Wimbledon, without points but with the prestige and the ‘Great’ record at stake

Although it will not award points for the world ranking and will be deprived of some of the best players, Wimbledon remains the most prestigious tournament of the year and from Monday it will relaunch the race for the record between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, refereed by Matteo Berrettini.

In the women’s category, in the absence of reigning champion Ashleigh Barty, now retired from professional tennis, Iga Swiatek’s victorious march could be interrupted by the surprising return of Serena Williams.

. The context

With Wimbledon excluding Russian tennis players, including world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev, and Belarusians, the ATP and WTA refused to dole out points for their tournament rankings.

Even if he does not play, Medvedev is therefore guaranteed to continue as No. 1 in the world at the end of the Grand Slam on grass, while Novak Djokovic, who dropped to third place in the ATP after failing to defend his title at the Australian Open by not being vaccinated against covid-19 and having said goodbye in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros, where he was also defending his title, he will continue to drop even if he wins this tournament on July 10… for the fourth time in a row, which only Borg (5), Sampras and Federer (5) have achieved in the Open era.

But Wimbledon is the temple of tennis, and with or without points, the title will have the same sporting and historical value: Nadal will try to win his third ‘Great’ in a row (after the Australian Open and Roland Garros), a 23rd title of Grand Slam to extend his record, while Djokovic will seek a 7th title in London, which would be his 21st in Grand Slam.

The points in the standings are important, but for me they are less important than they were until recently”, assured the Serb.

Matteo Berrettini, finalist last year and undefeated this season on grass, where he won in Stuttgart and Queen’s, seems the only one who can prevent a 60th duel between Djokovic and Nadal, the 30th in a final. The Italian would meet the Spanish in the semifinals, while ‘Djoko’ is in the other part of the draw.

. Where are Nadal and Djokovic?

Although they are favorites, Nadal and Djokovic do not arrive with all the certainties: the Mallorcan is mentally full after having won the first two ‘Greats’ of the season, but he is still under threat from his pain in his left foot, while the Serbian he is at an optimal physical level, but he will have to fight on a psychological level against the ghosts of his nightmare season.

And it is that the Serbian has played very little this season: he did not debut until Dubai, after which he lost Indian Wells and Miami, before returning to Europe on clay where he conquered Rome, but lost in the semifinals in Madrid and in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros.

Nadal and Djokovic arrive at Wimbledon without having played a single tournament on grass, but neither of them seem worried about it.

When it comes to tennis, the first six months of the year were incredible. I enjoy it even more unexpectedly. And now I have to continue if my body allows it, ”said Nadal, who is aiming for a third title at Wimbledon after 2008 and 2010, but who has not played there since his semifinal defeat in 2019.

During that time, Djokovic has not lost at the All England Club.

I already won Wimbledon without playing any preparatory tournament. Over the years I’ve learned to quickly adapt to the surface, so I have no reason to think I won’t make it again,” he stated.

And in his mind he says the prospect of not playing the US Open at the end of the summer gives him extra motivation for Wimbledon.

. the serena case

It is one of the attractions of the tournament: she was not expected, but Serena Williams, beneficiary of an invitation, will make her return to the competition in singles.

I hope it’s up to Iga (Swiatek), to slow her down a bit”, said the Tunisian Ons Jabeur (3rd in the world) in the announcement of the return of the 40-year-old American player and in reference to the unstoppable N.1 in the world, who has not lost a match since his second-round elimination in Dubai in February, with titles in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart, Rome and Roland Garros.

The 21-year-old Polish woman therefore arrives with a series of 35 victories and as the top favorite in a tournament in which she will participate for the third time and in which her best result is the round of 16 reached last year, where she was defeated by Jabeur.