ATP Wimbledon Championships 2018: Preview and Draw Analysis

Jul 3 9 min read

6:38 am

court one on Flickr by Marc Di Luzio under CC2.0

The 132nd edition of the prestigious Championships is set to commence and though Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal have shared the last six slams between them, this year’s event feels far from a done deal.

Federer, who will be playing his 20th consecutive Wimbledon (level with Jimmy Connors) this year, is once again the favourite to clinch his ninth title, boasting a jaw dropping 91-11 win-loss record at the All England Club.

Last year’s tournament was decisive in more ways than one. Over the course of the event, a knee injury caused a first-round exit for Stan Wawrinka at the hands of Daniil Medvedev, Djokovic retired from his quarter-final against Tomas Berdych with elbow niggles, and Andy Murray had a hip issue, which caused him to retire against American Sam Querrey. None of those three played a match for the rest of 2017.

Quarter 1: Roger Federer [1] vs Kevin Anderson [8]

Federer’s No. 1 seeding for Wimbledon has helped his cause immensely as he’s placed in a relatively sparse top half of the draw alongside Marin Cilic and Kevin Anderson, while the bottom half weighs heavy with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Juan Martin Del Potro.

After his win in 2017, Federer became the outright most successful man at Wimbledon and didn’t drop a set en route to his second Grand Slam title of 2017, defeating Marin Cilic in the final, who was struggling with blisters.

Leading up to this year’s event, Federer made the perfect start after a three-month absence from the tour as he picked up the title in Stuttgart. However, he was stunned by Borna Coric while chasing his 10th title at the Gerry Weber Open - a man who had never lifted a trophy on this surface before and came in with a 2-2 W/L record on grass. The 36-year-old Swiss maestro is chasing a historic ninth title to draw him level with Martina Navratilova as the most successful singles champion at Wimbledon.

Federer, still has a tricky draw this year, as he aims for a 99th career and a 21st Grand Slam title. The defending champion opens against Serbia's Dusan Lajovic, who met in the second round of Wimbledon last year, with Federer taking the match in straight sets.

Federer’s second and third round opponents are projected to be Lukas Lacko and World No. 32 Leonardo Mayer. However, Mayer needs to tame the dangerous Ivo Karlovic or Mikhail Youzhny, if he wants to face Federer into the third round.

It’s the fourth round things get interesting as Federer could possibly meet Halle Champion and the man who has already gotten the better of him twice this year, Borna Coric. Known for his Djokovic-like playing style, World No. 21 Coric's he has never made it beyond the 2nd round at Wimbledon. However, Coric opens his campaign against the Russian Daniil Medvedev, who is a tricky opponent himself.

On the other side of the top quarter is the World No. 8 Kevin Anderson, who has never made it beyond the fourth round at Wimbledon, but he has an impressive 27-12 win-loss record in the season, and a potential third round clash with Gilles Muller will be the litmus test of form for the South African. Muller took out Rafa Nadal last year in the fourth round here before losing to finalist Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals.

The winner of this match could meet either Sam Querrey or Richard Gasquet in the fourth round. The American powerhouse Querrey, who had a semi-final finish here in 2017, has pushed the likes of Djokovic on the courts here. So, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him come out victorious in this clash.

Whoever comes out of the rest of this quarter, Federer should make it out of the quarter based on recent form and his grass court prowess, in addition to his many performances at Wimbledon over the years.

Quarter 2: Marin Cilic [3] vs Grigor Dimitrov [6]

World No. 5 Marin Cilic leads the ATP Head-to-Head series 3-1 over the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov. The 2017 Wimbledon runner up Cilic has been reasonably successful at Wimbledon over the last few years, making four back to back quarter-finals since 2014. The Croat is unbeaten on grass this season, picking up the Trophy at the Queen’s club and looking in unbeatable form.

The biggest threat to Federer this year, Marin Cilic opens against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, before a potential third round clash with Filip Krajinovic and fourth round encounters against Milos Raonic or Lucas Pouille.

2017 quarter-finalist at Wimbledon, Raonic has also had some consistent results this season on grass. He reached the final at Stuttgart and fought valiantly against eventual champion Roger Federer last month. If Raonic manages to stay injury free, his serve can carry him deep into the tournament.

The clash between Wawrinka and Dimitrov is the biggest first round encounter for this season. But then Wawrinka has been handicapped by knee injuries, which have kept him on the sidelines since last year. The Swiss is not at peak fitness currently and so might not be able to match Dimitrov shot for shot. Meanwhile Dimitrov, who clinched the 2017 ATP World Tour Finals, should find his footing on grass in this season if he wants to go beyond the first round.

Greek rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas, is a potential third round opponent for the Bulgarian, while Miami Open champion John Isner looks as a potential fourth round opponent for Dimitrov. The American has not played a single match since his fourth round loss to Del Potro at Roland Garros, and his form going into this year’s event is a question mark. Cilic is the only safe bet to provide a challenge from this quarter of the draw.

Quarter 3: Alexander Zverev [4] vs Dominic Thiem [7]

This is the most packed quarter of the draw, as three-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic and the mercurial Nick Kyrgios will join Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem. Djokovic’s comeback this season has been gaining momentum lately. The Serb has shown marked improvement in the second half of the year by reaching the Finals at Queen’s club last month, losing to Marin Cilic, but not before showing that he’s still up for a title fight.

Novak Djokovic looks set to make it to the fourth round to meet Alexander Zverev. The World No. 3 Zverev’s best result at a Grand Slam this season was reaching the quarter-final at the French Open before losing to Dominic Thiem in straight sets.

The Serb starts against Tennys Sandgren, faces Horacio Zeballos in the next round and Kyle Edmund thereafter in the third round, while a projected fourth round with Dominic Thiem seems likely. But Thiem will likely be wary of big-hitting Fernando Verdasco who looms in the third round. The Austrian's best Wimbledon result is reaching the fourth round in 2017, where he lost to Tomas Berdych in five sets.

German Alexander Zverev’s best result at Wimbledon was a fourth round appearance last year. The fourth seed, who has three Masters 1000 titles in his young career already, opens against Aussie James Duckworth. Taylor Fritz/Sonego are possible second-round opponents for Zverev and one among Maximilian Marterer, Damir Dzumhur and Ernest Gulbis should meet the German in the third round.

Red hot Zverev and the unpredictable Aussie Nick Kyrgios will make for a very interesting fourth-round encounter from this quarter. World No. 19 Kyrgios has reached the semi-final this season in Stuttgart and Queen's Club, showcasing impressive form on grass. Kyrgios is drawn to meet Denis Istomin in the opening round and Robin Haase in the second round. If Kei Nishikori makes it that far, he could face the Aussie in the third round.

If Kyrgios keeps his cool, he can most certainly make it to the quarter-finals from this section of the draw.

Quarter 4: Rafael Nadal [2] vs Juan Martin Del Potro [5]

It would be an understatement to say that two-time Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal has not had the best of form on grass lately, having not made it beyond the fourth round at SW19 in recent years. While Federer has decided to skip clay events entirely these days, the 2018 French Open Champ is still trying his hand at winning another title at the Wimbledon championships.

After a straightforward opening round in the form of Dudi Sela, Nadal’s draw tightens up against Vasek Pospisil and Marco Cecchinato, who made the semis at Roland Garros and Eastbourne, in the second and third rounds. But he needs to tackle Mischa Zverev first, who has the credentials to oust the Italian. A dangerous opponent in the form of either Diego Schwartzman or Fabio Fognini will be Nadal’s threat in the Round of 16.

Should Nadal reach the quarter-finals despite all of this, he will face Argentinean powerhouse Juan Martin Del Potro, in what promises to be the most explosive clash in this quarter. Del Potro’s recently improved serve and ever improving blistering forehand, allow him to outhit pretty much anyone on tour. Del Potro has won titles at Acapulco and Indian Wells, and also made the semis in Miami and the French Open.

The Argentinean begins his campaign at the All England Club against Peter Gojowczyk, before facing Feliciano Lopez in the second-round. Lopez is playing his 66th straight Grand Slam Main draw event this time around. Del Potro could then face two time champion Andy Murray, who’s unseeded this year, in the third round. Murray has been away from competitive tennis for a year with a hip injury.

The Brit, now ranked No. 156, opens against the very unpredictable Benoit Paire and could lose in front of the home crowd straight away. The Frenchman made it to the fourth round at Wimbledon in 2017 and troubled Roger Federer greatly at Halle last week.

If Murray somehow gets past Paire, his possible second round opponent is either Denis Shapovalov or Jeremy Chardy in the second round and Del Potro or Lopez in the third round. The winner of this part of the bracket will probably meet David Goffin in the round of 16, who opens against Matthew Ebden himself as he heads into Wimbledon without much preparation.

As contradictory as recent results at Wimbledon have been, it’s never a good idea to count out Rafael Nadal who might make the semis from this section of the draw despite the strength of the other players. As for the overall tournament winner, it is simply too close to call this year on the men’s side of the draw. Given that only four men have won Wimbledon since 2003, this year’s chaos does make the tournament an exciting prospect to look forward to