Ahead of the third Grand Slam of 2022, five Last Word on Tennis writers – Vithun (@VitIllankovan), Jack Edward, Shane Black, Damian Kust (@damiankust) and Gavin Lang – make their Wimbledon predictions for the Men’s Singles tournament. We also have a separate roundtable for the Women’s singles.
Wimbledon Men’s Singles Roundtable Predictions
Champion – Who will win Wimbledon?
Vithun: (1) Novak Djokovic [SRB]
I think it is only a matter of time until Djokovic equals or betters the record for most Wimbledon titles and becomes a contender for the “King of Grass” nickname; at least by the numbers as the Tennis establishment will say it is Roger Federer regardless. Djokovic has won the last three editions of Wimbledon without having to even play near his peak level, most memorably in the 2019 final against Federer where he practically played his C-game throughout and still won. Djokovic already has a better Wimbledon match win percentage than Federer and by the end of this tournament I will expect him to equal Pete Sampras with seven Wimbledon titles (putting him one behind Federer’s record of eight).
Jack: (1) Novak Djokovic [SRB]
After being denied entry to the Australian Open and getting knocked out of the French Open quarterfinals, the three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic is out for blood. There are few form players in his sixteenth of the draw (at least on grass) and quarterfinal question marks still loom over Carlos Alcaraz given he hasn’t yet played on grass. A potential semifinal with Hubert Hurkacz should be his biggest concern but there’s no guarantee the sometimes patchy Pole makes it that far. The safe bet is on Djokovic.
Shane: (1) Novak Djokovic [SRB]
Novak Djokovic has fallen two slams behind Rafael Nadal after missing out on the Australian Open and getting bounced by the Spaniard in the quarterfinals of the French Open. I believe the six-time Wimbledon Champion and current title holder will find a way to inch closer to his Spanish counterpart on the grand slam ticker. The Serbian’s draw stacks up nicely for him. I believe Djokovic will cruise to the quarterfinals before a possible matchup with Carlos Alcaraz.Djokovic’s grass-court experience should pay dividends in that matchup and should ultimately be the decider in whomever he faces in a possible final.
Damian: (8) Matteo Berrettini [ITA]
Why not? He got to the final last year and hasn’t lost in the grass-court warm-ups in this campaign. That championship match vs Novak Djokovic was really tight too and perhaps having the experience of losing that, he would now be much more capable of exacting revenge. It’s a perfect surface for him, allowing the Italian to execute his short attacking patterns, blast the serve, and use the killer slice to disrupt the rhythm and reset the rallies (and hide his vulnerable backhand).
Gavin: (1) Novak Djokovic [SRB]
Novak Djokovic has won the past three men’s singles titles at Wimbledon, and the Serb is definitely the favourite for the title this year. The Serb has a favourable draw, and is one of the few players who is able to cope with the big servers on grass. Djokovic is well rested, and produced strong performances at the exhibition event at the Hurlingham club. This is arguably the most important tournament of Djokovic’s career, in terms of the fact that Rafael Nadal currently has two grand slam titles more than the Serb. I expect Djokovic to be extra focussed during this tournament, and I think he will win the title.
Dark Horse – Who will go furthest in the draw, relative to their seeding or hype?
Vithun: Tim van Rijthoven [NED]
The Dutchman has already made huge waves this grass season in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, winning his first ATP title as a wildcard. Having now gained a wild card into Wimbledon, he has been placed in a week sixteenth of the draw and as a result, I see him reaching the 4th Round, three rounds better than his ranking projection.
Jack: Nick Kyrgios [AUS]
Nick Kyrgios has been given a pretty comfortable route into the tournament. He’d be the favourite in a third-round with Stefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov isn’t looking in particularly good nick for a fourth-round. At that point, it would be foolish to count Kyrgios out of an encounter with Matteo Berrettini. If he can keep things simple (maybe keeping things simple is a lot to ask of the Aussie…), look out for Kyrgios!
Shane: (30) Tommy Paul [USA]
25-year-old American Tommy Paul is having a breakout year on the tour and is looking to translate that success over to the slams. Paul is making his Wimbledon main draw debut as the #30 seed in the tournament. You may be wondering, why would you pick a guy with no Wimbledon experience? My answer to that is form and draw. In the two leadup events to Wimbledon, Paul reached the quarterfinals at the Queen’s Club and in Eastbourne. In those two tournaments, he had wins over the likes of Denis Shapovalov, Jannik Sinner, and Stan Wawrinka. Paul is not your stereotypical big serve and power forehand American, but he finds ways to exploit his opponent’s weaknesses while setting up his very flat and effective backhand. The American opens up against veteran Fernando Verdasco before playing the winner of Adrian Mannarino and Max Purcell in Round 2. A likely Round 3 matchup with 2021 Wimbledon semifinalist Hubert Hurkacz is in the cards, but Paul played the Pole very tough in their only meeting. Casper Ruud, Cam Norrie, and Girgor Dimitrov are also in this quarter of the draw which is very favorable given their seed line. I could very well see Paul turning some heads while making the second week in London.
Damian: (14) Marin Cilic [CRO]
I usually don’t go for higher seeds in this, but if I do, you know I’m expecting him/her to go extremely deep. Marin Cilic has all the tools to make the semifinals and perhaps more here. His potential fourth-round matchup against Rafael Nadal looks 50/50ish to me at this point in time and the Croat has a knack for peaking for the Slams. He had a nasty draw to land in the Medvedev/Hurkacz quarter last year and now that he’s been handed a slightly easier section, perhaps he can achieve what everyone expected him to pull off in 2021.
Gavin: (5) Carlos Alcaraz [ESP]
It is always difficult to quantify the definition of a dark horse. This is especially true on grass courts, given the fact that the majority of the top 10 ATP Players have not had much success on this surface. Carlos Alcaraz certainly has the tools to succeed on this surface. The Spaniard possesses exceptional touch at the net, which gives him an advantage on the fast grass courts. As well as this, the Spaniard will get a number of free points on his serve, and there are very few weaknesses in his game. Alcaraz is mentally tough, and has already proven this year that he can handle the pressure. Despite a tough draw, the Spaniard has the potential to have a deep run this year at SW19.
Early Exit – Who will suffer the earliest exit, relative to their seeding or hype?
Vithun: (15) Reilly Opelka [USA]
The American lost in the opening round at both his grass court warm-up events and is on a four-match losing streak, which is not a good sign given he generally does not perform well at Grand Slams anyway. Therefore, I can see him losing in the opening round, three rounds before his ranking projection.
Jack: (6) Felix Auger-Aliassime [CAN]
Though I quietly thought he’d have a chance of winning the tournament before the draw was released, my opinion has completely changed. Felix Auger-Aliassime has been given a mean set of opponents. Maxime Cressy is the first-round nobody wanted and Jack Sock is likely to play with reckless abandon in the second-round. There are way more comfortable opponents than Dan Evans in the third-round and, if he makes it that far, his reward would be the big-serving Taylor Fritz (that’s got five sets written all over it). If Auger-Aliassime survives all that, he’d be played into mighty form… It just seems too big an ask.
Shane: (13) Denis Shapovalov [CAN]
2021 Wimbledon semifinalist Denis Shapovalov is my prediction as a surprising early exit from the men’s draw. Shapovalov has been playing some abysmal tennis of late. The 23-year-old Canadian is 0-6 in his last six matches while having suffered a brutal 6-4 6-1 defeat to World #56 Benjamin Bonzi last week. Shapovalov has been known to play with his heart on his sleeve, but unfortunately for him, those emotions have been hurting more than helping. He opens up his Wimbledon campaign against Arthur Rinderknech. The Frenchman defeated Shapo 6-4 6-4 on the hard courts of Doha earlier this year. I could very well see Rinderknech knocking off the young Canadian again, especially if he gets a set up on him.
Damian: (3) Stefanos Tsitsipas [GRE] & (5) Carlos Alcaraz [ESP]
Yes, that’s right, not “or”, but “and”. I strongly believe both players will be in huge trouble in round three. Grass exposes the weak return of Stefanos Tsitsipas and doesn’t give him enough time to comfortably produce his backhand. If Nick Kyrgios gets there, he’s got all the tools to take time away and punish these liabilities. Exhibitions aren’t always great indicators of form, but Carlos Alcaraz still looked quite a bit off on grass at Hurlingham, losing a straight-set match to Frances Tiafoe. The Spaniard will be dangerous on the lawn in the future, but right now the third-round matchup against Oscar Otte looks incredibly tough.
Gavin: (6) Felix Auger-Aliassime [CAN]
Felix Auger Aliassime faces a tough proposition in Maxime Cressy as his first round match. The American’s serve and volley game is very difficult to break down on grass, and Auger Aliassime’s return will be under examination. Cressy is one of the best volleyers on the ATP Tour, and the American has good variety on his return of serve, and has the ability to chip and charge effectively both on the return of serve and during the rally. As well as his effective volleying, Cressy also has an exceptional first serve, and has the ability to hit his spots. This is the sort of match that could see the winner go on a deep run, but I just have the feeling that Cressy will get the win against the Canadian.
Main Photo from Getty.