Will Novak Djokovic and Iga Swiatek rule on grass? Will Coco Gauff and Nick Kyrgios task for titles? We’ve ranked the main contenders beforehand of Wimbledon, which starts on June 27. Swiatek might be aiming for a report thirty sixth victory in a row when she returns to motion while Djokovic can be bidding for a twenty first Grand Slam identify at SW19.
Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek ruled in Paris, but who will conquer the grass?
The grass season gets under way this week with events in Stuttgart, ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Nottingham, with Queen’s, Halle and Eastbourne to follow. The tournaments all lead up to Wimbledon, which starts on June 27.
But are Nadal and Swiatek still the favourites on grass? Or will the change of surface see a switch at the top?
MEN’S GRASS POWER RANKINGS*
1. NOVAK DJOKOVIC
A somewhat tentative selection given his up-and-down performance in the French Open quarter-final defeat to Nadal, but Djokovic should still be the player to beat by the time Wimbledon comes round.
The world No. 1 does not seem likely to play any warm-up events before his bid for a fourth Wimbledon title in a row, but that will be nothing new.
Djokovic has an 85 per cent win record on grass and cantered to the title last year at SW19 for the loss of just two sets. If he returns to the same form he showed before his defeat to Nadal, when he won nine consecutive matches in straight sets, and serves and returns to his usual high standard, then it’s difficult to see who is going to stop him winning a 21st Grand Slam title.
2. MATTEO BERRETTINI
Berrettini comes with a big asterisk as he hasn’t played since March, but he also comes with a big game, and his form on grass last season sticks in the memory.
He was dominant at Queen’s, only dropping one set on his way to lifting the title, and impressive at Wimbledon as his powerful serve and rifling forehand powered him to the final. He also made the semi-finals at the Australian Open earlier this year and should be one to watch if he’s fit.
Rafael Nadal could have slotted in here too, but misses out as his participation in the grass season seems very much up in the air following the French Open. He has said he hopes to play Wimbledon, where he has made the semi-finals the last two times he has played, but everything seems to depend on his upcoming radiofrequency treatment on his chronic foot issue. If he does play Wimbledon then the last six months alone are evidence enough that it would impossible to write him off.
3. FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME
It feels like Auger-Aliassime is close to a breakthrough.
At the Australian Open he pushed Daniil Medvedev to five sets in the quarter-finals and at the French Open he took Nadal the distance in the last 16. He also made the quarters at Wimbledon a year ago, losing to runner-up Berrettini in four sets, along with the Stuttgart final and Halle semis.
Auger-Aliassime looks to have improved with the addition of Toni Nadal to the coaching team and there is no doubt he has the power in his serve and quality in his all-round game to win on grass.
With Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Alexander Zverev all set to miss Wimbledon, Auger-Aliassime could be seeded sixth. He should be set for a deep run.
4. MARIN CILIC
Maybe not a name that would have featured in the Wimbledon conversation a few months ago, but Cilic looks to be back in form ahead of the grass season.
At the French Open he blazed through the opening three rounds before producing one of his career-best displays in thrashing Medvedev in straight sets. If Cilic serves and hits his forehand as well as he did against Medvedev then he will be a very tough out for anyone on grass.
Cilic has made the Wimbledon quarter-finals on four occasions, including making the final in 2017, and also won on grass in Stuttgart last year. Definitely one to watch.
5. NICK KYRGIOS
‘Erm, what?’ I hear you cry.
How about Denis Shapovalov? Or Hubert Hurkacz? Yes they should both contend after making the Wimbledon semis a year ago, but Kyrgios gets the nod as a wild-card entry.
The Australian hasn’t been seen on tour for several months as he skipped most of the clay season, but let’s not forget he was looking pretty darn good at the start of the year, hitting the ball fiercely and serving very nicely as he made the quarter-finals in Miami, last 16 of Indian Wells, and semi-finals in Houston.
A year ago he made the third round of Wimbledon without having played competitively for four months, and this time around he is doing some prep, starting in Stuttgart this week.
Is his temperament still a factor that could count against him? Yes, as he showed in defeat to Jannik Sinner at Indian Wells. But if he gets on a roll again he will have plenty of crowd support and he has the game to be great on grass.
*Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are not included as they are not able to play Wimbledon due to the ban of Russian and Belarusian players. Alexander Zverev looks as though he will miss Wimbledon due to the injury suffered against Nadal at the French Open.
WOMEN’S GRASS POWER RANKINGS*
1. IGA SWIATEK
Swiatek is French Open champion, unbeaten since February, on a six-tournament winning streak, and one win away from the longest women’s winning streak this century.
But the switch to grass brings a glimmer of hope to her rivals.
So far grass has been Swiatek’s weakest surface, with no finals on it and a fourth-round defeat in her last appearance at Wimbledon. Even she seems slightly doubtful that she can continue her domination of the tour over the next six weeks.
“My coach believes I can win more matches on grass – I don’t know about that yet. Honestly, grass is always tricky. I actually like the part that I have no expectations there. It’s something kind of refreshing.”
Swiatek enters the grass season riding a 35-match winning streak, needing one more victory to pass Venus Williams’ mark for the best winning run this century. She says a “chapter is closed” after her French Open win, and is now planning on some much-earned rest, but even if Swiatek’s level drops a few notches she could still be a very tough proposition on grass.
2. ONS JABEUR
Jabeur is perhaps flying under the radar heading into the grass season after her shock first-round French Open exit. The new world No. 4 was one of the favourites at Roland-Garros after a strong clay swing but was one of several seeds to tumble out early.
However, she could quickly return to form on grass, which she has previously suggested is her favourite surface.
Jabeur won her first grass title in Birmingham last year and also beat Swiatek on her way to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon. Swiatek was full of praise for her opponent after losing 5-7 6-1 6-1.
“I think she just has a flow,” said Swiatek. “She’s using all the skills that she has. It’s working out well for her. I mean, she just has all the skills to play on grass, and that’s great.”
Swiatek also highlighted Jabeur’s “great returns” after she broke her serve seven times.
If she can put her French Open disappointment behind her then Jabeur will be one to watch at Wimbledon.
3. COCO GAUFF
It was at Wimbledon three years ago that Gauff made her big breakthrough as a 15-year-old, coming through qualifying and beating Venus Williams on her way to the last 16.
She has taken steady steps forward since and her run to the French Open final signals that she is ready to contend with the best.
Gauff has improved her serve and her movement over the last few years and she has a good all-round game, although her forehand is still an area that could get even better. Last time out at Wimbledon she made the last 16 again and look for her to make some waves on grass this summer.
4. KAROLINA PLISKOVA
Pliskova has not had a great season so far with a 6-8 win-loss record.
But the former world No. 1 has been working her way back from an arm injury that saw her miss the first few months of the year and on grass she has the weapons to trouble most players.
At Wimbledon last summer she rattled through the draw without dropping a set until the semi-finals. She then pushed Ashleigh Barty to three sets in a nervy final when her game-changing first serve largely deserted her.
If Pliskova is fully healthy and serving well she should be a factor again at SW19.
5. BELINDA BENCIC
You could make a case for new American No. 1 Jessica Pegula or American No. 2 Danielle Collins, but Bencic has the grass experience that could see her impress over the next month.
The Olympic champion has a decent career record on the surface, making four finals, and her game looked in good shape on clay. Even in defeat to Leylah Fernandez in the third round of the French Open she played well enough to win.
She’s yet to make a strong run at Wimbledon and suffered a shock first-round exit as the ninth seed last year. However, with the field looking open she could come to the fore.