The Wimbledon 2022 preview of the men’s draw has unfolded to reveal a balanced picture for the men, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic on opposite sides and top contenders sprinkled evenly throughout the brackets. The same is not true of the women, who have certain pockets of the draw which are more loaded with grass-court talent than others.
After a run of tournaments that saw Nadal and Djokovic potentially meeting before the final, it’s a refreshing change to have the GOATs well out of each others’ hair for the first time since the 2021 Australian Open. On paper, the top-seeded Djokovic has the easier mid-round draw of the two. Nole’s big test would be a potential meeting with emerging tennis powerhouse Carlos Alcaraz in the quarterfinals.
Nadal has an intriguing and talented band of grass-court merrymen in his quarter, including Felix Auger-Aliassime, Marin Cilic, Dan Evans and Taylor Fritz, who beat the legend to win Indian Wells this year.
Rafael Nadal News
It’s been an eventful 2022 for the 22-time Grand Slam champion, who has captured two of those prized trophies this year. Nadal has battled his foot problem and undergone surgery just prior to this Wimbledon. He has announced his wife is pregnant with their first child. He beat Djokovic at Roland Garros. And after some uncertainty, Nadal ultimately decided to play Wimbledon, as it is he, not Djokovic this time, who vies for the calendar Grand Slam.
Let’s begin this analysis with a look at the Nadal quarter of Wimbledon 2022. If Rafa gets past Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina in the first round, he could potentially meet grass-court guru Sam Querrey in a re-match of the 2019 Wimbledon quarterfinal. Despite Querrey’s brilliant grass court record of 77-45, Nadal made mincemeat of him with a 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 victory. Enough said. Rafa really doesn’t get tested potentially until the fourth round when he could face Cilic, who has blazed back to his old form and has amassed a grass-court curriculum vitae of 80-32. A potential quarterfinal against Auger-Aliassime would also be a challenge due to the Canadian’s stellar 22-8 grass court record and proven chops at Wimbledon. FAA was also the only player to give Nadal trouble at Roland Garros this year, taking the eventual champion to 5 grueling sets.
Interesting matches in this quarter include: FAA versus the straight-up serve-and-volleyer Maxime Cressey, Fritz against young Italian star Lorenzo Musetti, and player on the come-up, the sometimes bombastic Holger Rune against Marcos Giron of the U.S.
The Berrettini Quarter
Last year’s finalist Matteo Berrettini also lands in the Nadal half of the draw. The Italian star won the Wimbledon warmup at Queen’s Club to cap a triumphant return from hand surgery. Berrettini’s big serve and forehand are well-suited to grass, and he’s the favorite to come out of this quarter, even though Stefanos Tsitsipas is the higher seed. The Greek’s struggles at Wimbledon are well-known, having lost in the first round here a stunning 5 of the 6 times he has played. That said, Tsitsipas played beautifully in the Mallorca warm-up and looks poised to have figured some things out. Unfortunately for Stef, unpredictable floater Nick Kyrios is sitting in his area of the draw, with a potential 3rd round matchup looming.
Djokovic at Wimbledon
Don’t look now, but the Serbian superhero has amassed six Wimbledon titles, including the last three in a row. It’s a remarkable run that is starting to resemble some of Nadal’s work on clay. Subjectively, Novak appears to have an easier quarter. The only bother in his immediate section might be the big-serving Thanasi Kokkanakis, but the Australian is really just happy to be healthy again. Miomir Kecmanovic and Nikoloz Basilashvili are solid players but have unproven or mediocre records on grass. The super-servers of Reilly Opelka, John Isner and Oscar Otte are easy for Djokovic because he returns so well then forces them to move. That type of player is cake for Novak. This section of the draw doesn’t seem problematic until Alcaraz in the quarterfinals, and the Spaniard is largely unproven on this surface. The only other danger is two-time Wimbledon champion and home-favorite Andy Murray, but the Scot has been hampered by an abdominal strain.
Keep an eye on the first round match between Alcaraz and Jan-Lennard Struff. This will be a good test for Carlitos to see what he’s got on this surface. Interestingly, he chose not to compete in grass-court warm-ups.
The Open Quarter
The bottom of this half of the 2022 Wimbledon Draw is perhaps the most open. Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz is the favorite, due to his grass-court prowess, even though Casper Ruud is the higher seed. The Norweigian’s game is not made for grass, due to his big backswing on the forehand. Other contenders in this quarter of the draw include Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie, emerging American and adept mover Tommy Paul and 2014 Wimbledon semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov. Hubie is playing the net as well as he ever has in his career. A thorough drubbing of Daniil Medvedev last week showcased how well Hurkacz plays on this surface.
This particular quarter contains a basketful of clay courters who will be looking to make that quick and difficult transition to grass.
2022 Wimbledon Women’s Draw
While not as balanced, a Wimbledon preview of the women’s draw poses some compelling questions. Top seed Iga Swiatek has taken over the sport. With defending Wimbledon champion Ash Barty gone and retired, Swiatek rides a 37-match winning streak into the tournament. But grass is not her happy place, and she skipped the warm-up events. She did have a respectable run to the 4th round last year.
The Russians and Belarussians are out due to the Ukrainian conflict. That erases some real threats. As usual the draw is open, and the women can do anything.
What about the chances of seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams, who saunters into the tournament with a much-earned wild card after a year away from competitive tennis? Serena landed in the most complicated quarter of the draw– and on the same half as Swiatek. It won’t be easy. Perhaps the most intrigue in the early rounds would be a potential re-match of the late-round rivalry she has contested against Karolina Pliskova. The pair squared off twice at the US Open and split. Then the Czech nabbed her at the Australian Open. They could potentially meet in the 3rd round. An early glimpse of Serena’s game in doubles last week revealed that her serve speeds are about 10 mph off her usual firecracker pace. She could be holding back or simply not yet in form. She needs every mph she can get to really contend here.
Also in this quarter: American talents Coco Gauff and Amanda Anisimova, former champion Simona Halep, who beat Serena in the 2019 Wimbledon Final, two-time champion Petra Kvitova and Spanish ace Paula Badosa. It’s a crowded quarter.
The other half of the women’s draw is extremely open. British eyes will be focused on U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu, who has a host of experienced players in her section, including former Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber, and a trio of solid Americans: Danielle Collins, Madison Keys and Ali Riske. Oh and rising genius Ons Jabeur heads up this section as the number three seed overall. Call it gut instinct, but Raducanu could have a decent run. She likes to crowd the baseline and take the ball on the rise. That works here on grass.
Players to Watch at Wimbledon 2022
QF: Djokovic, Hurkacz, Berrettini, Nadal
SF: Hurkacz, Nadal
QF: Swiatek, Gauff, Raducanu, Sakkari
SF: Swiatek, Sakkari