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Rafa Nadal in loaded bottom half of Wimbledon draw with Berrettini, Djokovic and Alcaraz in same quarter

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are on opposite ends of the Wimbledon draw. Photo credit: Getty

By Ricky Dimon

Rafael Nadal made it halfway to the calendar-year Grand Slam the hard way, going through Felix Auger-Alassime, Alexander Zverev, and Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros before beating Casper Ruud in the final.

If Nadal wants to put himself within a U.S. Open title of the CYGS, he will once again have to navigate a rough draw–this time at Wimbledon. With Australian Open and French Open titles already in tow, the 22-time major champion rolls into the All-England Club with a great chance to keep his 2022 run going in a somewhat depleted field without any Russian players. But it certainly won’t be easy. His road through SW19 could include Marin Cilic in the fourth round, Auger-Aliassime in the quarterfinals, Matteo Berrettini in the semis, and Djokovic in the final.

Nadal won’t even be looking ahead to the second week, as capable grass-court players are littered throughout his quarter of the bracket from top to bottom. Sam Querrey is a potential second-round foe; Lorenzo Sonego and Denis Kudla are possible third-round opponents. Meanwhile, Auger-Aliassime has to go up against Eastbourne finalist Maxime Cressy right off the bat and Cilic kicks off his campaign against another tough American and former UCLA standout Mackenzie McDonald.

The other section in the bottom half is also loaded with Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini, Denis Shapovalov, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Alex de Minaur. Tsitsipas currently finds himself in the Mallorca final, Berrettini was the runner-up last year and he is undefeated on grass this summer, Shapovalov reached the Wimbledon semis in 2021, Bautista Agut is in the Mallorca title match, and de Minaur is in the Eastbourne semis.

Djokovic’s draw should not get interesting until the quarterfinals, at which point he could run into either Carlos Alcaraz, John Isner, and Jannik Sinner. Alcaraz is unproven on grass, so that spot in the last eight alongside Djokovic appears to be up for grabs.

Hubert Hurkacz of Poland in action against Matteo Berrettini of Italy during their Men’s semifinal match at the Wimbledon Championships tennis tournament, in Wimbledon, Britain, 09 July 2021. EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL EDITORIAL USE ONLY

It’s the second section of the bracket where everyone wants to be, as Casper Ruud is obviously a very weak top-four seed on grass. Hubert Hurkacz is there, which balances things out a bit because the Pole is thoroughly deserving of being seeded even better than No. 7. Hurkacz advanced to the semis at the All-England Club last summer and he is coming off a 500-point title in Halle.

In addition to Auger-Aliassime vs. Cressy and Cilic vs. McDonald, first-round matchups to watch are Sonego vs. Kudla, Hurkacz vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Sinner vs. Stan Wawrinka, Alcaraz vs. Jan-Lennard Struff, Shapovalov vs. Arthur Rinderknech, Alexander Bublik vs. Marton Fucsovics, and Taylor Fritz vs. Lorenzo Musetti.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.