WILL EVANS serves up tennis tips as he runs the rule over the men’s section of the 2022 Wimbledon draw. Is anyone capable of toppling red-hot favourite Novak Djokovic?
THE TOP CONTENDERS
It’s been a rough time for Djokovic on the grand slam stage since he triumphed at Wimbledon a year ago. He missed out on a Calendar Slam via a loss in the US Open final, was prevented from taking his place at the Australian Open and crashed out to Rafael Nadal in the French Open quarters. Djokovic has been a hiatus since Roland Garros but he is the overwhelming favourite here, having won the last three Wimbledon tournaments to take his career tally to six. This week he was described as the greatest grass-court player of all-time by world No.1 Daniil Medvedev – who is prevented from playing at Wimbledon due to organisers’ controversial ban on Russian and Belarusian players – which provides a clear insight into the difficulty Djokovic’s rivals have in wresting the title from the 35-year-old.
The Italian makes a compelling case as the best chance of thwarting Djokovic and Nadal for the Wimbledon crown. Berrettini reached his maiden grand slam final at Wimbledon last year, losing to Djokovic in four sets after winning the first in a tiebreak. He made it to the Australia Open semis in January before missing the French Open but could not have hoped for a more impressive lead-up on grass. The 26-year-old won the Stuttgart Open and Queen’s Club Championships over the past fortnight as he plans his Wimbledon assault.
Rafa won the last of his two Wimbledon titles in 2010, but few will be doubting his ability to go all the way after taking out the Australian Open and French Open already in 2022 – extending his all-time record to 22nd grand slams. Nadal hasn’t made it to a Wimbledon final since 2011 but he reached the semis in 2018-19 before missing last year’s tournament. In his first grass-court match in three years, the 36-year-old accounted for Stan Wawrinka in a Hurlingham exhibition event. Tremendous
Alcaraz was bounced out in the second round on Wimbledon debut last year, but the 19-year-old is on the fourth line of betting this time around. His ultra-hyped bid for the French Open crown – after notching four ATP titles already in 2022 – ended in the quarter-finals against Alexander Zverev. The world No.7 is unproven on grass and has only played once since French Open, going down to Frances Tiafoe in what was essentially an exhibition match on grass at Hurlingham.
Hurkacz enjoyed a breakout slam run at Wimbledon last year, reaching the semi-finals after rolling Daniil Medvedev and Roger Federer. The world No.10 underlined his grass-court chops by taking out the Halle Open earlier this month, beating Felix Auger-Aliassime, Nick Kyrgios and Medvedev. A genuine threat to improve on his 2021 efforts at the All England Club.
BEST AUSSIE HOPE
It doesn’t take much for Kyrgios to rocket into contention in grand slam betting markets – particularly at Wimbledon – and he’s on the seventh line after making the semi-finals of his last three tournaments: the Houston Open in April, and the Stuttgart and Halle Opens in recent weeks. An abdominal complaint saw him pull the pin early at the Mallorca Open but will head into Wimbledon otherwise full of confidence. The unavoidable truth, though, is that Kyrgios is a grand slam underachiever, with the last of his two major quarter-final appearances coming at the 2015 Australian Open. But it shapes as a typically entertaining ride, however brief it may be.
One of only four men to lift the Wimbledon silverware since 2003, two-time champ Murray has enjoyed a superb lead-in on grass after missing the French Open. The 35-year-old, currently ranked 51st, made the semis of the Surbiton Trophy then stormed into the Stuttgart Open final with win over top seed Stefanos Tsitsipas and Kyrgios, before losing a tough three-setter to Berrettini. The partisan British crowd always gets behind Murray, who returned to Wimbledon in 2021 after a four-year absence and reached the third round. Murray made it to the quarters or beyond at Wimbledon every year from 2008-17.