The wait is over… Wimbledon is here 🥰🥰🥰. It took some time before we saw some live tennis as day 1 got off to a very frustrating start with that annoying barely-rain and drizzle, just enough to postpone play for the first four or so hours on the outside courts. Read on for Monday’s diary from the first day of the 2021 Championships. There will be no post tomorrow as i’m going to Wimbledon and will be on No.1 Court.
Day 1️⃣ Highlights
(2) Aryna Sabalenka d. Monica Niculescu, 6-1 6-4
With drizzle on the outside courts, Aryna Sabalenka and Monica Niculescu opened proceedings at Wimbledon 2021 on No.1 Court at 1pm. Sabalenka navigated a slicey, dicey opener with a very clean display.
Sabalenka absolutely marmalised the Niculescu serve. Niculescu landed 86% of first serves in play but they were floaty and like sitting ducks for Sabalenka. Niculescu did bring out the underarm serve in the second set which didn’t make it over the net – both players had a chuckle! Sabalenka hit 15 (!) return winners and 48 winners total as Sabalenka’s power, mixed in with some neat touches of variety, was ultimately too much for Niculescu.
The second set was much more competitive and Sabalenka was not quite as ruthless on return with a few more errors creeping into her game. In the end, Sabalenka tightened her grip on serve and served out the match in emphatic fashion, dropping just the one point in her final two service games. A solid start for Sabalenka.
Sloane Stephens d. (10) Petra Kvitova, 6-3 6-4
Sloane Stephens’s resurgence continues as she scored another top ten win at a Slam, beating one of the more favoured contenders in Petra Kvitova. I always feel glum when Petra loses at Wimbledon and even more so when it’s on day one! At the same time, I can’t begrudge this win for Sloane who I’m happy for.
Stephens had one of those really steady days where she didn’t do a lot wrong. Stephens had a good read on the Kvitova serve and returned superbly. Kvitova missed sooo many returns. I think some of that was down to Stephens being very clever on serve, going into the body and often jamming up Kvitova. The story of Kvitova’s day was pretty much summed up in the final game when she nearly took out the umpire with a return 😂 .
Not really sure what happened with Petra who definitely had a bit of an off day. It was quite a quick turnaround from a busy week in Bad Homburg where she had to play two matches on Friday. I also wonder with Wimbledon whether she puts too much pressure on herself to do well because this is clearly her favourite tournament. On a side note – thrilled to have Tracy Austin back on commentary for the BBC. One of my favourites 😊 .
(7) Iga Swiatek d. Hsieh Su-Wei, 6-4 6-4
Can you believe this was Swiatek’s first ever main draw win at Wimbledon?! I was very impressed with Swiatek because Hsieh is such a tricky customer on grass and as Swiatek has stated in press, she doesn’t have much experience on the green stuff.
It was a very committed display from Swiatek who didn’t let Hsieh do her thing and managed to control the match, never really losing grasp of it. The most impressive aspect of Swiatek’s game was her serve – 79% of first serve points won, 58% of points won behind the second serve, just one service game dropped and a string of aces to confidently serve out the match.
I thought Swiatek would have a solid tournament but didn’t see her as a contender. This performance made me at least sit up and take notice.
(23) Madison Keys d. Katie Swan, 6-3 6-4
This was a solid start from Madison Keys. The American’s weight of shot on return was telling in the first set. Swan got on the board at 3-1 in the first set and generally competed well as she kept her side of the scoreboard ticking along. Keys served really, really well. Just five points dropped behind the first serve and didn’t face any break points. With Petra out of this quarter, Madison is definitely one to keep an eye out for. My finalist!
Best of the rest 🎾
Garbiñe Muguruza dropped just the one game (!) and needed 50 minutes (!) to beat Fiona Ferro, 6-0 6-1.
Sofia Kenin won her first competitive match on grass this year, beating Wang Xinyu, 6-4 6-2. Nearly went for the upset in this one. Glad common sense prevailed in the end!
In the longest match of the day, Viktorija Golubic beat Veronika Kudermetova, 3-6 6-1 11-9. Kudermetova has had a shocking few weeks after a tough loss at Roland Garros.
Snap of the day 📸
Love this shot. Painful watch at times but yayyy Andy.
Funny moment 🤣
Press highlights 📰
Enjoyed this press conference with Sloane Stephens. Sloane telling Ben not to answer all his questions on day one 😂 .
Recommended media 📺
Enjoyed this feature on Evonne Goolagong Cawley. Nice touch to have Ash Barty narrating.
Recommended listening 🎧
53 minutes of Petra content ❤❤❤.
Day 2 watchlist 📺
(1) Ash Barty vs. Carla Suárez Navarro
(5) Bianca Andreescu vs. Alizé Cornet
(14) Barbora Krejcikova vs. Clara Tauson
(20) Coco Gauff vs. Francesca Jones
6 thoughts on “2021 Wimbledon, Day 1 Highlights: Stephens d. Kvitova, Swiatek impresses”
Rybakina just scored her very first main draw win at Wimbledon also. She was very very impressive against Mladenovic, who didn’t help herself with a lot of double faults. Would love a Rybakina – Sabalenka fourth round match (please make this happen!)
Oh yes of course! Glad to see Rybakina comfortably through. I had her to the quarters in my draw!
Hope you enjoy tomorrow James and fingers crossed that the weather will be good. I’ll be out in the morning but will be back at about 2pm so will have to see If I can spot you on TV !
Pity that the Sabalenka match did not go to a 3rd set as it would have made the match very interesting and could have been entertaining.
I thought after 15 mins of the Stephens/Kvitova match that Stephens looked the likely winner. Kvitova was very disappointing. She did look jaded and tired. Some sections of the media are describing the result as a shock win for Stephens but I disagree as she is a former GS winner and reached the semi’s in Parma last month and is still capable of playing good tennis so I do not personally see this as a shock.
I was also very impressed with Iga Swiatek who has a lot of natural ability. She played much better than she did at Eastbourne and I hope that she can at least get to the 2nd week.
It was so good to have a decent amount of spectators in most of the matches with the majority not wearing masks. Looking forward to the rest of the tournament.
Thanks, Peter! I’ll be wearing a green Wimbledon cap 😂. Yeah Petra isn’t a big shock. I underestimated Sloane because she hadn’t played any grass court tournaments prior to Wimby. But yeah, that was a tough draw. Amazing atmosphere for the matches, quite jarring to see so many spectators!
I’ve had problems with my computer recently so I only found out today about the result of the Petra Kvitova – Sloane Stephens match (and some others). I’m just wondering though how two former grand slam champions came to be playing each other in the first round? Was this an anomaly with the Wimbledon seeding?
Sorry to hear you’ve had computer issues, Graham. Hopefully all fixed! Sloane has been playing better of late but her form over the past year or two has been pretty poor which is why she is down at 73 in the rankings.