2022 has been a a good year so far for Americans on the ATP Tour. With 14 American men inside the top 100 and six inside the top 35, the extra resources being poured into the USTA at the junior level are finally bubbling to the top. But in 2021 Sebastian Korda was the only American male to make it to the second week at the All-England Club and he will not be competing at Wimbledon this season due to shin splints. So, which Americans have the best chance to reach the second week at Wimbledon this year?
Reilly Opelka is currently the American #2 is slotted as the the 15th seed at the All England Club. The dominant serve and powerful groundstrokes Opelka should serve him well on the grass. With that said, he holds a poor career record of 6-13 on the surface with his movement having been exposed in the past. However, he has an ideal draw to push his way into the second week.
Opelka takes on Carlos Taberner in Round 1. The Spaniard is a problem on the clay but has just one career win on the grass. A second-round matchup with the winner of Tim van Rijthoven and Federico Delbonis would be next. The Dutchman produced one of the stories of the season two weeks ago in Den Bosch, but playing on the Grand Slam stage is a whole different battle. One that van Rijthoven has no experience of.
If Opelka can avoid an upset in his first two matches he would be slated to square off against 22nd seed Nikoloz Basilashvili. The Georgian is one of the more inconsistent players in the top-50, so there is a good chance he will not even make the third round, though does he have a solid enough record on the grass. Still, Opelka will probably be the favorite in at least his first three matches at the All England Club. If the 6-foot-11 American keeps his head in it, he has an excellent chance of reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time in his career.
The problem for him then is that he will likely run into Novak Djokovic.
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As the 23rd seed, Frances Tiafoe holds his highest seed at a Grand Slam so far in his career career. Although the 24-year-old comes into this tournament with a 0-2 grass-court record this season, he finished 9-3 on the grass in 2021 and has shown that he can play on the surface. Tiafoe opens up his 2022 Wimbledon campaign against Italian qualifier Andrea Vavassori. The winner of Maximilian Marterer and Aljaz Bedene would be waiting for him in the second round. The American will be the favourite in both of these matches.
A third-round matchup one of 16th seed Pablo Carreno Busta, Dusan Lajovic, Marton Fucsovics, or Alexander Bublik would be ‘Big Foe’s’ next matchup. All four would be a formidable opponent on the grass, but none of them have the weapons to completely throw off Tiafoe. Once Tiafoe picks up some momentum he is hard to stop. He lives for playing in front of the big, Grand Slam crowds and typically feeds off of their energy.
If Tiafoe can make it out of the first week he is slotted to face third seed, Casper Ruud, in the fourth round and #7 Hubert Hurkacz in the quarterfinals. If you are to face one of the top seeds, Ruud on a grass court is the one you would choose. Do not be surprised if you look up and see Tiafoe as one of the last eight left in the men’s draw.
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37-year-old John Isner should not be discounted at the All England Club in 2022. Although he did not play any lead-up grass-court tournaments, Isner’s comfort in London should not be underestimated. He had his best Grand Slam finish at Wimbledon when he reached the semifinals in 2018, though that is the only time he has been beyond the third round. As the 20th seed, Isner will take on qualifier Enzo Couacaud in the first round and the young Frenchman, who is still cutting his teeth on tour, may well have trouble with Isner’s massive serve.
A second-round matchup against Andy Murray could be more difficult for the American, however. Murray has started to find some form during this grass-court season. But he is not the force he once was and Isner’s serving prowess could ultimately be the decider in a long match likely with a few tiebreaks. Should Isner advance past Murray, he would be slotted to face the 1oth seed Jannik Sinner.
Sinner is just 2-6 in his career on the grass and did not look particularly comfortable on the surface even in the two matches he did win. By way of contrast, Isner’s experience on these courts should pay dividends for him during these two weeks in London. That said, a fourth-round matchup against the phenom Carlos Alcaraz is likely to be a bridge too far for the man from North Carolina.
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