Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal headline the title chase at Wimbledon where eight-time champion Roger Federer, the world’s top-two players as well as valuable ranking points will all be missing. Federer is set to miss the oldest Grand Slam for the first time in over two decades. The Swiss maestro, who turns 41 this August, has undergone three knee operations in the last two years and has not played a competitive match since his quarter-final defeat to Hubert Hurkacz at 2021 Wimbledon.
For the first time since his debut in 1999 — despite the COVID-induced 2020 edition — Federer will not play as the 40-year-old recovers from knee surgery. Djokovic is bidding for a seventh title at the All-England Club to move level with US great Pete Sampras. Nadal, fresh from a 14th French Open victory and a record-extending 22nd major, is halfway to the first men’s calendar Grand Slam in more than half a century.
The season’s third Slam has already made political waves even before the first serve hits SW19 on Monday. The decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players in the aftermath of the invasion of Ukraine means there is no place for world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev or eighth-ranked Andrey Rublev. Both the ATP and WTA, who control the men’s and women’s tours, retaliated by stripping ranking points from the tournament.
Also missing is Germany’s world No. 2 Alexander Zverev, who suffered serious ankle ligament damage in his French Open semifinal against Nadal. Djokovic and Nadal, ranked three and four, are therefore the top seeds meaning if they are to face each other for the 60th time, it can only be in the final. Djokovic, the champion in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019 and 2021, will be playing in his final Slam of the year. His refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will rule him out of the US Open later this year
Serena Williams has been drawn to face French debutant Harmony Tan in the first round of Wimbledon as the American star returns to singles action after a year away. Defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic begins his quest for a seventh title — and fourth in a row — against South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo, ranked 75th in the world.
Second seed Nadal, 36, who is set to make his first appearance at Wimbledon since 2019 after winning the Australian Open and French Open this year, faces Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo. Britain’s unseeded two-time champion Andy Murray, who is battling an abdominal strain, will play Australian James Duckworth.
Those entering the Championships will compete for a total prize pot of £40.35 million, 11.1 per cent more than at last year’s event – which had a reduced capacity due to coronavirus – and 5.4 per cent higher than the previous edition in 2019.
The two singles champions will take home £2 million each, the runners-up half that, while those beaten in the first round will still collect £50,000.
Those entering the qualifying competition will also benefit from a 26 per cent increase on last year and a 48.1 per cent uplift on 2019.
By Ferdinand A. Baah, Sports Journalist.