When Wimbledon ended last year, there were two great takeaways from the tournament: Novak Djokovic would soon be pulling away in the grand slam title race and Ash Barty was beginning a new era of dominance.

Both seemed to be knock-ins, and yet neither has come to pass. Djokovic missed out on a calendar Grand Slam in New York before being banished from Australia, and despite drawing level with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on 20 grand slams with his Centre Court triumph, he now finds himself two adrift of the Spaniard again.

Barty, meanwhile, has left her own party. The then world number one stunned the tennis world by retiring in March, having added the Australian Open she so craved to her trophy cabinet.

Djokovic and Iga Swiatek head into Wimbledon, which begins on Monday, as the top seeds.

Stats Perform has used Opta facts to consider what the men's and women's singles might deliver.

 

KING ROGER'S REIGN IS OVER, BUT DJOKOVIC AND NADAL KEEP GOING STRONG

There will come a time when the Wimbledon favourite is not one of the 'Big Three'. That time is not now.

Djokovic is the man most likely, as he targets his fourth straight Wimbledon title and seventh overall; since 2011, when he beat Nadal in the final, the Serbian has only been absent from the trophy match three times (in 2012, 2016 and 2017).

His winning run of 21 matches at Wimbledon is the fifth-longest in the men's singles. Bjorn Borg holds the record (41 between 1976 and 1981).

The last player other than Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Andy Murray to win the Wimbledon men's title was Lleyton Hewitt in 2002. Federer is absent this year and may have played his last Wimbledon.

Nadal has won Wimbledon twice, in 2008 and 2010. He won the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open in 2010, the only season of his career when he has won three slams. This year, at the age of 36, he has the Australian and French Open trophies already locked away, potentially halfway to a calendar Grand Slam, last achieved in men's singles in 1969 by Rod Laver.

Should Nadal pull off another major coup, it would make him only the second man in the Open Era (from 1968) to win the season's first three singles slams, after Laver in 1969 and Djokovic last year.

Can the rest hope to compete?

What of Murray? Well, only Federer (19), Sampras (10), Laver and Jimmy Connors (both nine) have won more ATP titles on grass than the Scot in the Open Era. If he recovers from an abdominal strain, he has a shot at reaching the second week. He will of course have the full backing of the Wimbledon crowd.

Last year's runner-up Matteo Berrettini is fancied more than Nadal by many, having won Stuttgart and Queen's Club titles in the build-up.

There has not been an American men's singles champion since 2000, and although the United States has six players seeded, more than any other nation, it seems a safe enough assumption we will be saying a similar thing again in 12 months' time.

Third seed Casper Ruud has never won a singles match at Wimbledon, while fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas has not had a win since reaching the fourth round in 2018. Daniil Medvedev, the world number one, cannot compete at The All England Club after their contentious decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

IF SERENA CAN'T CHALLENGE SWIATEK, WHO CAN?

From the jaws of retirement, Serena Williams is back. Silence from the 40-year-old about her intentions had become almost deafening, and yet here she is, back at Wimbledon on a wildcard, hoping to rekindle the old magic.

Because she has pushed back against the doubters for over two decades now, you have to take this seriously. Her haul of 23 grand slams is one short of Margaret Court's all-time record and Williams would dearly love to at least match it.

Three years ago, Williams became the oldest player to reach Wimbledon's women's singles final when she lost to Simona Halep. Six years ago, she was the oldest champion when she beat Angelique Kerber.

Only four women in the draw this year besides Williams have been champion before: Petra Kvitova (in 2011 and 2014), Garbine Muguruza (in 2017), Kerber (in 2018) and Halep (in 2019).

World number one Iga Swiatek starts as favourite. Junior Wimbledon champion four years ago, she has scooped two women's French Open titles since then and is on a 35-match winning streak.

After triumphing at Roland Garros in early June, Swiatek will hope to become the first woman since Kerber in 2016 (Australian Open and US Open) to win two singles slams in the same season.

The only competitive warm-up for Williams came in two doubles matches at Eastbourne, having not played since sustaining a hamstring injury at Wimbledon last year. The seven-time champion might consider it a challenge that there has never been an unseeded Wimbledon women's singles finalist during the Open Era.

The women's top two seeds have not met in the final since Serena faced her sister Venus in the 2002 title match, so don't hold your breath for a Swiatek versus Anett Kontaveit showpiece on July 9.

Could Gauff be best of the rest?

Coco Gauff made a breakthrough with her run to the French Open final. Although she was blown away by Swiatek, for the 18-year-old American it was another mark of progress. Gauff reached the fourth round in Wimbledon in 2019 (lost to Halep) and 2021 (lost to Kerber).

Fitness is likely to be the key factor in how US Open champion Emma Raducanu fares at her home grand slam, given her injury problems. Raducanu reached the fourth round on a wildcard last year and the 19-year-old will attempt to become the first British woman to reach that stage in back-to-back seasons since Jo Durie (1984, 1985).

Ons Jabeur, meanwhile, should not be discounted. The world number three reached the quarter-finals at SW19 last year and heads to Wimbledon having won on grass at the Berlin Open, albeit Belinda Bencic had retired hurt in the final.

The likes of Gauff, Raducanu and 21-year-old Swiatek will attempt to become the youngest woman to lift the trophy since 17-year-old Maria Sharapova triumphed in 2004.

A first-round exit for Swiatek would leave the event wide open, but don't count on it. In the Open Era, only three times has the top-seeded woman lost in round one: Steffi Graf in 1994 and Martina Hingis in 1999 and 2001.

Houston Astros pitchers Cristian Javier, Hector Neris and Ryan Pressly combined for a stunning no-hitter in their 3-0 win over the New York Yankees on Saturday.

Javier set career highs for pitches (115) and strikeouts (13) after walking Josh Donaldson on a full count in the first at-bat, before Astros manager Dusty Baker brought Neris in to start the eighth inning.

Pressly, who gave up the game-tying three-run home run to Aaron Hicks in Thursday's loss to the Yankees, retired three-straight in the ninth for his 15th save out of 18.

Astros rookie JJ Matijevic gave the Astros the lead in the seventh inning with his second homer in the major leagues, sending Gerrit Cole deep over right-field.

Jose Altuve followed that up with a home run of his own in the eighth but Yuli Gurriel added an RBI single in the ninth, as the Astros took their second game of three in the high-profile four-game series.

Harper breaks thumb as Appel makes Phillies roster

While Mark Appel's promotion to the Philadelphia Phillies' roster was the main topic pre-game, nine years after he was selected in 2013 MLB Draft, it was overshadowed by Bryce Harper's broken thumb in their 4-2 win over the San Diego Padres.

The reigning National League MVP will be out indefinitely after a wild fast-ball from Padres starter Blake Snell tagged him on the left hand.

Alec Bohm and JT Realmuto led the way in Harper's absence, with Bohm claiming two hits and RBI from four at-bats and Realmuto's home run off Snell setting up a three-run fifth inning.

Archer and Twins combine for one-hitter

Chris Archer was instrumental as the Minnesota Twins claimed top spot in the American League Central, as they secured a 6-0 victory against the Colorado Rockies.

On a limited pitch count, Archer gave up just one hit and struck out five over 78 pitches in five innings, before Jharrel Cotton, Griffin Jax and Tyler Thornberg shut the Rockies out.

Leading the major leagues in batting average (.347) and OBP (.426), Luis Arraez claimed two hits and an RBI from five at-bats to help secure the win, moving the Twins to 40-33 for the year.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed many fans’ fears, announcing Saturday his club will have to play out the year without reliever Daniel Hudson.

The right-hander was diagnosed with a torn ACL in his left knee, requiring season-ending surgery and an extended rehabilitation period.

Hudson suffered the injury in Friday’s 4-1 win over the Atlanta Braves, with his leg buckling beneath him as he reacted to a slowly hit ground ball.

The 35-year-old had a 2.22 ERA this season serving as the primary setup man for closer Craig Kimbrel.

“Obviously, it’s a big loss,” Roberts said.

"I still haven't seen the play but from everything I hear, it's an ACL. Obviously it doesn't look good from all indications. Things can happen, but I don't see how it's not the end of his season."

The National League West-leading Dodgers have already had several injuries to key relievers, previously losing Blake Treinen to shoulder surgery and placing Tommy Kahnle on the 60-day injured list with forearm tightness.

Brusdar Graterol appears to be one likely candidate to see increased action in high-leverage innings.

“Obviously, the guys that are here are going to have an opportunity,” Roberts said. “I'm not going to say who it is, but they're going to have opportunities.”

Houston Astros manager praised his pitching staff for a Saturday he will "never forget" after they combined for a no-hitter against the New York Yankees for the first time in nearly two decades.

Astros starter Cristian Javier led the way for seven innings in the win, notching up a career-high 13 strikeouts while shutting down the best team in baseball.

The no-hitter is the 14th in Astros franchise history and the third combined no-hitter for the club.

Javier walked Josh Donaldson on a full count in the first inning, then retired 17 consecutive batters before Donaldson reached on an error in the seventh. Baker pulled Javier at a career-high 115 pitches at the end of the inning.

"The whole thing about pitching is control, control, control," Baker said. "Everybody talks about velocity all the time, but the velocity without command and control is no good.

"That was the key, getting ahead of the hitters. And he was getting ahead of some pretty good hitters, real good hitters over there. So, boy, that's a day that he'll never forget. Nor us, either."

Hector Neris encountered some drama in the eighth inning, walking Aaron Hicks and DJ LeMahieu before sitting down Joey Gallo and Aaron Judge to get out of the jam.

"I said, 'I have to get it for my team, I have to get it for Javy," Neris said post-game.

Ryan Pressly finished the feat with a flawless ninth inning, blocking out the memory of Thursday’s outing against the Yankees, in which he allowed a three-run home run in a 7-6 loss.

"I lost a lot of sleep [Thursday] night," Pressly said. "I was pretty upset with myself and felt like I let the team down. I wanted to come out here and show my teammates that they can trust me and go out there and take care of business."

Yankees ace Gerrit Cole nearly match Javier’s effectiveness, not allowing the game’s first run until a JJ Matijevic solo home run with two outs in the seventh.

Cole tossed seven innings in all, allowing four hits and just the one run. New York relievers Michael King and Lucas Luetge each gave up a run in the 3-0 Astros victory.

"The cold, hard truth is we got outpitched and outplayed," Cole said. "Magical day for them."

Xander Schauffele shot a three-under 67 on Saturday to take a one-stroke lead over Patrick Cantlay, coming into the final round of the Travelers Championship.

Looking for his sixth individual title on the PGA Tour, the reigning Olympic champion began the day with a five-stroke lead and went two-under over the front nine to help set up a career-best run of 48 holes without a bogey.

Schauffele hit trouble and a briefly fell into a tie for the lead on the par-five 13th, though, finding the water with his tee shot to eventually finish with a bogey.

He recovered to retake the solo lead however, claiming birdies on the 16th and 17th hole, hitting the pin on his approach and one-putting on the latter.

Schauffele leads by a solitary shot on 17-under from close friend Patrick Cantlay, who charged up the leaderboard on Saturday with a bogey-free, seven-under 63.

The two formed a close bond after being paired at the 2019 Presidents Cup and along with pairing up again at the Ryder Cup, took out this year's Zurich Classic together.

The reigning FedEx Cup champion will be looking to claim his first individual title of 2022, though, after losing in playoffs this year to Scottie Scheffler and Jordan Spieth at the Phoenix Open and the Heritage respectively.

Sahith Theegala is three strokes back from Schauffele on 14-under after posting a six-under 64 on Saturday, even after a bogey on the par-four 18th.

The 24-year-old was otherwise in fine touch over the back nine in Cromwell, with an eagle on the 13th in contrast to the leader accompanied by three birdies.

Yet to win a tournament on the PGA Tour, Theegala is followed by Kevin Kisner on 13-under, then a tie for fifth between Martin Laird and KH Lee on 12-under.

A third major title remains in play for Chun In-gee but she opened the door for the rest of the Women's PGA Championship field in Saturday's third round at the Congressional Country Club.

Chun was in control after the opening two rounds with respective scores of 64 and 69 on the Blue Course, but finished Saturday with a three-stroke lead from a three-way tie for second after a three-over 75.

The world number 33 was leading by four strokes when her second shot on the par-five 16th faded sharply into the tall wire grass, before a shank into the trees on the other side of the fairway resulted in a drop, finishing the hole with a double-dogey.

A three-putt from Kim Sei-young on the par-four 17th put her level with Lexi Thompson and Choi Hye-jin on five-under for the tournament, minimising the damage for Chun.

Meanwhile, Hannah Green remains in striking distance coming into the final round, despite bogeys on the 10th and 18th holes to put her back to even-par for the day, and four-under for the tournament.

There is a chance that both the Colorado Avalanche's Andre Burakovsky and the Tampa Bay Lightning's Brayden Point could return for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in Florida.

Point, the Lightning's leading scorer during each of the team's Cup runs over the last two seasons, suffered a lower-body injury in Game 7 of Tampa Bay's first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

After sitting out 10 games, Point returned for Games 1 and 2 of the Cup Final but was clearly limited and has been out of the lineup since.

Even without a top-six forward in Point, the Lightning staved off elimination with a 3-2 victory in Friday's Game 5 in Denver. He is expected to be a game-time decision Sunday.

Avs coach Jared Bednar indicated Burakovsky may be able to play for the first time since Game 2, when he injured his hand blocking a shot.

"I think he's a possibility for us, he's travelling with us, so he may be in the lineup," Bednar said.

Burakovsky, who was the overtime hero of Game 1, had not travelled with the team for Games 3 and 4 in Florida.

Bednar also said that key forwards Valeri Nichushkin and J.T. Compher have been cleared for Sunday after dealing with injuries in Game 5.

Tyson Fury has accepted Jake Paul's offer of a $1million wager on the outcome of the YouTuber's fight with his half-brother, Tommy Fury.

Paul and Tommy Fury are set to finally meet in the ring on August 6 in New York after months of going numerous rounds on social media.

The pair were due to fight in December but Tommy Fury withdrew due to illness and injury. Attempts to reschedule the bout were initially fruitless, with Paul declaring his rival had blown his chance.

However, a breakthrough was finally reached this week after both fighters confirmed on social media that they were set to face off.

In a recent interview, heavyweight champion and Tommy's elder half-brother Tyson said he would have no issues betting £100,000 on his relative overcoming Paul.

Paul responded to that on social media, telling Fury: "You made $40 million, let's up the ante, let's bet a million, two million, however much you want to bet on it!" 

Not one to back down from a challenge, Fury posted a video of his own on social media, saying he would gladly raise the bet to $1m.

"This is a message for Jake Paul," he said. "I hear you want to bet a bigger bet than $100,000. You want a bigger bet, you want $1m. Let's do it! You want a million, you got it!"

Francesco Bagnaia vowed to fight Fabio Quartararo all the way after giving his slim MotoGP title chances a much-needed boost with pole position for the Dutch Grand Prix.

The Ducati rider fell 91 points behind Quartararo last week when crashing out of the German Grand Prix early on – his fourth abandonment in 10 races this season.

But Bagnaia, who has won two of his past five Dutch GP appearances, looked in good shape on Saturday when shattering the lap record at Circuit Assen with a time of 1:31.504.

Victory in the Netherlands on Sunday is needed if the Italian is realistically going to catch Quartararo, with four other riders separating last season's top two.

After an intense battle on the opening lap in Sachsenring last time out, Bagnaia is aiming to come out on top in round 11 to put some pressure on his rival.

"For sure, Fabio on this track is always so competitive. I would like to have a fight but this time until the end of the race, not just the first two laps," he said.

"I think it's more difficult on this track to open a gap, but we have demonstrated we can be so competitive in the first laps, Fabio too."

Bagnaia, who has claimed four poles this year, pitted after his record lap as he did not believe anyone would be capable of matching his pace.

"That’s the reason I stopped in the box, because I said 'doing more than this is impossible'. If someone did overtake me, I would be OK with it," he said.

"But I'm very happy for this qualifying because this morning I was struggling a lot to be consistent and competitive."

Championship leader Quartararo once again missed out on pole, yet he has made a habit of recovering as the weekend goes on this season.

And as he seeks a third successive victory for the first time in his MotoGP career, the Monster Energy Yamaha rider declared himself pleased with his performance in qualifying.

"I'm happy to have made that front row with the army of Ducatis around me. It's almost impossible to make a pole position with these Ducatis," he said.

"I was really on the limit [for my fastest lap] and on the next lap I wanted to try but I knew it was going to be a little bit worse. Today, the front row was the target."

Pramac's Jorge Martin will start Sunday's race in third, while Jack Miller of Ducati finished sixth in qualifying but was penalised for an incident involving Maverick Vinales.

Miller narrowly avoided colliding with Vinales and will serve a long lap penalty for the second weekend running, though the Australian felt there was nothing he could do.

Speaking ahead of the penalty being confirmed, Miller said: "I mean, I didn't do anything wrong. I did everything I could right. I pulled over to the left.

"I was side-saddle from push starting it. I was just trying to load my foot up and make sure that the [damaged] footpeg wasn't going to snap as I stood on it with all my weight.

"I was already hard on the left-hand side of the track and I just looked to make sure I'm not in anyone's way and Vinales was there. There's a lot of track there. 

"I understand the racing line and the track sort of pulls you that way, but there's not much I could do. I went to apologise because I know it's bad, but there's nothing I can do."

 

PROVISIONAL GRID

1. Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) – 1:31.504
2. Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) + 0.116
3. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) + 0.204
4. Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46) +0.292
5. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) + 0.364
6. Jack Miller (Ducati) + 0.620
7. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) + 0.671
8. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) + 0.768
9. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) +0.803
10. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) +0.863

Li Haotong holds a three-shot lead going into the final day of the BMW International Open in Munich after carding a third-round 67 on Saturday.

The 26-year-old from China followed Thursday's course record-equalling score of 10 under par at the Golfclub Munchen Eichenried with a 67 on Friday.

The same score on Saturday means he heads into the final round with a healthy lead over Belgium's Thomas Pieters, who carded a 66.

Li, who has not won a DP World Tour title since 2018 when he triumphed at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, told reporters: "Just another great day again. Germany has been treating me very good so far.

"I didn't expect an eagle on number six, and didn't expect that birdie on 15 as well. I didn't expect the driver on the last to hit a tree, but to be fair, I pulled it a little bit. It was just another perfect day for me.

"Tomorrow will be a tough day. I just need to hang on in there, play my game. Expect everything. I just need to get comfortable as much as possible."

Pieters made an eagle and four birdies in his round to sit second, one shot ahead of Jordan Smith, who carded 67.

Pieters said: "People have come back from further behind. I just look forward to a lovely day tomorrow and hopefully a lot of birdies."

Ryan Fox's hopes of glory were dealt a blow after a round of 71, which left him tied fourth on 15 under par with Darius Van Driel.

Novak Djokovic says he has "nothing but respect" for Rafael Nadal as the Spaniard strives to create "even more of a successful legacy".

Nadal now has 22 majors to his name after winning the Australian Open and French Open this year – two more than Djokovic and Swiss great Roger Federer.

Victory at the French Open earlier in June was Nadal's 14th at Roland Garros, which is a whopping eight more than anyone else in the open era.

Djokovic, who kicks off his bid for a fourth consecutive Wimbledon title against Kwon Soon-woo on Monday, is in awe of Nadal's achievements, describing the 36-year-old as an "amazing champion".

"He had a surgery in the second part of the last year and coming back after that and winning a grand slam right away is something that is really impressive," the Serbian told a media conference on Saturday.

"[He is] making history with grand slam wins and at Roland Garros, the tournament where he has won most titles.

"Just for what he has achieved, keeps on doing on the court; he has a great fighting spirit, and he is an amazing champion.

"Just in general, the things he is trying to do to create even more of a successful legacy is something you have to respect and admire even though I am one of his biggest rivals. I have nothing but respect for what he has achieved."

Djokovic's refusal to get a COVID-19 vaccination has hampered his playing time this year, yet the 35-year-old is confident that will not hold him back as he bids for a seventh title at The All England Club.

"I didn't have any lead up tournaments but I've had success at Wimbledon before without having any official matches," he added.

"I had success with adapting quickly to the surface so there is no reason to believe why I cannot do it again. I'm very pleased and happy to be back at the tournament that was always my childhood dream, the one I wanted to win. Hopefully I continue that run.

"I would love to be in the position to fight for another trophy, I would like to be in the last match and eventually make history at this tournament.

"As a seven, eight-year-old boy I dreamed of winning Wimbledon and becoming number one. That was the biggest motivation I had as a kid.

"Pete Sampras, when he won his first Wimbledon, was the first tennis I watched on the TV. Pete has won it seven times. Hopefully I can do the same this year."

Coco Gauff is relaxed and full of confidence heading into Wimbledon, three years after bursting onto the scene at the All England Club.

Gauff made history as a 15-year-old at Wimbledon in 2019, when she became the youngest player to reach the main draw in the Open Era.

The American stunned five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in straight sets in her main draw debut, and reached the fourth round, where she was defeated by eventual champion Simona Halep.

She enters this year's tournament brimming with confidence after reaching her first Grand Slam singles final earlier in June, having lost to Iga Swiatek in a French Open showdown.

"Honestly, I feel like I'm a lot more relaxed than when I was considered the sensation or whatever," Gauff told a news conference.

"I mean, I did well, wasn't expecting to, but it felt like everybody wanted the results to happen now, now, now. I feel like I learned so much not to put pressure on now, now, now.

"This time around, even though I’m considered a favourite, I don't feel like it as much as I did when I was 15 or even 16."

A year ago at Wimbledon, Gauff again reached the fourth round, where she was ousted by Angelique Kerber, but she enters play this time around with her highest world ranking at number 12 after an outstanding performance at Roland Garros, where she reached the final of both the singles and doubles.

"Definitely a lot of positives to take from it, that I can play two weeks of high, competitive tennis in two events," Gauff explained.

"I would have never thought I would have made the final of both events. I learned a lot from that final. I’m going to take what I learned to here. Hopefully I go far.

"But it was definitely the experience of a lifetime, and hopefully I can recreate it."

Gauff followed up her run in Paris with another encouraging showing in a grass-court warm-up at the Berlin Open, where the 18-year-old lost to Ons Jabeur in the semi-finals.

It marked another milestone for Gauff, who had previously never advanced to a quarter-final on grass.

Emma Raducanu doubted whether she would recover from injury in time for Wimbledon, but says she is now "ready to go" after a week's training.

The 19-year-old has endured an injury-plagued season, with her first match of the grass-court campaign lasting just 36 minutes against Viktorija Golubic at the Nottingham Open.

Raducanu was forced to withdraw from the contest earlier this month due to a side strain and subsequently missed the Eastbourne International.

She previously stated she had "no idea" if she would be fit in time for Wimbledon, which begins for the reigning US Open champion with a first-round clash with Alison Van Uytvanck.

But after missing Friday's practice session with Garbine Muguruza, Raducanu took to the court on Saturday and later declared herself ready for the third grand slam of the year.

"I think that this week was a good build-up," she said at a news conference. "There were moments earlier on in the week we weren't really sure. 

"We were sort of going to see how the week goes. But it went pretty well. Now it's full steam ahead. Right now I'm fit. I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to it. That's it.

"I've been managing it since Nottingham. I took two weeks off. Yesterday we just had to react to the situation. 

"I already practiced in the morning, so we all collectively thought it was the best decision to pass on the afternoon session as well and stay fresh and ready to go."

Raducanu made history in 2021 when becoming the first qualifier to win a grand slam with victory over Leylah Fernandez in the US Open final.

That success came two months after retiring from her fourth-round match with Ajla Tomljanovic at last year's Wimbledon with breathing difficulties.

The Briton enters this year's event as one of the biggest names, though, and she will make her Centre Court debut in Monday's showdown with Belgium's Van Uytvanck.

"I think it’s amazing," Raducanu said reflecting on the past 12 months. "This year I get such a special feeling walking around the grounds. 

"I definitely feel that people are behind me. Even from some of the people working on the tournament, they're like, 'you got this'. Just cheering me on. That's pretty special in itself.

"I feel like last year I came straight out of my exams, I was fresh, ready to play. I feel the same excitement this year because I think Wimbledon just brings that out of me.

"But I'm definitely looking forward to it. Just going to play like a kid who just loves playing tennis. 

"It's always my dream to step out on Centre Court. It's something I've always wanted to do and started playing tennis for."

Raducanu won her only previous match with Van Uytvanck last year, prior to her big breakthrough at Flushing Meadows, and is 35 places above the Belgian in the WTA rankings.

"I definitely feel game-wise I back myself pretty much against anyone," Raducanu added. "I feel if I really put my mind to it and commit, then I can be pretty good. 

"So I'm definitely looking forward to the match. But she's a real tricky opponent, especially on grass courts. 

"I think this surface definitely suits her well. She plays a pretty quick, high-tempo game. It's definitely going to take some getting used to, being prepared for that straightaway."

Novak Djokovic has accepted it is unlikely he will play at the US Open, as the Wimbledon top seed insisted he has not changed his mind on the COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic was unable to compete at the Australian Open earlier in 2022 after he was deported – following a drawn-out legal case with Australia's federal government – for not being vaccinated against coronavirus.

The Serbian has spoken out against mandatory vaccinations and when asked on Saturday by reporters at Wimbledon if he had closed his mind to the idea of being vaccinated before the US Open begins, he said "yes".

That means, as it stands, Djokovic will be unable to enter the United States due to being unvaccinated.

However, while frustrated that he will likely miss out on another grand slam this year, the 35-year-old suggested he is now even more motivated to go on and win Wimbledon for a seventh time, which would take him level with Pete Sampras and behind only Roger Federer, who has eight All England Club titles to his name.

Djokovic told reporters: "As of today I'm not allowed to enter the States under these circumstances. That is an extra motivation to do well here.

"Hopefully I can have a very good tournament as I have done in the last three editions. Then I'll have to wait and see.

"I'd love to go to the States but as of today that's not possible. There's not much I can do any more. It's up to the U.S. government on whether they allow unvaccinated people to go into the country."

Djokovic was at the centre of the controversy ahead of the season's first major, but the third grand slam of 2022 has been contentious for other reasons.

The All England Club made the decision to ban all Russian and Belarusian players, including men's world number one Daniil Medvedev, from competing, due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The call received criticism and, as a result, Wimbledon has been stripped of any ranking points by the WTA and ATP.

However, Djokovic is no longer as concerned about those points as he once was, as he instead looks to move back to within one major title of Rafael Nadal, whose tally stands at 22.

"I don't want to say ranking points are not important for me, of course they are, but they are not as important as they were for me," he said.

"Now I'm not really chasing the ranking as much as I have. I was breaking the record for longest weeks at number one and after that it wasn't as important for me in terms of priority.

"Of course, I understand that 90 per cent of players will be more affected by the points. Of course this year I did not have the chance to defend 4,000 points in Australia but my priorities now are different so I’m not as affected."

Djokovic, though, does feel it is harsh that Russian and Belarusian athletes are unable to play at SW19.

He said: "I just don't see how they have contributed to anything that has happened. I don't feel it’s fair. 

"I feel like they deserve to win, compete, they are professional athletes. None of them have supported any war or anything like that. 

"I understand both sides. It's hard to say what is right and wrong. Putting myself in a position where someone would ban me from playing because of circumstances that I have not contributed – I do not think that is fair."

Six-time champion Novak Djokovic will take centre stage on day one at Wimbledon along with home hopes Emma Raducanu and Andy Murray.

The All England Club has announced the schedule of play for Monday, when the 2022 tournament will get under way.

As is tradition for the defending champion, Djokovic, who defeated Matteo Berrettini in last year's men's singles final, will take part in the first match on Centre Court when he plays against Kwon Soon-woo.

Djokovic will be bidding for a fourth Wimbledon title in succession following triumphs in 2018, 2019 and 2021, after the cancellation of the 2020 championships.

US Open champion Raducanu has also been selected to appear at Centre Court on the opening day.

Raducanu will take on Alison Van Uytvanck hoping to kick off a successful campaign in front of her home crowd, having burst onto the scene at Wimbledon last year with a shock run to the fourth round.

And another Briton, two-time winner Andy Murray, will be involved in the third and final match on the prestigious court when he faces James Duckworth of Australia.

Murray will be hoping to better last year's third-round berth at SW19 after impressively reaching the Stuttgart Open final this month, losing to Berrettini after notable wins over Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios.

Ons Jabeur, Angelique Kerber and Carlos Alcaraz are the big names selected for action on Court One on Monday.

And it has been confirmed that, in the absence of retired champion Ash Barty, women's number one seed Iga Swiatek will open the action on Centre Court on Tuesday when she plays Jana Fett. Swiatek said she felt "very privileged" to be opening the proceedings on day two.

Rafael Nadal, who has won the opening two men's grand slams this year, is also expected to begin his campaign on day two, as is seven-time women’s champion Serena Williams on her return from injury.

Rafael Nadal does not know how long his troublesome foot will hold up and cannot be "super happy" while the threat of injury lingers, but he is ready to attack Wimbledon.

Nadal, the 22-time major champion, is halfway to a calendar Grand Slam, having won the Australian Open and French Open.

Yet those successes have come despite a long-term foot problem he has battled, requiring pain-killing injections before every match at Roland Garros.

Nadal's Wimbledon participation was in question for some time, but he underwent two courses of radiofrequency injections in a bid to ease the pain and be fit enough to challenge at the All England Club.

That is now the case, he says, even if he has to accept his status is unpredictable day to day.

"It's obvious that if I am here, it's because things are going better," the Spaniard told a news conference. "If not, I would not be here.

"So I'm quite happy about [how] the things have evolved. I can't be super happy because I don't know what can happen.

"First of all, I can walk normal most of the days, almost every single day. That's for me the main issue. When I wake up, I don't have this pain that I was having for the last year and a half, so I'm quite happy about that.

"And second thing: practising. I have been overall better.

"Since the last two weeks, I didn't have one day of these terrible days that I can't move at all. Of course, [some] days are better; [some] days are little bit worse."

He added: "I can't tell you if I'm going to be in that positive moment for one week, for two days, or for three months.

"Of course, the treatment that I did didn't fix my injury. It is not improving my injury at all but can take out a little bit the pain. That's the main goal.

"Sometimes the things in the medical world, mathematics is not predictable 100 per cent.

"But in theory, that can help the foot because it's about the nerve. You touch the nerve, so then the nerve is like asleep in some way for a while, but then recovers.

"So how long the nerve is going to be that way, I can't tell you. It's something that we need to discover."

Taylor Fritz earned his third ATP Tour title and second at the Eastbourne International as he defeated fellow American Maxime Cressy 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-4) in Saturday's final.

Three years on from Fritz's breakthrough tour triumph against Sam Querrey – another compatriot – at the same event, the world number 24 was celebrating again in the last tournament before Wimbledon.

Paris-born opponent Cressy had defeated a trio of home hopefuls in succession in Britons Dan Evans, Cameron Norrie and Jack Draper to reach this stage, but Fritz had just too much.

While the Indian Wells Masters champion had not lost a break all week and maintained that record through the decider, he was taken all the way.

"I played about as well as I could possibly play today, and it still came down to the final couple of points," Fritz said afterwards. "It couldn't have been much closer."

That had not appeared likely after an opener in which Fritz's return game dominated 6ft 6in serve-and-volley specialist Cressy, who was broken immediately following a double-fault.

That was one of four in the first set – as many as in three against Draper – as Cressy won just half of his service points, broken again to love.

Yet neither player faced another break point, with a pair of tie-breaks required to settle the title.

The first went the way of Cressy, forcing a decider as a pair of powerful forehands finally broke down Fritz, but he required treatment between sets and had clearly tired by the closing stages.

The latest in a series of Fritz lobs proved beyond Cressy, not that the result should have come as any surprise – improving the champion's career record in deciding tie-breaks to an astonishing 20-3.

Stefanos Tsitsipas claimed the first grass-court title of his career as he edged Roberto Bautista Agut in the Mallorca Open final.

Playing in his fourth final of 2022, Tsitsipas looked to have victory in his grasp when he broke for a 3-1 lead in the decisive set.

He surrendered his initiative when he was broken while serving for the match at 5-3.

However, Tsitsipas made no mistake in the eventual tie-break, surging to a 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-2) victory.

The win secured Tsitsipas' second title of the year following his May success in Monte Carlo.

Tsitsipas will hope his performance on the grass in Mallorca translates to a strong performance at Wimbledon, where he has gone past the first round only once.

He will face Alexander Ritschard in the first round at the All England Club on Tuesday.

Limping off Centre Court with a torn hamstring while fighting tears is not how Serena Williams wants to remember Wimbledon.

Williams has not featured in a competitive singles match since she suffered that injury in SW19 in 2021, but the 23-time grand slam champion is making her comeback at the All England Club.

The 40-year-old has seven Wimbledon singles titles under her belt, the most recent of which came in 2016, while she reached the final in 2018 and 2019, only to lose to Angelique Kerber and Serena Halep.

Now, having put her hamstring issue behind her, Williams is determined to create a new lasting memory in London.

"Yeah, it was a lot of motivation, to be honest," she told reporters on Saturday when reflecting on how her previous Wimbledon campaign ended.

"It was always something since the match ended that was always on my mind. So it was a tremendous amount of motivation for that.

"You never want any match to end like that. It's really unfortunate."

Williams returned to competition last week, playing doubles with Ons Jabeur in Eastbourne, and makes her highly anticipated return to Wimbledon facing Harmony Tan, a 24-year-old from France who is ranked 113th.

 

Despite being just one short of Margaret Court's long-standing record haul of 24 majors, Williams is not making any lofty predictions as to how far she can go at Wimbledon.

"I have high goals, but also... I don't know," she said. "We'll see."

If she beats Tan, Williams might then face Sara Sorribes Tormo, and if she can get past her, she would likely then play sixth seed Karolina Pliskova, the former world number one who was the runner-up to Ash Barty at last year's Wimbledon and also a finalist at the 2016 US Open.

Williams was hoping to play at Flushing Meadows last year but needed more time to heal mentally and physically.

"I felt like last year was tough," she said. "I felt like I was injured for most of the year. Then I ripped my hamstring. That was tough. I don't think anyone ever wants to do that. So, in general, the whole experience was rough.

"Then, from there, I still tried to make New York. I gave everything I could, just every day getting ready or trying to make it. But then it's just like: I'm not going to make it, hung up my racquets for a little bit until I could just heal."

The thought of retiring never entered her mind during her time away from the game, however. In addition to recovering, she spent the last year getting in the right frame of mind.

"I didn't retire," Williams said. "I just needed to heal physically, mentally. And yeah, I had no plans, to be honest.

"I just didn't know when I would come back. I didn't know how I would come back. Obviously Wimbledon is such a great place to be, and it just kind of worked out."

Page 7 of 475
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.