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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday June 19, 2022

 
Matteo Berrettini

These ten players will take momentum into Wimbledon after a strong start to the grass season.

Photo Source: Getty

As the second week of grass-court season comes to a close, we turn our thoughts to the players who are emphatically stating their case in the lead up to Wimbledon.

Tennis Express

1. Matteo Berretini

Back-to-back titles on grass and 20 out of 21 on the surface since June of 2021. It has been the best possible return to the tour for Italy’s Berrettini, who has hit the ground running since he made his return from hand surgery, playing his first competitive match since Indian Wells at Stuttgart.

Berrettini, now 31-3 on grass since the start of 2019, and a runner-up at Wimbledon last year, is hoping to take it one step further in 2022.

2. Beatriz Haddad Maia

Brazil’s Haddad Maia has emerged as one of the hot names on grass after racking up ten consecutive wins in Nottingham and Birmingham over the past two weeks. It hasn’t been a fluke. The hard-hitting southpaw has notched wins over Maria Sakkari, Alison Riske, Petra Kvitova, Camila Giorgi and Simona Halep in that span. She will make her top-30 debut on Monday and eventually head to Wimbledon as a player with high expectations.

Next question: How will she handle them?

3. Daniil Medvedev

Back-to-back finals in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and Halle provided the public with proof that Medvedev can be a force on grass. His performance in both finals left many scratching their heads, however. Blowout losses to relatively unknown Tim Van Rijthoven in the Netherlands followed by Hurkacz on Sunday in Halle, make us wonder what exactly is missing from Medvedev’s game at the moment.

Could it simply be the fact that he has nothing to play for due to the fact that he’ll not be permitted to play Wimbledon? Or is the World No.1 simply having trouble working out the x’s and o’s of his serve and return games on grass? Looks to be a bit of both…

4. Ons Jabeur

Taking the title in Berlin, Ons Jabeur will once again head to a Grand Slam with momentum in 2022 (she does play Eastbourne next week, first). It didn’t work well in Paris, where Jabeur was ousted in the first round by Poland’s Magda Linette, but that experience should only serve to motivate Jabeur.

The Tunisian has a game that shines on grass, and will enter the draw as one of a handful of players who could take the title if Iga Swiatek slips.

At 21-9 lifetime on grass – and 15-2 since the start of 2021 – it’s clear that Jabeur has what it takes to go deep at Wimbledon. She proved that last year by reaching the last eight at SW19.

5. Andy Murray

If he’s healthy, Andy Murray could be in for his first trip to the second week at a Slam since 2017. The Scot is a true legend on the grass – his two Wimbledon titles and lifetime record of 114-24 on the surface tell that story – all he has to do is continue the progress he has been making with Ivan Lendl to make waves at Wimbledon.

His trip to the final in Stuttgart was certainly a step in the right direction. Now we wait and see if Murray can be 100 percent fit, with the abdominal injury that took him out of Queen's Club in the rearview mirror.

6. Nick Kyrgios

The Aussie was a tick or two away from taking out Hubert Hurkacz in the semis at Halle, and that says a lot about how lethal he is on grass at the moment. Despite the loss, Kyrgios has reached back-to-back semifinals at Stuttgart and Halle and is of sound mind, body and spirit as he heads to Mallorca for one last event before Wimbledon.

The Aussie will be unseeded at Wimbledon – the player nobody wants to see in the first round – and if the draw breaks his way he could easily make his way into the second week. How will he hold up in the five-set format, with all the pressure that inevitably comes at Wimbledon? If all goes well, we’ll get our answer in a few weeks’ time.

7. Hubert Hurkacz

Wow. Just wow. The Pole’s performance against Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s Halle final was a pure statement of intent from Hurkacz. Already with a Wimbledon semifinal on his resume from 2021, it appears that Hurkacz could be a fixture in the second week at Wimbledon for many years to come.

When Hurkacz's game is working on grass he is extremely efficient on both sides of the ball, and able to find ways to get his opponent on defense with his heavy-handed attack. Wins over Felix Auger-Aliassime, Kyrgios and Medvedev in succession to claim his first title in Halle were a strong statement.

8. Simona Halep

The Romanian fell in three sets to Beatriz Haddad Maia in the semis at Birmingham, but her return to the grass for the first time since winning Wimbledon in 2019 was a success. Halep reached the semis without dropping a set and appears to be finding her form on the surface.

Now, for that elusive next step, something that has eluded her in 2022 as she has failed to approach her stated goal of returning to the Top-10.

9. Coco Gauff

It was nice to see 18-year-old American Coco Gauff shake off the Roland-Garros final and hit the grass running in Berlin. Gauff opened eyes with her straight-set takedown of 2021 Wimbledon runner-up Karolina Pliskova in the quarters, even if she couldn’t get past top-seeded Ons Jabeur in the semis.

Gauff, like Jabeur, has proven to be a whiz at making the transition from clay to grass. With another week to gear up her game, she could be ready for another breakout at SW19.

10. Marin Cilic

Coming in hot after reaching the Roland-Garros semis, mighty Marin Cilic reached the semifinals at Queen’s, where he fell to Filip Krajinovic. Not his best result, but Cilic has what it takes to be a factor at Wimbledon, where he is a former runner-up.

At 80-32 lifetime on grass, Cilic is always going to be a factor at Wimbledon. He has reached the second week at Roland-Garros and Wimbledon in the same year twice previously (one of those years was 2017, the year he reached the Wimbledon final).

A third time is certainly in the cards this year.


 

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