I was at Wimbledon on Wednesday as my brother managed to get a pair of tickets in the public ballot. It has become increasingly difficult to get tickets this way as its popularity has clearly increased. It seems to have generally been easier this year on the whole with the LTA Wimbledon Ticket Resale which was a favourable move. We were on the slowly transforming No.1 Court and spent plenty of time on the outside courts too. Read on for my account of the day including lots of photos along the way. This was my last live tennis experience of 2018. What a year! 😃
No. 1 court schedule
I had resigned myself to Radwanska-Safarova being on Court No.2 so was happy with our schedule on No.1 Court with two (!) women’s matches. I’m pleasantly surprised by the scheduling so far this year. The schedulers seem to be proactively selecting the best match-ups on paper for the top show courts. For this particular day, the line-up of women’s matches looked much more enticing than the men’s. I also wonder if it may be a case of resting the grass with all this hot weather we are experiencing in the UK.
The journey to Wimbledon
It was a surprisingly routine journey to Wimbledon. Normally there are delays and all that jazz but we were first off the train and walked from the National Rail station to the grounds. I don’t understand why so many people waste money on buses and taxis as it’s only about 20 minutes to walk. We also got to see Pauline Parmentier on the way down Church Road so that made it all the more worth it 😂. The bro and I always tally up all our FPAs (famous person alerts!) and this was one of mine along with Nick Lester and various umpires. The bro’s best spot was Judy Murray in a crowd being asked for a selfie.
Wandering around the outside courts
We arrived just after 10:30am and it was surprisingly quiet. There was barely any queue to get through security at gate 13 on the west side. There wasn’t much action on the courts situated in the south end of the grounds. We stopped by Karolina Pliskova who was practising on Court 9. We wandered up past Centre Court where Victoria Azarenka was on Court 14 and Alexandra Dulgheru on Court 15.
There are no viewing facilities at Aorangi this year as the roof structure for No.1 Court is taking up the space of the two practice courts where there used to be a raised viewing platform.
Madison Keys vs. Luksika Kumkhum (Court 12)
We opted to start our day on Court 12 for the first match of the day between Madison Keys and Luksika Kumkhum. Surprisingly, this was our first ever time on Court 12! We’d always ignored it as it looked so busy and had big queues. We went on the court early at about 11 (with play starting at 11:30am) as it seemed the best option of the matches up first. It soon filled up and was mostly full by 11:20. It’s quite a difficult court to get on/off so I would only recommend going there at the start of the day or after the conclusion of matches.
You get a great view around the grounds and we were also watching the match on Court 8 between Donna Vekic and Rebecca Peterson. Vekic didn’t even celebrate winning the first set as she had gone from 4-0 to 4-5 before eventually winning the opener, 7-5. A superb win in the end, 7-5 6-3. We found ourselves somewhat disengaged from what was happening on Court 12 because there were so many distractions.
It wasn’t a bad match between Keys and Kumkhum but there were few talking points. The match felt closer than the scoreline suggested. Keys was a bit better on the big points, especially in the second set as she saved break points at *2-2 and *3-3 before breaking Kumkhum’s serve at 4-3*.
Keys’s forehand looked superb. The one area of weakness was the backhand where she was often hitting too flat and didn’t seem to get down low enough with a handful going into the net. I guess this will improve as Wednesday’s match was only Keys’s second competitive match on grass in 2018. Keys won, 6-4 6-3 in just 76 minutes. All in all, a very promising performance and one to watch. I like how Keys is moving through the draw with a minimum amount of fuss.
Venus Williams vs. Alexandra Dulgheru (No.1 Court)
With a Pimms in tow from the new food/drink area that replaced the old Court 19, we headed over to our seats on Court No.1. We were in Row X which is three rows from the back. Advantage was we had no sun and it was nice and cool. There’s not really a bad seat in the house. Sadly we couldn’t see the new roof!
I didn’t have high hopes for this match. It was actually very entertaining. I had a Venus fan to the side of me (who initially had accused me of sitting in her seat – this was not the case 😂) who was whispering “come on, Venus” under her breath before most points. Dulgheru competed well in the first set as Williams just made a few too many unforced errors and didn’t get enough returns in play. Like her first round match, Venus dropped the first set. Then she turned on the style. The American player won 12 of the last 13 games to win, 4-6 6-0 6-1 in one hour and 59 minutes.
It was one of the more entertaining 6-1 final sets i’ve seen and Dulgheru didn’t play badly at all. I thought Williams was excellent – serving well, aggressive and precise in the rallies, and moving forward to dominate at the net. Dulgheru managed to save one match point on a stunning rally. Williams sealed the win on her second match point. The crowd seemed to really enjoy the match and got behind both players. Next up for Venus is Kiki Bertens in the third round on Friday.
Caroline Wozniacki vs. Ekaterina Makarova (No.1 Court)
The last time I saw Caroline Wozniacki play live she came from 1-5 down in the third set and saved two match points to defeat Jana Fett in the second round of the Australian Open. For a moment I thought I was going to witness another wild Woz escape!
This was a memorable match and one I won’t forget anytime soon. It followed the pattern of the first match with the unseeded player taking the first set. Makarova hadn’t won back-to-back matches all year but is always dangerous on the grass. Peak Makarova started the match, overcoming a late wobble to take the opening set, 6-4. After a brief attack of flying ants that seemed to bother Wozniacki, she rolled through the second set, 6-1.
This is where the match deviated from the first as Peak Makarova reappeared. This really was Makarova at her best as she crunched groundstrokes, many viciously down-the-line, and pushed a passive, Wozniacki back behind the baseline. Makarova raced into a 5-1 third set lead. Having seen Makarova’s results this year, I didn’t expect this to be a smooth close. And then…
Makarova failed to serve out the match at *5-1 and then tried again at *5-3. This game was bonkers. Makarova chalked up three match points at *40-0. The Russian player barely went wide with a forehand down-the-line on the second one and then double faulted on the third to gasps from the crowd. It was a bad double fault. Makarova managed to get a fourth match point but missed again down-the-line into the net. Makarova double faulted again to get broken. Cue pandemonium from the No.1 Court crowd! Wozniacki reeled off four games in a row to level up at 5-5. This was feeling like Melbs all over again…
Makarova again wasted a *40-0 lead at *5-5 with increasingly errant, nervous and rushed play. Makarova though regrouped and found the line with two huge forehand winners to hold to 6-5. I felt Wozniacki was waiting for Makarova to miss at the end and she was notably passive. The hold at 5-5 was huge for Makarova and she soon produced three more match points on the Wozniacki serve. On her 6th match point, Makarova scored the upset win, 6-4 1-6 7-5 in two hours and nine minutes. She raised her arms in celebration, probably more relief!
A great win for Makarova and her best of the year with a first top ten victory since Sydney. I was pleased for her mental well-being that she managed to close it out because this would have been an absolute heartbreaker if she’d lost. I really thought Wozniacki was going to make quarter-finals this year. This now means that both the Eastbourne finalists have gone out in the first two rounds.
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Jared Donaldson (Court 18)
We finished up on Court 18 to watch Stefanos Tsitsipas against Jared Donaldson. Tsitsipas is one of my favourite ATP players and I don’t think we saw him at his best in Melbourne when he played Denis Shapovalov. He was much better here and was leading two sets to love when we joined the match. We saw the end of the third set and fourth set up until the rain.
Tsitsipas has some lovely feel and was really secure at the net. He wasn’t so clutch though on taking break point opportunities and Donaldson, sporting heavy strapping on his knee that he later removed, was very plucky. Tsitsipas also had a medical time-out during the fourth set. When the match was paused, Donaldson had just secured a break to lead 4-3 in the fourth set. The pair will return on Court 18 to finish their second round match on Thursday.
Lucie into the third round!
I was gutted to miss Lucie-Aga on Court No.2 but that’s how it goes. I was chuffed to see that she got the win over Radwanska, 7-5 6-4 to book a date in the third round against Makarova. That bottom section is wide open!
Wishing everyone who goes to Wimbledon a great day! It’s a really special place for any tennis fan.