The main draw for this year’s edition of Wimbledon was released on Friday, with the top players receiving relatively balanced paths to the second week. French Open champions Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek should not be troubled in the first week, while the odds-on pre-tournament favourites Matteo Berrettini and Ons Jabeur will also be fancying their chances.
Five-time champion Novak Djokovic will be kicking off his title defence against Soonwoo Kwon, and given the way his draw is expected to unfold, he will be optimistic about the prospect of becoming just the fourth man (Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, and Bjorn Borg before him) to win four consecutive titles at SW19.
But there is a spate of lower-ranked players that can cause big upsets in both the men’s and women’s draw. Given the short and packed grass season in the buildup to Wimbledon, the dark horses are a relatively unknown entity, but here is a list of some of the main draw floaters that nobody would like to face in the first week:-
At Wimbledon, Williams will be playing her first competitive singles match exactly one year since an ankle injury led to her retirement from the first round at last year’s edition of the event. The 40-year-old got some grass match-practice under her belt by playing doubles alongside Ons Jabeur at Eastbourne recently, but she comes into the tournament as a totally unknown entity.
Serena’s power is really back 😳
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) June 22, 2022
Going all the way will be a tall order for the American, who is looking to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Major titles. But she has been handed the opportunity to ease into the draw with likely encounters against Harmony Tan and 32nd seed Sara Sorribes Tormo.
Sixth seed and last year’s finalist Karolina Pliskova, and 2022 French Open runner-up Coco Gauff are both scheduled to be in her way next, and if Williams finds early form, she could make them pay for any lapses.
For the first time since 2017, Andy Murray enters the main draw at Wimbledon without a wildcard and in the top 50 of the ATP rankings. The Scot, a two-time former champion at SW19, still cannot buy a clean bill of health coming into the tournament, with an abdominal injury forcing him to withdraw from Queens.
But with plenty of grass court practice under his belt at ATP Challenger level, as well as a strong showing in Stuttgart, where he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios before taking Wimbledon-favourite Matteo Berrettini to three sets in the final, he comes into the tournament with confidence and sharpness.
The 35-year-old has a challenging start to the tournament in James Duckworth, but if he gets going and can translate his solid best-of-three form this year to success in the Slams, both 10th seed Jannik Sinner, and fifth seed Carlos Alcaraz may be worried to face him in the first week.
Beatriz Haddad Maia
Haddad Maia has undoubtedly had the best WTA grasscourt season this year. The Brazilian kicked things off with doubles and singles glory in Nottingham, before routing her way to the title in Birmingham. The 26-year-old took that solid form into the WTA 500 event in Eastbourne, where her 12-match unbeaten streak came to an end at the hands of Petra Kvitova in the semifinal.
The players Haddad Maia has defeated en route to Wimbledon? Maria Sakkari, Alison Riske, Kvitova (in Birmigham), and Simona Halep.
12 match wins, 2 trophies and a semifinal going into Wimbledon 🌱
Tudo bem, 🇧🇷 Beatriz Haddad Maia! 👏 pic.twitter.com/aL9qWQhhSw
— wta (@WTA) June 24, 2022
Thanks to a brilliant grass swing, the Brazilian is not exactly a floater, being seeded 23rd at SW19. Her third and fourth round matches are likely to be against 14th seed Belinda Bencic and second seed Anett Kontaveit, and she may just come into both as the favourite on form. If things go her way, the Brazilian is a good pick to go deep in the tournament, and will be a danger to the likes of Maria Sakkari and Jabeur in the bottom half.
The controversial Kyrgios has always been a crowd favourite at Wimbledon, in part for his attention-grabbing antics on court, and in part for a game that is very well-suited for grass – a massive and accurate serve and a strong forehand to which he adds plenty of variety and flair. Many, including Rafael Nadal, have claimed that the Aussie has what it takes to go all the way at the grass Major, but inconsistency and poor fitness have often plagued him.
Kyrgios is still having a solid grass season, with back-to-back semifinals in Stuttgart and Halle, even defeating Tsitsipas at the latter. The Greek is seeded fourth at SW19, and will not be looking forward to a possible third-round match against Kyrgios. If he is at full tilt, the Aussie could reach as far as the quarterfinal, with 2018 semifinalist and seventeenth seed Roberto Bautista Agut the other player to watch in his quarter.
25-year-old Draper made headlines last year, after he took a set off defending champion Djokovic in the first round on Wimbledon’s center court. His big lefty serve and natural power was eye-catching, and he has used those tools to develop into quite a threat on grass.
Each of the four tour-level matches he has won on grass this year has been against top-tier opposition. He defeated fourth seed Taylor Fritz in Queens, before getting past promising American Jenson Brookby and fourth seed Diego Schwartzman in Eastbourne. In the quarterfinal, he defeated another Wimbledon dark horse and compatriot Ryan Peniston.
from what i just saw Mad Man Draper is going to be very difficult floater in the draw ✍️ @Wimbledon that no wants to see, serv is lefty bomb 💣 good groundies, will be very surprised 😮 he is not top 25 🔜
— Brad Gilbert (@bgtennisnation) June 20, 2022
Draper is scheduled to take on Alex de Minaur in the second round (the duo could face each other in the Eastbourne final on Saturday first) with another likely meeting with Schwartzman next. The 25-year-old will have the partisan British crowd behind him, which could potentially also create problems for tournament favorite Berrettini in their scheduled fourth round. It would, of course, be a massive achievement if he made it that far in the first place.
First-round matches to watch out for:-
 Emma Raducanu vs Alison van Uytvanck
 Simona Halep vs Karolina Muchova
 Jannik Sinner vs [WC] Stan Wawrinka
 Felix Auger-Aliassime vs Maxime Cressy