The sight of glorious green grass, the sight of delicious strawberries and cream, the embracing of tradition and prestige, a special place with the motto “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same”.
It is the All England Club, it is Wimbledon, and it is The Championships, and the defending champion Roger Federer is going for an unprecedented ninth crown after winning his eighth without dropping a single set last year, but he has plenty of competition, with a number of contenders, including Rafael Nadal, Marin Čilić, Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov, Novak Djokovic, Nick Kyrgios, Alexander Zverev, and Juan Martín del Potro, looking to dethrone the king at SW19.
So, here is a look at the gentlemen’s singles draw for 2018.
Roger Federer, who is looking for his 21st Grand Slam singles title, and is seemingly in better form than what he was last year after winning in Stuttgart, and making the final in Halle will be very satisfied with his draw with a couple of comfortable matches to start off with, a potentially complicated third round against either Ivo Karlović, Mikhail Youzhny, Jan-Lennard Struff, or Leonardo Mayer, but it will get tougher from the start in the second week, where he will likely meet Borna Ćorić, the man who defeated Federer in Halle, and has really come on in 2018, rising 27 spots from 48th to 21st in the ATP World Rankings. However, Federer is primed for another shot at the trophy.
My predicted fourth round match-up: (1) Roger Federer vs. (16) Borna Ćorić
This section looks weaker on paper compared to some, but it is deceptively strong, with all-French battle in the opening round between Gaël Monfils, and Richard Gasquet being the headline act, but are not the two strongest players with Sam Querrey, who made the semi-finals last year, and the 2017 US Open finalist Kevin Anderson appearing the most formidable opponents, with one of them likely to meet the king in the quarter-finals.
My predicted fourth round match-up: (11) Sam Querrey vs. (8) Kevin Anderson
And talking about formidable opponents, there are two potential championship contenders here with both Marin Čilić and Milos Raonic, who have lost the last two Wimbledon finals to Federer (2017) and Andy Murray (2016) respectively, set to meet in the fourth round blockbuster with five sets written all over it, with perhaps the winner being the biggest threat to the No.1 seed in the top half of the draw. Only Lucas Pouille can really trouble these two at his best, but Čilić, after winning at the Queen’s Club, and Raonic, after making the final in Stuttgart and having an injury-affected year so far, look ready to peak.
My predicted fourth round match-up: (3) Marin Čilić vs. (13) Milos Raonic
John Isner and Grigor Dimitrov, who of course made the semi-finals here in 2014, have the most-suited games to the grass at Wimbledon, and should meet in the fourth round for a place in the quarter-finals, but Dimitrov has a tough one in the opening round on paper against Stan Wawrinka, but hasn’t found form on his return from a knee injury, and has slipped to 225th in the world, so really should be a comfortable one for Dimitrov, and while Pablo Carreño Busta and Stefanos Tsitsipas are very capable, it is tough to see them getting past Isner and Dimitrov to make it to the quarter-finals.
My predicted fourth round match-up: (9) John Isner vs. (6) Grigor Dimitrov
The three-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic is in this section of the draw, as well as Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem, and while Djokovic has a good draw in front of him for the first two rounds before meeting Australian Open semi-finalist Kyle Edmund in the third round, Thiem, who hasn’t made the quarter-finals at any other Grand Slam outside of Roland Garros, has a difficult draw, facing Marcos Baghdatis, who is nearing the end of his career, in the opening round, before meeting either David Ferrer or Karen Khachanov in the second round, with Fernando Verdasco or Julien Benneteau waiting in the third round before he can think about Djokovic, who should have Thiem’s measure on grass in four or five sets.
My predicted fourth round match-up: (7) Dominic Thiem vs. (12) Novak Djokovic
This is a blockbuster section of the draw with two possible championship contenders in Nick Kyrgios, who made the semi-finals in Stuttgart and at the Queen’s Club, and Alexander Zverev, and while Zverev looks to have a comfortable passage through to the fourth round, Kyrgios has couple of complicated opening round matches, facing Denis Istomin (first round), and Robin Haase (second round), before meeting either Kei Nishikori, or fellow Australian Bernard Tomic, who he was due to meet in the opening round at Roland Garros before Kyrgios pulled out due to injury.
In saying this, Kyrgios should get through this draw, including Zverev, and is a real chance of becoming the first Australian male to win at the All England Club since Lleyton Hewitt in 2002.
My predicted fourth round match-up: (15) Nick Kyrgios vs. (4) Alexander Zverev
Juan Martín del Potro is in this section of the draw, and despite a difficult second round against Feliciano López, who makes his 66th consecutive Grand Slam main draw appearance, breaking Roger Federer’s record, and Denis Shapovalov in the third round, the Roland Garros semi-finalist should make it through to the second week, where despite the presence of Jack Sock and David Goffin, could meet a surprise packet in the form of Matthew Ebden, who made the quarter-finals in Halle, as well as the semi-finals at Stuttgart, and the challenger event in Surbiton, before the challenge gets tougher.
My predicted fourth round match-up: (5) Juan Martín del Potro vs. Matthew Ebden
And that challenge is the man who he lost to in the semi-finals at Roland Garros, Rafael Nadal, and the 11-time Roland Garros champion, who hasn’t made the quarter-finals at SW19 since 2011, has a favourable draw to make it through to the final eight. Only Vasek Pospisil appears to have the game to bring Nadal down on grass, and while there are numerous good players in this section, including Australian young gun Alex De Minaur, who won the challenger event in Nottingham, they don’t have the game at this stage to create problems for the two-time Wimbledon champion before he faces del Potro in the quarter-finals, whose game matches up better to Nadal on grass compared to the clay of Roland Garros.
My predicted fourth round match-up: (14) Diego Schwartman vs. (2) Rafael Nadal
My predicted quarter-final match-ups
(1) Roger Federer vs. (11) Sam Querrey
(6) Grigor Dimitrov vs. (13) Milos Raonic
(12) Novak Djokovic vs. (15) Nick Kyrgios
(5) Juan Martín del Potro vs. (2) Rafael Nadal
My predicted semi-final match-ups
(1) Roger Federer vs. (13) Milos Raonic
(15) Nick Kyrgios vs. (5) Juan Martín del Potro
My predicted final match-ups
(1) Roger Federer vs. (5) Juan Martín del Potro
My predicted 2018 Wimbledon champion
(1) Roger Federer