Wimbledon: Djokovic, Murray in after operations

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WIMBLEDON, England — Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray both were placed in the Wimbledon bracket during Friday’s draw despite coming off recent operations.

That’s no guarantee either 37-year-old past champion at the All England Club will actually compete at the event that begins Monday. But Djokovic, at least, has looked in practice sessions this week as though he is ready to go, less than a month after having surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee. He has won seven of his men’s-record 24 Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon.

Murray, a two-time trophy winner at the grass-court tournament, made clear on Thursday that he would wait until the last moment to decide whether or not to play and was likelier to do so in doubles — where he and his older brother, Jamie, were awarded a wild-card entry — than in singles. He had a cyst removed from his spinal cord last weekend.

The unseeded Murray’s first-round singles match against Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic will be scheduled for Tuesday, giving the Scot an extra day to try to be ready. It was in a match against Machac at the Miami Open in March that Murray tore ligaments in his left ankle, one of a series of injuries he’s dealt with in the latter stages of his career. Murray says he plans to retire after, he hopes, participating in Wimbledon and the Paris Olympics, which begin next month.

Djokovic is also slated to begin on Tuesday, going up against qualifier Vit Kopriva of the Czech Republic.

The men’s quarterfinals could be No. 1 seed Jannik Sinner vs. No. 5 Daniil Medvedev, and defending champion Carlos Alcaraz vs. No. 8 Casper Ruud on the top half of the bracket, with No. 2 Djokovic vs. No. 7 Hubert Hurkacz, and No. 4 Alexander Zverev vs. No. 6 Andrey Rublev on the bottom half.

That sets up a possible semifinal between Sinner, who is 22, and Alcaraz, 21. They are already developing quite a rivalry; Alcaraz beat Sinner in the semifinals at the French Open this month en route to the title there.

There was a bit of confusion during the women’s draw — overseen by new tournament referee Denise Parnell — when several names were placed on the wrong lines and needed to be reshuffled.

Top-seeded Iga Swiatek has never been past the quarterfinals at the All England Club and was given a path that could be filled with past Grand Slam champions.

Her opening opponent will be 2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin, who eliminated Coco Gauff in the first round at Wimbledon a year ago — less than three months before Gauff would go on to win the US Open. Swiatek could face 2018 Wimbledon champ Angelique Kerber in the third round, 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the fourth, and defending Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova in the quarterfinals. Ostapenko is 4-0 against Swiatek over their careers.

The other potential women’s quarterfinals are 2022 winner Elena Rybakina vs. No. 5 seed Jessica Pegula on the top half of the bracket with Swiatek-Vondrousova, and No. 2 Gauff vs. No. 7 Jasmine Paolini, and No. 3 Aryna Sabalenka vs. No. 8 Zheng Qinwen on the bottom half.

Gauff’s initial opponent will be another American, Caroline Dolehide. Other first-round women’s matchups include 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu against No. 22 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, four-time major champion Naomi Osaka against Diane Parry, and two-time Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka against 2017 US Open champ Sloane Stephens.

In the men’s bracket, Alcaraz will open his title defense against Mark Lajal, who will be making his Grand Slam main-draw debut after earning a spot through qualifying. Sinner starts against Yannick Hanfmann, who is 0-2 in Slam matches, and could meet 2021 Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini in the second round.

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