The draw for this year’s Championships has been made and, as expected, has thrown up some intriguing first round matches as far as the men are concerned, as well as some interesting possibilities down the line.
The defending champion, Novak Djokovic, will open proceedings on Centre Court when he hopes to get his campaign for a seventh Wimbledon title underway to to equal Pete Sampras’ seven titles and get closer to Roger Federer’s eight.
The Serbian’s first match is against South Korea’s Kwon Soo-Woo who is currently ranked 75th in the world and his second could be against the Australian Thanassi Kokkinakis which then could be followed by a potentially tricky encounter with compatriot Miomir Kecmanovic.
Djokovic’s main rival, Rafa Nadal, the second seed, is only going for his third Wimbledon title but is halfway to a Calendar Grand Slam having already won the opening two majors in Australia and France. The Spaniard hasn’t played the big W since 2019 when he made the semis and his last appearance in the final was 2011 the year after his second success.
It will be his 15th appearance at the AELTC and he will be playing Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo who is currently at a career-high of 42 in the world, in his opening match. All being well his next opponent is either Sam Querrey of the US or Lithuanias Ricardas Berankis. Former finalist Marin Cilic is a potential fourth round opponent.
In view of Russian and Belarussian players being banned from this year’s Championships, a decision made by the AELTC in reaction to Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, Norway’s Casper Ruud, ranked five, finds himself seeded third at this year’s event. He has yet to win a match at SW19 in his two previous appearances and will hope his firepower will take him past the Spanish veteran Albert Ramos Vinolas, who has only ever won five matches at Wimbledon in his eight previous appearances.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, the fourth seed from Greece, has not been very successful at Wimbledon though he has the game well suited for grass. This year will be his fifth year at The Championships where he has made the fourth round once (2018) but was beaten in the first round in all his other visits.
Currently he is doing well at the Mallorca Open where he as made the semis and is very much favourite for the title which should boost his confidence once he arrives at Wimbledon to face Swiss qualifier Alexander Ritschard who is playing in a Grand Slam main draw for the first time at the age of 28.
Tsitsipas’s third round opponent could be Nick Kyrgios who he recently lost to in Halle and is currently recovering from an abdominal strain picked up in Germany.
The rising Spanish star Carlos Alcaraz, of whom, at 19 years of age, much is expected will be making his second appearance at The Championships as the fifth seed, having shot up the rankings following a very successful first half of the season.
The teenager is full of confidence despite his inexperience on the surface and will be opening up against Germany’s experienced Jan-Lennard Struff and could be facing Italy’s flamboyant Fabio Fognini in round two and then another Italian, 20-year-old Jannik Sinner with the prospect of meeting Djokovic in the quarter finals.
Last year’s finalist Matteo Berrettini must be considered a title contender for the Italian pin-up is high in confidence after winning back-to-back grass-court titles in Stuttgart and Queen’s where he successfully retained his crown. He will open as the eighth seed, against Chile’s Christian Garin in the first round.
Another player to keep an eye on is Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz who crushed Daniil Medvedev in the Halle Open final. It will be his fourth appearance and he has a good chance on improving on his semi-final of last year. The Pole opens against Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.
Other notable first round matches to look out for include Sinner against the three-time Grand Slam champion from Switzerland, Stan Wawrinka and Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, who has never gone beyond the third round at Wimbledon in his previous six visits, who faces Croatia’s Borna Coric.
On the home front there are 9 players who will be in the first round line-up with Andy Murray, Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans leading the way plus the two hopefuls headliners ofr the past few weeks at Queen’s and Eastbourne, Jack Draper and Ryan Peniston, plus wildcards Jay Clarke, Liam Broady, Paul Jubb and Alastair Gray.
Former world No.1 and two-time Wimbledon champion Murray, who had hoped to be seeded but was forced to withdraw from Queen’s with an abdominal injury after reaching the Stuttgart final where he had lost to Berrettini, has a tricky opener against Aussie James Duckworth with the big serving John Isner of the US a possible second round opponent.
Britain’s current No.1, Norrie is seeded ninth and is only the third Brit to have been seeded in the top ten in the past 20 years, the other two being Tim Henman and Murray. The world No.10 will face Spain’s 36-year-old Pablo Andujar who hasn’t played Wimbledon since 2015 and, in his four appearances, has never gone past the first round.
Britain’s No.2 Evans, who is seeded 29th, opens up against 29-year-old Jason Kubler, a qualifier from Australia.
Jubb has the trickiest of first rounds having been drawn against Aussie Nick Kyrgios who in many peoples’ minds (if he can keep his cool and concentrate!) could be a potential contender for the title. He pulled out of the Mallorca Open with an abdominal problem having reached the semis of Halle where he lost to Hurkacz.
Draper’s excellent run at Eastbourne should set him up well for his meeting with Belgium’s Zizou Bergs who recently won the Ilkley Trophy Challenger to gain a wild card entry, while Peniston takes on Switzerland’s Henri Laaksonen, the 30-year-old world ranked 95 playing in only his second main draw match.
Broady faces Slovakia’s Lukas Klein, a qualifier; Gray takes on Taipei’s Chun-Hsin Tseng while Clarke faces Christian Harrison, an American qualifier.
Finally all players will be playing for prize money but no ranking points as the ATP, in response to the Club’s ban on players, withdrew that facility as the ban goes against their stated policy.
Again, in support of Ukraine, the AELTC have announced they will be giving Ukranian refugees free tickets to this year’s Championships.