LONDON – Like a couple of old friends gathering for a reunion, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal could face each other in the Wimbledon final more than a decade after their first such meeting.
The draw at the All England Club on Friday established plenty of intriguing matchups along the way, too, including what appears to be a particularly tricky path for three-time champion Novak Djokovic, who’s been struggling for much of the past 12 months or so.
Djokovic will start against big-hitting Martin Klizan, and then could face another power player in the third round: 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, who stunned the Serb at the Rio Olympics last year. Get past that, and Djokovic might play the mercurial Gael Monfils or Fernando Lopez, who is coming off a grass-court title at Queen’s Club. His quarterfinal foe could be Dominic Thiem, who eliminated Djokovic in straight sets at the French Open.
Other potential men’s quarterfinals are seven-time champion Federer against 2016 runner-up Milos Raonic, who beat Federer in last year’s semifinals; two-time winner Nadal against 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic; and defending champ Andy Murray against three-time major titlist Stan Wawrinka.
If the seedings hold, Federer would meet Djokovic in the semifinals, with Nadal taking on Murray. That quartet has combined to win each of the past 14 titles at Wimbledon; Federer beat Nadal in the 2006 and 2007 finals, then lost to him in the 2008 title match .
Federer turns 36 on Aug. 8, and Nadal just turned 31, but both are back to playing quite well this year. They met in the Australian Open final in January, won by Federer, and Nadal earned his record 10th French Open title in June.
Murray’s spot at No. 1 in the ATP rankings is up for grabs this fortnight: He, Nadal, Wawrinka or Djokovic could all leave the All England Club with the top spot.
The WTA No. 1 ranking, which currently belongs to Angelique Kerber, also could change hands at tournament’s end. Four other women have a chance to take it: Karolina Pliskova, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki, who already has spent time at No. 1.
The potential women’s quarterfinals are Kerber vs. Svetlanta Kuznetsova in a matchup between a pair of two-time major champions; 2016 U.S. Open runner-up Pliskova vs. two-time U.S. Open finalist Wozniacki; Svitolina vs. Dominika Cibulkova; and Halep vs. Johanna Konta, Britain’s best hope for its first women’s champion since Virginia Wade in 1977.
Konta withdrew from a grass-court tuneup in Eastbourne on Friday after hurting herself during a fall a day earlier, when she pulled off two big victories in one day after rain had jumbled the schedule, beating Kerber and French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.
Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, seeded 10th in her 20th appearance at the tournament, was drawn to face Elise Mertens of Belgium in the first round. A publicist for Williams said that the former No. 1 will play at Wimbledon after a police report in Florida said the tennis star caused a car crash in early June that led to the death, two weeks later, of a passenger in another vehicle.
Williams and Petra Kvitova, who won Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014, are the only two past champions in the women’s field: Williams’ sister, Serena, is taking the rest of the year off because she is pregnant, while Maria Sharapova is injured.
Victoria Azarenka, a former No. 1 and two-time Australian Open champion, is appearing in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in more than a year after giving birth to her first child. Her first-round match should be interesting — it’s against 18-year-old CiCi Bellis, an up-and-coming Californian. The winner could eventually take on Halep in the fourth round.