2022 Wimbledon Contenders

Djokovic is amongst the 2022 Wimbledon contenders.
Spread the love

The French Open is over for another year. A familiar winner was crowned in Rafael Nadal and now all eyes turn to Wimbledon. This year, Russian and Belarusian players are banned from Wimbledon, with the ITF, ATP and WTA removing ranking points from the event as a result. This puts Wimbledon in new territory, leaving players to play for prize money and prestige, but not the all-important ranking points. But, unsurprisingly, the field will still be very strong. Here’s a look at some of the leading contenders.

2022 Wimbledon Contenders

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic may have lost his world #1 ranking, but he has spent an astonishing 373 weeks in the rankings pandemic. The Serb has now dropped to #3 in the rankings, having lost the 2000 points he earned at Wimbledon last season when the tournament was stripped of ranking points this year. If Djokovic wins this year, he will tie Pete Sampras with seven Wimbledon victories. That is not something that many thought possible a few years ago.

To win an event as prestigious as Wimbledon, players typically need to be on their “A” game. But at the All England Club this year, there are few realistic contenders to challenge the Serbian. There are at best three to four grass court specialists, which is an incredibly low number for a 128 man field.  This is a reflection of how tennis has gone. Ironically Wimbledon has perhaps helped in this process by actively slowing down the courts over an almost thirty year period.  What we are left with is a number of hard court and clay court players. But Djokovic is clearly comfortable on the surface and may have a clear run to defend his title.

Rafael Nadal

At this stage, it is not clear whether or not Rafael Nadal will play at Wimbledon. However, if he does play, he will be a contender for the title, not least because he is currently on track to win the Calendar Grand Slam. It should be noted, however, that Nadal has not won at Wimbledon since 2010. He did make the semifinals in 2018 and 2019 though, losing to Djokovic and Federer respectively.

Embed from Getty Images

Nadal’s game is not ideally suited to the grass, which does not allow him to get as much work on the ball as he does on the clay, for example, but Nadal is not averse to coming in to net to finish points and has done so more frequently under the stewardship of Carlos Moya. The idea behind this is to cut down on rallies and make his game more efficient. There is not much more to say. If Nadal is reasonably healthy and has a clear path to the final which avoids Djokovic, he has every chance of winning Wimbledon this year.

Matteo Berrettini

Matteo Berrettini has started the grass season extremely well, defeating Andy Murray in three sets in the final at the Stuttgart Open. This will give Berrettini confidence after an injury-interrupted season, with an operation to his right hand required at one point. Berrettini won the title at Queens last year and reached the final at Wimbledon, so he clearly knows his way around a grass court. He is an imposing figure, standing at 1 metre 95 (6 ft 5 inches).

It is clear Berrettini is a strong contender for Wimbledon and third favourite behind Djokovic and Nadal. But there are reasons to doubt his chances despite the lack of specialists out there. Like Philippoussis, Berrettini’s height and physique is a limiting factor. This affects his movement on the surface; grass is not just about having the biggest serve. Particularly in the modern era, elite movement and a strong return of serve are probably more important.

Embed from Getty Images

Berrettini is also over-reliant on his backhand slice, which is likely to be an issue against either Nadal or Djokovic, who will look to exploit his weaker backhand. Berrettini is not particularly confident on the two hand backhand and slices too much as a result. You cannot run around your backhand to hit forehands all day against the best in the world. Still, his serve and forehand are undeniably powerful weapons. If Djokovic and Nadal somehow get knocked early or don’t play, his chances of winning Wimbledon will increase dramatically.

Carlos Alcaraz

Carlos Alcaraz is set to make his second appearance at Wimbledon (injury permitting). Last year he lost in the second round to Daniil Medvedev in straight sets. Although it was, all in all, an easy win for Medvedev, Alcaraz showed flashes of brilliance and has improved considerably since. He also has a lot of things going for him on the grass. He likes to go to net and take the ball early, with Alcaraz also an elite mover and competitor.

In theory then, he has all the prerequisites to be a future Wimbledon champion. He has also posted solid results at the Majors, reaching the 2021 US Open quarterfinals and the same stage at the French Open this year. No doubt he will like to go one better at Wimbledon and at least reach the semifinal. Two things can prevent Alcaraz reaching that goal; lack of experience and injury. He will miss Queens due to an elbow problem, but he is expected to play Wimbledon.

Alcaraz plays a very exciting brand of tennis, and will quickly get the crowds on his side. It is a stretch to think Alcaraz will win Wimbledon at this stage of his career, but there will be some great tennis from the young star, that is for sure.

Other players to watch

Andy Murray

Murray is a two-time Wimbledon champion, winning the title in 2013 and 2016.  Murray has also recovered from potentially career-ending injuries in remarkable fashion and reached the final in Stuttgart recently. That secured a return to the top 50. Murray’s major obstacle is his metal hip; he cannot be the same player he was in 2016. To win Wimbledon, Murray will have to be much more aggressive in his approach to the game. Relying mainly on counterpunching will not cut it.

Embed from Getty Images

Hubert Hurkacz

Hubert Hurkacz was excellent in beating Medvedev last year at Wimbledon. He went on to reach the semifinal after beating Federer easily in the quarterfinal. He looks a natural on grass, but his progress has been halting. Still, if he gets into a rhythm he will be dangerous.

Stefanos Tsitsipas

Right now Stefanos Tsitsipas is a top five player who is not in top five form on any surface. Clay is his best surface, but so far has shown no real pedigree on grass, though he did reach the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2018. This is disappointing as Tsitsipas feels he is the natural successor to Roger Federer. Tsitsipas is not really light enough on his feet, nor he is not adept at taking the ball early or playing in the forecourt, though he has shown promise in both regards. It could be Tsitsipas is a few centimetres too tall to play the brand of tennis he really wants to play.

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images