The Championships start on Monday and for the first time, tennis fans will be able to look at the draw unveiled Friday, and judge for themselves what their favourites prospects are and the likelihood of whether Novak Djokovic, the reigning champion, can raise the trophy for a fifth successive year and a record-equalling eighth time overall, or be thwarted by the top seed Carlos Alcaraz, the expected multiple grand slam winner of the future.
The 20-year-old Alcaraz, already a grand slam winner having won last year’s US Open, is the current world No.1 and as such, outranks the 36-yer-old defending champion and heads the draw which, for the first time since 2003, doesn’t feature one of the Bog Four, namely, Roger Federer (retired), Rafa Nadal (injured), Andy Murray or Djokovic.
In view of his experience, record and ambition to increase his grand slam tally of 23, Djokovic is clear favourite to add the title to his growing list and, as this year’s champion of Australia and France, keep his hopes of a calendar grand slam of the four majors, alive.
He opens play on Monday‘s Centre Court schedule against Pedro Cachin of Argentina and has the seventh seed Andrey Rublev, Halle champion Alexander Bublik and 2021 semi-finalist Hubert Hurkacz lurking in his quarter of the draw, which also includes the seeded Felix Auger Aliassime (11) and Lorenzo Musetti (14).
The big clash could well be against Nick Kyrgios, seeded 30, provided the Australian is healthy enough as he is still recovering from the knee surgery he underwent last January in what would be a repeat of last year’s final.
Djokovic’s biggest challenge is expected to be Carlos Alcaraz who opens his challenge against the experienced Frenchman Jeremy Chardy who should provide him with an early test as the youngster is still an inexperienced grass court player despite having won the Queen’s title on his debut last week.
Nineteenth seed Alexander Zverev and 15th seed Alex de Minaur are possible fourth-round opponents with the sixth seed and in-form fellow 20-year-old Holger Rune awaiting in the quarters.
Frances Tiafoe, coming off his first grass court title win in Stuttgart, also lurks in Alcaraz’s quarter of the draw and could be a hand full if he goes deep into the draw.
The biggest danger could come from Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, the 2021 Wimbledon semi-finals and two-time Queen’s champion who is returning from a long injury lay-off but, despite his lack of match play, is very comfortable on grass.
On the basis of seeding, Alcaraz’s semi-final opponent should be the third seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia who opens against Britain’s wildcard entry Arthur Fery but as the Russian has admitted, the grass surface is not his favourite surface though he made the fourth round two years ago. He didn’t play last year as a result of the ban implemented on Russian and Belarussian players following their countries illegal invasion of the Ukraine.
He will need to get the feel for grass quickly as he has possible the worst quarter to contend with for, amongst the players he might have to get past are Stefanos Tsitsipas, seed five and the unseeded two time Wimbledon champion, Andy Murray who revels in the Wimbledon atmosphere and has prepared well for this year’s Championships. Also lurking in there is Cameron Norrie, the 16th seed plus the Eastbourne semi-finalist Tommy Paul, the 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic returning from an extended injury lay-off and Dominic Thiem, the 2020 US Open champion who has nearly fully recovered from his wrist surgery of two years ago.
Casper Ruud, the fourth seed who is expected to go through to meet Djokovic in the quarter finals, probably has the best quarter of the top four seeds with no previous champions lurking until the last eight.
The Norwegian who has reached three grand slam finals only to falter at the last hurdle, can look to Jannik Sinner, the eighth seed and Taylor Fritz to probably give him the most trouble, as could Borna Coric (12) and Denis Shapovalov (24).
Ruud opens his campaign against Argentina’s Juan Manuel Cerundolo, brother of Francisco, an Eastbourne semi-finalist when the draw was made, and Yannick Hanfmann who made the semis in Mallorca.
On the British front, Cameron Norrie the nation’s No.1world-ranked 13 plays Tomas Machak of the Czech Republic, the world No. 107 who came through the Qualifying competition at Roehampton this week while Dan Evans, world ranked 30, takes on the world No.76 from France, Quentin Halys when he hopes to reverse his current run of poor results.
Former British No1, Andy Murray, a three-time grand slam champion currently ranked 39, takes on the first of the home wildcards, which is unfortunate for the popular Ryan Peniston ranked at 267. Awaiting Murray in round two is Stefanos Tsitsipas.
As already mentioned, Arthur Fery ranked 389, has the word No.3, Daniil Medvedev as his first-round opponent with George Loffhagen (367) also having to face seeded opposition in his opener, the 20-year-old Dane, Holger Rune (6).
Finally Liam Broady (147) faces Contstant Lestienne of France (73) and Jan Choinski (167) takes on Croatia’s Dusan Lajovic (52).
All the British wildcards are certainly facing tough opposition in ranking terms so any wins will be very positive steps for the winners.