By Ricky Dimon
Rafael Nadal will begin his bid for a third Wimbledon title when he goes up against Francisco Cerundolo during third-round action on Tuesday. In the same section of the draw, Felix Auger-Aliassime could have a tough opener on his hands with Maxime Cressy.
Flowers around Wimbledon 2022
Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.
Francisco Cerundolo vs. (2) Rafael Nadal
The only thing that has held Nadal back in 2022 is injury and that is certainly the only way his Wimbledon first-round match could be competitive. When healthy, the 36-year-old Spaniard has been the dominant player on tour this season. He is halfway to the calendar-year Grand Slam following triumphs at the Australian Open and French Open and is 30-3 overall–also with titles at a Melbourne 250 and Acapulco. Nadal is seeking his third Wimbledon winner’s trophy and first since 2013.
Up first for the No. 2 seed on Tuesday is Cerundolo, who is making his main-draw debut at the All-England Club. The 41st-ranked Argentine is not entirely hopeless on grass (3-3 lifetime) and he advanced one round at Queen’s Club before losing to British wild card Ryan Peniston. Cerundolo then dropped his Eastbourne opener to Tommy Paul via a 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 decision. The 23-year-old has proven to be capable of finding success on surfaces other than clay, but nothing suggests he can seriously test Nadal on grass at major.
Pick: Nadal in 3
(6) Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Maxime Cressy
Arguably the marquee matchup of the entire first round features Auger-Alassime and Cressy, who will also be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers. Auger-Aliassime is deservedly among the title favorites given his quarterfinal run last summer, his overall success at Grand Slams, and his form in 2022. The eighth-ranked Canadian is 30-15 with his first-ever ATP title in Rotterdam, a quarterfinal performance at Melbourne Park, and a fourth-round showing at Roland Garros (lost to Nadal in five sets).
This should be a classic grass-court contest worthy of a second-week showdown between two guys who love the lawn. Cressy serves and volleys more than anyone else on tour and that tactic just carried him to the Eastbourne final, which he lost to Taylor Fritz in a third-set tiebreaker. It would not be shocking if the 45th-ranked American pulls off an upset, but Auger-Aliassime’s experience of Grand Slam success should help him get what could be a very successful fortnight underway.
Pick: Auger-Aliassime in 4
Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.