Second round matches will dominate the order of play on day 3 of the 2018 Wimbledon Championships. There are some great matches and big names involved such as Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Madison Keys. My three favourite second round matches were pretty clear cut for the bottom half and i’m hoping to see at least one of these matches on No.1 Court! Read on for profiles of my three to see on Wednesday.
1. Karolina Pliskova vs. Victoria Azarenka (Wimbledon, R2)
Blockbuster match-up alert! 🚨🚨🚨
Wednesday’s match of the day will see the number seven seed, Karolina Pliskova take on Victoria Azarenka for the third time in 2018. The pair are tied at 1-1 in their head-to-head this year with Azarenka winning reasonably comfortably in the quarter-finals of Miami and then Pliskova edging an entertaining three setter in Madrid, 6-2 1-6 7-5.
Both players had their struggles on Monday. Pliskova dropped a set to Harriet Dart and generally looked uncomfortable on the grass, playing through periods of passive play. The Czech player survived and once again demonstrated her ability to win ugly, prevailing 7-6(2) 2-6 6-1. Azarenka hurt her knee during a nasty fall in her first round match against Ekaterina Alexandrova. The Belarusian said in her press conference (via the Wimbledon YouTube page) that the implications of these injuries sometimes aren’t apparent until the next day due to the adrenaline. Azarenka said that she was “optimistic” about being OK physically. Alexandrova is a big hitter so this was a solid win for Azarenka on the grass.
I think both players are nowhere near their best right now. Pliskova was arguably playing her most impressive tennis of the season back in Madrid, at the height of a lofty winning streak. Azarenka hasn’t won back-to-back matches on the tour since Miami. The key for Azarenka will be to serve well and to stay close with Pliskova in that department, and to be positive going forward. I was not at all convinced by Pliskova in her first round match and also in Eastbourne where I learnt that she’s really not a fan of the grass! Therefore, I’m going for Azarenka as I think she will be smart enough to exploit Pliskova’s movement on this surface.
2. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Lucie Safarova (Wimbledon, R2)
I was totally unaware of the head-to-head between Agnieszka Radwanska and Lucie Safarova with Lucie leading, 4-1! This is because all of their matches were 2011 or earlier, before I really got into watching women’s tennis. The pair experienced contrasting fortunes on Monday. Radwanska was forced to save six match points against the impressive Romanian qualifier, Elena-Gabriela Ruse, 6-3 4-6 7-5. Radwanska was struggling at the end, but credit to her for digging in and getting the win. Whether this result will have taken much out of her physically having played little tennis over the last two months remains to be seen. Safarova had a drama free (wow!) first rounder as she beat Kateryna Bondarenko, 6-4 6-4, facing just the one break point in 10 service games.
The head-to-head is an interesting one. I don’t think we can read too much into it since they haven’t played in nearly eight years. Taking that aside, i’ve never enjoyed watching Safarova play against someone who has lots of variety. In Mallorca, Safarova lost out in three sets to Tatjana Maria although that result doesn’t stand out so much now! Tough to pick a winner and even more so with my fondness of Lucie. I will say that I am more optimistic for Lucie compared to her second rounder at the French against Karolina Pliskova. Wishing for No.1 Court… 🤞🤞🤞
3. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Ekaterina Makarova (Wimbledon, R2)
Caroline Wozniacki faces the first real test of her Wimbledon credentials against 2014 Wimbledon quarter-finalist, Ekaterina Makarova. Wozniacki stormed past Varvara Lepchenko, 6-0 6-3 in just 59 minutes on Centre Court. Makarova battled past Petra Martic in three sets, 7-6(0) 2-6 6-3 for her first singles win on grass this year.
Wozniacki had absolutely dominated this head-to-head with seven consecutive wins between 2008 and 2014. Makarova turned the tables in their most recent match-up at the US Open in 2017 where Makarova played a blinding match to win, 6-2 6-7(5) 6-1.
This is an interesting one because Makarova brings very little form into this tournament and has not won back-to-back singles matches all year. However, the Russian player has always played her best tennis on grass and has claimed six top ten wins on this surface in her career. While Makarova is always dangerous on this surface, Wozniacki’s warm-up in Eastbourne was ideal as she was forced to play a range of different players, including some heavy hitters. I think the confidence from that run will help Wozniacki come through this tricky match.