Wimbledon 2021 – What to watch in Week 2? Novak Djokovic, Coco Gauff and perhaps a surprise wild-card run


Expect the unexpected? Well, that has certainly been the case at Wimbledon this year. With six of the top 10 players out of the tournament, it’s anyone’s game among the remaining 16 on the women’s side of the draw.

On the men’s side, things are lining up for Novak Djokovic to lock up that exalted 20th Grand Slam title to match Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. But there might just be a wild card worth keeping an eye on.

Our experts break down what they saw in Week 1 and what they’re anticipating during Week 2 at the All England Club.

Who is your favorite in the men’s field after Week 1?

Simon Cambers: Nothing has changed my mind yet: it’s still Novak Djokovic. Roger Federer will be more dangerous, but Djokovic appears to be the man.

Cliff Drysdale: Djokovic.

Brad Gilbert: It was the same before it started — Djokovic. That’s obvious.

Tom Hamilton: I picked Djokovic before the tournament and haven’t yet seen anything to change my mind.

D’Arcy Maine: Without a doubt, it’s Djokovic. He came in with so much momentum after the French Open and has shown no signs of slowing down. Combine that with his added motivation to reach the No. 20 major milestone and, well, it seems unlikely to think anyone will be able to beat him this week.

Pam Shriver: That’s easy: it’s Djokovic. It would be crazy to not pick him based on the way he’s playing and the way he’s staying within himself. He learned last year at the US Open to not do anything impulsive, keep his temper in check and not beat himself. I think he’s pretty obsessed with getting major title No. 20, and joining Federer and Rafael Nadal for the record.

Alexandra Stevenson: I still think it’s Djokovic. It’s his to lose. He came in strong and he knows how to navigate these courts. He’s so flexible. That’s important. I see him as the “Loki” of tennis, the “Man of Mischief.” He wants to be loved, but he also wants world domination. And then he has this vision that not everyone agrees with, and he causes trouble without meaning to. He has a good heart, but he just never will be beloved, and he hasn’t quite embraced it yet.

Who is your favorite in the women’s field after Week 1?

Cambers: I’m starting to feel like Iga Swiatek might win it. She has looked so impressive, has it all going on, and if she can get past Ons Jabeur in the next round, she could go all the way.

Drysdale: Ashleigh Barty. She’s going to be able to work her way deep into this tournament. All things being equal, she’s probably the best player in this field anyway. I was afraid for her in her early matches because of how the grass was, but I think she can win it.

Gilbert: Exactly the same before it started: I said before the tournament, 25-35 will win it. Expect the unexpected and expect someone not from the top 10 to win it. Six of the top 10 have already gone. Exactly what happened at the French, expect that to happen here. I’m not changing my tune on that. I wouldn’t be shocked if Coco Gauff won.

Hamilton: I’ll stick with my prediction of Ashleigh Barty. She is just getting going.

Maine: This is one of those rare scenarios in which there truly are no wrong answers. I’m tempted to list the names of all 16 of the remaining women. However, Gauff might just be the ever-so-slight favorite entering the second week. She has yet to drop a set, and while she mentioned she has had some nerves, she hasn’t shown many signs of them thus far. The match against Angelique Kerber, a former Wimbledon champion, will be a challenge, but her confidence will be sky-high if she can get through to the quarterfinals. Honorable mentions here to the winners of Monday’s Barty-Barbora Krejcikova and Swiatek-Jabeur matches.

Shriver: I know I’m supposed to make a pick here, but it’s near impossible to do that in women’s tennis right now. I picked Barty to win pre-tournament, but she has been vulnerable at times. Swiatek played very well in Week 1, and if she’s able to beat Jabeur and is in the quarters, I’ll start to wonder whether she can win it all. We know that she’s got something special when she feels her game. I think the winner of the Gauff-Kerber match might be in this conversation, too.

Stevenson: That’s a tough one. It’s almost impossible to predict who it could be. It’s not like anyone saw the French coming. Gauff could have a run but you know what? Kerber could stop her because Kerber plays smart tennis. Coco has been playing well and her confidence is high, but she hasn’t had the toughest of opponents. Kerber won at Bad Homburg, so she has a title on grass this season after a difficult start to the year. Whoever wins that match has to be considered one of the favorites.

Which men’s player making a surprise run so far has the best chance at a title?

Cambers: I wouldn’t really call it a big surprise, but Denis Shapovalov has been very good so far. He’s got a big game, the kind that when everything clicks, it can be good enough to beat anyone. He could do well.

Gilbert: I picked as my dark horse Shapovalov, and I’ll stick with it. A deep run is making the semis, and I think on the bottom half of the draw, it’s wide open. Maybe it’s an opportunity for Alexander Zverev, Matteo Berrettini, Daniil Medvedev. Maybe it’s Fed. But there’s a big opportunity for players in the bottom half of the draw.

Hamilton: Felix Auger-Aliassime. His round-of-16 match against Zverev is going to be sensational.

Maine: Auger-Aliassime didn’t have the chance to go the distance in his match on Saturday against Nick Kyrgios, who had to retire with an injury, but the Canadian has looked strong, and he came into the tournament having recorded a win over Federer on grass at Halle, where he also made a run to the doubles final. He made the most of the short window between the French Open and Wimbledon and seems remarkably comfortable on the surface despite his lack of previous experience. He could pull off the upset against Zverev and advance to the quarterfinals.

Shriver: If Djokovic is not going to win the title, it will be because he lost before the final. I’d say Andrey Rublev has the slightest chance to do that in the quarterfinals. And Shapovalov and Sebastian Korda have really hit another level. Either one of them could be a challenge for Djokovic in the semifinals.

Stevenson: I think Shapovalov and Sebastian Korda. Shapovalov, a lefty, could make a big run. And Korda is looking solid. I also like Matteo Berrettini. He is playing big tennis. He won Queen’s, and he could be the dark horse.

Which women’s player making a surprise run so far has the best chance at a title?

Cambers: It’s probably not a real surprise given that she won the French Open, but Krejcikova has crept through the draw almost without being noticed. Her confidence must be at an all-time high. How amazing would it be if she could do the double?

Drysdale: I’ll go for Madison Keys.

Gilbert: I said 29 of the past 13 Slams, an unseeded player has made the semis. Guarantee that will happen again. I’m hoping it’s an American, but I took a flier on Keys, and she’s still going.

Hamilton: Wimbledon has a new star in England’s Emma Raducanu. With England in the semifinals of Euro 2020, Raducanu can reach the same stage in the championship and then … who knows what is possible?

Maine: Let’s get this out of the way first: There’s no such thing as a surprise run in women’s tennis. The field is just too deep, and almost everyone ranked in the top 200 (and even beyond) is capable of going far. In many ways, Keys’ current run should be expected after several years of consistent results at majors, but she hadn’t reached the fourth round at a Grand Slam since 2019. She has looked resurgent over the past week and had an impressive win over No. 13 seed Elise Mertens in straight sets on Friday. Keys knows what it takes to reach a major final and could be even more motivated by the fairly open draw.

Shriver: Ludmilla Samsonova just saw Barbora Krejcikova win the French Open, and she’s saying, “If Barbora can win there, why can’t I win at Wimbledon?” She won Berlin last month and has a big game. I don’t want to say that she’s going to win Wimbledon, but she’s someone to keep an eye on. Karolina Muchova is another one — she got to the semis in Australia and has done well on grass. She’s a really good athlete.

Stevenson: I like Karolina Muchova‘s game: She’s a good grass-court player, she’s athletic and she can handle different conditions. She can be dangerous, and might have a breakthrough moment. Don’t count out Keys, either. She’s got a big serve and ground stroke. She’s looking fit and it looks like she has things together, and she’s not putting a lot of pressure on herself. She seems to be saying, “Whatever happens, happens,” and that might be the best attitude to have.

Bad conditions played a role during Week 1. How could they affect the rest of the tournament?

Cambers: The slippery courts of the first few days were obviously a factor, but it’s nothing abnormal for grass. The lack of heat means the ball has not exactly been flying through the air. If it warms up, then the bigger servers and more aggressive players will get a boost.

Drysdale: The conditions were pretty normal, all things considered — I know we had some pretty strange results, but that’s how the grass courts are for the first couple of days, and that’s how it has been for a long time. That’s something people have just got to get used to. I don’t think it’ll make any difference on court in the second week, as the grass courts are already pretty much compromised.

Gilbert: I’ve been coming here for 40 years, and nothing has changed. It is what it is. You’ve always had to deal with that, you just have to be more careful. You have to make adjustments, but now the courts are getting a little more beat-up, we’re getting better weather, so I expect by the second week the players will make the adjustment.

Hamilton: Even the great Roger Federer was slipping around Centre Court, but it’s something the players have to adapt to. They’ll be figuring out their optimum footwear and accounting for any potential hiccups. With plenty of rain scheduled for the next few days, the surfaces will likely stay a little damp, but it’s all part of the challenge of playing in SW19.

Maine: With just two weeks between the French Open and Wimbledon, and two years since the last grass court season, it was almost inevitable we would see players struggle on the surface even in the best of conditions. However, with the extra slipperiness of the grass, it became one of the biggest talking points of the first week and certainly wreaked havoc on the first few days of the tournament. Serena Williams’ injury in the first round will forever be remembered, and there will be many, myself included, who will always wonder what might have been for the 23-time major champion at the tournament.

The conditions haven’t seemed to be as big of a factor, however, over the past few days, and with rain in the forecast early in the second week, it could become an issue again. Still, players likely will have gotten more adjusted, so it’s hard to think it will be as big of an issue.

Shriver: The conditions could have changed tennis history. Adrian Mannarino was up two sets to one, playing great, Federer had gotten back control in the fourth, but who knows how that match would have ended? And then Serena — we’ll never know how she was going to play. She could have made a deep run. We’ve seen her play her way in before, and we never got that opportunity this time.

Players were going to obviously get a little more used to it as the tournament progressed, but it has already gotten better. We had some sunshine on Thursday and Friday, which helped. But I do think we need to think about some things we can do in future years, because I don’t want to see another first three days like we saw this time.

Stevenson: It has been two years since anyone has played at the All England Club, and except for those who played in the warm-up tournaments, so many players still look like they’re moving on a clay court. And if you look at how Serena moved off her back foot, she wasn’t solid. She was off balance on it, and when you’re too far in the back of the court, you’re going to slip.

It’s a live surface, so you have to be ready. You’re going to slip. I noticed Sorana Cirstea was wiping off her feet during changeovers in her second-round match, and I thought that was really smart. That might be something we’ll see more of.

Wimbledon grassologists are amazing and they know what they’re doing and they’re not going to have anything go wrong on these grass courts. But it has been raining a ton, and when the roof is on, it’s even more humid.



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