1. Belinda Bencic v Tsvetana Pironkova (Wimbledon, R1)
In one of the best first round matches of the women’s draw, the Eastbourne champion, Belinda Bencic will take on Tsvetana Pironkova. Both players have been in form and are at their best on grass. Bencic won her first WTA title in Eastbourne, defeating Agnieszka Radwanska in a three set final, 6-4 4-6 6-0. Bencic had her chances in the second set, but came through in the third set with flying colours. Radwanska looked lost on court as Bencic really took hold of the reins as she had done for much of the match, dominating from the baseline. There were a number of tight games and it was Bencic who played her best tennis when it really mattered, winning 8 out of the 11 deuce games. After winning Eastbourne, Bencic said the following in her press conference.
I was disappointed I didn’t close out the second set and I was starting to get tired but then I started (the third set) very focused. I (got to) 3-0, so after than I relaxed a little bit and could close it out. I have so much confidence now that I played the final. I have nothing to prove at Wimbledon and can just play relaxed and be satisfied with my results.
Pironkova has history at Wimbledon as she reached the semi-finals in 2010 and the quarter-finals in 2011. Pironkova’s game suits grass and she’s demonstrated that this year with a run to the quarter-finals in Eastbourne where she defeated Sam Stosur and Dominika Cibulkova. This will be a first career match-up between the pair and it’s such a tough one to call… i’ve been racking my brain! Bencic will have a great deal of confidence but after three weeks on the grass, she could be fatigued. In Eastbourne, two of her matches finished with a withdrawal and her match against Madison Keys was super quick. Last year, the run to the title in Eastbourne did hinder Keys at Wimbledon. However, others, notably Tamira Paszek have ridden the momentum train into Wimbledon.
I’m going with the momentum train. Belinda edges it…
Prediction: Bencic d. Pironkova in 3 sets
2. Heather Watson v Caroline Garcia (Wimbledon, R1)
British hopes will rest on Heather Watson and Naomi Broady in the women’s draw on the first day of the 2015 Championships. Heather has drawn the number 32 seed, Caroline Garcia in what should be a very interesting match. Garcia’s year has had notable peaks and troughs; it started well, but has dipped in the last month or two. Garcia struggled with the pressure of playing on the Phillippe Chatrier Court in Paris where she lost in three sets to Donna Vekic. She later revealed that she had requested not to be put on the top court. Garcia has caused quite a lot of debate in the comments section. I agree that her technique is stunning and she has just a watchable game. However, so much these days is between the ears and right now, Garcia doesn’t quite have it. Since losing a really well fought match against Maria Sharapova in Madrid earlier this year, Garcia has posted a 2-4 W-L record on the tour.
Watson’s year has been characterised by two superb tournaments in Hobart and Indian Wells where she was the champion and reached the fourth round respectively. Aside from that, Watson has struggled for consistency and lost a lot of matches that she really should be winning. Her form in Birmingham was disappointing where she lost in straights to Aleksandra Krunic, 7-6(5) 6-4. In Eastbourne, she fought valiantly and secured two vital wins over Varvara Lepchenko (7-6 6-2) and Elina Svitolina (3-6 7-5 6-4). I’ve always had my doubts about Watson but one thing you cannot deny is she has real determination that shone through in Eastbourne.
In their only previous match, Watson thrashed Garcia, 6-1 6-1 on the clay of Estoril in 2012. I think Watson stands a real shot at the upset if she can get the crowd involved.
Prediction: Watson d. Garcia in 3 sets