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Tennishead’s guide to Wimbledon 2022 – A review of the 2021 Championships


After two years without the grass, Wimbledon 2021 was a welcome sight for tennis fans everywhere.

Novak Djokovic was the defending men’s champion after a five set epic against Roger Federer in 2019.

Conversely, Simona Halep dominated 23-time Slam champion Serena Williams in the women’s 2019 final to capture her second Major crown.

Join Tennishead for a review of the 2021 Championships singles draws ahead of the 2022 event.

Review of Wimbledon 2021

Men’s singles

World number one Djokovic was in imperious form entering SW19.

The Calendar Slam was well and truly on for the Serb after he won both the Australian Open and Roland Garros.

Meanwhile, after returning from injury, Federer played Roland Garros. There he bowed out ahead of a fourth round clash with Matteo Berrettini to rest for the lawns of the All England Club.

Rafael Nadal was out with injury, whereas former two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray was making his first singles appearance since 2017.

Ranked 118th in the world at the time, Murray required a wildcard to enter the main draw.

With Djokovic and Federer drawn in separate halves, a repeat of the 2019 Wimbledon final was a possibility. The former began his campaign against a different British wildcard in 19-year-old Jack Draper.

On such a huge occasion as a Slam main draw debut at home, Draper stepped up to take the opening set off Djokovic. But the two-time defending champion rallied to win in four sets to close out a memorable start to Centre Court proceedings at the 2021 Championships.

 

 

Djokovic then cruised past 2018 finalist Kevin Anderson, American qualifier Denis Kudla and Chilean 17th seed Cristian Garin all in straight sets to book his spot in the quarter-finals.

In the next eighth of the draw, Russian Andrey Rublev was the highest seed at fifth. He dropped a set in each of his first and third round matches against Federico Delbonis and Fabio Fognini respectively.

The opponent waiting for him there had been quietly doing the business on the grass to reach the fourth round. Unseeded world number 48 Marton Fucsovics had ousted 19th seed Jannik Sinner in the first round before ninth seed Diego Schwartzman in the third, each in four sets. Then, despite going two sets to one down facing Rublev, the Hungarian responded well to claim the final two sets 6-0, 6-3 to reach a first career Major quarter-final.

In the next quarter, the first big upset of the men’s draw came about, at least on paper.

Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, fresh off a Roland Garros final, was downed by American showman Frances Tiafoe in straight sets. However, grass is certainly the Greek’s least comfortable surface, whereas Tiafoe came into Wimbledon with a challenger title on the grass in Nottingham  before a couple solid results at Queen’s. Nevertheless, this result thoroughly entertained and enlivened the Centre Court crowd, even if for just three straight sets.

 

 

The same quarter put out one of the most absurd matches of The Championships 2021.

Karen Khachanov, seeded 25th, had defeated Tiafoe in the third round to book a meeting with young American Sebastian Korda in the fourth round. Each of the first three set were decided by a single break, before there were three in the fourth to force a deciding fifth. After just six breaks in the opening four sets, the decider went on to have an astonishing 13 breaks of serve which included a run of eight consecutive service breaks from 3-3 to 7-7 before Korda finally broke the streak with a hold. But it was Khachanov who eventually came out on top 10-8 in the final set after nearly four hours of play.

The British public had their eyes set on the next eighth their own 2013 and 2016 champion Murray. The former world number one came past 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia first before a late night battle with German qualifier Oscar Otte. After going two sets to one down the underpowered veteran dug deep to win in a thrilling five sets, even signing off with a signature backhand lob winner.

The Wimbledon 2021 road soon came to an end though as Murray came up against 10th seed Denis Shapovalov and had his weaknesses shown up by the 10th seed.

 

 

The next quarter’s highest seeds were newly-crowned Queen’s champion Matteo Berrettini and Germany’s Alexander Zverev, seeded seventh and fourth respectively. The Italian eased into the quarter-finals with the loss of just one set to Guido Pella in the first round.

Meanwhile, Zverev had made it the fourth round with similar ease before facing young Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime. And the younger man came out firing, the 16th seed going up two sets to love 6-4, 7-6 (8-6). Zverev justified his seeding to come back and force a decider before Auger-Aliassime was able to close out the battle 6-4 in the fifth.

 

 

In the bottom quarter, sixth seed and eight-time champion Federer and second seed Daniil Medvedev were the two highest-ranked pros.

Federer had lost in the second round of Halle to enter Wimbledon with just one match win on grass under his belt for the season. Meanwhile Medvedev came to SW19 with a first career title on grass at the inaugural Mallorca Championships. Federer did make it through his quarter, though with some difficulty.

After Frenchman Adrian Mannarino had gone two sets to one up he was forced to retire after Federer levelled by winning the fourth following a nasty fall earlier in the match. Federer then beat generational rival Richard Gasquet before progressing past Cameron Norrie in four sets and Lorenzo Sonego in straights to reach the last eight.

Medvedev came through his first two matches with the loss of one set before his third round encounter brought its own troubles. Facing 2017 finalist Marin Cilic, the Russian went two sets to love down before completing an improbable comeback to clinch a spot in the fourth round, one stage further than his previous best from 2019 and 2018. He then took on 14th seed Hubert Hurkacz in an unusual match played across two venues. The opening three sets took place on Court Two, with Medvedev going two sets to one up. Then at 4-3 to Hurkacz in the fourth, pay was suspended due to rain before resuming on Centre Court the next day.

Under the roof, the Pole surged back to claim a big personal victory and reach a maiden Slam quarter-final.

 

 

 

Matteo Berrettini Wimbledon 2021

After reaching the semi-finals of the US Open in 2019, Matteo Berrettini went one step further at Wimbledon 2021 to compete in his first ever Major final

Quarter-finals onwards

Despite his spirited run to the quarter-finals, Fucsovics was swept aside by Djokovic in their clash, the Serb advancing to an 11th career Wimbledon semi-final.

Shapovalov had overcome 2019 semi-finalist Roberto Bautista Agut after Murray to meet Khachanov for a place in the last four. The Canadian went two sets to one down but recovered to win in five, making it to his first ever Major semi-final. Facing Djokovic there, the 10th seed went toe-to-toe with the world number one in the opening set only to lose it in a tiebreak. A tight affair from there, Djokovic was clinical to close out the next two sets with a late break and service hold on both occasions to win 7-6 (7-3), 7-5, 7-5 to reach a third consecutive final at SW19.

 

 

In the bottom half, Berrettini and Auger-Aliassime played out a close-fought first two sets before the Italian triumphed in four. However, the match between Federer and Hurkacz stole the headlines due to the shock result. The Pole downed the eight-time champion in straight sets, including a 6-0 third set to stamp the misery home for the Swiss. Federer has not played competitively since.

Having already secured his best Slam result by reaching the quarter-finals, the semi-finals was eventually the end of the road for Hurkacz as he fell to Berrettini in four sets.

 

 

So came the 2021 Wimbledon men’s singles final between Novak Djokovic and Matteo Berrettini.

Berrettini was in his first Major final, Djokovic incredibly in his 30th. But the Italian drew first blood, winning the opening set in a tiebreak to become the only man other than Jack Draper in the first round to claim a set off the top seed.

But Djokovic was too strong in the end as he regrouped to win the next three sets to clinch a then men’s record-equalling 20th singles Major crown.

 

 

Novak Djokovic Wimbledon 2021

Not only did Novak Djokovic draw level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on a joint-record 20 men’s singles Slam titles, but he overtook Bjorn Borg’s five Wimbledon titles to have six of his own, now only third overall behind Pete Sampras (seven) and Federer (eight) in the Open Era

Women’s singles

Unfortunately, Halep sustained a calf tear in Rome earlier in 2021, forcing her to withdraw from Wimbledon and leaving her unable to put up a title defence.

Meanwhile, 2019 finalist and 23-time Major champion Serena Williams was going for an all-time record-equalling 24th Major singles crown and an eighth title at SW19.

After a strong start to 2021 on the hard courts and the start of the clay, world number one Ashleigh Barty struggled in Rome and at Roland Garros before a break ahead of Wimbledon.

She faced veteran and cancer survivor Carla Suarez Navarro in the first round as the Spaniard was making her farewell tour around each Slam before retirement.

Barty came through in three sets to end the Wimbledon career of the former world number six.

She then breezed through to the fourth round before taking on Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova.

The Czech had dropped a set in her previous match after two straight sets matches before Barty put on a show to oust her in straight sets herself.

 

 

The next section produced arguably the story of the tournament in talented British youngster Emma Raducanu.

Then ranked 338th in the world, the 18-year-old received a wildcard for her Slam main draw debut.

She then upset qualifier Vitalia Diatchenko for a dream debut at her home Major, but the journey was not over.

Raducanu then defeated 2019 Roland Garros finalist Marketa Vondrousova and veteran Romanian Sorana Cirstea, both top 50 players and both in straight sets, to reach the fourth round.

Sadly, what was a fairytale run came to an inauspicious end as, while down a set to Ajla Tomljanovic, Raducanu was forced to retire with breathing difficulties.

Nevertheless, those three wins proved a sign of things to come from the rising star.

 

 

In the next quarter, third seed Elina Svitolina was dumped out early by Magda Linette of Poland.

Roland Garros finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was beaten by Karolina Muchova in the third round, leaving the Czech to then take out 30th seed Paula Badosa to reach the quarter-finals.

Further down in the top half, Serena Williams opened her campaign against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus.

But what many hoped would be a wonderful Wimbledon of memories for Williams turned into a tragedy as the legend suffered injury early in the match.

She retired at 3-3 before waving goodbye to the gathered crowd as they wondered when they would ever see the great champion on Centre Court again.

Coco Gauff and Angelique Kerber took control in that eighth of the draw to meet in the fourth round.

There, the more experienced German came through 6-4, 6-4 to reach a fifth Wimbledon quarter-final, continuing her pursuit of a second title on the All England Club grass.

 

 

The top section of the bottom half was a breeze for eighth seed Karolina Pliskova.

She cruised to the quarter-finals without dropping a set and without having to face Kvitova, the next highest-ranked player in their eighth.

Viktorija Golubic came through the next section of the draw, defeating 2017 US Open finalist Madison Keys in the fourth round to reach her first ever Slam quarter-final.

In fact, the Swiss had never previously been beyond the third round of a Slam.

Rising Tunisian talent Ons Jabeur was the biggest story of the next eighth as she defeated 2017 Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza in the third round.

The Arab athlete then displayed silky skills to entertain the crowd and make it past seventh seed Iga Swiatek.

In doing so, Jabeur reached her second career Major quarter-final after first achieving the feat at the 2020 Australian Open.

 

 

To complete the quarter-final line-up, second seed Aryna Sabalenka made it through alternating straight set and three set wins to book her place in the last eight.

She defeated Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina in the fourth round 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of a Major for the first time in her career.

 

Karolina Pliskova Wimbledon 2021

Karolina Pliskova came into Wimbledon 2021 as a sort of tennis anomaly, being one of three former WTA world number ones to date without a Slam title to their name, the others being Jelena Jankovic and Dinara Safina

Quarter-finals onwards

None of the women’s quarter-finals were much of a contest as all four were decided in straight sets.

Barty made short work of Tomljanovic 6-1, 6-3, while Kerber conquered Muchova 6-2, 6-3 to meet the Aussie in the semi-finals.

Barty came through a tight encounter there, winning in straight sets but requiring a tiebreak in the second to reach her second Major final.

In the other two quarter-finals, Pliskova took out Golubic 6-2, 6-2, while Sabalenka ended the run of Jabeur 6-4, 6-3.

After the Belarusian went a set up on the Czech in the semi-final, Pliskova roared back to win 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

Like Barty, she was booking her spot in a second career Slam final, having the final of the 2016 US Open.

 

 

And so onto the women’s final at Wimbledon 2021.

Barty was in pursuit of a second Slam title after Roland Garros 2019, while Pliskova sought a first after falling to Kerber in New York in 2016.

The Aussie asserted herself to win the first set before Pliskova steadied herself and clinched a tight second set in a tiebreak.

But Barty was not to be denied as she steeled herself to win the match 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3 and adding her name into the Wimbledon history books.

 

 

Ashleigh Barty Wimbledon 2021

By winning Wimbledon 2021, Ash Barty became the first Australian woman to capture the singles title since her idol Evonne Goolagong did so back in 1980

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