Djokovic, Nadal Resume Grand Slam Chase At Wimbledon; Berrettini In Nadal Half
There may not be points, but there’s still plenty on the line at Wimbledon. The biggest grass event in the world — and arguably the biggest tennis event in the world — unveiled the draws earlier today.
About the only intrigue in the men’s draw was on what half grass demon Matteo Berrettini would land, and it turns out he’s with Rafael Nadal. Which means we could get a rematch of the 2021 final between Novak Djokovic and the Italian.
And I think that’s what happens.
Djokovic has a very nice draw with Thanasi Kokkinakis, Miomir Kecmanovic, Reilly Opelka and then perhaps Carlos Alcaraz in the quarters. Former semifinalist John Isner is lurking and could face 2-time champ Andy Murray in the second round. Alcaraz opens with a tough match against Jan-Lennard Struff, then Fabio Fognini and Oscar Otte in the third round. Jannik Sinner or Stan Wawrinka could await Alcaraz in the fourth, but I think Isner might make a run, upending Murray and Sinner and then Alcaraz. But this is Djokovic’s section and he’ll take out the big man.
The Pick: Novak Djokovic
Hubert Hurkacz is by far the class of the second quarter. French finalist Casper Ruud hasn’t done much on the grass with just two career wins. Cameron Norrie? Tommy Paul? Grigor Dimitrov? Frances Tiafoe? There’s no one in that bunch that strikes any kind of fear. Maybe Dimitrov can get hot but otherwise I can’t find anyone knocking out Hurkacz here other than himself. And he’s already won this month.
The Pick: Hubert Hurkacz
If Berrettini wants to get back to the title match, he’ll have to battle to do it. The 26-year-old has a tricky draw on paper but on grass — having won 20 of his last 21 on this surface — he should come good. There’s Cristian Garin to start, with Jenson Brooksby, Alex De Minaur and then in the quarters perhaps Stefanos Tsitsipas, Denis Shapovalov or even Nick Kyrgios. Shapovalov has been struggling of late while Tsitsipas has never been found of God’s green surface. Kyrgios is simply a wildcard. Any of them could spell trouble, but it’s hard to pick against the Italian here.
The Pick: Matteo Berrettini
Last year it was Djokovic halfway to a Calendar Slam, and now it’s Nadal’s turn. But I don’t him even getting 3/4 of the way there. The Spaniard hasn’t played on grass since 2019 and I don’t see a path to the title here. I think he’ll get through Sam Querrey, who’s been well off his dangerous-best, Lonrezo Sonego but I think former finalist Marin Cilic works his magic. Cilic gets through Felix Auger-Aliassime to return to the semifinals. Felix, who made it that far last year, beats Americans Maxime Cressy and Taylor Fritz along the way but falls short.
The Pick: Marin Cilic
Djokovic d Hurkacz: Djokovic continues his reign over the Pole and ups his Wimbledon win streak to 27 in a row.
Berrettini d Cilic: The Italian bomber sets up the rematch against the Croat who makes his second straight Slam semifinal.
Djokovic d Berrettini: Berrettini gets closer but still comes up short. The lack of match play could also catch up to the oft-injured big guy as Novak gets to 21 in 22.
After his French loss and with no Slams in almost a year, I think Djokovic will be locked in to getting to 21. I don’t think Nadal can keep it going while Berrettini seems to be in better form than last year, however I do wonder how his body will hold up.
Hurkacz has been playing well but I feel he’s ready for that next step — he did stun Roger Federer last year. Andy Murray is a little undercooked but the crowd and emotion could easily carry him to a Djokovic quarterfinal match-up.
But it’s tough to pick against Djokovic. He’s certainly not where he was a year ago and he seems more vulnerable, but other than Berrettini, no one stands out as a huge threat. And Berrettini would have to do it in a final which give me a lot of pause.
Nadal has his history chase on but who knows with that foot. Guys like Isner, Dimitrov, Kyrgios and even Alcaraz can all make runs.
And of course there are the banned players like Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov. While it’s disappointing that weren’t allowed to play, I don’t think their participation would change any outcome.
Let the chase continue.
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