The men’s singles at Wimbledon this year has a clear and overwhelming favourite in Novak Djokovic, but who are the most likely to shake things up a bit?
There is no doubt that men’s grass court tennis is in a bit of a weird place as we head into the Wimbledon.
With the Covid-19 pandemic decimating the calendar back in 2020 and the French Open standing on the grass season’s toes a little in 2021, there are suddenly a lot of unknown factors at play.
It used to very simple. Roger Federer would be the favourite, and if he didn’t win it then either Novak Djokovic or Any Murray would. Federer is, for the time-being, all but gone now and Murray has it all to prove in terms of his ability to deep at a Slam on that metal hip of his.
That leaves Novak Djokovic as the clear and obvious favourite, probably to the same degree to which Rafael Nadal is at Roland Garros.
Meanwhile, many of the younger players such as Carlos Alcaraz, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud have simply not had the chance to get enough experience on grass yet to leave us able to predict how they will do in SW19.
This year, Daniil Medvedev and Alexander Zverev, who will be the top two in the world next week, are unable to play too, and the same can be said for Andrey Rublev.
So, just who are the favourites to win Wimbledon this year? Using their career win percentage of grass*, we try to unravel what is probably the greatest tennis unknown of the summer.
(* minimum 10 matches)
10 – John Isner (66.22%)
The match spanned three days and lasted 11 hours, 5 minutes. pic.twitter.com/M4WbMUgeXr
— ATP Tour (@atptour) June 24, 2021
It’s grass, it’s Wimbledon, so no one will be surprised to see a big server like John Isner sneak onto this list.
Is the American a genuine Grand Slam contender? You’d have to say no. I mean, he never has been before, so little reason to think he will start now. He has a huge weapon with that serve, though, so no one will be wanting to face him.
Last year Wimbledon wasn’t a happy tournament for him, though, as he lost in the first round to Yoshihito Nishioka. However, he has reached the semi-finals as recently as 2018.
9 – Richard Gasquet (66.98%)
You might scoff at the Frenchman here, but the fact is that over a very long career he has won two out of every three matches he has played on grass. That is a lot of know-how to take into what looks like a generally inexperienced draw this year.
Like Isner, he’s not a realistic contender, but he has reached the Wimbledon semi-finals twice so should he get a fair wind he could go relatively deep again.
It’s unlikely but, hey, let’s give the guy the respect he has earned.
8 – Roberto Bautista Agut (68.63%)
Ask most of the top guys on the ATP who the most underrated player around it, and most of them will tell you it’s Roberto Bautista Agut.
The Spaniard is one of those players whose game doesn’t really truly excel in any one department, but there are no real weaknesses to exploit either.
Bautista Agut is another very experienced player with a Wimbledon semi-final – and as recently as 2019 – to his name.
7 – Ugo Humbert (70%)
When you’re looking at which young players on the ATP Tour could have a big grass court game, Ugo Humbert probably doesn’t immediately jump to mind. Perhaps he should, though.
Humbert has only played 20 matches on grass in his career so far, but he has won 14 of them.
This will only be his third Wimbledon, though. He reached the round of 16 back in 2019 and lost to Nick Kyrgios in the first round last year.
6 – Marin Cilic (71.30%)
Maric Cilic is a former Grand Slam champion and has a Wimbledon final to his name too, but he is a name we have tended to write off in recent years.
He reminded us all of the player he can still be with a brilliant run to the French Open semi-finals this year, and should he take the confidence from that to Wimbledon he has the game to be incredibly dangerous.
Like Humbert, his record on grass is better than on any other surface but he has also proven he can go all the way to the final as well.
5 – Felix Auger-Aliassime (75%)
In an era that feels rich with young talent on the ATP Tour, if feels like we don’t talk about Felix Auger-Aliassime quite as much as we should.
To be fair, his overall record doesn’t justify excessive hype yet with his overall win percentage not yet into the 60s, but his grass court stats are another matter entirely.
He has played 24 matches and won three quarters of them. He went all the way to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon last year, so he is definitely one to watch this summer.
4 – Rafael Nadal (78.02%)
Look… obviously grass is not Rafael Nadal’s favourite surface. In fact it is the last surface you associate with him, but perhaps that is unfair.
After all, he win percentage on the green stuff is just as good as it is on hardcourts, and no one ever writes him off on those. He has also won Wimbledon twice before, which is the same Andy Murray and Stefan Edberg, and more than most have managed.
Of course, there is the foot injury issue hanging over him, and as of now we don’t even know if he will be playing never mind what condition he will be in, but he is obviously a serious contender if even close to his best.
3 – Matteo Berrettini (80%)
Matteo Berrettini reached the final last year and if it was against anyone but Novak Djokovic he would have won it.
The Italian’s game is perfect for grass with the huge serve and the big powerful forehand to come in behind.
Berrettini has only ever played eight tournaments but he has won a quarter of them. Expect him to be incredibly tough to beat again at Wimbledon this year.
2 – Andy Murray (82.71%)
Andy Murray has won eight grass court tournaments in his career. That’s more than Novak Djokovic. Had injury not denied him four years of his career he would have surely won a lot more by now too.
Obviously Murray has his physical issues – the man is playing elite tennis with a metal hip for goodness sake. He has looked a lot more like his old self this year though, and reaching the final of Stuttgart tells its own story of where his grass court game is.
Can he still go deep in Grand Slams? Only time will tell, but if Any Murray is back to anywhere near his best, he will be taken very seriously at Wimbledon.
1 – Novak Djokovic (85%)
It doesn’t matter what tournament he is playing in, Novak Djokovic is going to take some serious stopping. This year at Wimbledon it would actually be a major surprise if he didn’t win a seventh title at the All England Club.
Djokovic’s record on grass is truly exceptional. He has played 120 matches on the surface, the vast majority of them coming at Wimbledon, and he has won all but 18 of them.
You’d actually go so far as saying that his win over Roger Federer in 2019 was one of the greatest sporting achievements when he snatched victory from the clutches of Roger Federer.
He is the man to beat, without a shadow of a doubt. As usual.
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