In April, the All England Club made the bold decision to ban all Russian and Belarusian players from this year’s Championships. As a counter measure, the ATP and WTA have removed ranking points from the this year’s event—effectively making it an exhibition. These factors make for a radically different Wimbledon draw, as five top 100 gentlemen and 10 top 100 ladies were banned. Most notably, world no. 1 Daniil Medvedev and world no. 6 Aryna Sabalenka have been relegated to the sidelines.
Between the void left by the absent Russians and loads of emerging young stars—not to mention several venerable grass court veterans lurking—the 2022 Wimbledon draw might be one of most compelling draws in decades. Let’s have some fun trying to predict the unpredictable:
ONS JABEUR BREAKS THROUGH
Coming off a convincing title run in Berlin and some Eastbourne doubles fun with the GOAT, Jabeur is primed to become the first Arab player to win a Grand Slam. She’ll have to defeat a red hot Iga Swiatek to make history—but after toppling her last year in the Round of 16, why not this year in the Championship match?
Additionally, expect last year’s run to the Quarterfinals to provide her with a boost in the big moments. Former Champion Angelique Kerber is the biggest obstacle in her quarter. If she can get past Kerber, she should have the confidence and the momentum to go all the way.
Swiatek’s half of the draw is more challenging than Jabeur’s—she’ll have to fight off four former champions and last year’s finalist, Karoline Pliskova.
THE KOKK BEATS THE DJOK
Sure, Kokkinakis didn’t have the best results at a grass court Challenger in Surbiton—losing to a player no one’s ever heard of—but one tournament match is better than zero. That’s the total the number of matches Djokovic has played since his loss to Nadal at the French. Thus far, Djokovic’s 2022 season hasn’t been too spectacular by his standards. And the 20-time Grand Slam champ has seemingly been embroiled in controversy since ‘Nam, culminating with his famous melt down behind his towel at the 2021 US Open.
Kokkinakis is a talented and fearless player with several big wins under his belt. If his serve and forehand are clicking, he’s a dangerous man. Assuming both players gets past their first round opponents, the Djoker could be headed for an early exit against the Kokker.
ENGLAND’S DARLING EMMA GOES DOWN EARLY
Emma Raducanu shot into the stratosphere of super stardom after an incredible run at the 2021 US Open, but since then she’s fallen back down to earth. Curious coaching changes and a penchant for playing pitch-woman have led to disappointing results at the 2022’s first two slams. It’s possible that setting foot back on home soil might spark some inspiration, but she’s also have to battling a nagging side strain.
I think it’s unlikely that the British media darling makes the second week. In my opinion, she’ll do well to escape her first round contest with Alison Van Uytvanck.
ANDY GOES DEEP
After undergoing hip resurfacing surgery, it’s clear Andy Murray hasn’t been the same dominant player he used to be, but a nice run to the Stuttgart final has given his fans some hope. Murray’s taken every measure to prepare himself for one final run at his beloved Wimbledon—he’s hired old coach, Ivan Lendl, and skipped the French to get more time on grass. Murray reluctantly had to withdraw from Queen’s Club, citing an abdominal strain, but he’s forging ahead to Wimbledon with every intent of winning the whole f-in’ thing!
Andy’s also pledged to donate his winnings to the victims of the war in Ukraine. I believe Murray has enough experience, willpower, and good karma to make the second week—and hopefully beyond. Give ’em ‘ell Andy!