Andy Murray
Andy Murray prepares to compete in his final Wimbledon before retiring from professional tennis. | @the_LTA
Centre Court is waiting to give Andy Murray an emotional farewell and the rest of the men are trying to prevent Sinner and Alcaraz from getting a stranglehold on the majors.

One More for Andy Murray

Andy Murray has been eying this year’s Wimbledon for a full year as the ultimate tournament he wants to play before finally retiring. Yes, he will play the Olympics shortly after this, but Wimbledon is the one that matters.

So it was tragic news last week when he had to retire in the second round of Queens Club. News of a private surgery to remove a spinal cyst was then leaked by the media along with false reporting that he was thus forced to withdraw from Wimbledon.

Judy Murray was not pleased.

Murray never withdrew from Wimbledon.

He did in fact have a cyst removed from a location near his spine that was causing nerve pain in his right leg. The surgery went well. He is practicing but still doesn’t have complete feeling in his leg.

Murray is in the main draw and is slated to play his first-round match against Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic on Tuesday. He is waiting to announce his participation in singles Monday evening.

He is also entered to play doubles with his brother Jamie, their first time to pair here. He’s more likely to play doubles than singles if his rehab doesn’t produce enough results. Singles is his goal, though.

Murray wants to play Wimbledon one more time to “feel that buzz” and “maybe [get] a bit of closure.”

Murray bore the expectations of the entire UK on his back for years before finally winning Wimbledon in 2013, and again in 2016. He became the first British man to win Wimbledon for 77 years. The pressure to win that title had been building for decades, passing through generations of good but not great British tennis players. Murray was the man who finally got it done.

Next in line to feel that pressure is young Jack Draper, who is breaking out as we speak. But for now, the focus remains on Murray.

More than a decade later, we forget how monumental that accomplishment was at the time. It consumed the UK media landscape every year anyone came within a half-mile of the title. The overbearing pressure on the likes of Murray and Tim Henman before him was wildly out of proportion with the task at hand.

Desire and nostalgia are powerful forces. For good reason, Andy wants to play this tournament one more time before hanging up his racket.

“I’m hoping that, yeah, with each day that passes that the likelihood of me being able to play will increase. Yeah, I mean, it’s impossible for me to say because I also want to go out there, like I said, and be able to play to a level that I’m happy with.”

Will we see more legacy-building or more parity?

The sea change in men’s tennis took place three weeks ago in Paris.

When Carlos Alcaraz defeated Jannik Sinner and then Alexander Zverev to claim his first Roland Garros title (his third Grand Slam overall, as well as one on each surface), the transition to tennis’s new era was complete.

The tour is in Alcaraz and Sinner’s capable hands now.

Alcaraz has three majors in his trophy case alongside a former world No. 1 ranking.

The generational tide began to turn here at The Championships last year when Alcaraz defeated Djokovic for his first Wimbledon trophy. That victory meant tennis had to take the new generation seriously immediately. There would be no more talk of how great they will become eventually. They must be dealt with now.

Alcaraz will try to defend his crown against a field of hungry stars waiting to shine in their own spotlights.

Jannik Sinner won his first major in Australia and later assumed the world’s top ranking by reaching the semifinals in Paris. Like Alcaraz before him, Sinner’s ascent was foreseen and the prophecy has now been realized.

Sinner consolidated his top ranking by winning his first tournament as the top dog, the Terra Wortmann Open in Halle, Germany. Turns out it was also his first title on grass, a perfect confidence-builder as he shifts his focus to Wimbledon.

These two guys will be contenders in every Grand Slam they enter. They’ve earned that right.

The question now is who might hop aboard their express train.

Anyone in the top 10 is capable of breaking through.

Sinner and Alcaraz are dominant, yes, but not in the same way Roger, Rafa, and Novak were dominant. At least not yet.

Alexander Zverev is more than ready to get over the hump. His play since returning from injury has improved each week, and his hunger for a major won’t subside anytime soon.

Likewise, Casper Ruud is maximizing his game and was a legit contender at the French Open before being cursed with a mid-match stomach bug in the semis.

Medvedev and Tsitsipas are always capable of deep runs. Rublev and Hurkacz can disrupt a bracket at any time. The question is if they can maintain their levels through seven full matches.

Alex de Minaur is the new “guy who always has a puncher’s chance,” following in the footsteps of players David Ferrer and David Goffin. But does he have the firepower to take down the big guns at the end of a two-week Slam?

Holger Rune still needs to learn to win with his B and C games—when he does, watch out.

Parity is possible at the top of the men’s game. Sinner and Alcaraz are separating themselves and that separation will encourage other players to raise their levels, but one of these guys needs to pry open the doors before they’re all shut out psychologically.

What level can Novak bring?

Across the aisle from Andy Murray we have another legend recovering from his own surgery.

Novak Djokovic had knee surgery three weeks ago after withdrawing from the quarterfinals of Roland Garros, and he already has gotten himself back into playing shape.

He says he is “pain-free” and would not be playing if he didn’t think he were physically capable of winning the title. So in his mind, and that of his camp’s, he can win a two-week best 3-out-of-5 tournament on grass.

That sounds well and good before the first match has been played. It might be a different story if he makes it into week two and has a few hours of mileage on that knee. He was gift-wrapped an easy draw for the first three rounds, which means he can play his way into form. But starting with Holger Rune in the fourth round, he’ll face stiffer competition the rest of the way, and the knee will be tested.

If history has taught us anything, it’s that we should never rule out Djokovic.

Hubie Hits a Humdinger

More of this at Wimbledon, please.

Dark Horse

Matteo Berretini

His game is best suited to this surface, as proven by his runner-up here in 2021 and the fact that four of his eight career titles have come on grass. His fitness is a concern as he is still finding his way back into form after a long time on the sidelines due to injury. No better way to re-emerge than a deep run at The Championships.

There’s only one problem: Jannik Sinner in the second round.

Berretini will be a big underdog in that match, but he has the firepower to score the upset. And he probably knows the fellow Italian’s game well enough to know where to attack. He’ll have to play his best level to get it done, but keep an eye out for a possible draw-changing upset here.

Best First Round Matchups

Matteo Berrettini vs. Marton Fucsovics

(19) Nicolas Jarry vs. Denis Shapovalov

Matteo Arnaldi vs. (29) Francis Tiafoe

Andy Murray vs. Tomas Machac

Extra Topspin’s Prediction

Jannik Sinner