- Get prepared for Wimblledon, which begins Monday, with Jon Wertheim's seed reports, upset specials, predictions and much more.
Hey everyone. Word is there’s a pretty big tennis tournament that begins on Monday.
Here are your 2019 Wimbledon seed reports:
1. Novak Djokovic (SRB): The defending champ returns to the scene where Career 2.0 began last summer. Not much prep work on the lawns, but he seldom struggles with the clay-to-grass costume change. And perhaps the rest did him well. His movement, his positioning, and his defense—as impenetrable as British cuisine—it all makes him so hard to beat. Despite his (slight) French Open backslide, we pick him to defend.
2. Roger Federer (SUI): The Wimbledon track record doesn’t just speak for itself; it yodels. His first trip to the Paris sandbox since 2015 was a success. The grass tune-ups went quite well. His draw is mostlly benign. He builds his schedule to peak at Wimbledon—and he has a real shot at reaching the summit for a ninth time.
3. Rafael Nadal (ESP): “What happen-ned in Paris happen-ed in Paris.” Like a stoplight, we now go from red to green. Coming off a dominant, peak form French Open. But since his last Wimbledon title in (gulp) 2010, Nadal’s campaigns have ended with uncommon disappointment, either early exits or heartbreakers, i.e. last year’s potentially historical semifinal loss to Djokovic. His seed drop notwithstanding, Nadal ought to ride in with loads of confidence after Paris. Is he ready to win on grass again? We’ll learn plenty—not least temperamentally—when/if he plays Kyrgios in the second round.
4. Kevin Anderson (RSA): Another seeding beneficiary. Last year’s finalist—and other legacy: winning pplayer in, mercifully, Wimbledon’s last marathon match—returns. You wish he were coming in with more match play. You wish there were a full bill of health in 2019. But between the serve and the experience, he ought to be fine.
5. Dominic Thiem (AUT): Left Paris on a relative high, reaching the final—though it was offset by his winning two games in the last two sets. On the one hand, a first-round Wimbledon defeat in 2018 means that he is playing with house sterling; it also suggests he’ll have to make significant upgrades to live up to his seeding. Not a great surface for his game, as the grass robs him of time. And he’ll get an early test against hard-serving Sam Querrey. But Thiem is becoming the kind of pro’s pro you expect to see in week two, circumstances be damned. And what a mensch.
6. Alexander Zverev (GER): After a dismal spring, the German turned in a respectable French Open but then backslid in tune-ups. Still needs to prove himself in week two of a Major, a burden that—like credit card debt—compounds with each disappointment. But we’re still buying on the dip; especially since his Wimbledon draw is most generous.
7. Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE): A Greek bearing gifts. Perhaps the best pick to win the event outside the big three. Announced himself at Wimbledon last year and has not stopped the ascent. His loss in Queens to FAA dulls some of the excitement and curtails some of the momentum. But, big picture, who isn’t optimistic here?
8. Kei Nishikori (JPN): Cutting and pasting… a steady, admirable player…who just lacks the weaponry—and physical durability—to compete for the biggest trophies.
9. John Isner (USA): Not dissimilar to the prognosis for Anderson, his semifinal opponent in 2018. Isner comes in with little match play and you wonder about the state of his health (left foot) before embarking on a best-of-five campaign. But: have serve, will travel. (Though a dangerous first rounder against Christian Ruud.) Read this while you’re here.
10. Karen Khachanov (RUS): Started turning what has been a miserable year at Roland Garros. A fourth-round Wimbledon showing in 2018 and a nice draw ought to help him get at least that far in 2019. A better mover—and, by extension, grass courter—than you might expect. And he adapts well to fast courts in general.
11. Daniil Medvedev (RUS): The store-brand Djokovic. His offense-defense game works well on any surface. Reached 2R in 2017 and 3R in 2018. So at least the trend lines are headed in the right direction.
—Let’s pause here—a space Juan Martin del Potro ought to inhabit—and wish him well. A gold-medal guy who can’t catch a break from the Tennis Fates.
12. Fabio Fognini (ITA): Bravo for Fognini for piercing the top 10 at this advanced age. But he’s never been beyond the third round at Wimbledon and gets Frances Tiafoe off the bat.
13. Marin Cilic (CRO): A former finalist, but he’s in the middle of a forgettable year. Upset alert early, as he faces Adrian Mannarino—a tricky and experienced French lefty with grass skills—in the first round.
14. Borna Coric (CRO): Solid Croatian player still seeking a major breakthrough. Unlikely to come here, as he is 1-4 at Wimbledon for his career.
15. Milos Raonic (CAN): Is it possible he is the forgotten Canadian right now? Though durability is always an issue, he is a former finalist, a former Federer-taker-outer-at-Wimbledon, and he comes armed with that titanic serve.
16. Gael Monfils (FRA): The usual—a fun player to watch and a fine showman who entertains more than he contends. The real question: has G.E.M.S. Life been revived?
17. Matteo Berettini (ITA): Remarkable how well the 6’5” Italian has transitioned from clay to grass. Racking up wins after Paris—including the Stuttgart title—helps you forget he has only played Wimbledon once before, losing in round 2.
19. Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN): When you’re 18 and closing in on the top 20, and have yet to win a main draw singles match at a major, you’re doing something right. Sixth favorite with the oddsmakers, as we write this.
21. David Goffin (BEL): Not his best surface, but a slick and efficient mover, playing well of late, whose grass season includes a win over Zverev.
22. Stan Wawrinka (SUI): The other Swiss Mister is coming off a strong French Open and comes to Wimbledon with new grass consultant, Danny Valverdu. Still, there’s a reason we don’t talk much about his Career Slam chances. Needs too much time to be as effective on grass as he is on the other surfaces.
29. Denis Shapovalov (CAN): The fan base might be getting impatient for the next step in his ascent; but worth bearing in mind: he just turned 20.
32. Dusan Lajovic (SRB): Deserves mention if only he because zings such a gorgeous one-hander.
Nick Kyrgios (AUS): Is it time for our story to take a redemptive turn?
Sam Querrey (USA): A quiet year but a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2017 and a quarterfinalist the year before that.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA): Will get plenty of attention, given his doubles partner (Andy Murray), but his all—court game is well-tailored to grass.
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL): Man, could he use a strong tournament. Former semifinalist and such a likable guy you sometimes have to strain to be objective here when describing his slide.
Feliciano Lopez (ESP): Your Queen’s Club Champion.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA): No threat to win, but talk about a dangerous early opponent. He’s 30-10 for his career at Wimbledon with a five-set win over Federer included.
FIRST-ROUND MATCHES TO WATCH
Felix Auger-Aliassime v. Vasek Pospisil: They the North.
Dominic Thiem v. Sam Querrey: If Querrey is close to 100 percent physically, he has a real shot.
Kyrgios v. Jordan Thompson: Mates have at it.
Taylor Fritz v. Tomas Berdcyh: young American gets a former finalist.
Jan-Lennard Struff v. Marcos Baghdatis: not a banger, but pause to acknowledge what’s likely to be Bagman’s last match.
Can’t quite pull the trigger on Thiem/Querrey. So we’ll say Tiafoe to beat Fognini.
Doubles winner: The sentimentalist would say Andy Murray and Pierre-Hugues Herbert. But we’re going with the Bryan Bros, Bob and Mike, for old time’s sake.
Semis: Djokovic d. Zverev, Federer d. total surprise (Dan Evans? Kyrgios?)
Finals: Djokovic d. Federer
1. Ashleigh Barty (AUS): Bash Arty. Your new No.1 is the hot pick to win the Channel Double (The Tennis Channel Double, as it ere.) and with good reason. If she can win majors on clay, why not on grass, where her athleticism, all-court skills and kick serve can flourish? She also seems singularly well-equipped to handle the inevitable spike in attention/expectation. Note a possible third rounder v. Muguruza.
2. Naomi Osaka (JPN): Tiptoes in after a quiet clay season. A strange defeat at Edgbaston. Her game—and her athleticism— ought to translate well to grass. But we need a state of the union on her state of mind.
3. Karolina Pliskova (CZE): Is the “Best Player Never to Have Won A Slam”—tennis’ great topspin backhanded compliment—ready to shed that label? We’re thinking .... decent chance. Lost to her twin sister in Birmingham, which made for a good storyline, but had little predictive value. With her draw and a few confidence-fortifying wins, look out.
4 Kiki Bertens (NED): In a vacuum she is definitely in the contender list, having long since proven that she can play on surfaces in addition to clay. Love the athleticism. But you wonder whether the intimations of her Roland Garros retirement will linger.
5. Angelique Kerber (GER): One pauses before recalling that she is the defending champ. If the ankle isn’t 100 percent she can get bounced early (as was the case in Paris.) If the ankle is better she can win again.
6. Petra Kvitova (CZE): In full health, she is as good a candidate to win as anyone. But the two-time champ is in something considerably less than full health. We’ll see if she remains in the draw.
7. Simona Halep (ROU): A quiet year for the former No.1. But grass rewards her movement and she is back with coach Darren Cahill.
8. Elina Svitolina (UKR): Very quiet season for a very talented player. Intriguing draw suggests that this could be a place to rev up the engine.
9. Sloane Stephens (USA): Your guess is as good as hers, which is part of the fun. Coming off both a first round Wimbelodn loss in 2018 and a shaky loss at Eastbourne.
10. Aryna Sabalenka (BLR): Like the Mac pinwheel, it’s been a year of buffering so far, barely playing .500 ball in 2019. Her power ought to pay off on grass, but her slump showed few signs of relenting on grass.
11. Serena Williams (USA): The draw’s big question mark. We worry about Serena. Health concerns, motherhood, outside obligations and, above all, no match play since Paris. Say this: if she DOES win title— at age 37, with so little momentum—it might mark her impressive major campaign ever. Which is saying quite something.
12. Anastasija Sevastova (LAT): Fun player to watch who can get too cute for her own good. Her career record at Wimbledon, alas, is 1-6.
13. Belinda Bencic (SUI): Former Wimbledon junior champ is a player to watch. Reached the final of Mallorca but couldn’t close despite holding match points. Is there collateral damage? If not watch her middle Monday against Barty.
14. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN): Will be playing first MAJOR as a married woman. Grass has never been her best surface. Never been beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon.
15. Qiang Wang (CHN): Maybe the best player you’ve never seen. But she’s 1-4 for her career at Wimbledon.
16. Marketa Vondrousova (CZE): Coming off a French Open final run. Looking for her first Wimbledon
17. Madison Keys (USA): Becoming a reliable Week Two major player. Always dangerous but can be delicate.
19. Johanna Konta (GBR): Coming off a deep run in Paris and has handled local expectation well before at Wimbledon. A real opportunity in an open draw.
22. Donna Vekic (AUS): Big game, learning how to close matches. And a middle Monday player in 2018. Tough first rounder against Alison Riske.
24 Petra Martic (CRO): versatile and athletic player coming off a nice French Open.
25. Amanda Anisimova (USA): American teen makes her main draw Wimby debut as she continues her inexorable ascent. Why not add grass to her basket of deliverables?
26. Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP): Whoa, is that a big number alongside the name of the 2017 Wimblledon champ. What happened to her career has become the great potboiler mystery of tennis.
27. Sonia Kenin (USA): Mallorca winner has proven she can play on grass. And, more importantly, she comes with a taste for battle—as evidenced in Paris when she beat Serena Williams.
28. Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE): Watch her play. Trust us.
Venus Williams (USA): All FIVE-time champs deserves mention. (First-rounder against Coco Gauff is quite a story.)
Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS): All 2x-major champs get mention…speaking of….
Victoria Azarenka (BLR): A two-time Grand Slam champ playing her way back.
Maria Sharapova (RUS): Has become a bit of a forgotten woman.
Jelena Ostapenko (LAT): Wheels have fallen off a bit, but a former major champ is a former champ.
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA): Two years ago she was being considered as a favorite. Now with Sascha Bajin, she is way too good to be ranked this modestly.
Barbora Strycova (CZE): Czech vet knows her way around the grass.
Kaia Kanepi (EST): because it’s a Major….
FIRST-ROUND MATCHES TO WATCH
Venus Williams v. Coco Gauff: Here’s a link: Unstrung: The Williams Effect
Donna Vekic v. Allie Riske: Two players who almost qualify as grass court specialists.
Ons Jabeur v. Kvitova: Jabeur coming off a splendid week in Eastbourne. If Kvitova isn’t healthy, this has upset potential.
Su-wei Hsieh v. Jelena Ostapenko: A contrast in every way.
Alize Cornet v. Victoria Azarenka: Two veterans who have both played deep at Wimbledon.
Aryna Sabalenka v. Magdalena Rybarikova: With the winner player Venus/Gauff winner.
Gauff d. Venus
Doubles winner: Mladenovic and Timea Babos for the Channel Double.
Semis: We’re thinking this draw is actually somewhat chalky. Barty d. total surprise (Animsimova? Siniakova?), Pliskova d. Osaka
Finals: Barty d. Plsikova