It is strange to refer to Novak Djokovic as the world number 3 but it is also accurate at the moment. However, he is still the number one seed for Wimbledon 2022 as Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev are both out of this year’s Championships. Medvedev as a result of his nationality, Russian and Belarussian players were banned from Wimbledon this year, and Zverev as a result of the injury sustained against Rafael Nadal in the French Open semifinal.
In truth, neither Medvedev nor Zverev would have been huge contenders for this title anyway but the absence of the Russian players in particular does thin out the Men’s Draw. Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov have been unable to take up their seedings as well, which means that Oscar Otte is the lowest seed at #32. Not a bad effort from the German who was ranked outside the top 150 a year ago.
The various withdrawals mean that actually the tournament lands itself in a familiar scenario. Djokovic #1 seed and Rafael Nadal #2 seed. Therefore, the big names have been kept apart in the draw. The Spaniard was a doubt to come to Wimbledon as he has been clearly in pain with a foot issue, but treatment that he has had between Roland-Garros and SW19 appears to have done the trick for the great Mallorcan.
Nadal has won the opening two Grand Slam tournaments in 2022. So he comes to Wimbledon in a position he has never actually been in before of being on for the calendar Grand Slam. Djokovic himself came to Wimbledon in this position in 2021 and emerged victorious over Italian Matteo Berrettini in the final. Ultimately Djokovic failed to seal the calendar Slam, losing the US Open Final to the aforementioned Medvedev.
The way that the draw has panned out is integral to the way that we need to attack this tournament. Djokovic is around even money in the bookmakers and on the exchange, and on balance I’d rather be laying than backing. No doubt that he’s the most likely winner, but the Serbian’s form this season has been interrupted by the COVID situation and his data isn’t quite at the ridiculously high usual level that we expect.
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We have a two-pronged attack to the bottom half of the draw. Matteo Berrettini is priced up as the favourite in this half. In lots of ways this makes total sense. He is last year’s finalist, he has played ten matches on grass this season and won them all and he has a great career grass court record alongside a booming serve.
I expect Berrettini to reach the semifinals, but I expect him to run into one of our two spots in the final quarter, Taylor Fritz or Rafael Nadal. Nadal, of course, requires no introduction, especially as he was heavily mentioned above. However, at a bigger price than Berrettini he has to be the pick.
Built into this price is the risk of injury and the risk that he cannot complete the tournament. However, that was also built into the prices in Australia and at the French Open. The incredible Spaniard went on to win both tournaments. If Nadal reaches the second week having sailed through the first three matches quickly and comfortably then he will become second favourite.
Nadal hasn’t played Wimbledon since 2019 and the grass Grand Slam is his worst by win-loss record, 82%, but, as mentioned before, he has never come here having won the previous two Slams. He also doesn’t have to face Federer, Djokovic, or Andy Murray, in peak form. When the big four were all at their best Nadal would be fourth favourite to win this event. Now, with the determination and focus that he is carrying he has a chance to reach at least the final. Then, who knows?
I don’t mind tipping a player in Djokovic’s half. Hubert Hurkacz lost in the semifinals of Wimbledon last year but has landed something of a plumb quarter here. Yes, he may end up banging into Djokovic at that semifinal stage again but he is value for both his quarter and I would give him a chance against the Serbian if Hurkacz served his best.
Take away the threatening Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the first round from Hurkacz’s draw and his section looks about as good as you can get for a Grand Slam. Add to this that he holds serve and breaks serve more often than the more fancied Matteo Berrettini in 2022 and that he warmed up perfectly by winning the ATP Halle tournament that Roger Federer used to farm in his pomp.
As Hurkacz is in Djokovic’s half I see little point in playing Hurkacz each way. He would have a chance against anyone in a final and if he makes it there then we will have the option to hedge if it makes sense to so.
Taylor Fritz is scheduled to be Nadal’s quarterfinal opponent. The American has just reached the Eastbourne final at the time of writing so has played himself into some good form on the grass. He is a good server, but he has an excellent all-round game.
Fritz is the 2022 Indian Wells Champion. This is often referred to as the fifth Grand Slam and winning that event is closest a tennis player will get without lifting one of the big four trophies. It shows that the 24-year-old is ready to put his game together and challenge at the top end for the biggest titles.
His form has been patchy since the Indian Wells win but I have been waiting for a flicker of form before pulling the trigger on backing Fritz. This week has been what I have been hoping for, and with a fairly weak draw, other than Nadal, the price is right for backing Fritz.
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How to watch Wimbledon
📅 When is Wimbledon? / Monday, 27th June 2022 from 11am
🏟 Where is Wimbledon? / All England Tennis Club (London)
📺 What TV channel is Wimbledon on? / BBC One/BBC Two