Six storylines to follow from the 2022 Wimbledon Championships

Serbia's Novak Djokovic plays a return as he practices ahead of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Sunday, June 26, 2022. (Alastair Grant/AP)

It’s the most storied and prestigious tennis tournament in the world.

Yes, the Wimbledon Championships have returned for its 135th edition on its beautiful and spacious grounds of the All England Club.

Played on a surface seldom found on a public court, the best players in the world are fast adapting to the quick, slick, and unforgiving grass.

Political fare stole much of the headlines in the months long leadup to the tournament.

The event daringly chose to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from competing as a response to Vladimir Putin’s dangerous regime and invasion of Ukraine; the ATP and WTA tours responded by stripping the tournament of its ranking points.

What will not be lost amongst this contentious back and forth between organizations is world class tennis.

Here are six storylines to track as 2022 Wimbledon gets underway:

Djokovic eyes fourth straight, Nadal seeking #23

He’s been the consensus favourite at the last few editions of Wimbledon and with good reason. Not only is Novak Djokovic one of the best tennis athletes ever, he’s also one of the greatest grass court players of all time.

Djokovic is a three-time defending champion at the All England Club, with victories in 2018, 2019 and 2021 (the 2020 tournament was cancelled due to the pandemic).

His six Wimbledon titles rank as the third most ever in the Open Era, trailing only Roger Federer and Pete Sampras.

While he doesn’t currently hold the No. 1 ranking, Djokovic holds the top seed for the men’s field, and his ability to move better on surface than anyone else in the world should bode well for his chances to hoist yet another singles trophy in London.

Rafael Nadal, a two-time Wimbledon champion, leads the bottom portion of the draw with the No. 2 seed, and has had a simply formidable 2022 season.

With victories at the first two slams of the year in Australia and France, Nadal has pushed his all-time grand slam count to 22, sitting two majors ahead of both Djokovic and Roger Federer.

Nadal last won Wimbledon in 2010 and has not been to the final since 2011, however his last two appearances at the All England Club resulted in runs to the semifinals in 2018 and 2019.

A potential finals showdown between the two great rivals could be in the cards, which would mark a record 60th time the two have faced one another (Djokovic leads 30-29).

Serena makes much anticipated return

The last time she competed in a major tournament, she unfortunately suffered a devastating fall on the centre court of Wimbledon.

Now Serena Williams is back, healthy and confident as she prepares to play at the All England Club for the 21st time in her career.

Her history at this event has been nothing short of sensational, as she reached the finals in 11 of 20 appearances, winning the singles championship seven times.

While the veteran superstar Williams is now 40 years old, she is still setting her bar sky high:

Despite all her records and accolades, Serena is still giving chase to history, as she is just one major shy of tying Margaret Court for the most grand slam singles titles of all time (24).

She played doubles with Ons Jabeur last week at the Eastbourne International, reaching the semifinals before her partner pulled out of the event due to injury.

She’ll open her tournament Tuesday morning against Harmony Tan of France.

Swiatek can extend remarkable streak

Her run of domination on the WTA tour dates back to February.

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek has been one of the greatest stretches of any tennis season, reeling off 35 consecutive wins and six straight titles, culminating in her second Roland Garros title earlier this month.

The 21-year-old Polish mega-talent boasts the longest match winning streak since 2000, and has the perfect blend of power, style, speed, and agility to befuddle her competitors.

Her forehand is heavy and blistering, her serve is now potent and precise, and she’s one of the very best movers on tour.

Is it conceivable the streak will carry on through Wimbledon?

It will take another seven victories to hoist her first ever major at the All England Club and push the winning streak to 42.

While Swiatek has not been beyond the fourth round of Wimbledon in her pro career, she did win the junior girls title back in 2018.

Is a Breakthrough for Bibi coming?

She is one of Canada’s most exciting young athletes, a grand slam champion, and a talented and charismatic force on the WTA tour.

It’s a gift to all tennis fans to see Bianca Andreescu back on court competing regularly with a smile on her face. And after a lengthy six-month layoff, she is no doubt enjoying herself.

It shows in her results.

Andreescu made her first WTA final since last year’s Miami Open this past week, as she reached the championship match of the Bad Homburg Open, falling in a tight contest to France’s Caroline Garcia 6-7, 6-4, 6-4.

Andreescu scored notable and impressive straight sets wins during the week over top seed Daria Kastakina and French Open semifinalist Martina Trevisan.

Since returning to the tour in late April, Andreescu has gone 11-6 across 17 matches, including two top-15 victories.

Her powerful baseline game is adaptable to all surfaces, and she looks confident and athletic moving on the grass.

It’s easy to forget that Andreescu is still just 22 years old. When she plays her best brand of tennis, she’s a top contender for the biggest titles in the sport.

Andreescu is one of two Canadian women in the singles field this week.

She’s joined by veteran Rebecca Marino, who has also flashed some outstanding tennis on grass.

Marino qualified and reached the second round of the Eastbourne International last week, and also had a pair of victories before a tight three-set loss to Jelena Ostapenko at the Birmingham Classic.

Marino’s booming serve and forehand combination makes her a first week threat for a big time upset.

Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski leads Canada for women’s doubles, and will be paired alongside Mexico’s Giuliana Olmos. The team have the #3 seed in the event.

Felix and Denis lead the Canadian men

He’s a solid and consistent top 10 presence for a reason.

Montreal’s Felix Auger-Aliassime is the highest seeded Canadian in the men’s field this fortnight of Wimbledon, and after strong showings at both the Australian and French Open, should have self belief that another deep run at a major is possible.

His claim to fame from this year’s edition of Roland Garros is pushing 14-time champion Rafael Nadal to the brink, before losing in a five-set thriller to the legend in the round of 16.

Auger-Aliassime is a versatile all-surface threat and last season made an impressive run to the quarterfinals of the All England Club.

This season, his high octane serve has improved even further as he ranks fourth on the ATP Tour with 447 aces.

Mix in this weapon with his athletic movement on court, his proficiency at net, and his high level baseline game, and you have a player ready to contend for majors.

Richmond Hill’s Denis Shapovalov has unfortunately been trending in the other direction the last several weeks.

The young Canadian is mired in a brutal six match losing skid and enters Wimbledon just 0-3 on the grass this year.

With all of his talent comes an unshakeable level of volatility. Shapovalov can so suddenly waver between great and grim on the court.

If he can push the right buttons, like he did last year by advancing to the Wimbledon semifinals, he’ll be a contender to advance to the second week.

Other Names to Watch

While Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal will steal the bulk of the headlines, there are other capable names who are keen to win a first major here at Wimbledon.

Italy’s Matteo Berrettini has been one of the very best grass court players of the last few seasons, compiling a remarkable 32-3 record on the surface since 2019.

After missing the full clay season due to injury, he’s won consecutive titles in Stuttgart and Queen’s Club. The Italian reached the finals of the All England Club before falling to Djokovic 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.

Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is seeded fourth in the field, is fresh off the first grass court title of his career at the Mallorca Open.

In the women’s field, teenaged sensation Coco Gauff has proven herself enamoured with the manicured grass at the All England Club. Now she has the experience of reaching a major final, finishing as runner-up at Roland Garros.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova has also shown a resurgence, winning her first title of the season last week at the Eastbourne International.

The 32-year-old left hander has one of the most imposing games on the women’s tour, and if her ruthless ball striking is dialed in, it will always be an uphill battle for her opponent.

So much can transpire and unfold in a two-week major.

If you wish to follow my personal tradition, make sure you armed with strawberries, whipped cream, and for the time difference here in Canada, an efficient and reliable coffee maker.

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