Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal chase the title at Wimbledon, where eight-time champion Roger Federer, the world’s top two players and cherished ranking points will all be missing. Djokovic is bidding for a seventh title at the All England Club, leveling American legend Pete Sampras. Nadal has emerged as the 14th French Open win and a record 22nd major, halfway to the first men’s calendar Grand Slam in more than half a century. The third Slam tournament of the season made political waves even before the first ball was served on Monday.
The decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players following the invasion of Ukraine means there is no room for world number one Daniil Medvedev or eighth-ranked Andrey Rublev.
Both the ATP and WTA, which control the men’s and women’s tours, retaliated by taking away ranking points from the tournament.
For the first time since his debut in 1999 – despite the COVID-canceled 2020 edition – Federer will be a no-show as the 40-year-old recovers from knee surgery.
Also missing is Germany’s world number two Alexander Zverev, who suffered a serious ankle injury after suffering a severe injury in the French Open semi-final against Nadal.
However, Medvedev and Zverev never shone at Wimbledon, and neither man was able to get past the fourth round.
Djokovic and Nadal, ranked third and fourth, are the top seeds, meaning if they face each other for the 60th time, it can happen only in the final.
‘I love Wimbledon’
Djokovic, who was champion in 2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019 and 2021, could play in his final Slam of the year.
His refusal to vaccinate is likely to result in his exit from the US Open later this year.
A gruesome quarter-final loss at the hands of Nadal at the French Open, which ousted him as champion in Paris, would also provide additional motivation.
Nadal won the last of his two Wimbledon titles in 2010, capturing his first with an epic victory over Federer two years earlier.
The 36-year-old Spaniard reached Wimbledon by winning the Australian and French Opens.
He is only halfway to becoming the third man – and the first – since Rod Laver in 1969 – to complete a calendar Grand Slam.
Nadal has had a bitter relationship with Wimbledon.
There have been two titles with injury-enforced absences, along with three losing finals in 2004, 2009, 2016 and 2021.
A question mark remains over his durability for the two weeks at Wimbledon, in which the full French Open was played with relief from pain in his left leg.
Nadal has since undergone a course of radiofrequency stimulation, aimed at reducing nerve pain in his leg.
Nadal said, ‘I love Wimbledon. “I’ve had a lot of success there. A player like me, I’m always ready to play Wimbledon.”
If Djokovic or Nadal falls, Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, who was Djokovic’s runner-up in last year’s final, will be the most likely beneficiary.
World No. 11 Berrettini has won consecutive grasscourt titles in Stuttgart and Queens.
“I don’t know if I’m as favorite as Novak and Rafa (Nadal); Rafa has already won two Slams and nobody expected him to win in Australia,” said 26-year-old Berrettini, a Wimbledon prospect.
“I don’t feel like I’m the favorite, but I know I can do it, I can’t blindfold people.”
Of the remaining top 10, French Open runner-up Caspar Roode has lost in the first round in his last two visits to Wimbledon.
Stefanos Tsitsipas has fallen at the first hurdle three times out of four, while Spanish teen star Carlos Alcaraz only made his main draw debut in 2021, reaching the second round.
Felix Auger-Aliassime made it to the last-eight last year, while champion 10th-ranked Hubert Herkaz was a semifinalist in 2021 on the grass in Halle last weekend.
Along the way, the Polish player defeated Federer in the quarter-finals which was the Swiss star’s last appearance on the tour.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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