Wimbledon draw 2024: Nightmare for Iga Swiatek? Are Djokovic and Murray ready?

Draws are the ultimate cotton candy for tennis fans. They are irresistible.

They mean everything in a sport in which how players match up against one another can massively affect the outcome. They mean nothing in a sport in which all players have to prove themselves every day.

So, what is there to draw from the Wimbledon men’s draw this year?

Novak Djokovic had his best day since undergoing surgery to repair his torn meniscus on June 5. He ended up on the opposite side of the draw from Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner, the two tournament favorites and the winners of the last two Grand Slams.



Surface mastery: How Alcaraz won Grand Slams on hard, grass and clay courts

His first opponent is a qualifier named Vit Kopriva of the Czech Republic, 27 years old and 123rd in the world. If he can get past Kopriva, Djokovic will either face another qualifier, Alejandro Moro Canas of Spain, who is 189th in the rankings, or a British wildcard named Jacob Fearnley, who is 271st. The tennis gods could not have been kinder to the 24-time Grand Slam champion, who is the best grass court player on the planet.

Not so for Sinner. The Italian has potential matchups against some thumpers — one a proven grass-court champion, the other someone who should be one eventually.

The first would be a possible second-round match with fellow Italian Matteo Berrettini, a finalist in 2021, and a two-time champion at Queen’s Club. He’s been cursed with injury and illness the past two years, but Berrettini has the kind of big serve and big game that can take the racket out of an opponent’s hands — especially on the slick, first-week grass. He won’t be afraid of Centre Court either.

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Berrettini’s huge serve makes him a lurking danger on grass. (Mike Hewitt / Getty Images)

The second is Ben Shelton, another battering ram who is probably still a year or two away from figuring out grass. He set foot on a grass court for the first time a year ago. He loves it; it just may not love him yet, and Shelton may have to get through another grass-court enthusiast in Denis Shapovalov to get to Sinner. But Shelton starts against Italian qualifier Mattia Bellucci.

As for Alcaraz, the defending champion, he should have smooth sailing into the middle of the second week. Mark Lajal, a 21-year-old Estonian qualifier, is his first-round foe. The first popcorn match he plays might be against Frances Tiafoe in the third round, but Tiafoe has been in a slump since last September. An in-form Tommy Paul could make the quarterfinals, but that is a long way off.

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Alcaraz is defending the title after beating Djokovic in last year’s final. (Patrick Smith / Getty Images)

Alexander Zverev’s quarter may be the softest — No 20 seed Sebastian Korda may be the best grass-court player in that section — but Zverev could use the help. A Grand Slam tournament finalist on both clay and hard courts, Zverev has never been past the fourth round at Wimbledon.

There’s also this guy named Andy Murray, a Brit of some renown around the All England Club. Murray, who may not even play if he can’t recover from surgery to remove a cyst from his spine just days ago, faces the highly regarded Czech Tomas Machac in the first round — against whom he ruptured his ankle ligaments in Miami earlier this year.  That’s hardly an easy foe, though even Murray would probably say that, in his current state, anyone with a pulse and holding a racket could prove formidable.

Wimbledon 2024: Men’s first-round picks

  • 🇮🇹 Jannik Sinner (1) vs. 🇩🇪 Yannick Hanfmann
  • 🇨🇱 Nicolas Jarry (19) vs. 🇨🇦 Denis Shapovalov
  • 🇨🇱 Cristian Garin (Q) vs. 🇨🇳 Jerry Shang
  • 🇮🇹 Matteo Arnaldi vs. 🇺🇸 Frances Tiafoe (29)
  • 🇷🇺 Pavel Kotov vs. 🇦🇺 Jordan Thompson
  • 🇧🇪 Zizou Bergs (Q) vs. 🇫🇷 Arthur Cazaux
  • 🇨🇿 Jakub Mensik vs. 🇰🇿 Alexander Bublik (23)
  • 🇺🇸 Sebastian Korda (20) vs. 🇪🇸 Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
  • 🇫🇷 Arthur Fils vs. 🇨🇭 Dominic Stricker
  • 🇬🇧 Andy Murray vs. 🇨🇿 Tomas Machac
  • 🇫🇷 Corentin Moutet vs. 🇦🇺 Alex de Minaur (9)

Somewhere in south-west London on Friday morning, the world No 2 Coco Gauff would have been forgiven for allowing herself a little smile.

On Wimbledon draw day, she was the big winner on the women’s side. As the second seed, Gauff already couldn’t face world No 1 Iga Swiatek until a possible final; given her lopsided 1-11 head-to-head record against Swiatek, that was a preexisting bonus.

But other than that, any of the remaining seeds could have fallen on her side. Half of them did — because that’s how the draw works — but as the numbers came out, the toughest and most awkward ones on the SW19 grass kept falling on Swiatek’s side.

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Swiatek made the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year (Sebastien Bozon/AFP via Getty Images)

The 2022 champion Elena Rybakina is in Swiatek’s half, and then came the defending champion Marketa Vondrousova; one of the players of the year so far and another flat hitter in Danielle Collins; two-time runner-up Ons Jabeur; and former French Open winner and semifinalist here Jelena Ostapenko, who has an unbeaten record against Swiatek. Jessica Pegula, coming off winning a grass-court tournament in Berlin last week, is there too.



The Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova: Unseeded. Unsponsored. Undefeated.

Gauff’s side of course has some dangerous opponents, such as her compatriot Madison Keys — who is always a threat on grass — a resurgent Naomi Osaka, and the Russian 17-year-old Mirra Andreeva, fresh from reaching the French Open semifinals. But after third seed Aryna Sabalenka, the three highest seeds in the bottom half are No 7 Jasmine Paolini (no grass-court wins in her career until this week), No 8 Qinwen Zheng (two match wins ever at Wimbledon) and No 9 Maria Sakkari (having a rough year and with a third-round best run at Wimbledon).

That’s the good news for Gauff. The bad news?

Predicting a women’s winner at Wimbledon has been a mug’s game for most of the last decade. The last 10 editions have been won by nine different players, with Serena Williams the only player to double up in that time. The last six Championships have produced six different winners, two of whom have retired and one of whom, Simona Halep, is not ranked high enough to play this year after returning from a drugs ban.

The three winners that remain are all in the weighty top section of the draw, with Angelique Kerber joining Rybakina and Vondrousova in Swiatek’s half.

Wimbledon doesn’t just produce various winners: it’s a tournament full of upsets throughout. And right from the first round, some of the big names have tricky looking matches.

Swiatek gets under way against Sofia Kenin, the American former Australian Open champion who always fights hard and played a few matches at Eastbourne this week to get ready for the grass. Swiatek comes in with no pre-Wimbledon tournament, so could be vulnerable early on — and if the Pole is in any doubt about Kenin’s threat level at Wimbledon, she need only ask Gauff.

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Gauff has never made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon (Ben Stansall/AFP via Getty Images)

Twelve months ago, Kenin beat Gauff in the first round here as a qualifier and ended up reaching the third round. Gauff knew as soon as the draw came out last year that her compatriot was about as tough an opponent as she could get, with Kenin having come through qualifying and full of confidence.

“Her game is, I don’t know, a tough game to play against. She has a couple of weapons, underrated weapons, that I don’t think people speak about as much.”

Two days later, Gauff’s premonitions came true. “She had nothing to lose today,” Gauff said after Kenin took her out in the first round.  “Obviously, she won a Grand Slam, but she’s in a tough spot in her career. So I knew coming in she would play with a lot of motivation.”

Gauff lost that day 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, but there was one silver lining. By the time she played her next tournament in Washington, D.C, Brad Gilbert was coaching her for the first time, and a U.S. Open title would arrive weeks later. After that experience last year, it’s no wonder she might be feeling she’s earned a good draw this time around.

On the flip side, Swiatek can feel a little aggrieved at how things have fallen this time. If she gets past Kenin, a potential run from the fourth round to the final of Ostapenko/Caroline Garcia, Collins/Vondrousova, and then Rybakina/Jabeur would certainly be doing it the hard way.

Other potentially tricky first rounds include Collins, looking to rediscover some momentum after a disappointing Roland Garros, up against the Danish youngster Clara Tauson, who impressed in reaching the fourth round in Paris earlier this month. Victoria Azarenka, the No 16 seed and Gauff’s slated fourth-round opponent, opens up against the American former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens. The No 13 seed Ostapenko should have her hands full meanwhile against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, who reached the Birmingham final last week and was a Wimbledon quarterfinalist in 2021 and 2022. Part of that run included a very bad-tempered third-round match against Ostapenko, though the pair played again at the Australian Open in January (won by Ostapenko) and have reconciled their differences.



‘I was fearless back then’: Jelena Ostapenko summons the spirit of 2017 in Paris

For the defending champion Vondrousova, who will play first on Centre Court on Tuesday against Spain’s world No 83 Jessica Bouzas Maneiro, all eyes will be on how she’s moving, after suffering a hip injury in Berlin last week.

Wimbledon 2024: Women’s first-round picks

  • 🇨🇦 Iga Swiatek (1) vs. 🇺🇸 Sofia Kenin
  • 🇰🇿 Yulia Putintseva vs. 🇩🇪 Angelique Kerber (WC)
  • 🇫🇷 Caroline Garcia (23) vs. 🇷🇺 Ana Blinkova
  • 🇦🇺 Anja Tomljanovic (WC) vs. 🇱🇻 Jelena Ostapenko (13)
  • 🇺🇸 Danielle Collins (11) vs. 🇩🇰 Clara Tauson
  • 🇷🇺 Ekaterina Alexandrova (22) vs. 🇬🇧 Emma Raducanu (WC)
  • 🇪🇸 Paula Badosa vs. 🇨🇿 Karolina Muchova
  • 🇨🇿 Linda Fruhvirtova (15) vs. 🇷🇺 Mirra Andreeva (24)
  • 🇮🇹 Jasmine Paolini (7) vs. 🇪🇸 Sara Sorribes Tormo
  • 🇨🇦 Bianca Andreescu vs. 🇷🇴 Jaqueline Cristian
  • 🇧🇾 Victoria Azarenka (16) vs. 🇺🇸 Sloane Stephens

The main draws begin this Monday, July 1. What are your standout first-round ties? And who do you see going all the way? Tell us in the comments…

(Top photos: Shaun Botterill; Adrian Dennis/AFP / Getty Images)

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