The French Open concluded with a Novak Djokovic victory fewer than a month ago, yet Wimbledon is nearly here. The grass court grand slam started on Monday, July 3rd, and there’s quite a bit of excitement in the air.
Novak Djokovic will look to extend his men’s record Grand Slam total to 24. Venus Williams, who is still playing rock-solid tennis at the age of 43, will break the record for most main-draw Wimbledon appearances. Her first Wimbledon appearance came way back in 1997 when she lost in the first round. Historically, it’s her most dominant surface, where she’s won five of her seven Grand Slam titles.
Amazingly, her first Wimbledon appearance came six years before the birth of men’s No. 1 seed Carlos Alcaraz.
This tournament will also see Alcaraz compete with hopefully better results, as the young Spaniard has never gone further than the fourth round here. Meanwhile, women’s No. 1 seed Iga Swiatek is also hoping for a better grass court season. Swiatek has already claimed four Grand Slam titles and looks like the heir apparent to Serena Williams. But she’s never gone beyond the fourth round on grass, either.
Wimbledon’s iconic foodie traditions
Get those strawberries and cream ready because this should be an exciting tournament! Djokovic has the most iconic storyline heading into the third Grand Slam tournament of the year.
Having won both the Australian Open and the French Open, he’s halfway to a Calendar Slam. In tennis, a calendar Grand Slam is about as rare as it gets. It’s achieved when a player wins four consecutive Grand Slams in the same calendar year. Winning all four of those events would transform Djokovic into a living legend, as a Calendar Slam hasn’t been achieved since Rod Laver did it back in 1969.
Djokovic can also set another record with a 24th Grand Slam title, surpassing Serena Williams for the most Grand Slam titles in the Open era. He would also tie with Margaret Smith Court (24) for the most titles in any era. Oh, and he would tie Roger Federer, widely regarded as Wimbledon’s greatest winner, with eight total titles at the grass-court Slam.
In case you were wondering about the odds of Djokovic winning, I’ll keep it simple. Djokovic hasn’t lost a match at Wimbledon since 2017. That year, he had to retire in the quarterfinals due to an elbow injury. He won the tournament in 2018, 2019, 2021, and 2022. The 2020 iteration of Wimbledon was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Could Swiatek do some damage on the grass?
Unlike Novak, Iga Swiatek doesn’t have the greatest track record on grass. She hasn’t won a grasscourt title yet. She’s definitely more vulnerable on the surface than on clay courts or hard courts. Her best result at Wimbledon remains a fourth-round appearance in 2021 and last year, she bowed out in the third round.
At the Bad Homburg Open, she was actually faring quite well on grass before having to withdraw in the semi-finals due to a food poisoning episode. We’ll see if three matches there were enough of a tune-up for her appearance at Wimbledon this year.
How do we feel about Nick Kyrgios?
The eccentric, loudmouthed Australian is one of the most interesting players on the ATP Tour. Kyrgios made it to the Wimbledon final last year, where he lost a four-set match to Novak Djokovic. If anyone possesses the weapons to beat Novak, it’s Kyrgios. He enters Wimbledon with a sparse track record this year, having played just one match (two total sets) heading into the grass court Slam.
Kyrgios is largely an enigma, though. There are days when he shows up looking like he doesn’t belong on a tennis court. But his unpredictability can be a weapon as well, given that there are also days when he’ll look like the best player on the planet. If anyone is capable is challenging Novak on grass, it would be Nick.
He opens his tournament run against David Goffin, which is not an easy matchup by any means. Goffin reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year, and it wouldn’t shock anyone if Goffin beat Kyrgios in straight sets. At the same time, all it takes is for Kyrgios to apply himself 100% to the match. When he does, he brings an enormous serve and nasty groundstrokes to the table. If he can get there mentally, even if only 85% there, he’s a difficult out for any tennis player.
Venus Williams, five-time Wimbledon champion, will be playing singles for the record-breaking 24th time. She’s ranked No. 554 in the world, so getting a wild card to the tournament is more about her potential draw to fans than her current skill on the court. That said, a good day from Venus is good enough to beat most people.
She’s playing Elina Svitolina in the first round, who is fifteen years younger and currently ranked in the top 100 WTA. On the flip side, Svitolina just looked absolutely overmatched in a grass court tuneup on June 19th at the Birmingham Classic. Perhaps Venus can ride a wave of support from the crowd and make it to the second round at Wimbledon for the first time since 2021.
What about the No. 1 on the men’s side?
Djokovic may be the favorite but don’t forget about the actual #1 seed.
Carlos Alcaraz is coming off a title at the Queen’s Club, a grass court tournament. He didn’t drop a single set, so perhaps this is the year he can begin asserting his dominance on another surface. The young Spaniard has tons of talent, and if he gets into a groove, he’ll be a tough out on the grass, no matter his track record.
The Local Favorite returns
There is no more beloved player at Wimbledon than Andy Murray.
The 36-year-old Scot is past his prime, having had multiple hip surgeries. But as a two-time Wimbledon champion and overwhelming crowd favorite, perhaps there’s some Murray Magic left in his bones. He’s up to No. 38 in the world again, showing some signs of life.
His first match won’t give him much of a home-crowd advantage, seeing as he’s playing a Brit in wild card entree Ryan Peniston. But if he advances to play Tsitsipas in the second round, the crowd will be on his side by a tremendous margin.
I don’t think Murray’s got what it takes to challenge for a title, but he’s always fun to root for. The actual highest-seed Brit is Cameron Norrie. The former TCU star has reached the ATP No. 12 and reached the semifinals in 2022.
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