Tennis

Wimbledon 2021: The women’s section is wide open but who can stop Djokovic in the men’s draw?

The Championships, popularly known, as Wimbledon is back again following the cancellation of last year’s edition. Unfortunately, the 2020 tournament did not hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It was the only grand slam event out of the four majors not to hold last year. However, Wimbledon is back again this year, with fans expected to be present, including the final, which would have the full 15,000 capacity. 

Wimbledon is different from other grand slam events, and it’s often regarded as the most prestigious. Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep are the defending champions in the men and women section, respectively.

Djokovic saved two match points to defeat Roger Federer in a five-set epic, while Halep played brilliant tennis to beat Serena Williams in straight sets in the Women’s final.

Wimbledon: Simona Halep's withdrawal bodes well for Serena Williams

While both players are favourites to retain their titles, only Djokovic will be able to defend his title after Halep pulled out just before the draws due to an existing Calf injury. 

Halep picked up the injury at the Rome Masters and subsequently missed the French Open. She had hoped to return in time for the grass season and entered the Bad Homburg Open.

However, she withdrew before her first match with the hope she would be fit to compete at Wimbledon. She did travel to England but also withdrew at the last minute. 

Halep’s absence has thrown the women’s section wide open. Even before her withdrawal, there’s no clear favourite for the title. On paper, seven-time champion Serena Williams should be the favourite, but she had a mixed result in the first two slams of the year. 

She reached the semifinals of the Australian Open but lost in the fourth round of the French Open. Since she returned from her maternity absence, Serena has been chasing Margaret Court’s 24 Grand Slam haul, but at the age of almost 40, time is running out for the American. 

Aside from Serena, World No 1, Ashleigh Barty would also be in contention for her second grand slam title, but it all depends on how her arm holds up. 

The Australian retired from her second-round match against Magda Linette at the French Open due to an existing injury. Although she’s ready to go, a whole lot depends on how her body reacts. 

2017 champion, Gabrine Muguruza, should also make a deep run, but she’s also been affected by injuries in recent weeks. But given the inconsistency on the WTA tour, it won’t be a surprise if there’s a first-time winner this year, which was what happened at the French Open. 

If there’s no clear favourite in the Women’s section, the opposite is the situation on the men’s side of the draw. In fact, it would take Novak Djokovic to self-destruct just as he did at last year’s US Open for him not to win the title this year. 

Djokovic is the world no 1, a five-time champion at the All England Club, and has won the first two slams of the year, including the French Open, where he defeated the King of Clay Rafael Nadal in the semifinal. 

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Djokovic defeated Federer in a five-set epic to win the title in 2019.

So it’s no surprise to see the Serbian go into this year’s tournament as the favourite. He won’t be lacking motivation as he has the chance to draw level with Nadal and Roger Federer’s 20 grand slam titles, while a win would put him one slam away from achieving the calendar slam. 

But aside from Djokovic, Federer also has a shot at the title- even though he hasn’t played much this year. This year, the Swiss maestro came back from two knee surgeries, having played just the Australian Open in 2020.

His comeback hasn’t really gone according to plan, but he appeared to be back to his best at the French Open, where he won three games before pulling out of his fourth-round match.

Wimbledon Draw: Roger Federer Placed In Daniil Medvedev & Alexander  Zverev's Half | ATP Tour | Tennis
Federer practiced with Murray ahead of his opener on Tuesday.

But on his favourite surface (grass) and competition, where he has eight titles, Federer will be hoping to go all the way. He was close in 2019 and had two match points on his serve but blew the chance to win a record 21st grand slam title.

Despite his inactivity in the last 365 days, he’s the third favourite for the title, just behind Danill Medvedev. However, there’s a concern if his knee can withstand the best of five tennis in seven games. 

He also lost to Felix Auger Aliassime at Halle, where he is a ten-time champion. Question marks are surrounding his fitness, but if his knees can hold up, then Federer could go all the way. 

Meanwhile, Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas are two of the in-form players on the ATP tour this season. However, their game is unknown on grass, which makes backing them a big risk.

Although Medvedev is in the Mallorca final, he has been handed a tough draw. Meanwhile, Tsitsipas reached the French Open final, where he lost to Djokovic in five sets, but his best result at the All England Club is the fourth round. 

Aside from Djokovic and Federer, there’s no grand slam champion among the top ten seeds. Nadal is a two-time Wimbledon champion, but he’s not playing this year after a gruelling clay-court season.

In addition, Dominic Thiem, who won his first grand slam title last year, pulled out after injuring his wrist days leading up to the tournament, although he’s not a favourite initially. 

But looking at the rest of the field, players like Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic and Nicky Krygios, playing his first event since the Australian Open, could all cause an upset. 

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