Breaking down the Wimbledon 2017 draw, including top first-round matchups on the schedule, predictions and more. 

By Jon Wertheim
June 30, 2017

I don’t practice Santaria, I ain’t got no crystal ball. But some Wimbledon picks….

Read on for the dark horses, top first-round matchups, predictions and more as we breakdown the men's and women's seeds at Wimbledon 2017. 

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

I don’t practice Santaria, I ain’t got no crystal ball. But some Wimbledon picks….

1. Andy Murray (GBR)

The defending champ has given little indication he’s up to defending. But Murray—and this will go down as a top-line virtue—warms to the occasion at Wimbledon. Galvanized and not cowed by the pressure. You worry about his level. You worry about his hip. You pick against him at your peril.

2. Novak Djokovic (SRB)

Where to begin? He comes to Wimbledon holding no Slams, his confidence fissuring and nursing a 0-6 borderline tank job in his previous set of Grand Slam tennis. And he’ll be tested early against Klizan. On the plus side, his record at the All England Cub since 2010: 32-3 with three titles. You pick against him at your peril.

Adam Pretty/Getty Images

3. Roger Federer (SUI)

A few weeks from turning 36, Federer might as well be the favorite. He goes for his eighth Wimbledon title on the heels of winning Halle… knowing that the top two players above him are reeling….and he’s 3-0 this year against the guy beneath him. You pick against him at your peril.

4. Rafael Nadal (ESP)

The French Open winner has won each of the last 21 sets he’s played at the previous Slam and 13 of the 14 Grand Slam matches he’s played. That said, he hasn’t gotten out of the first week since 2011. And you worry about Gilles Muller looming so close in the draw. You pick against him at your peril.

5. Stan Wawrinka (SUI)

The one player who got truly jobbed by the seeding. He’s ranked third, but lost his Top Four seeding. (Did they consider that Wawrinka is working with the mighty Paul Annacone this season?) Then again, Wawrinka has never been beyond the quarters and his movement is not well suited for slick and fast grass. Plus he'll get a workout off the bat against Medvedev.

6. Milos Raonic (CAN)

The hard-serving Canadian reached the finals in 2016 and he’s back on his best surface. But he comes in with little momentum. Then again, he is working with Mark Knowles now.

7. Marin Cilic(CRO)

Been to the quarters three straight years. But between the low bounce and the little-margin-for-error tennis, if he wins his second major, it’s unlikely to be on grass.

8. Dominic Thiem (AUT)

You admire the ascent, the work ethic. You shrug at the inveterate playing schedule, resigned that it’s not changing and maybe he knows what is best for him. You worry that grass is too fast a surface for his extravagant strokes. 

9. Kei Nishikori (JPN)

Different as their games and physiques are—Kei’s Dev to Milos’ Arnie—he and Raonic share much overlap in their Venn diagrams. Professionals, clinicians, the best players their countries have produced…. and physical risks, especially in best-of-five formats.

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10. Alexander Zverev (GER)

Lots to like here, but the lack of full physical strength/maturity can make it hard for him to win best-of-five matches. Ought to improve on his French Open showing (a first round exit); but is he ready to win majors?

11. Tomas Berdych (CZE)

A former finalist (2010) and a semifinalist last year. But, not unlike Cilic, the low bounce can give him trouble. Berdych has so much talent—and still does even at this advanced age— but putting it together for seven rounds has always been a challenge.

12. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)

Always dangerous—perhaps especially on grass—but his best days, sadly, are in the rearview mirror.

13. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL)

He was a hot prospect (never more so than when he reached the 2014 semis, beating Andy Murray along the way.)  He backslid. He returned. Unimpeachable talent. Unimpeachably likable guy. But it’s still unclear whether he’s capable of truly competing for majors.

14. Lucas Pouille (FRA)

A surprise quarterfinalist last year, Pouille can try and improve upon his 2016 breakthrough.

15. Gael Monfils (FRA)

Come for the party, stay for the substance.

16. Gilles Muller (LUX)

A hot pick and for good reason. The Luxembourgish lefty (perhaps the Luxembourgish lefty?) has a serve-based game that is tailor made for grass.

Seeds 17-32

17. Jack Sock (USA)

Top American still seeks that Grand Slam breakthrough.

19. Feliciano Lopez (ESP)

Roger Federer isn’t the only 35-year-old with a chance to go far. Queen’s Club winner is the rare Spaniard who plays best on the blades and not the granules.

20. Nick Kyrgios (AUS)

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Nick Kyrgios, where potential and self-sabotage come to wrestle. Kyrgios can win this event. He can also—especially with a groin injury not fully healed—bow out early. Not unlike the Celtics, lots of upside here. Not unlike the Celtics, he may still be a year or two away from the peak.

21. Ivo Karlovic (CRO)

Fifteen years ago, Karlovic served his way past defending champ Lleyton Hewitt. Here he is at 38, still packing heat.

22. Richard Gasquet (FRA)

His prime is past his meridian, but always capable of playing dashing tennis, especially on grass.

23. John Isner (USA)

Was the 70-68 match really seven years ago?

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26. Steve Johnson (USA)

Rough spring for the American. Wish him well.

27. Mischa Zverev (GER)

Player to watch—perhaps even more than his brother. Love the lefty serve-and-volley combo on grass.

29. Juan Martin del Potro (ARG)

A top five player, provided he’s healthy. Sadly, that is seldom the case.

30. Karen Khachanov (RUS)

You wish the movement were better. But after a fine French Open why can't he replicate his success on grass?

Dark horse nation

Anyone German. Dustin Brown. Phil Kohlschreiber. Tommy Haas.

Frances Tiafoe: Losing a lot of close matches. But improving steadily.

Kevin Anderson: Had Djokovic on the ropes two years ago. Now hard-serving South African is back from injury.

Fernando Verdasco:  Not a great track record but can play on a fast surface.

Daniil Medvedev: The best player you’ve never heard of.

First round matches to watch

Djojovic could be tested by Klizan, a tricky and colorful lefty.

Thiem vs. Vasek Pospisil: The Canadian has already beaten the world No.1 this year.

Del Potro vs. Thanasi Kokkanakis: The tennis fates owe them both.

Wawrinka vs. Medvedev: Brutal first match for both.

Potential second-rounders

Tiafoe vs. Zverev

Murray vs. Dustin Brown

Upset special

Kohlschreiber d. Cilic. (Can’t quite pull the trigger on Medvedev d. Wawrinka.)

Doubles winner

Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares

Semifinals

Murray d. Muller

Federer d. Djokovic

Final

Federer d. Murray

Adam Pretty/Getty Images

1. Angelique Kerber (GER)

A finalist last year, but has spent most of 2017 in the sub-zero. This would be as good a time as any to own that top seed. Draw did her no favors as Safarova looms.

2. Simona Halep (ROU)

Eyes will be on Halep to see how she copes with a deeply disappointing French Open. For six rounds in Paris she looked like the player most likely to fill the WTA vacuum. Then, a few games from her first major, she blinked. Big opportunity for redemption.

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3. Karolina Pliskova (CZE)

The favorite with the punters (and, presumably the kickers) and why not? She’s become a steady week-two-at-a-major player and her game is well-suited to grass. We like another Czech seed, with more of a track record. (Pliskova has never been beyond round two!) But it would not be surprising if she emerged with the trophy.

4. Elina Svitolina (UKR)

A career high ranking and seeding. And the breakthrough ought to be a matter of when and not if. But not unlike Halep—who, ironically was the culprit as well—Svitolina is coming off a confidence-maiming French Open.

5. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)

You worry about the lower back issue and you worry about her lower power grade. She has never been beyond round four at Wimbledon. But she can bring her veteran perspective to bear.

6. Johanna Konta (GBR)

All credit to Konta for her upward mobility. And her game ought to translate well to grass, this despite her winning a grand total of one match for her career at the AELTC. At some level her success will reduce to how well she deals with the pressure of being a homegrown player currently third with the oddsmakers. Withdrew from Eastbourne with a thoracic spine injury.

7. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)

A terminally underrated player who could easily steal her third major. At age 32, she can still play with anyone. Her erratic swings are lessening. She is still athletic but now relies on accumulated experience as well.

8. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK)

A giant-killer who punches above her height and embraces competition. A terrific pre-wedding Wimbledon last year included a run to the quarters. But that also means many points to defend. Starts out vs. Andrea Petkovic.

9. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)

A former finalist but that was a half-decade ago. The absence of power is one thing. The absence of self-belief is quite another.

10. Venus Williams (USA)

Always a contender on the grass, which rewards her movement, her serve and seldom keeps her on the court for long. Age 37 is not a concern. The possible distraction from the TMZ report is worth considering.

11. Petra Kvitova (CZE)

Well this has escalated quickly, hasn’t it. At the French Open, Kvitova’s return was a feel good story. After she won Birmingham, you now have the view Kvitova, a two-time winner, as a short-list favorite.

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12. Kristina Mladenovic (FRA)

Game ought to play on grass, where her athleticism can shine.

13. Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)

It’s like her ranking underwent gastric bypass. Barely in the top 50 a month ago, Ostapenko is now closing in on the top ten. A first round loser in 2016—but junior champ in 2014—she comes in as the subject of much curiosity.

14. Garbine Muguruza (ESP)

A terrific player who, lamentably, has flipped the script lately. A finalist in 2015, she is now out of the top ten and comes in on the heels of a 6-1, 6-0 loss to Strycova at Eastbourne.

15. Elena Vesnina (RUS)

Credit her for getting to this point—and reaching the semis in 2016.

16. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)

Settled into a role as a solid player, capable of reaching quarterfinals, but not a threat to win the biggest titles.

Seeds 17-32

17. Madison Keys (USA)

A full health she’d be a contender. But the wrist remains a concern.

20. Daria Gavrilova (AUS)

Like countryman Kyrgios, she’s 20. Like countryman Kyrgios, the range of outcome here is a vast.

23. Kiki Bertens (NED)

Nice to see Bertens back playing top tennis. Like many players from the Low Country, her skills are considerable.

Adam Pretty/Getty Images

24. CoCo Vandeweghe (USA)

The serve, the athleticism alone, and with Pat Cash, the 1987 champ, in the mix and in the box, and CoCo becomes still more intriguing. No reason she can’t make a deep run.

26. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO)

Semifinalist in Australia in 2017. Semifinalist at Wimbledon in….1999.

27. Ana Konjuh (CRO)

Former junior queen should have reached week two last year before this.

31. Roberta Vinci (ITA)

One last hurrah for a player capable of serve-and-volley, grass-happy tennis.

32. Lucie Safarova (CZE)

Woe to the seed who has to face her in round three.

Dark horse nation

Victoria Azarenka: Maternity leave is over.

Kristyna Pliskova: Big lefty server is the epitome of dangerous floater.

Ash Barty: The best story in tennis this side of Kvitova. A year ago she was playing cricket; now she’s on the fringe of the top 50. (With a game that translates well to grass.)

Donna Vekic: Won a grasscourt title in Nottingham and shows signs of playing to her potential.

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CiCi Bellis: Already won a lot of matches on a lot of surfaces. And she turned 18 in April.

Alison Riske: Always dangerous, especially on grass.

Genie Bouchard: All former finalists get recognized, no matter how steep their descent.

Jelena Jankovic: All former No.1’s get recognized, no matter how steep their descent

Alize Cornet: All players who have beaten Serena Williams at Wimbledon merit mention.

First round matches to watch

Riske vs. Sloane Stephens: Nice to see Stephens return but that’s no welcome back gift.

Safarova vs. Oceane Dodin: 2014 semifinalist vs. 20-year-old Frenchwoman.

Cibulkova vs. Petkovic: Petkovic leads head-to-head 4-1.

Konjuh vs. Sabine Lisicki: Up-and-comer gets a former finalist.

Barty vs. Svitolina: Barty is coming off a runner-up finish in Birmingham.

Azarenka v. Bellis: In her first Slam as a mom, Azarenka gets the youngest kid in the draw.

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Upset pick

Barty d. Svitolina

Doubles winner

Lucie Safarova and Bethanie Mattek Sands: Going for a calendar Slam.

Semifinals

Ka. Pliskova d. resurgent Angie Kerber

Kvitova d. Ostapenko (once bitten….)

Final

Kvitova d. Ka. Pliskova

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