Five things we have learned from the Wimbledon draw

 - Alix Ramsay

What to expect from the third Grand Slam of the year?

Rafael Nadal fist pumping at Wimbledon 2018©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Who would want to be a top seed?

The draw is no respecter of position or reputation. Oh, sure, there are 32 seeds in the two singles draws but that only takes care of a quarter of the players involved. There are still another 96 chaps and chapesses armed with bats and ambition, all lurking in the shadows, all ready to make their move. 

Just take a look at the defending champion, Novak Djokovic. The world No.1 and the proud owner of 15 Grand Slam trophies would, maybe, have thought that he might have a relaxed start to his campaign. Er, no.

Novak Djokovic smiling as he notices someone in the crowd at Wimbledon 2018©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

He has drawn Philipp Kohlschreiber in the opening round and while the veteran German, ranked No.57 in the word, may not be the odds-on favourite to win his first major title in the coming couple of weeks, he does have a habit of making life awfully uncomfortable for those with their eyes on the silverware. And he did beat Djokovic in Indian Wells this year. And he took a set from Roger Federer in Dubai. And he beat Sascha Zverev at the US Open last year.

Then there is Naomi Osaka, who, until a couple of weeks ago, was the world No.1. She will have to hit the ground running when she faces Yulia Putintseva, True, Poots has never got beyond the second round in SW19 before but Osaka has only ever reached the third round and grass is not her happiest hunting ground. And Poots never goes down without an almighty battle.

Cori Gauff with her girl's champion trophy at Roland-Garros 2018©Cédric Lecocq/FFT
Youth and experience

When Mr and Mrs Gauff were welcoming their daughter, Cori (known as Coco) into the world back in 2004, Venus Williams already had four of her seven Grand Slam trophies sitting on her mantelpiece. Venus was 24, she was a superstar of the game and at Wimbledon, she and her sister were in charge (in nine of the first 10 years of the century, there was a Williams sister in the final and in four of those years, they were playing each other).

Why is this of any consequence? Because the 15-year-old Coco, the youngest qualifier for The Championships in the Open Era and the Roland-Garros 2018 girl's champion will play the 39-year-old Venus in the first round.

Thanks to the efforts of her coach, Jean-Christophe Faurel, who put her through endless volleying drills and drummed into her the value of slice on grass, Coco took to the grass courts like a duck to water and ripped through the qualifying competition. Her dream was to draw one of the Williams sisters at the All England Club and now that dream has come true. Quite what Venus thinks of this dream draw, we will find out in the first round.

Surface tension

We all know what Dominic Thiem can do on a clay court – he has been in the Roland Garros final for the past two years, after all – but the world No.4 is keen to show that he is not a one-surface wonder.

This year he has made his mark on the American hard courts, beating Roger Federer in the Indian Wells final to win his first Masters 1000 title, and when he did, he pointed out that every win can only make him a better player.

“It's not my call to be known as a multi-surface player,” he said then “but it's nice for me and also for my confidence to have really good results also on the other surfaces.

“It worked out pretty well. I have my grass court title. I have already two titles, one indoor and one outdoor on hard court. I like that surface. I like to play on it.”

Grass court title? Ah, yes. Domi won the Stuttgart trophy three years ago and beat a certain R. Federer in the semi-finals.

But now he faces Sam Querrey, he of the thumping serve and the semi-final finish in 2017, in the first round. Domi has won three of their four previous encounters with Sam’s only win coming on the hard courts of Acapulco. On paper, Domi should be the favourite but on the lush courts in the first round, could this be a surface too far for the Austrian?

History repeats itself?

Cast your mind back to 2014 – do you remember a tall, gifted Australian bloke upending Rafael Nadal in the fourth round? It was the moment that Nick Kyrgios announced himself on the world stage: a new star had been born. Since then, Nick has had his ups and downs but what has never been in dispute is the fact that when he is fit, focused and his eye is in, he has the beating of any man on any surface.

And wouldn’t you just know it: the draw has put Nick and Rafa in the same section and should Nick get past his compatriot, Jordan Thompson in the first round and should Rafa get past Yuichi Sugita in the first round, Nick and Rafa will face each other again. Put it in your diary now: Thursday, July 4. You won’t want to miss it.

Roger Federer sliding on the grass of Wimbledon 2018©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Roger turns 21?

While the attention is focused elsewhere, down at the very bottom of the bottom half of the draw sits a bloke who has seen it all before. Roger Federer, he of the eight Wimbledon titles and 20 Grand Slam titles in all, will set off on his 21st challenge for the Wimbledon title against Lloyd Harris from South Africa.

You can only hope that Rodge has access to more detailed information than the rest of us because after much trawling through the records, it would appear that Lloyd, the world No.87, doesn’t have much of a pedigree on grass.

In fact, he seems to have played only one match on the green stuff – and lost it – which will not help settle his nerves as he takes on the No.2 seed who, for those interested in stats and numbers, is unbeaten on grass this year (he won in Halle) and has played 207 grass court matches over the years, winning 181 of them and has won 19 titles on the surface. Good luck, Lloyd.

The Mighty Fed is also in a quarter of the draw not densely populated with natural grass courters. He is seeded to meet Rafa in the semi-finals, should Rafa get past Kyrgios in the second round (see above) which will be a rerun of their Roland Garros semi-final. That was played at Rafa’s home-from-home; this time it will be on Rodge’s home-from-home. Pick the bones out of that one.