Wimbledon 2021 preview and the 4 men and women to watch

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Wimbledon 2021 Preview

Wimbledon 2021 details

Venue: All England Club
Dates: 28 June-11 July

Wimbledon 2021 preview

It is very difficult to preview Wimbledon 2021 without thinking that the men’s tournament is an inevitable showdown between two men. Roger Federer has spent his whole year targeting Wimbledon and this could very well be the swansong to his glorious career.

Federer pulled out of the French Open having won through to the 4th round in order to concentrate on Wimbledon. He loves playing on the grass courts and he knows that Wimbledon provides his greatest opportunity for a record 21st Grand Slam title. He is currently level with his great rival, Rafael Nadal, on 20 apiece, but Novak Djokovic is breathing down his neck on 19.

Djokovic is the only man to have won each of the Slam titles at least twice each following his success at the French Open. Djokovic also won the Australian Open in February, so he is for the second time in his career dreaming of sweeping all four Grand Slam titles in a calendar year. He also has the Olympics to target in Tokyo, which Nadal has already ruled himself out of, along with Wimbledon.

Djokovic and Federer are on opposite sides of the draw which means they would not meet until a potential repeat of the 2019 final. Whilst the men’s competition seems like a straight battle between two men, this article will preview the 4 challengers to the throne. There is little to be said about Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, other than to say that they are two of the finest players who have ever and will ever play the game.

The women’s Championship is the total contrast. Reigning champion from 2019, Simona Halep, has sadly withdrawn injured before the Championships. She defeated the legendary Serena Williams in the 2019 final and the younger of the Williams sisters will be competing to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles. Serena has been on 23 Slams since the 2017 Australian Open and will have both Wimbledon and the US Open in her sights.

Since then, Serena has lost four Slam finals (2 at Wimbledon, 2 at the US Open). The top seed is Australian Ashleigh Barty, but she has not got a strong record at Wimbledon. She made the 4th round in 2019 and the 3rd round in 2018. Otherwise, her first-round defeats in 2012 and 2017 are her other main draw appearances.

There are no standout favourites in the women’s Championship this year which makes for a very entertaining tournament and a very difficult one to preview. I have selected 4 players based on previous form on grass courts, how favourable their draw is and in the case of Johanna Konta, so you know the home hope!

The 4 men to watch

Stefanos Tsitsipas

The dashing Greek enjoyed his run through to the French Open final, taking a two sets lead before collapsing into himself somewhat and losing to Novak Djokovic. Tsitsipas is just 22 and is at a career-high number 4 in the world. He made the semi-final at the Australian Open but had a disappointing 3rd Round exit at the US Open in 2020. That tournament was held before the French Open in 2020, so Tsitsipas has made three consecutive Slam Semis.

His record at Wimbledon, however, is fairly poor. He lost in the first round in 2017 and 2019 having made the 4th round in 2018. The great Roger Federer lost a first-round match the year before going on to win 5 years in a row, so perhaps Tsitsipas will follow a similar path and realise his potential to become the next dominant force in tennis.

Tsitsipas has a favourable looking pathway to the semi-final where he would likely take on Novak Djokovic. He is in the same section as Alex de Minaur, which would be his first real test in the fourth round. A potential quarter-final would await with Andy Murray, should the British legend get there, but the highest seed he could face at that stage would be Spanish also-ran Roberto Bautista Agut, the 8th seed.

Matteo Berrettini

Italian ball thumper Berrettini is fresh from winning the Queen’s Club title, his first ATP title. He defeated Andy Murray en route to winning the title and looked extremely comfortable on the grass, successfully transitioning from the clay-court season. He made a quarter-final at the French Open (albeit with a walkover in the 3rd round following Roger Federer’s decision to withdraw), where he lost to eventual champion Novak Djokovic.

Berrettini has a very generous seeding of 7 for these Championships and has avoided Djokovic’s half of the draw – so he would not face either him or Stefanos Tsitsipas until the final, should he get that far. He would have to beat Roger Federer in the semi-finals, assuming the Swiss great makes it that far – but Berrettini will be confident of making it at least that far.

Alexander Zverev, number 4 seed, is the likely opponent in the quarter-final. One potential issue to call out would be Ilya Ivashka in the fourth round. Ivashka gave Federer a match on grass in Halle before eventually losing. Wimbledon often favours a big serving player who gets on a roll, Ivashka could be that man – but Berrettini has a better all-round game.

Alex de Minaur

“The Demon” is just 22 but already has a pedigree at Wimbledon, having lost a Junior Final in 2016 to Denis Shapovalov. De Minaur is Australia’s great hope and is coached by 2002 Wimbledon Champion Leyton Hewitt. His main draw appearances at Wimbledon have been underwhelming to date, losing in the 2nd round in 2019 having made the 3rd round in 2018. He is in the same half of the draw as Novak Djokovic but wouldn’t play him until the Semi-final stage.

He would also have to face Tsitsipas in the 3rd round, which is a major obstacle to his progression through the tournament. As with Tsitsipas, he could face Murray or Bautista Agut in the fourth round although it’s more likely he’d have to play Shapovalov in a repeat of that 2016 Junior Final. He’s very much an outside chance in this tournament, but he does have pedigree. He made the Eastbourne final and defeated largely generic Italian Lorenzo Sonego in three sets, winning his 5th ATP title and his first on the grass in his first final. It is his second title of 2021 after winning on a Hard court in Turkey in January.

Carlos Alcaraz

18-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz will be making his Wimbledon debut. He is the winner of 7 ATP Challenger events and 3 ITF Futures events. He is a young man with incredible talent and is coached by Spanish legend Juan Carlos Ferrero, a former World Number 1, French Open winner and 2-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist.

Alcaraz is the youngest participant in the men’s draw at the Australian Open, making the second round in 2021 and made the third round at the French Open this year. He won a match at the Madrid Open, beating Adrian Mannarino to break Rafael Nadal’s record as the youngest winner in a Masters event. It was Nadal who beat him in the second round in that tournament.

This year’s Wimbledon might come a bit too soon for him to really challenge, and he would have to defeat number 2 seed, Daniil Medvedev, in the second round in order to go deep in the tournament. Should Medvedev be knocked out early, however, the bottom section would really open up to a potential quarter-final with Roger Federer and semi-final against Berrettini.

His first-round match with American Tommy Paul could be a very generous draw and the experience he gains this year will set him up well for the future. He’s going to be a serious player over the next decade.

The 4 women to watch

Johanna Konta

Hopefully, the whispers of a positive test in her camp prove to be just rumours, as 27th seed Johanna Konta finds herself in the first section of the draw along with number 1 seed Ashleigh Barty and the generously foreheaded Kiki Bertens. This is by no means an easy section for her to come out of, but Barty is overly generously ranked.

She also has the big-hitting former US Open Champion Bianca Andreescu, perennial top 10 player Elina Svitolina, French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in her half of the draw. As challenging as that sounds, Konta has made a semi-final at Wimbledon previously and the women’s draw is stacked with players who have made more of an impression at Grand Slam events than you’ll find in the men’s Championship.

Konta won on the grass in Nottingham, winning the final in under an hour winning 6-2 6-1 against Zhang Shuai. Otherwise, 2021 has not been kind to Johanna Konta with injuries and first-round defeats galore. But once she gets on a roll, she’s a brilliant player to watch and she’ll have favourable Court allocations throughout and plenty of homegrown support.

Ons Jabeur

Terrifying Tunisian Ons Jabeur is the 21st seed and comes into the tournament having won the singles title on grass in Birmingham and having also lost the doubles final at the same tournament. It’s an unusually good performance on grass for Jabeur, currently at her highest career ranking of 24. She made the fourth round at the French Open but has not gone beyond the second round at Wimbledon previously.

She has won just 1 match at Wimbledon previously, but you can never ignore a woman on form going into Wimbledon or any of the Slam events. She is in the bottom half of the draw, so would not meet Konta until the semi-final should she get that far. In the meantime, she has to navigate past 2017 Wimbledon Champion Garbine Muguruza in a probably third-round match.

A potential fourth-round match with Polish rising star Iga Swiatek is also on the cards but before all that, she would also have to potentially get past 5-time Champion Venus Williams in the second round, although Venus is now 41 years of age and last won the title in 2008. The draw isn’t too kind to Jabeur, but should she get through a couple of rounds, the momentum will be with her and she’ll be a dangerous opponent.

Coco Gauff

20th seed Coco Gauff was the standout star in 2019, winning through to the fourth round aged just 15. On that run, she beat Venus Williams in straight sets in the first round having won through three qualifying rounds to get there. Simona Halep, the eventual champion, beat her in round 4. Since then, Gauff has made the French Open quarter-final in 2021 after losing in the second round in 2020 and the 1st round at the US Open in the same year.

Earlier in 2021, she made the second round of the Australian Open, losing to French Open semi-finalist Maria Sakkari. The real downside to Gauff’s chances this year is being drawn in the top half of the draw, along with the previously mentioned Serena Williams, Johanna Konta et al. Serena would be her fourth-round opponent if she can survive a third-round match with Swiss 9th seed Belinda Bencic.

In the first round, Coco faces British woman Francesca Jones. Jones was born with a thumb and three fingers on each hand and just seven toes as a result of a rare genetic condition, Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia (EED). It’s inspiring to see her play in the main draw, but Coco’s talent is extraordinary. She’s still just 17 years old, so this year might be too soon for her to challenge for the title, but she’s definitely one to watch.

Jodie Burrage

The beautifully dimpled Jodie Burrage is the third 22-year-old of the 8 players previewed. She won an ITF Circuit title in 2021, the level below the WTA Tour. This will be her first appearance at a Grand Slam event and is currently ranked 270 in the world and finds herself in a section of the draw with 6 Americans in the 16 players.

One of whom is 4th seed Sofia Kenin, who has yet to make it past the second round in her previous two appearances at Wimbledon. Burrage has a favourable route to the fourth round, where Kenin or the fabulously named Veronika Kudermetova (29th seed) await. In the first round, Burrage faces little American lady Lauren Davis – who stands at just 5”2.

Assuming she is able to get past that American, she would face either another American in Maddison Keys or fellow Brit Katie Swan, who came through Qualifying. She could then face yet another Brit in the third round in the form of Harriet Dart. In truth, sections 5 and 6 seem to be dramatically understacked with talent considering how densely packed sections 3 and 4 are. The winner of the tournament is likely to be from the top half of the draw but every player in the bottom half of the draw will fancy the prize money and the ranking points on offer in an incredibly open Slam draw.