Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the 2021 Wimbledon Grand Slam.
Against all odds, there will be a 2021 edition of Wimbledon.
Remember a week ago on this space when we wondered, fully tongue-in-cheek, whether anyone would play Wimbledon this year? And we explained how seemingly everyone was withdrawing from the year’s grass Grand Slam because, erm, two players had announced that they had? We’ve since heard about Dominic Thiem’s and Simona Halep’s decision to also withdraw from the event. But still, the event rolls on.
Yeah, what a wild time. It turns out it was all for naught. It turns out they’ll need more than a Naomi Osaka and Rafael Nadal forfeits to forego the event. (They’ll need something like a pandemic that kills millions around the world.)
So. Welcome to Wimbledon after a two-year absence. Have you missed it? Have you missed the no on-court sponsors? Okay, we’ll how about the brown patches we’ll see over the next two weeks on the grass courts? Are you telling us you didn’t miss the little strawberries with cream? Have you missed the ridiculous umpire and line judges uniforms? What about the way the event loves itself so much? Have you missed the endless traditions? Have you missed the all-white player uniforms?
We haven’t—but we sure as hell have missed grass tennis. Welcome to a new edition of Wimbledon; you can find our prediction for our two singles draws below.
Welcome a wonderfully weird main draw. Defending champion Simona Halep will be absent as mentioned earlier and we have a player like Aryna Sabalenka, who’s somehow never made it past the fourth round of any Grand Slam event, as the second seed of the event. Women’s tennis has seen its fair share of surprising results over the years but this year’s edition of Wimbledon, with so many question marks, could surpass them all.
Then again, what could be more surprising than if it unfolded relatively according to plan? If our predictions hold up, there will be extreme chaos but we should see a familiar face in the winner’s circle. Let’s do it and give Serena Williams her elusive 24th career Grand Slam title.
Quarterfinals: Ashleigh Barty over Anett Kontaveit; Serena Williams over Elina Svitolina; Jessica Pegula over Sofia Kenin; Aryna Sabalenka over Garbine Muguruza
Semifinals: Serena Williams over Ashleigh Barty; Jessica Pegula over Aryna Sabalenka
Final: Serena Williams over Jessica Pegula
Welcome to yet another depleted singles draw—but still, there is hope. There is hope because the stakes couldn’t really be any higher. Favourite and top seed Novak Djokovic, who really couldn’t have asked for a better draw, gets to chase a sixth Wimbledon title. Impressive on its own, this would give him 20 career majors to put him levelled at No. 1 in history. It would also give him a third major title in 2021, keeping alive the slim possibility of a calendar-year Grand Slam. Fun times.
Unless, you know, Roger Federer somehow turns back the clock and grabs yet another title on grass. We doubt we’ll ever see it happen again but, you know, it’s technically possible.
Quarterfinals: Novak Djokovic over Jannik Sinner; Stefanos Tsitsipas over Denis Shapovalov; Matteo Berrettini over Alexander Zverev; Roger Federer over Daniil Medvedev
Semifinals: Novak Djokovic over Alex de Minaur; Matteo Berrettini over Roger Federer
Final: Novak Djokovic over Matteo Berrettini
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG