Wimbledon WTA draw analysis: Favorites and missing players

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As notable contenders make their withdrawal, returning stars make a surprise entry as we analyze the Wimbledon draw for 2022.

There’s no doubt, the ban on Russian and Belarusian players has created a divide among fans as to the “fairness” of the decision. Regardless, the Wimbledon draw is now set in stone as Day 1 gets underway. With ranking points out of the equation, players will be competing purely for the historic title, prestigious trophy, and of course, the two-million-pound prize money.

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka will not play Wimbledon due to the Russian/Belarusian ban.

The effects of the Russian ban on the Wimbledon draw

Wimbledon’s decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the tournament has resulted in the absence of some key players from the draw. Most notably, the world No.6 Aryna Sabalenka will be out for the count. After reaching the semifinals in last year’s Wimbledon event, there’s no doubt her absence will be felt by the competition as one of the top contenders for the title.

In addition, world No.20 and two-time Wimbledon semifinalist Victoria Azarenka is also out of the Wimbledon draw. While her latest Wimbledon performances have not been great, she did reach the finals of the US Open in 2020 and has shown some decent results at the Indian Wells and Miami Open this year. Despite her unfavorable odds to have won the title, many lower-ranked players in the Wimbledon draw would certainly be relieved by her absence.

Naomi Osaka
Naomi Osaka has withdrawn due to an Achilles injury.

Other missing players and returning veterans

The ban on Russian and Belarusian players is not the only factor leading to missing players from the Wimbledon draw. Injuries have led to the withdrawal of Madison Keys and Naomi Osaka, both of whom had the potential to go far in the tournament. Madison Keys in particular had reached the fourth round of Wimbledon last year and has shown promising results this year by reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open.

Serena Williams Ons Jabeur Eastbourne 2022 practice

We may have lost some of the young talents due to injury, but the Wimbledon draw has gained its 2019 finalists back in the form of Simona Halep and Serena Williams. In what was their last notable Wimbledon performance, these two fan favorites have been on the back burner due to a series of injury-induced absences.

Having reached the semifinals in doubles at Eastbourne International, Serena Williams has been showing some promising form alongside Ons Jabeur. Surprisingly, the pair had withdrawn to no fault of Williams, but rather a right knee injury from Jabeur that prevented her from continuing. Meanwhile, Simona Halep showed some strong match results at the Bad Homburg Open, reaching the semifinals before withdrawing due to a neck injury.

Petra Kvitova Eastbourne trophy
Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic poses with the champions trophy after winning the final of the 2022 Rothesay International WTA 500 tennis tournament

Another returning Wimbledon champion to watch out for is Petra Kvitova, who won the
event in 2011 and 2014 and has just won the Eastbourne International title. She has been showing incredible form on the grass surface in recent matches and only dropped a single set throughout the tournament. Furthermore, the world No.26 capped off a strong run by
defeating the eighth seed Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets to secure her 29th WTA title.

While it has been four years since the Czech had won a grass-court title and even longer since winning a major, her triumph at Eastbourne has given her adequate preparation and confidence to be a strong force going into Wimbledon this year.

Iga Swiatek grass court

Tournament favorites

Without a doubt, Iga Swiatek remains the tournament favorite as she was for the French Open and just about every tournament she’s entered since claiming the number one spot. The 21-year-old is currently on a massive win streak that is the longest of any women’s player for over twenty years. With an opportunity to extend that record and secure her first Wimbledon title in her career, Swiatek has everything it takes so long as she remains fit and healthy, even though she will struggle more in Wimbledon compared to other non-grass tournaments.

Despite suffering a knee injury at Eastbourne International, Ons Jabeur also remains a strong favorite for the Wimbledon title. In search of her maiden Grand Slam title, the Tunisian has come a long way in recent years. Reaching a career-high rank of world number 2 as well as the quarterfinals of Wimbledon last year, Jabeur has been a dominant force on Tour this year.

Ons Jabeur
Ons Jabeur of Tunisia poses with the champions trophy after winning the final of the 2022 bett1Open WTA 500 tennis tournament

Having won the Madrid Open for her first WTA 1000 career title and reaching the finals of the Italian Open, Ons Jabeur is without a doubt the second-in-command as far as 2022 Wimbledon favorites go. In addition, the world No.2 also won the German Open WTA 500 event, a grass-court tournament that would adequately prepare her for the following Grand Slam event in London.

Despite losing to the world No.1 on clay at the Rome Masters, Ons Jabeur bested Iga Swiatek at last year’s Wimbledon event when they met in the Round of 16. Overall, Jabeur has a rather impressive record against the Swiatek, a close-knit rivalry of two wins and two losses each across their total of four encounters. Of course, despite Jabeur’s impressive track record, Iga Swiatek remains the clear favorite of the Wimbledon draw because of her extraordinary form this year, but Jabeur is a close second.

Final comments

Along with all the withdrawals and returning veterans, Wimbledon 2022 promises to be an incredible spectacle for tennis fans all over the world. The question on everyone’s mind is who can stop the incredible Iga Swiatek from claiming back-to-back majors? At this point, the world No.1’s greatest obstacle may well be the shoulder injury that she sustained a couple of weeks ago that forced her withdrawal from the German Open.

Of course, she is certainly not the only player battling injuries as many of the top contenders are in similar positions. Indeed, this year’s Wimbledon draw could well be a battle of who can persist through their physical limitations and overcome their individual shortcomings. As the top players lick their wounds from the grueling demands of Roland Garros, the Wimbledon 2022 championship is ultimately anyone’s trophy.

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