The Wimbledon men’s draw is such an interesting draw that the boring parts still raise fascinating questions and tension points.
Here is the draw in full:
— Tumaini Carayol (@tumcarayol) June 28, 2019
It is true that in the end, a Big 3 champion is extremely likely to emerge at the All England Club… but of course, this was always going to be the case no matter how the draw shaped up. If you were going to come up with a genuinely intriguing ATP draw under the circumstances, you could have done a lot worse than this.
One constant source of intrigue at Wimbledon each year is the first-week draw of Rafael Nadal. The longstanding verdict on Nadal at SW19 is that if he can get through Week 1, he can play on a drier and less slick grass surface in Week 2 which plays more to his strengths.
Last year, Nadal had a very easy Week 1 draw. He reached the semifinals for the first time since 2011.
This year, Nadal received a rough Week 1 draw. Nick Kyrgios could exist in round two. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Denis Shapovalov could exist in round three. On hardcourts and especially on clay, these opponents would not be especially threatening to Nadal in best-of-five contexts, but on grass, it’s a little different. Nadal’s first week is hardly a cakewalk.
The next really big source of intrigue: Stefanos Tsitsipas.
He could meet Novak Djokovic in what would be a blockbuster quarterfinal… but in order to do that, he will probably need to figure out nemesis Daniil Medvedev in the fourth round. Tsitsipas must figure out the matchups which confound him. He will have to do this if he wants a crack at the defending champion. That is delicious drama.
Speaking of Djokovic, a possible fourth-round match against Felix Auger-Aliassime or Grigor Dimitrov could be very entertaining — not necessarily close, but aesthetically enjoyable to watch. The possible showdown with Tsitsipas could be the best pre-semifinal men’s match of the whole tournament.
Here is where this draw is surprisingly interesting: The unproven grass players have draws soft enough to give them a chance of making a deep run.
Stan Wawrinka. Alexander Zverev. Dominic Thiem. They don’t have cupcake draws, but if you look at their sections, they don’t face players with strong grass-court track records. They could all make Wimbledon quarterfinals. Zverev and Thiem have never made one. The second quarter with weak No. 4 seed Kevin Anderson might not feature a lot of sexy or eye-catching tennis, but the drama of which player will emerge as the semifinalist from that quarter will create intrigue in a men’s field which probably won’t have a lot of intrigue in other portions of the draw.
Then, of course, there is the prospect of a Roger-Rafa semifinal if Nadal can get through the first week to face Federer.
Which Big 3 player will win? That’s one question, the one at the top of the pyramid. Then, however, the second-tier questions concerning Zverev, Thiem, Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, Tsitsipas, Medvedev, and Felix are also highly compelling.
Djokovic is the clear favorite. Viewed through that prism, you could consider the men’s draw uninteresting… but if you’re looking at stories on various levels of prominence and success, there is something for every taste at the All England Club.