Wednesday will see second round action begin at Wimbledon although the weather forecast is not looking too good! This post covers two women’s matches from the third quarter of the draw including Simona Halep v Francesca Schiavone and Mona Barthel v Kiki Bertens. For a round-up of day 1 action on the outside courts including photos from Safarova v Mattek-Sands and Kasatkina v Duval click HERE.
1. Simona Halep v Francesca Schiavone (Wimbledon, R2)
Loving the sound of this one… the number 5 seed, Simona Halep will take on Francesca Schiavone in the second round of Wimbledon on Wednesday.
Halep suffered a first round exit at Wimbledon last year, but didn’t suffer the same fate two years running. Halep had a solid win over Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, 6-4 6-1 in 67 minutes. It was a good draw for Halep because poor Schmiedlova is on a 15-match losing streak on the tour, hasn’t won a match since January and has won just one set in all that time (against Muguruza of all players!) in that time. For Halep, no doubt she’ll improve going forward. She spoke in press about the pain in her achilles which is on-off. Thankfully, she has been able to practice pain free for the last few days.
Schiavone had a wonderful win over Anastasija Sevastova, 7-6(7) 6-4; this was her first victory at Wimbledon since 2012. Sevastova twice served for the first set but Schiavone battled tremendously well, chasing down so many balls and showing some exquisite touch at the net. The Italian player hit a wonderful volley to wrap up the first set. Schiavone was very committed and it was great to see as she earnt her first win on tour since Katowice in April.
Head-to-head record: In their only previous match, Schiavone defeated Halep, 6-3 6-2 on the clay in Marrakech. Halep has improved so much since 2013…
Interesting stat: While you’ll most likely remember Schiavone for triumphs on a clay court, her record on grass isn’t all that bad. The former Roland Garros champion reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon in 2009 and also reached the 4th round in 2012.
Final thoughts: Schiavone is wonderful to watch, even on grass, and has plenty of tricks up her sleeve. She could cause Halep a few problems here, but the Romanian player will no doubt improve on her first round outing and be the more consistent player. It’s not out of the question that Schiavone could spring an upset, but she’d have to play a blinder. Halep for the win…
2. Mona Barthel v Kiki Bertens (Wimbledon, R2)
For the 12th time since 2010, Kiki Bertens and Mona Barthel will play each other. It’s a curiously regular match-up with both players seemingly attracted to each other in draws!
Bertens hadn’t played since a magnificent run to the semi-finals of the French Open. It came at a slight cost as she was forced to miss the grass court season with a calf injury sustained in Paris. She faced a tricky looking first rounder against Jelena Ostapenko who had been making waves on the grass over the past few weeks (for good and bad reasons!). Hands up, I thought Ostapenko would win this but I completely underestimated Bertens who came through for a very comfortable victory, 6-3 6-2. Bertens hit eight more winners than Ostapenko and less than half the number of unforced errors of her Latvian opponent.
Barthel won her first match since January in Hobart with a 6-2 7-6(3) victory over Danka Kovinic in the first round of Wimbledon. Barthel has been sidelined for much of the year with a debilitating virus that caused her to be bed ridden. Finally she was able to make her comeback at the French Open; after a one-sided loss to Alison Riske in Nottingham, Barthel opted to skip Birmingham and Eastbourne qualies as she didn’t feel ready yet. Against Kovinic, Barthel looked much stronger. The stats weren’t favourable but she served much more effectively than Kovinic and sealed a vital win in straight sets. It was a good draw for Barthel as Kovinic has never looked comfortable on grass.
Head-to-head record: As alluded to above, Barthel and Bertens have a hectic head-to-head. Barthel leads it, 9-2 and has won their last five matches. Three of those encounters have gone the distance including their most recent match in Linz at the end of last year, 7-5 3-6 6-2.
Final thoughts: The head-to-head makes this rather fascinating because Barthel has really dominated their previous matches. However, Bertens has looked a completely different player in recent months and has hurtled up the rankings. There are question marks about both players in terms of their fitness but Bertens’s win over Ostapenko looked like she was picking up where she left off from in Paris. Head says Kiki, heart says Mona… probably edging with my head on this one.