Djokovic In Prime Position To Successfully Defend Wimbledon Title

Novak Djokovic (photo: Wimbledon video)

WIMBLEDON/WASHINGTON, June 25, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Six-time champion Novak Djokovic appears to be in prime position to successfully defend his Wimbledon championship. After all, the World No. 3 from Serbia, who has won the last three men’s Wimbledon crowns, won’t have to worry about facing World No. 1 Daniil Medvedev of Russia (banned because of his nationality along with other Russian and Belarusian players) or World No. 2 Alexander Zverev of Germany (injured). He could, however, meet longtime rival Rafael Nadal of Spain for the men’s title in a fortnight’s time.

On Friday morning, the 2022 Wimbledon Championships men’s and women’s singles draws were revealed at the All England Club. With Djokovic as the top seed and World No. 4 Nadal seeded second, they are at opposite ends of the 128-player men’s draw. In between are 126 other players, but rest assured all will be vying for the most prestigious title in all of tennis.

Djokovic, who is undefeated in his last 21 matches at Wimbledon, drew No. 75 Soonwoo Kwon of South Korea as his first-round opponent, while Nadal will play No. 42 Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina. Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray of Great Britain, ranked 51st, will open against Australia’s 77th-ranked James Duckworth.

Djokovic’s potential route to the final in quest of a 21st Grand Slam trophy could include: No. 82 Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia in the second round, No. 25 seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia in the third round, No. 15 seed Reilly Opelka of the United States in the round of 16, No. 5 seed Carlos Alcatraz of Spain in the quarterfinals and No. 3 seed Casper Ruud of Norway in the semifinals.

As for Nadal, who is chasing after his third straight Grand Slam title this season, he could meet No. 99 Sam Querrey of the United States in the second round, No. 27 seed Lorenzo Sonego of Italy in the third round, No. 14 seed and former Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic of Croatia in the round of 16, No. 6 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada in the quarterfinals and No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the semifinals.

Meanwhile, with World No. 1 Iga Swiatek seeded first in the women’s draw, much of the suspense focused on who seven-time Wimbledon singles champion Serena Williams would face. In her first singles match in a year, the 40-year-old Williams from the United States is back for more and will play Frenchwoman Harmony Tan in the first round of Wimbledon. Tan is ranked 113th, while Williams is – strange but true – ranked No. 1,204.

Looking ahead, Williams could face No. 32 seed Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain in the second round and No. 6 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in the third.

Swiatek, winner of two French Open crowns, opens against 254th-ranked qualifier Jana Fett of Croatia. Then, she could face 88th-ranked Danka Kovinic of Montenegro in the second round, No. 27 seed Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan in the third round, No. 13 seed Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic in the round of 16, No. 8 seed Jessica Pegula of the United States in the quarterfinals, No. 4 seed Paula Badosa of Spain in the semifinals and No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia in the title match.

The 21-year-old Polish star, who will open play on Centre Court on Tuesday, arrives at Wimbledon unbeaten in her last 35 straight matches. Only Djokovic and Roger Federer (41) have put together longer winning streaks since 2000. Swiatek has won six consecutive tournaments, including her second French Open title.

Although Williams and Ons Jabeur of Tunisia garnered plenty of attention playing doubles together this week in Eastbourne, in tuning up for Wimbledon, they did not enter the doubles draw and instead will focus their attention and energy on singles.

The World No. 3 Jabeur landed in the bottom half of the draw and can only face Swiatek in the final. A recent champion on grass in Berlin, Jabeur was a Wimbledon quarterfinalist last year and is considered a legitimate contender this year. She opens against 123rd-ranked Swedish qualifier Mirjam Bjorklund and could face former Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber of Germany, ranked 18th,  in the fourth round.