The chase for the top spot on the all-time men’s Grand Slam leaderboard resumes Monday with the start of Wimbledon. The draw was released earlier this morning and this time, unlike the French, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have been split ending on opposite sides of the draw.
With Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem out, the best Federer could have hoped for in the quarters was Daniil Medvedev, and that’s where he ended up. So of the four quarters (Djokovic, Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev), Medvedev is arguably his most favorable match-up at least on the grass.
Djokovic, though, is still the big favorite, and with the young guys still a little green on the grass, we’ll likely see some surprises.
To the draw.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC QUARTER
With so much on the line and after coming through that French Open final epic, I don’t see anyone stopping Djokovic now. Not at Wimbledon. And he’s got a near-perfect draw with the fading Kevin Anderson in the second (Kevin had him by two sets six years ago), Andreas Seppi in the third, maybe Yen-Hsun Lu or Cristian Garin in the fourth with Andrey Rublev or perhaps Marton Fucsovics in the quarters. In his quarter, there’s not much danger. Anderson is past his prime while Fabio Fognini, Diego Schwarzman and Cristian Garin do not excel on the grass, and the young guys like Jannik Sinner and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina just don’t have the experience on the surface. So unless Anderson gets hot with his serve for a few hours, this should be another romp.
The Pick: Novak Djokovic
STEFANOS TSITSIPAS QUARTER
Playing his first event since his French Open run, Tsitsipas returns hoping to continue his great season on his least successful surface. The Greek has only made it past the first round once at Wimbledon and has never made a grass court semifinal. Meanwhile, you have his potential quarterfinal opponent Roberto Bautista Agut making the semifinals in 2019 and he’s won a grass title. Tsitsipas has an ok draw with the powerful Frances Tiafoe to start, the struggling Karen Khachanov in the third (if the Russian beats Mackenzie McDonald) and Dan Evans in the fourth. Bautista Agut could get Reilly Opelka in the third and then Denis Shapovalov in the fourth. Andy Murray makes his return but faces the big-balling Nikolaz Basilashvili. If the Georgian is on, he’ll win. If not Murray moves on. But I don’t see either getting through Shapovalov. This is tricky, but based on form I’ll take Tsitsipas to beat Shapovalov and make the semifinals.
The Pick: Stefanos Tsitsipas
ALEXANDER ZVEREV QUARTER
After his Queen’s title, Matteo Berrettini is the hot guy and I’m going to lean his way here. Alexander Zverev is the most decorated of the young guys, but he’s still coming up short in the Slams. Zverev, though, has a great draw with Taylor Fritz in the third (he just had knee surgery), and either Felix Auger-Aliassime or Ugo Humbert in the fourth. Humbert, who just won Halle, opens with a very tricky match against Nick Kyrgios who makes his first appearance outside of Australia in forever. I guess I’ll take Humbert, though the Canadian could get through. Berrettini I think edges John Isner, then Casper Ruud, then overpower Humbert to make the semifinals.
The Pick: Matteo Berrettini
DANIIL MEDVEDEV QUARTER
Roger Federer has a chance. If only he wasn’t 39 and he wasn’t coming off two knee surgeries and a shaky week in Halle. The draw for the 8-time champion is agreeable with Adrian Mannarino in the first (far from a gimmee), Richard Gasquet in the second, maybe the hot-handed Cameron Norrie in the third with possibly Sam Querrey in the fourth. On the bottom, Medvedev could go out again to Jen-Lennard Struff just like he did in Halle. But I think the Russian pulls through, beats Tommy Paul but gets dumped by Marin Cilic who just won Stuttgart. Cilic gets past maybe Grigor Dimitrov and gets a rematch with Federer in the quarters! Lol. A Federer-Cilic QF in 2021! Logic tells me that won’t happen, but no one else really stands out in this section. So either Federer or Cilic and I’ll take…
The Pick: Marin Cilic
Djokovic d Tsitsipas: French Open rematch goes the way of the Serb. And Tsitsipas hasn’t shown much of grass.
Berrettini d Cilic: Italian keeps bombing.
Djokovic d Berrettini: Djokovic has too much big-match experience.
Unless something strange happens like Federer or Murray find the Fountain of Youth, he gets another default, runs into a low-flying helicopter or goes on a gluten bender, Djokovic is getting to 20 in just over two weeks.
As for who he’ll play in the final, Berrettini is probably going to be the popular pick. Zverev is another guy we could see in the final. So to me there are 3-4 guys who can make this final, that’s it.
Federer at his age and current level has about a good of a draw as he could hope for. Sadly, I just think he’ll get tripped up somewhere. Someone like Cilic could take advantage if Medvedev is off his game. Norrie is playing well and Struff could be a good darkhorse if you wanted to go in that direction.
But in the end, the money is on Djokovic.
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