. There could be a rematch of the 2018 final in round two with Kevin Anderson the likely opponent but otherwise much of the early tournament looks like routine straight sets victories for Djokovic. Gael Monfils looks nothing like a thirteenth seed right now with a 2-8 record in 2021 while Christian Garin has failed to win a main draw match at Wimbledon in three attempts. 2017 Boys champion Alejandro Davidovich Fokina rounds off the seeds in this section of the draw, hoping to improve on a mediocre record on the surface in pro play.
Andrey Rublev appears the most logical option for a player who could trouble Djokovic before the final but his record on grass left a lot to be desired in recent years. However, a run to the final in Halle in his first grass tournament since his surge up the rankings does suggest he may have the ability to remain as consistent and dangerous on this surface as others. There are a lot of players with far more pedigree in this section including seeds Fabio Fognini and Diego Schwartzman but the latter in particularly cannot be written off given his impressive ability to grind out results against many a player considered more physically blessed. The Argentinian made the third round in 2019 before a hard fought loss to Matteo Berrettini. Jannik Sinner is another destined for big things but it may be far too early for him on the grass, with his opening round opponent Marton Fucsovics sensing the opportunity for a surprise win.
Stefanos Tsitsipas does finally seem to be delivering on the promise he has shown for so long, making the semi finals or better in three of his last four slams. That was capped with a French Open final earlier in the month – where he led 2-0 in sets against Novak Djokovic before succumbing to a five set defeat. He should be a top three player sooner rather than later but again is another who remains unproven at the very highest level on grass. He lost to Thomas Fabbiano in the first round in 2019 and has not been seen since, choosing not to take part in warmup tournaments. He has taken a step up in the past 18 months though and should he beat Nottingham challenger winner Frances Tiafoe in round one, he will be fairly confident of at least a spot in the second week. British hopes rest on Daniel Evans‘s shoulders this time round as the Brummie hopes to make it to the fourth round for the first time in his career. Feliciano Lopez will be a throwback opponent in round one but should not be troubling Evans at the age of 39. Alex de Minaur will have at least an Eastbourne final to build on so should be fairly confident of continuing his form.
It is hard to predict how Andy Murray can really do with his appearances fleeting these days and his body not really playing ball. However, he doesn’t have the worst of draws to build on if he is feeling it over the next fortnight. Nikoloz Basilashvili and Denis Shapovalov have no real runs to shout about at Wimbledon but have had decent tuneups for SW19, making finals in Halle and Queens respectively. Reilly Opelka is another Boys champion that has failed to build on that success in the pro game and a recent loss to John Millman doesn’t bode well for success coming any time soon. Roberto Bautista Agut often is the player to deliver when draws break down and is generally a good bet to win against those seen as lesser plays. The Spaniard was a surprise semi finalist in 2019 – his best slam performance to date.
The bottom half of the draw begins with two players who managed recent slam semi finals, seemingly out of nowhere. Matteo Berrettini has proved his 2019 US Open run was not a fluke and is a strong top 10 player and even a potential finalist thanks to not being in the same half of the draw as Novak Djokovic. Aslan Karatsev‘s Australian Open run was far more shocking – making the semi finals as a qualifier then ranked outside the top 110. Something has clicked for the 27 year-old Russian who is now seeded 20th just six months later. His grass performances don’t suggest another shock run but with such performances earlier in the year, he certainly can’t be written off. Casper Ruud has little experience on grass but has shown himself to be a tricky opponent on other surfaces. A quarter finalist in Mallorca, the Norwegian may still be one of the more vulnerable seeds especially with Kei Nishikori a possible opponent in round two.
Fresh off defeating Roger Federer in Halle, Felix Auger-Aliassime finally looks ready to go deep at a slam and he does have chances of making at least the quarter finals but there are plenty of interesting clashes before that. He could play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in round two while either of Nick Kyrgios or Ugo Humbert would provide fascinating clashes in the third round. Tsonga and Kygrios’ talents on the grass are well known but Humbert has been quietly moving his way up the rankings and will be top 20 in no time. The Frenchman won Halle a few weeks back, beating Auger-Aliassime on his way to the final. Wins over Andrey Rublev and Alexander Zverev show that it was no fluke. Zverev has been getting over his slam hump elsewhere but Wimbledon he is still yet to breakthrough, with a 2017 fourth round his best to date.
Even at 39, Roger Federer cannot be written off over five sets and nobody would be surprised if it was him facing Novak Djokovic on the 11th July. The Swiss is still one of the best on the surface and should be fairly fresh given his sensible scheduling as well as an early Halle loss. Adrian Mannarino is his first opponent but it should be fairly routine despite the Frenchman being fairly handy on grass. He may renew his ‘rivalry’ in round two but the one to watch is definitely Cameron Norrie. The Brit has been having an impressive year with two finals in his last three tournaments. He lost both but there is no shame in losing to Matteo Berrettini and Stefanos Tsitsipas as he did at Queens and Lyon respectively. Lorenzo Sonego is another new name in the seeds seeking his first win at Wimbledon – something that should come fairly comfortably this time round. The Italian does boast a fairly strong serve and it would be no shock if the the Eastbourne finalist does get to the fourth round at least.
It will be interesting to see how Daniil Medvedev handles the pressure of being the second seed at this event with the Russian’s performances on grass so far not matching his level on clay and hard courts so far. The Russian has a final in both hard court slams but has only made the third round at SW19. He will have plenty of matches and confidence behind him having made the Mallorca final but may not be too happy about his first round oppnent. Jan Lennard Struff beat the Russian fairly comfortably in Halle the week prior and will hope to do so again. Marin Cilic‘s hot streak at Wimbledon ended a few years back but he has played himself back into form with a surprise Stuttgart title early in the month. The 2017 finalist is probably the most likely of the seeds to spring a shock here. Grigor Dimitrov does have a semi final but Miami champ Hubert Hurkacz has not won a match since his shock title. It is unlikely that either does much at a grass tournament but it will be interesting to see the Wimbledon debuts of Carlos Alcaraz and Lorenzo Musetti, two highly rated stars who should be around for years to come.
Prediction – Novak Djokovic defeats Roger Federer in the final