So begins another fortnight at SW19 and the culmination of another ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ grass season. Again, as with last year, we are still somewhat in unchartered territory this year. Some aspects are back, from the good – a presumably fuller capacity now that Covid isn’t so acutely affecting things – to the bad – the elitist and London-favouring Queue, giving no chance for tickets to anyone living outside of London. The ticketing system in general is still different to what has traditionally gone before, and I am undecided if it really worked, but that’s for another time.
But quite rightly, the 2022 Championships -Centre Court celebrations aside – have been billed as potentially the last time we will see a beloved generation of players; Murray, Serena, Rafa? Heck even Novak is 35 and mentally at least has taken many a body blow these past 8-10 months. This and the obvious and completely correct ban of Russia and Belarussian players – and the subsequent lack of ranking points for the tournament – will give the tournament a strange old vibe as the next two weeks progress. Thankfully, Miss Osaka seems to have been largely on her own amongst her peers with the ‘Exhibition’ viewpoint.
Anyway, what should we expect? Well far from me to try and predict anything with any authority, but I do think a Rafa and Novak final is a possibility, sadly just because I don’t see any real grass-court quality anywhere in the draw. Berrettini is the big exception here of course, and his grass court form this season is stellar, but call it a weary and all-too-familiar inkling that once again, the old guard will prevail. Oh and expect early exits for Alcaraz and Tsitsipas for sure.
On the Women’s side of things, it is a different story altogether, from seasoned veterans to the younger contingent we have proven winners and simply players with a lovely game for grass, who you should keep your eyes on. Halep, Kvitova, Kerber and Muguruza are all contenders in my book and the likes of Ostapenko, Jabbeur and even last year’s finalist Pliskova could again go far. Defending champ Barty will be sorely missed, if not competitively by the rest of the field. Early shocks? Cannot see 2nd seed Kontaveit going too far but await to be proven wrong.
Day 1 match picks
Van Uytvanck vs Raducanu [good match on paper, newsworthy]
Murray vs Duckworth [newsworthy]
Kerber vs Mladenovic [MATCH OF THE DAY]
Sinner vs Wawrinka [good match on paper if Stan still up for it]
Bencic vs Wang