Wimbledon 2018 draw: Serena Williams faces gauntlet; Federer and Nadal could meet in finals
Roger Federer sits at the top of the men's bracket
Wimbledon begins on Monday, which means that the weekend will be all about predictions and speculation. Friday's draw kicked off prediction season, particularly with Serena Williams. Williams didn't have a seed at the French Open after taking more than 14 months off to give birth to her daughter.
Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki are once again on opposite ends of the bracket. No. 1 Halep, fresh off of her first major win at the French Open, sits in Section 1, with a potential fourth round matchup against No. 15 Elise Mertens. However, Mertens has a possible third-round match with Joanna Konta, so it's no cakewalk for her to get there. Section 2 of the bracket has No. 8 Petra Kvitova and No. 12 Jelena Ostapenko as headliners. Maria Sharapova is also in the section, coming off a quarterfinal appearance at the French Open.in the Round of 16. The winner of that section will have a quarterfinal match against Section 1's winner.
In Section 3, defending champion Garbine Muguruza shares a bracket with Eugenie Bouchard and Daria Kasatkina. Muguruza lost to Halep in the French Open semifinals. Should she make it through her section, she would face off against the winner of Section 4, which includes Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia and German Angelique Kerber. Kerber was another player defeated by Halep in the French Open, making it to quarterfinals before being bounced in three sets.
At the bottom half of the bracket, Karolina Pliskova and Venus Williams are Section 5's key players. Williams is trying to bounce back from back-to-back first round exits -- the first time in her career that that's happened. Her first match will be against Johanna Larsson. In Section 6, No. 4 Sloane Stephens starts her tournament against Donna Vekic after losing to Halep in the French Open final. Julia Gorges sits opposite from her on the bracket. Should the Williams sisters both get through their brackets, they would have a quarterfinal matchup, but it's a tough road to get there.
Indeed, Serena Williams has one of the tougher sections in the tournament. From the No. 25 seed, Williams will see No. 5 Elina Svitolina in the third round should she make it there. Madison Keys is the player to beat in the bottom half of the section, and may well see Williams or Svitolina. Williams' potential will partially depend on her recovery status from a pectoral injury that forced her to withdraw against Maria Sharapova. Finally, Caroline Wozniacki and CoCo Vandeweghe headline Section 8. Wozniacki won her first major earlier this year in the Australian Open, but had a disappointing French Open outing when she was eliminated in the Round of 16 by Kasatkina.
Williams and Sharapova would both have to make it to the finals to get the match-up hat fans wanted to see at the French Open. It's a difficult road to get there, and Williams' health could play a big role in this tournament.
It's only fitting that Roger Federer would be the No. 1 seed in the men's bracket. The defending champion took the rest of the clay court season off after winning the Australian Open, and the 36-year-old is back in action. He shares a section with Borna Coric, a young Croatian star that just played Federer last Sunday in the Halle Open, defeating Federer in the finals in three sets (in a best of three).
Next up, the United States' Sam Querrey and South Africa's Kyle Anderson share a section. Frenchman Richard Gasquet will be a dark horse in Section 2, as he looks to improve on two straight Round of 32 eliminations. Gasquet's draw isn't going to make that any easier, as he eyes a potential Round of 32 matchup against Querrey -- though he'll have to get through fellow countryman Gael Monfils first.
Grigor Dimitrov has a difficult opening match against Stan Wawrinka after a difficult Round of 32 loss at the French Open. Dimitrov has only played in the Queen's Club Championships since the Open, so he's trying to bounce back. He lost at the Championships to Novak Djokovic. American John Isner, the highest-ranked American at Wimbledon, faces a potential third-round match with Pablo Carreno-Busta. Canadian Milos Raonic would have a tough match against No. 3 Marin Cilic if Section 4 goes chalk. Raonic has made waves since his first-round Australian Open exit, making it to at least the Round of 16 in every tournament since. He didn't play in the French Open, but he's hoping his return to major play yields better results.
Novak Djokovic has a difficult draw, with a potential third-round match with British No. 1 Kyle Edmund. Should he survive that, he'd have a date with Dominic Thiem. Djokovic has been returning to form since a poor ending to 2017. He was eliminated in the French Open quarterfinals by Marco Cecchinato, and he made it to the Round of 16 at the Australian Open. In both majors this year, he's just run into hot players. He'll look to reverse his luck in England, but first he has to get through the controversial Tennys Sandgren. Nick Kyrgios and Alex Zverev are the names to watch in Section 6. The ever-polarizing Kyrgios is seeking his first ever semifinal appearance at a major, and Zverev is likely going to be the biggest obstacle to getting there. Kyrgios is notorious for losing in matches he shouldn't lose, so he'll try to buck that trend.
Section 7 is interesting, as it houses the return of British star and former World No. 1 Andy Murray. Murray hasn't played since Wimbledon last year, when he lost to Querrey in quarterfinals. Murray's status isn't certain yet,He lost in the first round of the Queen's Club Championships to Kyrgios, but his win over Stan Wawrinka at the Eastbourne International is an encouraging sign. He's in a group with Jack Sock, David Goffin, and Juan Martin del Potro. He has a chance to make it out, but all of them have been playing strong tennis.
Finally, Rafael Nadal headlines Section 8, which has French Open star Cecchinato and Diego Schwartzman. Nadal beat Schwartzman en route to yet another French Open win, so Schwartzman may have another shot at the No. 2 player.
All of it builds up to a potential Nadal-Federer final, but as always it's a long route to get there. We'll see which upsets may begin to unfold when the tournament begins on Monday.
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