Wimbledon 2021 Preview: Will Federer and Djokovic call the shots once again?
Countdown to the Wimbledon 2021:
The 134th edition of the Wimbledon is all set to be held from June 28 to July 11, 2021. The expectations from the prestigious tournament are sky-high this time after it was unfortunately canceled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A big positive is that the matches will be held at 50% of capacity this year and a full house (15000 fans) are expected for the finals. The total prize money will be a whopping $49.4 million and the men's champion will receive a humongous $2.38 million.
Sportco analyzes the chances of the Big 2 (Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic) and 5 in-form players who could make it to the semifinals of Wimbledon 2021
Roger Federer: Will he overcome his Halle Open debacle?
Wimbledon is no doubt Federer’s favorite tournament as he has won there a record 8 times. The fans will never forget the epic 2019 final where the Swiss could not convert two championship points off his own serve against Novak Djokovic.
Ahead of Wimbledon 2021, Roger played the ATP-500 Halle Open, a tournament that he has clinched 10 times. The 20-time grand slam champion suffered a 3-set defeat to Next-Gen star Felix Auger Aliassime in the pre-quarterfinals.
It was his earliest defeat in Halle in 19 years. Post the defeat, the Swiss star had expressed dissatisfaction with his attitude and performance.
“Roger Federer is woefully short on match practice heading into SW19, his fitness is fine, the hardest part about Halle, absolutely zero crowds, and that was not good for Roger, he feeds off that and I think when he is playing against opponents, they also feel that the crowd goes for him,” said Todd Woodbridge, a 22-time grand slam doubles champion reflecting Federer’s below-par ahead of Wimbledon 2021.
How is Roger Federer preparing for Wimbledon 2021?
Federer returned to Zurich, Switzerland and practiced on a private court owned by a billionaire businessman, Jorge Paulo Lemann.
Roger has arrived in London now and will practice with Andy Murray, Dan Evans, and Grigor Dimitrov this week. He is seeded 7th for Wimbledon (interestingly, he had the same seeding in 2002).
Novak Djokovic: Can he grab a hat-trick of Wimbledon titles?
Djokovic has improved his grass-court game by several notches in the last few years. The Serb won Wimbledon back-to-back in 2018 and 2019. Currently, the World number 1 is playing doubles on a wildcard with Spaniard Carlos Gomez-Herrera in the ATP-250 Mallorca Open.
The pair won a thriller 5-7 6-4 13-11 (saved 2 match points) against Nikola Cacic/ Tomislav Brkic in the pre-quarterfinals. Djokovic/Carlos stunned the top seeds Horacio Zeballos/ Marcel Granollers 4-6 7-6(3) 10-8 in the quarterfinals. They again upset the 3rd seeds Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi/ Oliver Marach 6-3 7-6(4) in the semifinals.
Though the conditions in London and Mallorca are different according to Novak’s coach Goran Ivanisevic, the Serbian is aiming to improve his net game ahead of Wimbledon 2021.
The World number 1 has been in scintillating form this season having won the Australian Open and the French Open. The 19-time grand slam champion will aim to achieve the Calendar Year Grand Slam and clinch 21 titles to surpass his great rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal tied at 20 each.
Djokovic’s main strengths will be composure under pressure, impenetrable defense, and passing shots. Apart from Federer and the Next-Gen, Novak Djokovic will be wary of a few big servers like Kevin Anderson, Marin Cilic, and the American trio of (John Isner, Reilly Opelka, and Sam Querrey).
How many players on the ATP Tour won the first 3 slams in the same year?
American Don Budge was the first player to do the triple slam in 1938. He won the first 3 grand slam finals without dropping a set.
Australian legend Rod Laver achieved the rare feat of winning the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon in the same year twice (1962 and 1969).
Djokovic missed achieving this brilliant record in 2016 when he lost to Sam Querrey in the third round of Wimbledon in 4 sets. The Serb will go all out and try to win the Wimbledon 2021 title.
Who are the top 5 potential semifinalists at Wimbledon 2021?
1) Stefanos Tsitsipas
Despite not playing a single match on grass ahead of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships, Tsitsipas still has the weapons to book a spot in the last four. The Greek would have to start afresh after the heartbreaking 5-set loss to Novak Djokovic in the French Open 2021 finals.
Stefanos Tsitsipas had taken a wildcard for the ATP-500 Halle Open. He was planning to feature in both singles (against Arthur Rinderknech) and doubles with his brother Petros Tsitsipas.
However, he made a wise decision by pulling out of the tournament at the last minute. The two-week break would have recharged his batteries.
The 22-year-old trained for the 2021 Wimbledon at the grass courts of the Queen’s Club. Having lost in the first round in 5 sets to Italian, Thomas Fabbiano in the 2019 edition, he will aim to bury the bad memories.
He would be rusty in the first few rounds and will pick up steam in the second week. The Greek will have to work hard on his below-par breakpoint conversion rate of 20% and a 33.3% winning percentage in deciding sets.
'I like playing on grass, I just need to be open-minded, I am going to try and adapt my game to this surface,” reflected Tsitsipas, aiming to put his best foot forward in the Wimbledon 2021.
2) Matteo Berrettini
The Italian made heads turn in the French Open this year after reaching the quarterfinals (lost to Novak Djokovic in 4 sets). He has warmed up perfectly for Wimbledon 2021 after clinching the Queen’s Club Championships. The top seed used his big serve and powerful forehand to good effect.
Matteo Berrettini pulled off straight-set victories against former World number 1 Andy Murray, 6th seed Dan Evans, and 4th seed Alex de Minaur. Matteo was severely tested in the final against homeboy, Cameron Norrie.
However, the 25-year-old fired a whopping 19 aces and won 91% of his first-serve points. The Italian also did not face a single breakpoint throughout the match. He became the first debutant to win the Queen's Club Championships since Boris Becker in 1985.
Seeded 17th, Matteo Berrettini reached the 4th round in the last edition of the Wimbledon in 2019. He was routed by the second seed Federer 6-1 6-2 6-2. An analysis of Berrettini’s performance on the grass in the last 1 year reveals two main weapons. He has won 93.3% of service games and 84.3% of first-serve points.
The Next-Gen star also has good numbers with 75% of breakpoints saved and 75% of tiebreaks won. However, the Italian has some weaknesses such as a 31.9% breakpoint conversion rate. The 25-year-old will be seeded 8th in Wimbledon this year and has a great opportunity to have a deep run.
3) Andrey Rublev
The Russian had a good run in the ATP-500 Halle Open last week. Andrey Rublev finished as runner-up with a straight-set defeat in the finals to Frenchman Ugo Humbert. The 23-year-old’s second serve winning percentage of 57 needs improvement.
Earlier, Rublev had disclosed the advantage of a favorable draw in Wimbledon 2021 after World number 3, Rafael Nadal pulled out of the tournament. He will get a higher seeding (6).
“There are so many guys that are really tough to play on grass, imagine having Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round of Wimbledon or Nick Kyrgios, on grass, it is so tough to play players who serve well so who knows,” revealed Rublev highlighting the challenges ahead of the big tournament.
The Next-Gen star has never crossed the second round of Wimbledon in his career (lost twice in 2017 and 2019). He will try to improve his volleying skills and slice. The Russian will have to play aggressively and maintain his cool in what could be a breakthrough tournament for him.
He has won 86.4% of service games on the grass in the past 1 year. The 23-year-old needs to enhance his poor breakpoint conversion rate of 28.3%. The Russian has been sharp in his win % in deciding sets (100%) and tiebreak winning % (66.7).
4) Daniil Medvedev
Known for his prowess on hard courts, Medvedev’s unorthodox game can also reap the rewards on grass. The Russian is currently playing in the ATP-250 Mallorca Open. The 25-year-old comfortably dispatched Frenchman Corentin Moutet 6-4 6-2 in the pre-quarters.
He convincingly defeated the 5th seed Casper Ruud 7-5 6-1 in the quarterfinals. The top seed Medvedev will face the 4th seed Pablo Carreno Busta in the semifinals.
Daniil Medvedev has failed to cross the third round of Wimbledon in his career so far. He lost to 22nd seed Adrian Mannarino in 5 sets in 2018 and suffered another 5-setter defeat to the 21st seed David Goffin in 2019.
The Next-Gen star does have some impressive stats on the grass in the past 1 year. He has won 83.7% of his service games and 74.5% of his first-serve points.
The Russian has to convert more breakpoints (36.7%). His biggest weakness would be the poor deciding set winning percentage of 25. It will affect his chances in long matches.
5) Felix Auger Aliassime
Felix had a disastrous French Open this year. Despite being coached by the legendary Toni Nadal (uncle of Rafael Nadal), the Canadian lost in four sets in the first round to the Italian veteran Andreas Seppi.
However, Aliassime shined on the grass by reaching the finals of the ATP-250 Stuttgart Open. He lost in straight sets to Marin Cilic. It was his eighth loss in a row in ATP singles finals.
The 20-year-old stunned his childhood idol Roger Federer in the pre-quarters at the ATP-500 Halle Open. His big serve (13 aces) troubled the Swiss.
The Canadian lost to the eventual champion Ugo Humbert in a tight three-setter in the semifinals. Interestingly, he won 7 more points (105) than Humbert (98). Felix also reached the doubles finals at Halle. The 3rd seeds Horia Tecau/Kevin Krawietz defeated Aliassime and Hubert Hurkacz 7-6(4) 6-4.
Felix Auger Aliassime reached the third round of Wimbledon 2019. Humbert got the better of him in straight sets. The 20-year-old has had some fabulous numbers on the grass in the last 52 weeks. Felix has won 90.9% of his service games and took 80.5% of his first-serve points.
A below-par breakpoint conversion rate of 37.1% and 50% tiebreak winning percentage will hurt his chances in close matches.
The Canadian will be full of confidence ahead of Wimbledon 2021. Having beaten 20-time grand slam champion, Roger Federer on his favorite surface, Felix will aim to play his best serve and volley tennis over the next two weeks at SW19
“The movement is so different, the steps you take to get to the ball and to change direction and the sliding is different, you have to be more careful with your step, the bounce is lower, you have to get lower on your legs and bend forward a lot,” said Felix disclosing the minor adjustments he made to his game for grass.
So, dear fans, who are your favorites for the highly competitive Wimbledon 2021, stay tuned for two weeks of jam-packed tennis.