WIMBLEDON HAS ARRIVED. Main draw action kicks off on Monday at 11.30am on the outside courts and at 1pm on the two show courts. Last year, it was Marion Bartoli who claimed the title in what was a wacky and exciting Wimbledon draw. Serena Williams is the number one seed, but comes into the tournament with no competitive grass court matches in 2014 along with Maria Sharapova and Li Na. It promises to be a fascinating tournament. Will it feature as many shocks as the 2013 draw? Here are my thoughts on the draw. Comments and opinions are encouraged, i’d love to hear from you 🙂
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First Quarter: S.Williams (1) v M.Sharapova (5)
For the second straight Grand Slam, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova are set to meet in the quarter-finals… but will it actually happen this time? Sharapova comes into the event having won her fifth major after a brutal run to the final of Roland Garros where she beat Simona Halep in an absolutely sensational final. In the last couple of years, French Open champions haven’t fared well at Wimbledon with Sabine Lisicki ending their run four times in the last five years. Sabine may not be the giant killer this year as the earliest they could meet is the semi-finals. I’ll be shocked if Maria goes all the way. Serena is another interesting conundrum; I always thought she would win one of these two Grand Slams, but not both and to be honest, I thought she would scoop the Roland Garros title. On her day, she’s the clear favourite, but there have been quite a number of occasions in 2014 where there has not been the case.
Serena opens her Wimbledon campaign against Anna Tatishvili and could meet Alize Cornet, who defeated her in Dubai earlier this year, in the third round. All in all, it’s a pretty tough draw for Serena. However trying to dissect it is difficult because on paper she will beat everyone,. Her form remains a mystery with no grass court preparation matches. Serena’s potential last 16 opponent is Eugenie Bouchard, who has a dangerous opener against Daniela Hantuchova. After two very favourable draws at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, it seems about right that Genie has a tougher affair at Wimbledon. She suffered an early exit at s’Hertogenbosch to Vania King, but seems to be turning into the new Sloane Stephens with her ability to peak for the Slams having reached back-to-back Grand Slam semi-finals this year.
Sharapova starts against the Brit, Samantha Murray. The top half will see a curious schedule for Tuesday with Sabine Lisicki confirmed to open play on Centre Court, therefore guaranteeing that one of Serena or Maria will open up on Court No.2. The first seed that Sharapova is set to meet is Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Pavs will play Alison Riske in the first round, who always plays her best tennis during the grass court season. Also lurking is Camila Giorgi, who could meet Pavs / Riske in the second round. The Italian had a huge win over Victoria Azarenka in the first round of the Aegon International and pushed Caroline Wozniacki to three sets in a controversial quarter-final. Personally, I’d love Riske to reach the third round, but I’d back Giorgi. If we got a Giorgi v Sharapova match in the third round, that would be EPIC. Giorgi has a win over Maria earlier this year at Indian Wells and we know that she loves a big occasion…
Eastbourne finalist, Angelique Kerber has had a stunning week and looks to be playing some of her best tennis of the entire year. She has racked up wins over Riske, Cornet, Ekaterina Makarova and Wozniacki, and is looking very confident on the grass. She plays Urszula Radwanka first up and would then meet the winner of Heather Watson and Ajla Tomljanovic. 2013 Wimbledon semi-finalist, Kirsten Flipkens is also in this section and opens against 2011 and 2012 Wimbledon quarter-finalist, Tamira Paszek, who was forced to qualify this year.
1st Round Predictions: S.Williams d. Tatishvili in 2 sets, Cetkovska d. Jaksic in 2 sets, Cornet d. Schmiedlova in 2 tight sets, Bouchard d. Hantuchova in 2 tight sets, Watson d. Tomljanovic in 3 sets, Flipkens d. Paszek in 3 sets, Riske d. Pavlyuchenkova in 3 sets and Sharapova d. Murray in 2 sets
Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: S.Williams v Kerber
Second Quarter: S.Halep (3) v J.Jankovic (7)
Simona Halep has drawn a breeze of a draw at Wimbledon. Of course, after the wacky year that was 2013, anything is possible at Wimbledon. Halep reached the final at Roland Garros, her first Grand Slam final. She won one match at s’Hertogenbosch before being forced to pull out in the second round with an injury. It seems this was just a precaution for Wimbledon. The seeds in her section, Sorana Cirstea, Roberta Vinci and Carla Suarez Navarro are all struggling; Cirstea has not played any matches on the grass due to a shoulder injury, Vinci lost her only match in Eastbourne and CSN too after she pulled out of her first match in Holland with an injury. Cirstea’s section features two rising talents, Belinda Bencic and Victoria Duval. One of the pair should reach the third round to meet Halep.
Of all the potential third round matches, the one that SCREAMS OUT features Sabine Lisicki and Ana Ivanovic. Lisicki has a tremendous record at Wimbledon; she reached the final last year with sensational victories over Serena Williams (6-2 1-6 6-4, R4) and Agnieszka Radwanska (6-4 2-6 9-7, SF). Her form and more importantly, her health has been poor all year. At the French Open, Sabine hurt her wrist forcing her to pull out of the Aegon Classic. In a complete role reversal, Ivanovic is in terrific form, having won the warm-up event at Birmingham. However she has never had brilliant results at Wimbledon. Ana reached the semi-finals in 2007, but hasn’t been past the last 16 since then. Lisicki opens against Julia Glushko, meanwhile Ivanovic will play Francesca Schiavone. If Ivanovic and Lisicki were to meet in the third round, it would be a fabulous match-up. Lisicki’s love affair runs so deep with Wimbledon that it’s hard to believe her game won’t suddenly click…
Jelena Jankovic has never reached a quarter-final at Wimbledon, which is a rather insane stat considering how many years she has been at the top of the game. Something doesn’t gel with her on the grass and she looked hilariously negative in a 6-3 6-3 loss to Madison Keys in the first round of Eastbourne. Kaia Kanepi would have been a fearsome opponent a year ago on grass but the Estonian player, who reached the quarters last year, is in a terrible run of form. Anyone who loses 6-1 6-2 to Yvonne Meusburger on grass is having issues.
There is a cracking quartet in this section featuring Klara Koukalova, Taylor Townsend, Madison Keys and Monica Puig. Koukalova has done well on the grass, but she faces a stinker against Townsend, who is young, fearless and still relatively unknown on the tour, making her extremely dangerous. Keys and Puig, who play each other in the first round, have both had landmark results in the last month. Puig won Strasbourg the week before the French Open and Keys has just reached the final of Eastbourne. Puig has a 2-0 H2H lead, but both matches were on clay. Madison appears to have a super game for the grass and could be the wildcard in this section to go really, really, really deep. I just wonder whether tiredness will hurt her like Jamie Hampton last year…
1st Round Matches: Halep d. Pereira in 2 sets, Bencic d. Rybarikova in 3 sets, Duval d. Cirstea in 2 sets, Vinci d. Vekic in 2 sets, Suarez Navarro d. Zhang in 3 sets, Ivanovic d. Schiavone in 2 sets, Lisicki d. Glushko in 2 sets, Townsend d. Koukalova in 3 sets, Keys d. Puig in 3 sets and Jankovic d. Kanepi in 3 sets
Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: Halep v Lisicki
Third Quarter: V.Azarenka (8) v A.Radwanska (4)
Victoria Azarenka is in the draw for Wimbledon and will be pretty content with it. After one match, an epic three setter against Camila Giorgi in Eastbourne, Vika looked fit and healthy, and played well despite the loss. Her first match of the week will be against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Vika is set to meet Serena-slayer, Garbine Muguruza in the third round. She has drawn Coco Vandeweghe, who beat her in s’Hertogenbosch earlier this week. Muguruza has had some tremendous highs and crazy lows this year. She showed tremendous nerve to beat Serena and back up that win in Paris, but had some alarming losses between Melbourne and Paris. This is going to be a tough match for her. Lucie Safarova and Dominika Cibulkova are the two other seeds in Azarenka’s eighth and both have good draws with a number of clay courters dwelling in this section. Vika has a good draw, but with so little tennis under her belt, I think it’s highly possible that she could run out of gas during the middle of the tournament as she gives her foot its first real workout.
Two players who I didn’t fancy AT ALL on the grass will meet in a hilarious first rounder. Sara Errani and Caroline Garcia are both winless in singles action on grass this year. I’ve got no idea who will win that one! Another of the grass court GOATS, Tsvetana Pironkova is lurking. For the second year in a draw, Tsvetana has drawn a blinder. In the first round, she meets Varvara Lepchenko. This won’t be an easy match, but based on her Wimbledon record, you’d have to think she will win that one and then knock out Errani / Garcia. Ekaterina Makarova has a tremendous record at Eastbourne, but that has never really translated at Wimbledon, having never made it past the third round. She opens against Kimiko Date-Krumm, which could be a potential banana skin. Date-Krumm had an amazing match with Venus Williams at Wimbledon in 2011 and made the third round last year.
Agnieszka Radwanska has reached at least the semi-finals of Wimbledon in the last two years. A good omen for Aga was another first round loss at Eastbourne. This year, she actually played a pretty good match before falling to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in a third set tiebreak. Radwanska is projected to meet Svetlana Kuznetsova in the third round, who hasn’t played on grass for the last couple of years with injuries halting her progress on this surface.
1st Round Predictions: Azarenka d. Lucic-Baroni in 2 sets, Jovanovski d. Larsson in 3 sets, Vandeweghe d. Muguruza in 3 sets, Safarova d. Goerges in 3 sets, Cibulkova d. Wozniak in 3 sets, Errani d. Garcia in 2 sets, Pironkova d. Lepchenko in 3 sets, Makarova d. Date-Krumm in 3 sets, Gajdosova d. Voegele in 2 very tight sets, Dellacqua d. Kontaveit in 2 sets and Radwanska d. Mitu in 2 sets
Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: Azarenka v Radwanska
Fourth Quarter: P.Kvitova (6) v Li Na (2)
The final section of the draw features Chinese trailblazer, Li Na and former Wimbledon champion, Petra Kvitova. The Czech world number six won two matches in Eastbourne before having to pull out with a hamstring injury. It looked precautionary although I am a little concerned. Her first match of the week will be against fellow Czech, Andrea Hlavackova. Kvitova is on collision course with Venus Williams; the pair could meet in the third round, which would be terrific to watch on the grass. The pair’s last two matches have gone to a third set tiebreak and with grass their favourite surface, I’m willing this match to happen. Venus hasn’t been healthy in her last couple of appearances at Wimby. This may be her best chance for quite a while to get some wins under her belt at SW19. Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor will be Venus’s first opponent. Sloane Stephens and Flavia Pennetta are the highest seeds in the other part to this eighth of the draw. Sloane meets former Wimbledon quarter-finalist, Maria Kirilenko, meanwhile Flavia opens against Jana Cepelova, who hasn’t won a match since qualifying in Madrid.
After a first round exit at the French Open, Li Na has rather surprisingly, played no warm-up matches on the grass. Thankfully for her, she has a workable draw to shake off any early tournament jitters. Paula Kania, the qualifier, is unlikely to put up a great deal of resistance in the opening round. Caroline Wozniacki is a possibler fourth round opponent for Li. Eastbourne marked a return to form for Caro where she notched up three impressive wins over Sam Stosur, Stephens and Giorgi. She could meet Sammy again in the third round of Wimbledon. Before that, Woz will take on Shahar Peer in the first round. Wozniacki has a great draw, but I stil don’t have belief yet that she can bring her best form at a Grand Slam.
1st Round Predictions: Kvitova d. Hlavackova in 2 sets, Barthel d. Oprandi in 2 sets, V.Williams d. Torro-Flor in 2 sets, Stephens d. Kirilenko in 2 sets, Konta d. Peng in 3 sets, Davis d. Kleybanova in 2 sets, Wozniacki d. Peer in 2 sets, Konjuh d. Erakovic in 3 sets, Stosur d. Wickmayer in 2 tight sets, Li d. Kania in 2 sets
Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: Kvitova v Li
Serena has a few dangerous potential match-ups in her section. In my opinion, if she passes the last 16 (where she could meet Genie), she will be the overwhelming favourite to win the title. The second quarter has been the most difficult to call. I’m going back and forth between Lisicki and Ivanovic and have ignored Sabine’s recent form to have her to the quarters. I don’t think her body will hold up to go any further with Halep having a dream draw that could comfortably see her reach the last four. In the third quarter, I really like Aga’s chances. Cibulkova’s draw is really favourable but in the end, I have gone for Vika to honour her seeding although I think it will be a tough fortnight for her. The final quarter was the most straightforward to pick for me.
Serena is my tip to win. Going in her favour, she’s great at bouncing back after rough results and she should be fighting fit after nearly a month off. The American is likely to be very rusty at the beginning, but she should have two pretty straightforward matches to start with. I nearly went for Kvitova as my champion hahaha. I am a little concerned by the injury; with all her inconsistencies, Petra’s record at Wimbledon speaks for itself. Since winning, she has reached back-to-back quarter-finals and probably could have gone a lot further last year if it hadn’t been for an illness. The year before she won, she made the semi-finals too. Petra has a tough draw, but if she can raise her game at any tournament, it’s Wimbledon.