As the first half of the year comes to an end, and the Western Hemisphere summer sets in with long, sunny evenings, the tennis calendar moves to the lush green grass courts of London (SW19) as the third grand slam of the year. The 2019 Wimbledon begins on July 1.
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With the Wimbledon seedings announced, the draw out and the qualifiers almost over, we are all but ready for the fortnight of action to begin
The top quarter of the men’s draw has world number one and defending champion Novak Djokovic in what looks like a fairly comfortable path for him to the quarter-finals. The names that stand out in this quarter alongside Djokovic are ‘Next Gen’ sensations Felix Auger Alliassime , Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Djokovic begins proceedings against German Phillipp Kohlschreiber, who he has got the better of on most occasions. The German did beat him earlier this year at the Sunshine Masters, but will not fancy his chances in particular at the Wimbledon opener against the number one seed. The Serb has an interesting fourth round match-up against either of Auger Aliassime, Grigor Dimitrov or Gael Monfils.
The 18 year old Canadian Auger Aliassime has had a very good run this year, most recently on grass in the last two weeks and can be the one to face Djokovic in that round of 16 clash. If Auger Aliassime is able to hold his nerve, that makes for a sensation final match-up. Tsitsipas’ path to the quarter finals is not without its own fair share of challenges with potentially Ivo Karlovic and Kyle Edmund on his path, both of whom are well equipped to do well on the grass.
A fourth round against Medvedev will be another stern challenge before the potential match-up with the number one seed Djokovic. This quarter has floaters like Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin, whose tennis has seen better days, but under no circumstances can they be ruled out from causing an upset or two.
The second quarter of the draw has an interesting mix of players featuring Kevin Anderson, Alexander Zverev, Milos Raonic, Stanislas Wawrinka, and Karen Khachanov.
The names read as being star-studded but each of these players has not been in top form in recent times, either due to injury or some other reason. This section also includes giant server Reilly Opelka, counterpuncher Roberto Bautista Agut and Feliciano Lopez ( fresh from Queens’ Club singles and doubles titles).
It is hard to predict who survives and who does not from this quarter. Zverev looks to have the most complete game to make it to the latter stages from this quarter but a dream serving day for Anderson or Raonic has beaten the best of the best at Wimbledon, as we all know only too well.
Eight time Wimbledon champion and Swiss maestro Roger Federer has been promoted to number two seed, above Rafael Nadal, despite being ranked number three.
Federer has a good draw with potentially routine wins lined up for his first three rounds. The Swiss could play ‘Next Gen” Borna Coric in the round of sixteen, in what could be an interesting match-up. Coric may run into German Jan-Lennard Struff prior, who has been in good form this year.
Also in Federer’s quarter of the draw are Kei Nishikori, ‘Next Gen’ players Alex De Minaur, and Taylor Fritz, veteran Tomas Berdych, and big serving John Isner. It would be surprising to not see Federer emerge from this quarter of the draw.
The final quarter of the draw maybe the most loaded of all with Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Jo-Wilfreid Tsonga, Denis Shapovalov, Marin Cilic, Frances Tiafoe, Sam Querrey, Nick Kyrgios and more.
This quarter has some interesting matchups, none more so than a potential second round between Nadal and Kyrgios, a rivalry that brings out the best in Kyrgios, who sprung on the scene defeating Nadal on Center Court at Wimbledon in 2014. With Kyrgios, Tsonga and Cilic all in his path, Nadal will have his hands full en route the quarter-finals, where he is drawn to play Thiem.
An opener for Thiem against big serving Querry who has shown return to form at the Eastbourne ATP 250 this week promises to be another one to watch out for.
With each quarter of the draw having its leaders and contenders evenly matched up, it promises to be an exciting two weeks of tennis filled with unpredictabilities and close contests.
The big question looming for all fans and enthusiasts alike is whether we have a member of the ‘Big Three’ (Federer, Djokovic, Nadal) winning again or will we see a new first time Grand Slam winner.
Given the draws, the surface, the conditions and the occasion, it is difficult to see the top two seeds not making it to the second weekend and in turn setting us up for another edition in their great rivalry. Djokovic begins his Wimbledon defense as a slight favorite to win his fifth title, with Federer just behind him in line for Wimbledon title number nine.