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2022 WTA Tour: Wimbledon Outright Preview

Damien Kayat shares with us a comprehensive preview for the women’s draw at Wimbledon 2022.

Serena Williams - Wimbledon
Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Damien Kayat shares with us a comprehensive preview of the women's draw at Wimbledon 2022.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

2022 WTA Tour
Ladies’ Wimbledon Championships
All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, England (Outdoor Grass)
27th June- 10th July

It’s amazing how much the women’s game has changed since Wimbledon last year. Ashleigh Barty’s victory seemed to signal the dawn of a new era of dominance for the magnificent Aussie.

Naomi Osaka was battling mental demons while Serena was forced to retire with a first-round leg injury. Who would have thought that in a year’s time it would be Barty enjoying a relaxing retirement while Serena limbers up for another crack at history?

And who would have thought that all Russian and Belarusian players would be banned from competing? I honestly thought that Aryna Sabalenka stood a chance this year.

She reached the final four last year and is fresh off a grass-court final at the Libema Open. The Amelie Mauresmo doppelganger must be devastated at the All England Club’s decision.

Furthermore, who would have thought that the typically unpredictable world of women’s tennis would be under the thrall of one mesmerizing woman: Iga Swiatek?

Swiatek will go into this as the undeniable favourite despite a complete dearth of grass-court form. In all honesty, Swiatek would be the favourite if we were playing on marshmallow this week, such has been her dominance.

Serena Williams will surely garner plenty of press in her quest to match Margaret Court’s all-time Grand Slam record (a quest that has taken on Lord of the Rings proportions in recent years).

And then you have Emma Radacanu. Last year’s surprise US Open champion has faced a torrent of criticism for her inability to reproduce that form. She’s only 19. Honestly, it’s like the British media sets up their stars to fail.

She should never have been given an MBE for winning one tennis tournament. It will be interesting to see how she handles the pressure this year.

We have had Henman Hill and Murray Mound in the past. Could we see the introduction of Radacanu Ridge this year? I’m quite proud of that one.

Past Finals

2021: Ashleigh Barty bt Karolina Pliskova (6-3, 6-7, 6-3)
2020: event canceled due to Covid
2019: Simona Halep bt Serena Williams (6-2, 6-2)
2018: Angelique Kerber bt Serena Williams (6-3, 6-3)
2017: Garbine Muguruza bt Venus Williams (7-5, 6-0)

The Big Narratives- Iga Swiatek (1) and Serena Williams

Iga Swaitek’s path to world domination has been a thing to behold. Not only has she won 35 consecutive matches- becoming just the 8th woman in the Open Era to accomplish that feat- but she has only dropped 4 sets in that entire series.

Furthermore, she is yet to drop a set in six consecutive finals (talk about BMT). But there are legitimate concerns that the Polish wunderkind may struggle to convert that momentum into grass-court success.

She is relatively inexperienced with a humdrum career record of 4-4 on grass. But she did look more at ease during last year’s Championships, making it to the 4th round and thus the 2nd week.

Her Coach, Tomasz Wiktoroski, has stated that she will need to make a few adjustments this year. She obviously won’t be able to rely on the ferocious spit of her kicker serve.

But I still think she is the one to beat this year. She is clutch on serve and her volleying in Paris was peerless.

Serena Williams is a far more enigmatic presence this week. The 40-year-old hasn’t played competitive tennis since her first-round withdrawal last year.

Williams hasn’t won a Slam since the 2017 Aussie Open. Can the seven-time champ reassert herself as the Queen of Centre-Court? You know what, I think she just about can. It all depends on the draw.

Lest we forget, Williams did reach the final here in 2018 and 2019. She didn’t move particularly well in either of those events. But her pinpoint service and muscle memory allowed her to keep points short.

As I noted earlier, Swiatek is a bit of an unknown quantity on this service. Outside of the Pole, this draw is as predictable as Lady Gaga’s wardrobe selections. This would be the piece de resistance of Williams’ entire career.

Top 10 Picks- Ons Jabuer (3) and Garbine Muguruza (9)

It’s a real free-for-all beneath Iga Swiatek in the current top 10. Aryna Sabalenka struck me as an obvious pick to challenge the Pole. But her exclusion leaves me a bit befuddled.

It’s surreal to think that Anett Kontaveit goes into this as the 2nd seed (she is 3-5 since being crushed by Swiatek in the Qatar final). I’m also not overly impressed by the chances of either Paula Badosa or Maria Sakkari.

Karolina Pliskova- a beaten finalist last year- gave me some pause for thought. But an 8-10 record for the season creates a massive form gap for the Czech star.

From the top 10, I’m inclined to opt for Ons Jabeur and Garbine Muguruza.

Outside of Swiatek, Ons Jabeur has to be the most in-form player on tour. The Tunisian won in Madrid, lost the final in Rome, and won a grass-court title in Berlin.

Sure, in between all that she did have an unfortunate first-round defeat at the French Open. But her levels have generally been fantastic. Furthermore, that victory in Berlin solidified her excellent grass-court credentials.

She won her maiden WTA title in Birmingham last year before a respectable quarterfinal showing at Wimbledon. One note of caution: she did have to withdraw from her doubles match with Serena at Eastbourne. My suspicion is she is taking precautionary measures ahead of Wimbledon.

This one is far more of a gamble. Garbine Muguruza has been a shadow of her best self in 2022. She is fresh off another disappointing first-round defeat at Eastbourne.

But the mercurial Spaniard has a habit of just turning up in big events. She won last year’s WTA Finals without much prior fanfare. And she is a two-time Wimbledon finalist (winning the title in 2017).

I just think that there’s going to be a contender this year who emerges from nowhere. And the two-time Major winner has that knack. She just needs to cut down on her unforced errors to remain competitive this year.

The Dark Horses- Coco Gauff (11) and Simona Halep (16)

Some might think it a mistake to get too caught up in the Gauff hype following her blistering run to the French Open final. When you look at her season as a whole- it was really a bit of an outlier.

But she was just made for the Grand Slam stage and I think she will revel in her return to the tournament that made her famous. She burst onto the scene here as a baby-faced 15-year-old, defeating former champ Venus Williams en route to a 4th round finish.

She replicated that result last year. She is also fresh off a solid semi-final run in Berlin. She seems mature beyond her years and I fully expect her to move past any negative juju she feels following that Paris final. She should make the 2nd week at the least.

This could be the event where Simona Halep’s union with famed coach Patrick Mouratoglou comes to fruition. Halep has enjoyed a solid season, winning a title in Melbourne and picking up semi-finals in Dubai and Indian Wells.

But she endured a pretty disappointing clay-court swing (all the more remarkable considering her new collaboration with supercoach Mouratoglou).

But I think the 2019 Wimbledon champ could catch fire this year. This will actually be the first time she has competed here since winning the 2019 title (2020 was cancelled due to Covid while she was injured last year).

Her form has also picked up since the onset of the grass-court season. She reached the semi-finals in Birmingham and is currently in the final four of the Bad Homburg event.

The Longshots- Beatriz Haddad Maia (23) and Petra Kvitova (25)

Beatriz Haddad Maia is a name that I had barely registered up until a few weeks back. But the 26-year-old Brazilian has taken the grass-court world by storm this year.

She won both the singles and doubles title in Nottingham. She then made it back-to-back grass-court titles with victory in Birmingham (a victory that saw her join Swiatek and Jabeur as the only players to win multiple titles this season).

And at the moment of writing, she is currently in the semi-finals of Eastbourne International. Her career was stalled by a doping ban that bled into the lockdown period.

But the 6 ft 1 Brazilian seems to have found her groove and I can see her surprising a few this year.

From one statuesque lefty to another. You can never rule out Petra Kvitova on grass. The Czech star is a two-time Wimbledon champion (winning the title in 2011 and 2014).

Those victories came in a period where Kvitova reached five consecutive SW19 quarterfinals. She hasn’t made a huge impression in recent years. But she did reach the final of the Aussie Open in 2019 (highlighting her Grand Slam ability).

She hasn’t been in great form this year (her best result prior to the grass-court season was a quarterfinal in Miami). But grass is so specialized that you can almost discount form (to some extent).

But she is currently in the semi-finals of the Eastbourne Invitational and I can see the 32-year-old turning back the hands of time this year.

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