It is the summer of the Platinum Jubilee, 70 years of Elizabeth on the throne, the longest reign for any British monarch. It would be fitting if she made her customary appearance at Wimbledon because the Kingdom of Tennis, too, knows from sustained rule.
Since 2003, only four men—Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray—have won the title. The rest of the field has, collectively, barely won half their matches at the All-England Club. Still, all empires rise and fall and even the most consolidated power eventually breaks apart like Pangaea. Is this the year we see a winner outside the Big Four for the first time in two decades?
As it is written….it is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future. But we do so anyway. Wimbledon 2022 begins Monday, June 27 at 6 a.m. ET. No Federer, no Russians, no Zverev. Which gives some sense of the intrigue and possibilities. Herewith, our men’s seeds report….
(Do note the absence of Daniil Medvedev, owing, of course, to Wimbledon cultural volley, its ban on Russians. Medvedev wouldn’t have won. But he would have impacted the draw. This marks the second time in three majors that the presumptive top seed, though fully healthy, won’t be in the draw.)
1. Novak Djokovic: Just when you thought Djokovic was going to declare game/set/match on the GOAT debate....it’s been a year since his last Major. Nevertheless, he’s quietly becoming Wimbledon’s Federer of the last decade. Aiming for his fourth straight title. And we say he gets it. Especially after seeing his porous draw.
2. Rafa Nadal: Winner of the first two legs of the Grand Slam is back. He is 36 and his grass results have been a mixed (mower) bag over the last decade or so. (In fact, he hasn’t been to the WB final since 2011.) But he has won his last 14 matches at Majors. He’s rested. His foot is rested. His draw—including a potential rematch against Auger Aliassime in the quarters—isn’t bad either. As the seedings suggest, the next best candidate after Djokovic.
3. Casper Ruud: Such a pleasant—and pleasantly organized—pro, fresh off a run to the Roland Garros final, which gets him the equivalent of a blue checkmark at a Major. But he has never won a match at Wimbledon. Repeat: the Wimbledon No. 3 seed has never won a match there.
4. Stefanos Tsitsipas: Well….We love the ornate game. We don’t love the way it translates to grass. A first-round loser last year, and he lost in the tune-ups to Murray and Nick Kyrgios. Would be a considerable surprise if he played to his seeding and survived Matteo Berrettini in the quarters.
5. Carlos Alcaraz: To borrow from Noel Coward, nothing incites hyperbole like the athlete in ascent. But the hype here is justified. After a French Open that was neither exhilarating nor crushing—a QF defeat to Zverev—he comes hungry. Not a lot of data points on Grass. Career Wimbledon record: 1-1 (and the loss was to Medvedev)... but little reason why his game won’t translate. Potentially tricky first rounder against the veteran Jan-Lennard Struff.
6. Felix Auger Aliassime: Your 2022 Wimbledon winner! Kidding...well, not exactly. Look at his game. Look at how reliably he's reached week two of the majors. Look at the pre-reqs for grass. Explain why he couldn’t win this title. A quarterfinalist last year. Macleans coverboy jinx? One hopes not. Still loses a lot of close matches, but, to paraphrase the 2013 champ, he’s getting closer.
7. Hubert Hurcaz: A semifinalist—and Federer-beater—last year, he both overperforms and underachieves. One of the prime players who’s hurt by the points molt. He can’t do much about that, but he can prove his bonafides with a strong showing. He won in Halle (beating FAA, Kyrgios and Medvedev). Put Hurcaz in the next batch after the Djokovic–Nadal-Berrettini troika. Especially with only Ruud as a higher seed in his quarter.
8. Matteo Berrettini: A pity the grass-court formula is gone because he is the best pick after Djokovic and Nadal. Last year’s runner-up is back on the grass tearing it up on the surface that serves his game so well. In his first event since Indian Wells, he won Stuttgart. And then Queens.
9. Cam Norrie: The highest-ranked Brit since Murray is the quiet professional who does nothing spectacularly, and nothing inadequately. He simply wins lots of matches. A fine model for other players. Lost last year to Federer, jarred by being an underdog on Centre Court; but that won’t likely happen in 2022.
10. Jannik Sinner: You may worry about his knee, which caused him to retire in Paris. He has established himself as a buttoned-up, measured, top-tier pro. Is there a next step? And does he have the durability right now to grind out 21 sets?
11. Taylor Fritz: The highest-ranked American has flourished in 2022, not least winning Indian Wells. But it’s been fairly quiet since. His game ought to translate to grass, but he was a casualty in Holland to Tim Van Rijthoven and to Jack Draper in Queens. A contender to win? No. A contender to play into week two—lasting one Scaramucci— as he continues to climb? Absolutely.
12. Diego Schwartzman: His great handicap—and rock-solid game devoid of weaponry, especially on serve—is accentuated on grass. Love the wheels. Love the ability to overachieve. Worry about the horsepower of the engine.
13. Denis Shapovalov: Coming off a first-round exit in Paris and will feel the Wimbledon points loss. He reached the Wimbledon semis in 2022, and tends to save his best tennis for the Majors. But wow, is he in a slump. Again we use this opportunity to plug this.
14. Marin Cilic: Nice resurgence for the Croatian veteran, eight years removed from his lone Major. Fresh from reaching the semis in Paris, he now is on the surface that might be best suited to his flat and heavy game (as his previous deep runs will attest).
15. Reilly Opelka: Kudos to him for the top 15 ranking. It's a bit of a mystery why grass has been so vexing for him.
16. Pablo Carreño Busta: Like Ruud, the Spaniard is also winless at Wimbledon. Perhaps the seventh time will be a charm.
18. Grigor Dimitrov: The kind of player who can reach Week Two on grass (as he has done before). But his best years are behind him.
19. Gael Monfils: He’s back after missing Roland Garros.
22. Botic van de Zandschulp: Turned into a silent killer. Like many Dutch players, his game translates well to the green stuff.
23. Frances Tiafoe: Beat Tsitsipas last year and feeds off the energy of the crowd.
25. Miomir Kecmanovic: A solid growth stock. And he’s still only 22.
26. Filip Krajinovic: Coming off a trip to the finals at Queens.
30. Tommy Paul: Big bowl of upset potential.
32.Oscar Otte: The best player (especially on grass) you’ve never heard of.
Dark Horse Pasture
Nick Kyrgios: Enough said. Always serving across the median of convention, sometimes to his detriment, sometimes to his benefit.
Andy Murray: Enough said.
Maxime Cressy: Serving and volleying on the grass. Old School. Pity for Cressy he starts against Auger Aliassime.
Alexander Bublik: Russian-born player lucky to have switched over to representing Kazakhstan.
Tim Van Rijthoven : Good on Wimbledon for giving him a wild card. Up to No. 105 since winning Hertogenbosch.
Ryan Peniston: Marcus Willis lives!
First Round Matches to Watch
Wawrinka v. Sinner: Wawrinka is still just a Wimbledon short of the career Slam.
Kyrgios v. Jubb: Kyrgios should win, but with the partisan crowd rooting on a Brit the match has popcorn potential.
Hurkacz v. Alex Davidovich Fokina: Two of the better players 25-and-under.
Felix v. Max Cressy: Rough draw for both.
First Round Upset
Mackie McDonald d. Marin Cilic
Mektic and Pavic
Djokovic d. Hurkacz
Auger Aliassime d. Berrettini
Djokovic d. Auger Aliassime
As I said before the French Open: Iga Swiatek is the clear-cut favorite. She's hasn't lost a match since Ash Barty retired. And you wouldn't be a fool to take her against the entire field.
1.Iga Swiatek: Comes in hot, riding that win streak—you might hear about it these coming days—and, again, the cover subject of Domination Quarterly. She didn’t play a tuneup event, but she hardly needs tuning up. She’s undefeated since February. She's perhaps not the favorite she was in Paris, but she's still the favorite.
2. Anett Kontaveit: All credit to her for this elevated ranking. But… a 6-7 career record at Wimbledon. A failure ever to reach the semis of a Major? A first round exit at her previous Major? …. More charitably: she has a game that should translate to grass. And she has a big chance to validate her seeding.
3. Ons Jabeur: Such a likable player in so many respects. But between the concerns about her knee—which caused her to pull out of doubles with Serena in Eastbourne—and the scar tissue from her first-round defeat in Paris, there are hovering stormclouds. On the other hand, she’s learned how to win; she proved in 2021 how effective she can be on grass. And she did so again in June, winning Berlin.
4. Paula Badosa: A bit like Kontaveit. Bless her for this top five ranking. Objectively, she earned it. But she’s only won three career matches at Wimbledon (all in 2021) and lost most recently to No. 169 Jodie Anna Burrage in Eastbourne.
5. Maria Sakkari: So much game; but still lacks that blue check mark as a legit Major contender. Loses a lot of close matches, which creates a multiplier effect on doubt.
6. Karolina Pliskova: A finalist in 2021 who ought to thrive on grass. Before her ranking collapses—she has won fewer than half her matches in 2022—can she make another deep run? Alas for her, Serena lurks.
7. Danielle Collins: The top-ranked American. And all credit to her for it. Her game has its limits but her self-belief does not.
8. Jessica Pegula: She comes in for great praise for the mid-career ascent that sees her enter the top ten for the first time at age 28. Would be understandable if her focus were somewhere other than tennis. A player to watch nonetheless, despite being in the Swiatek quarter.
9. Garbine Mugurza. She is a former champ. She is also sub-.500 for the year, including two forgettable grass tuneup results—after losing in the first round of Roland Garros. An absolutely mystifying player, as capable of winning events as she is losing early. Like Pegula, she has the misfortune of landing in the “Iga quarter.”
10. Emma Radacanu: Read all about her. Will come in with much fanfare—and likely Centre Court assignment(s). On its face, there’s little reason for optimism, not least because she’s been battling a side strain. But who knows? Easy to see her losing her first match to veteran Alison Van Uytvank. It’s also easy to see her replicating her surge from last summer.
11. Coco Gauff: Your 2022 Wimbledon champion. Kidding. Not kidding. After her run in Paris, is she ready for the next step? We like her to get the semis. Were she not on Swiatek’s half of the draw, we would have liked her to reach her second straight final.
12. Jelena Ostapenko: “Where brutal ballstriking meets brutal candor.” She can play on grass. Her draw is manageable. She brims with out-of-cares-to-give confidence. Not the worst upset winner pick.
13. Barbora Krejickova: The surprise (and unseeded) French Open champ in 2021, she has proven her bona fides with plenty of strong wins since. She also has been bitten hard by the injury bug. Depending on her health, she is anything from a contender to a likely round one exiteer. Alas for her, Swiatek lurks in the round of 16.
14. Belinda Bencic: A fine show last week in Berlin, reaching the final (beating Sakkari among others). Always dangerous; always capable of a week two run; not clear she’s capable of winning Majors.
15. Angie Kerber: Former champ past her prime. But still some game here.
16. Simona Halep: Kinda sorta a defending champ? Won in 2019 and hasn’t played at the AELTC since.
17. Elena Rybakina: Also fortunate to have made the nationality jump from Russia to Kazakhstan.
18. Jil Teichman: Swiss miss, a fun, athletic lefty who reached the second week in Paris—and then got smoked by Sloane Stephens.
19. Madison Keys: Can be almost unplayably good when she’s on. Can struggle with injuries and self-belief.
20.Amanda Anisimova: Movement—the weakness of her game—can be exposed on grass. But nice to see her back in the mix.
23. Beatriz Haddad Maia: The Brazilian has been doing a mean Swiatek impersonation this grass court season.
25. Petra Kvitova: All two-time Wimbledon winners merit mention.
28:Ali Riske: If there’s such a thing as a grass court specialist….
31. Kaia Kanepi: The Estonian giant-killer is closer to 40 than 30. But still has lots of game.
Dark Horse Pasture
Serena Williams: The lowest-ranked player in the main draw is also the most dangerous. Hard to see her as a legit contender—as much for the lack of match play and the number “40” next to her age. But she sure could make things fun. Look at her draw and it’s easy to see her sticking around till mid tournament.
Shelby Rogers: If it’s a Major, you can bet Rogers will come to play.
Alize Cornet: Hasn’t missed a Major since—get this—2006….
Andrea Petkovic: Still at it and still dangerous on the right day.
Bianca Andreescu: Ranked No. 64. The game is returning. One hopes the unshakable self-belief follows.
Karolina Muchova: Has been to Week Two before. And fortunately the ankle injury that wrecked her French Open will not keep her out.
Sloane Stephens: Got some much needed wins in Paris. Comes to the green grass from the White House.
Marta Kostyuk: A fine young player who will benefit from crowd support for Ukraine.
Can’t quite pull the trigger on Muchova d. Halep so we’ll pick a second-round upset, Jule Niemeier to beat Kontaveit.
First Round Matches to Watch
Cornet v. Putinseva: Lots of feist.
Stephens v. Qinwen Zheng: A former Major winner against the revelation of the previous Major.
Muchova v. Halep: Halep rides a seven-match Wimbledon win streak versus a notorious giant-killer.
Swiatek d. Gauff
Jabeur d. Maia Haddad
Swiatek d. Jabeur
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