In a 22-man draw in 1877 the first Wimbledon Championship was held, bearded local Spencer Gore who was also a first class cricketer, won the tournament. He won 12 ‘guineas’, the currency at the time. This years’ Men’s winner will receive A$4.4 million, a figure that would definitely rise if the Saudi’s developed a rival professional tour, competition breeds money. The 2023 Wimbledon begins Monday and the Russians are back after last years’ UK Government ban.
On the Women’s side the last six Wimbledon’s have produced six different Champions, Serena (16), Muguruza (17), Kerber (18), Halep (19), Barty (21) and Rybakina last year. Current world number one Iga Swiatek has been the form player the last two seasons, winning three out of the last six Slams, but grass is her worst surface.
Her draw however, is favorable; she shouldn’t have any problems until a potential 4th round against Belinda Bencic, Quarters (Gauff/Azarenka) and Semis (Garcia/Pegula/Vekic). These are all winnable matches for a player of Swiatek’s class.
The bottom half of the draw is full of power hitters. Two time former Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova, who won Berlin last week, could make a deep run, there’s also American Madison Keys, who won Eastbourne overnight, last year’s Champion Elena Rybakina and Russian Aryna Sabalenka, looking to add to the Australian Open title she won earlier this season.
Interesting first rounds include rising star Coco Gauff v former Australian Open Champion Sofia Kenin, who had to battle through qualifying and five time Wimbledon Champion, the 43 year old Venus Williams v Elina Svitolina, the Ukrainian who made a Quarter final run in Paris a few weeks back.
There are only two Australians in the draw. Daria Saville plays local British hope Katie Boulter and Storm Hunter formally ‘Sanders’, the lefty who battled through qualifying plays Chinese player Wang Xinyu, who knocked her out of the Australian Open first round. Great job from Storm battling back from injury the last few years to make the main draw.
So, who wins the Ladies Singles? This is shaping up as Swiatek’s to lose, even though she’s never been beyond the 4th round at Wimbledon, her main rival Rybakina withdrew from the French Open with illness and had an early exit in Berlin, her other rival Sabalenka collapsed in the French semi’s and the British tabloids won’t be kind to her re the war.
I’m picking Swiatek, the draw has done her a lot of favours, if she’s 100% fit she shouldn’t have much trouble to make at least the semi’s, and from there she’s got the big match experience to become Champion.
Now for the men, which seems a two horse race. The betting agencies have Novak at $1.57 and Alcaraz at $4.50, after that it’s Jannik Sinner, the young Italian at $15, beyond that we’re way past Pluto.
Let’s take a look at Novak; the Serbian has already won two majors this year and the last four Wimbledon’s. He’s draw is interesting, a potential 2nd round against Australian Jordon Thompson, a good grasscourter, 3rd round, the mecurial Stan Wawrinka, past his prime but could be uncomfortable, 4th round the Italian Lorenzo Musetti, who beat Djokovic this season, albeit on the clay of Monte Carlo, Quarter finals, Kyrgios/Bublik or Rublev, that’s a power trio, and a likely semi with big serving American Taylor Fritz or the flat hitting Sinner.
At the top of the draw is Carlos Alacraz, you wouldn’t call him a natural on the grass but in winning Queens last week over Alex de Minaur he’s adapting his game very nicely. The Spainard’s part of the draw is also interesting, a 3rd rounder against the big serving Nicolas Jarry, 4th round Zverev or de Minaur, a Quarter final against Tiafoe/Dimitrov or the Danish upstart Holger Rune and a potential semi with the in form Seb Korda, Medvedev, last night’s Mallorca Champion Chris Eubanks or even Andy Murray.
It’s all shaping up as a Novak/Alacaraz final. Of course anything can happen in the next two weeks, a player could get red hot and cause an upset, but these two are clearly the form players on this surface. If this final does eventuate has Alacraz learned anything from his nerve induced cramping in Paris? Could he handle the pressure of a Wimbledon final?
I can see him winning this tournament one day, but not yet. Novak will win this tournament and move on to 24 Slams.