I’m so excited for Wimbledon! There’s always this weird feeling when it actually comes around as it’s my favourite two weeks of the year. I’m off work now for the tournament so i’m really going to enjoy it. The draw came out this morning and the order of play for day 1 at the 2015 Wimbledon Championships will be released on Sunday at midday. Here’s my tournament preview, which is pretty bare with predictions… this is because I am still deliberating quite a few matches. I will be posting plenty of first round previews this weekend so stay tuned. Enough chit chat, let’s take a look at this draw!
Serena Williams headlines the women’s draw and on paper, it appears to be a favourable draw. It’s always difficult to analyse Serena’s draw because at her best, she beats everyone. Last year though she showed signs of vulnerability at the Slams. I feel like that has still been there the case for much of this year, but she has been digging out some really classy wins. At the French Open, Serena was pushed to three sets in five of her seven matches, but still found a way to win the title while not playing her best tennis and nowhere near her peak physical health. In my head I had Serena out early but i’m finding it hard to pick out a player who will beat her. Serena opens her 2015 Wimbledon campaign against Margarita Gasparyan. I remember watching the Russian player at the Premier event in Moscow a couple of years ago and she’s got an eye catching game. Gasparyan came through qualifying and will compete in her first Wimbledon main draw.
The first seed that Serena could meet is Caroline Garcia; the Frenchwoman’s year has been defined by three wins over Ana Ivanovic. After a very solid start to the year, cracks have begun to show over the year. She lost in the first round of French Open to Donna Vekic, seemingly unable to cope with the pressure of playing on Philipp Chatrier in front of a home crowd. Garcia faces another interesting crowd dynamic as she plays the Brit, Heather Watson. Another engaging first round match-up features Daniela Hantuchova and Dominika Cibulkova with the winner playing Garcia/Watson in the second round. Both matches will be previewed in more detail here on Moo’s Tennis Blog over the weekend. Serena is projected to meet her sister, Venus in the fourth round. Both sisters haven’t played any competitive matches on grass this year but it has never affected them in the past. Venus’s section features three Italians; Sara Errani and Francesca Schiavone are set to meet in the first round with the winner potentially meeting Roberta Vinci in the second round.
Ana Ivanovic and Carla Suarez Navarro are the headline acts in the second eighth of the draw. This section looks very tasty, particularly as Ana and Carla haven’t enjoyed great success at Wimbledon in the past. Ivanovic did reach the semi-finals in 2007 but hasn’t made it to the last eight since, while Suarez Navarro’s best result was reaching the last 16 in 2013. Also lurking in this section are the likes of Victoria Azarenka, Belinda Bencic, Kristina Mladenovic and Tsvetana Pironkova. Bencic and Pironkova play each other in the first round in the match that’s killing my brain. There’s always one; I remember two years ago it was Jamie Hampton and Sloane Stephens. I completely overthought it in the end and got it all wrong! It’s a tough one and to be honest, i’m still on the fence. I’ll make my mind up after the Eastbourne final. CSN has a really challenging draw as she could potentially play Kristina Mladenovic in the second round and Victoria Azarenka in the third round. If she makes it to the second week, she’s done really, really, really well.
Spare a thought for Johanna Konta. In singles she will play Maria Sharapova and in doubles she plays the Williams sisters! Konta has been in great form this grass court season and did superbly well in Eastbourne, defeating Ekaterina Makarova and Garbine Muguruza. She comes in red-hot and may have a small chance against a rusty Sharapova who hasn’t played a competitive match for over four weeks. Sharapova’s eighth also features Irina-Camelia Begu, Andrea Petkovic and Flavia Pennetta. It’s a pretty neat section for Maria to find her feet on grass before things starting hotting up. Begu faces a very tricky opener against Daria Gavrilova, who will likely be the favourite in that one if she’s fully recovered from the injury that forced her to withdraw from Eastbourne. Pennetta has a dicey opener against Zarina Diyas, while Petko plays Shelby Rogers in the first round for the second consecutive Slam. Naomi Broady has a great opportunity to win a match with a first round tie against Mariana Duque Marino.
Lucie’s Eighth… As the number six seed, Lucie has an eighth!!! Personally, I think this is a really tough draw for Lucie. First up is Alison Riske who is a very competent grass courter. If she were to meet Kaia Kanepi in the second round, that would be tough as the Estonian player has made the quarters here before, but she has not been able to gather any momentum this year with injuries still thwarting her. In the third round, Lucie is seeded to meet BFF, Barbora Strycova. The delightfully wacky Czech player has drawn Sloane Stephens in a tough first rounder. The American player has been gathering pace since Indian Wells and has looked in great shape, reaching the semi-finals in Eastbourne.
This section also features Karolina Pliskova and Sam Stosur. I feel like Pliskova is due a big run at a Slam and I think it could be here. She reached the final in Birmingham and picked up another win in Eastbourne before falling against an in-form Aga. As much as i’ll be cheering for Lucie, i’ll be so impressed if she makes the quarters. No-one was looking at her for Roland Garros and look what she did there with such a tough draw. I have to be honest and say that I fancy Pliskova to take this section.
Caroline Wozniacki pulled out of her semi-final in Eastbourne with Belinda Bencic with a back injury, but later tweeted that she was ready for Wimbledon. I think it was just precautionary and she won’t play her first match until Tuesday so *should* be good to go. Her first match of the week will be against Saisai Zheng. The first seed she could meet is Camila Giorgi in the third round. This is a really dangerous *potential* match, but i’m wondering how Giorgi will respond to her match in Eastbourne where she was unable to convert on a match point against Daria Gavrilova in the second round. She looked flawless at the end of her title run in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and in her first match in Eastbourne against Christina McHale.
Wozniacki’s eighth also features Angelique Kerber who i’ve been bigging up for the grass court season. At first glance, I didn’t like her draw but now i’ve come around. She plays fellow German player, Carina Witthoeft in the first round and will then play the winner of Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Mona Barthel. Kerber could meet Garbine Muguruza in the third round, her conqueror at Roland Garros. Garbine hasn’t shown a great deal of promise on the grass with her best result being a semi-final appearance at ‘s-Hertogenbosch in 2013. In addition, Kerber is much more accomplished on grass than clay. There are pitfalls in this draw, but a title in Birmingham and a rest following her withdrawal in Eastbourne means that Kerber should go into Wimbledon in great shape.
Simona Halep arrives at Wimbledon with much uncertainty after a quarter-final loss to Kristina Mladenovic at Birmingham. It’s fair to say that her form has dropped off since Miami. Halep’s first match at Wimbledon will be against Jana Cepelova. There’s certainly danger looming in her section with the likes of Monica Niculescu, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Timea Bacsinszky and Sabine Lisicki all present in this section. Kuznetsova has had some decent wins on the grass in Birmingham and Eastbourne, and will not be an easy opponent if the pair were to play in the third round. I really liked Bacsinszky’s chances at Wimbledon post French Open but after she pulled out of Birmingham and Eastboune, i’m worried about her having no competitive matches on grass. Furthermore, she plays Julia Goerges in the first round who has reached the second week at both Slams this year. Lisicki remains one to watch in the Wimbledon draw no matter what form she is in. She did well to reach the semi-finals in Birmingham where she served very well but her groundstrokes were erratic. A quarter-final appearance would not surprise me in the slightest.
Ekaterina Makarova is one that i’m struggling to make my mind up on. Makarova had a solid run to the fourth round at Roland Garros but lost her only match on grass in Eastbourne to Johanna Konta in straight sets. It was the first time in eight appearances that Makarova had lost in the first round at the Aegon International… she is the Bourne GOAT! Her section features a compelling first rounder between Ana Konjuh and Alize Cornet. Konjuh won Nottingham, her first WTA title, although it is worth noting that she didn’t beat a top 45 player in the process. Cornet lost both her matches on grass to Christina McHale (4-6 6-2 6-2, Birmingham) and Alison Riske (6-0 6-3, Eastbourne). I like Konjuh to make at least the third round.
Madison Keys and Eugenie Bouchard are seeded to meet in the third round but nothing is a given. Keys lost her first match at Eastbourne to Belinda Bencic, 6-2 6-2. I still believe she will come good. For example, she lost to Timea Babos, 6-2 6-1 in Birmingham last year before powering her way to the Eastbourne title in the next week. She just needs some time to find her game again and with her opening two rounds, I think she has been granted time. With Bouchard, who knows? She picked up an abdominal strain against Bencic in Eastbourne, but did play a very solid match against Alison Riske in the second round. Her first round opponent, Ying-Ying Duan is a very powerful hitter and will have confidence coming through as a qualifier. I’d fancy Bouchard to win a few matches, but going past the third round would be a surprise based on recent woes.
Petra Kvitova returns to Wimbledon as the defending champion. Her record at this event speaks for itself… semi-finals, champion, quarter-finals, quarter-finals and champion. Two of Petra’s losses came against Serena and the other one was against Kirsten Flipkens when she was under the weather and suffering from a virus. After skipping Eastbourne due to a viral illness, Petra will likely be nervous opening up on Centre Court on Tuesday. She has a favourable early draw, opening against Kiki Bertens, but we all know Petra can be vulnerable against anyone in the draw! Last year she had *that* match against Venus Williams that she survived before sauntering through the draw to win her second Wimbledon title. In her quarter this year are the likes of Jelena Jankovic, Agnieszka Radwanska and Elina Svitolina. Jelena on grass is unlikely to pose too many issues, but Aga seems to be working back up to some form on the grass after reaching the final in Eastbourne.
Semi-Final Predictions: S.Williams d. Pliskova, Kvitova d. Kerber
Final Prediction: Petra Kvitova d. Serena Williams
It’s Petra for me as I explained above. Her game is just dynamite on this surface but it will depend on getting into a rhythm after playing no competitive grass court matches. Pre-draw, I felt like Serena would fall early, but I don’t see who she will fall to and i’ve written her off before only for her to make me look like a fool. Completing the French Open-Wimbledon double is such a difficult thing to do, it will require a huge effort from Serena. I’d love to see a Serena-Petra final with both on their game… that would be SO AWESOME. However, that’s a long way away and we’ll have to see how it all unfolds. Moo’s Tennis Blog will be there every step of the way and i’ll be releasing plenty of first round previews to focus on the matches that we know are going to happen. As always, i’d love to hear your comments about the draw so fire away with your predictions and give us your winner in the poll 😀