Wimbledon is upon us, and this Grand Slam is filled with interesting storylines as always. Among them are the returns to Grand Slam action of recently injured Kevin Anderson, John Isner and Milos Raonic, as well as an extremely tricky draw for one of the major title contenders. Read on to see which players are primed for success on the All England Club grass and which ones could be heading home early, as well as my pick for the title winner.
Matteo Berrettini - Berrettini's proficiency on his serve makes the No. 17 seed an extremely dangerous player on grass courts. He has a 9-1 record on the surface and wasn't broken a single time on the way to the title in Stuttgart in June. The Italian could be on a collision course with Isner in the third round, but Berrettini would have to be favored in that matchup against the ninth-seeded American considering this will be Isner's first tournament since the Miami Open in March because of a fractured foot.
Roger Federer - Federer is always a tough customer on grass, as evidenced by his eight career Wimbledon titles. He won his lone warm-up tournament on the surface in Halle, and Fed is a much more serious contender here than he was at Roland Garros, where he still managed to make the semifinals. Expect Federer to make quick work of Lloyd Harris in the opening round, as Harris is just 2-7 this season.
Karen Khachanov - Khachanov's grass-court season hasn't looked overly impressive on its face, but both of his losses came against the red-hot Berrettini. The 23-year-old Russian is 12-6 on the surface in his career, and he has to fancy his chances of reaching a second consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal here. The biggest obstacle in his path is a potential fourth-round matchup with No. 6 seed Alexander Zverev, but Zverev has never been past the fourth round here and Khachanov dominated their last meeting 6-1, 6-2 at the 2018 Paris Masters.
Rafael Nadal - Nadal's Wimbledon experience has been a mixed bag. He won the title in 2008 and 2010, in addition to giving Novak Djokovic all he could handle in last year's semifinal loss, but Nadal also failed to exceed the fourth round between 2012 and 2017. Unlike the hard court slams – at which Nadal's chronically injured knees have often caused problems in later rounds – he generally plays his way into the tournament nicely as the grass gets worn and slows down, but Rafa is vulnerable in the early rounds. He got no favors from the drawmakers in that regard, as enigmatic Australian Nick Kyrgios could be Nadal's second-round opponent. Kyrgios beat him in the fourth round in 2014, and more big servers could be looming in Round 3 with Denis Shapovalov and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in that section of the draw.
Dominic Thiem - Thiem's another guy who had to be far from thrilled when the draw came out, as he'll face 2017 semifinalist Sam Querrey in the opening round. The French Open finalist is just 5-5 in his career at Wimbledon, so this is a prime upset opportunity for the big-serving American. Even if Querrey doesn't get him, Thiem will remain on upset alert in every round despite a manageable draw after Round 1.
Grigor Dimitrov - One of Dimitrov's two career Grand Slam semifinals came right here in 2014, and the former world No. 3 showed he's still an extremely dangerous unseeded floater by upsetting Marin Cilic at the French Open. Don't be surprised to see the Bulgarian wreak havoc on a section of the draw that includes No. 19 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime and 16th-seeded Gael Monfils. Dimitrov could face those guys in the second and third rounds, respectively.
Jan-Lennard Struff - Struff upset Borna Coric on his way to the fourth round at Roland Garros, and the pair were set to potentially face off in the second round until Coric withdrew from Wimbledon, opening up the draw for Struff. Struff has backed up his French Open run with a respectable 4-2 record on grass in the lead-up to Wimbledon. Despite just missing a seed at this tournament, Struff could well make another Grand Slam fourth round here and meet Federer at that point.
Nadal has an extremely tricky path to get here, but I see the Spaniard finding his way to the Championship Match. Djokovic has won their last nine non-clay meetings, so he would have a massive mental edge should this theoretical finals meeting become reality. After winning three of the last four Grand Slams, the World No. 1 from Serbia is clearly the man to beat this fortnight.
FIRST ROUND UPSET WATCH
Ward will have plenty of crowd support, and the London native showed off his grass-court ability with wins over a pair of top-100 players in Prajnesh Gunneswaran and Ivo Karlovic to qualify for the Fever-Tree Championships in June. Basilashvili has barely looked like a top-100 player recently, losing each of his last four matches while struggling massively with his serve.