Wimbledon 2019 – Previews & Polls

Saturday’s Final Preview

A preview of Saturday’s women’s final between Simona Halep and Serena Williams can be found in Thursday’s review HERE.

Thursday’s SF Previews

Serena Williams vs. Barbora Strycova: Serena plays her 37th Slam semi-final while Strycova plays her first! It’s been a wonderful run for Strycova who has knocked out three seeds in a row with wins over Bertens, Mertens and Konta. Her tricky game made life so uncomfortable for Konta and she was really steady, returning superbly. Serena played her second three setter of the tournament and was made to work hard by another fabulous effort from Riske. In the crux moments, Serena was able to raise her game when it counted.

Serena leads Barbora, 3-0 in their H2H and has never dropped a set. There’s definitely elements of Strycova’s game that I think can cause Serena some problems. However, this is a brand new situation for Strycova and Serena just has so much second-week-of-a-Slam experience to fall back on. I hope Strycova can come out and play through the nerves and show off her game on the big stage. Serena for the win.

Simona Halep vs. Elina Svitolina: For the first time, Halep and Svitolina will play at a Slam and on grass. I feel like neither have played peak tennis and have just been really solid and steady this tournament. Svitolina was fortunate to get past Margarita Gasparyan in the second round when she was two points from defeat. Credit to Svitolina who has taken advantage of her opportunities in this draw. You can only beat who is in front of you!

This has always been an interesting head-to-head with Svitolina leading it, 4-3. Halep won their only 2019 match in Doha, 6-3 3-6 6-4. Halep is the favourite to win this match which kind of makes me favour Svitolina because she’s gone under-the-radar all tournament and almost been proving doubters wrong. It’s not the first time Svitolina has done this as she was the outsider in Singapore last year and won the whole caboodle. I also feel it will be a huge weight lifted off her shoulders having reached the semis of a Slam for the first time, even if she didn’t really buy into this theory in her press conference. My concern for Svitolina is that she’s lost some brutal three set matches this year including the one against Halep in Doha where she was in the ascendancy but couldn’t finish it off.

Halep has been the more convincing player this tournament but that doesn’t mean she will win this match. The head-to-head favours Svitolina but I don’t know how grass affects the match-up with Halep having had the better results on this surface. I am generally torn but going to take a whirl with Svitolina. Hoping for a three setter and that it’s not a one-sided damp squib!

Thursday’s SF Polls

Tuesday’s QF Previews

Serena Williams vs. Alison Riske: I can’t believe this will be the first time that Serena and Alison play each other. Serena has upped her level through the last two rounds, beating Julia Goerges and Carla Suárez Navarro, who she has won a combined 24 out of 24 sets against. Riske’s route through to the quarter-finals, her first Slam quarter-final, has been anything but routine. Riske has been pushed to three sets in all four matches and come from a set down in three of them. Key to all Riske’s matches have been her fighting spirit. Her low-key reaction to beating Barty on Monday surprised me. It was almost like, bring on the next one!

Riske said in her press conference that she just needs to go for it in the quarters. I like her attitude and she seems really up for this. I’ve been impressed with how she has turned her last two matches around by being increasingly aggressive and charging the net, and also, how she has served out her last two matches because i’ve seen some nervy moments from her in the past. Serena has to be favourite with all her success at Wimbledon. Intrigued though to see how Riske gets on and fancy her to get a set.

Johanna Konta vs. Barbora Strycova: Konta has come from a set down in her last two matches to score two big wins over Sloane Stephens and Petra Kvitova. Konta’s serve seems to be much more effective this year and she’s been competing exceptionally well at this tournament. Strycova was just one game from defeat but mounted a huge comeback, winning 11 of the last 13 games to beat Elise Mertens. Strycova has spoken in press about this tournament potentially being her last so this feels like a huge moment for her.

In their only previous match, Strycova beat Konta in Tokyo in 2017, 7-5 7-6(5). A tad wary for Konta as this feels a bit like the match-up against Vondrousova at the French where she was the favourite against a tricky player who mixes it up. Strycova has exceeded expectation to reach the QFs and was so close to being out that I wonder if she may relax and go after her shots. Still, I think i’d go for Konta who deserves credit for how well she handles all the commotion at Wimbledon.

Elina Svitolina vs. Karolina Muchova: A lovely match-up but quite an unexpected one! I did have Muchova reaching the second week in my draw which was probably my best pick in a sea of developing red. However, I did not expect her to beat Karolina Pliskova. In one of the best matches of the tournament, Muchova played a wonderful match, winning 13-11 in the third set. Svitolina hadn’t won a match on grass prior to Wimbledon and has struggled in her comeback from a knee injury. Svitolina has played solid all week, getting a touch fortunate in the second round when she was on the ropes against Margarita Gasparyan who was forced to retire due to cramp.

In their only previous match, Svitolina beat Muchova, 6-4 6-2 earlier this year in Doha. I feel like Muchova has the game to beat Svitolina and i’ve felt like that about a few of her opponents this tournament but they haven’t been able to execute with injuries getting in the way. As much as i’m on the bandwagon for Muchova, I do wonder whether she has what it takes physically after such a draining match on Monday and having sported strapping on her leg for at least the last two rounds. Svitolina has been supremely solid this week and I think she’ll run everything down and get lots of ball back. This feels like a tough match-up on the day for Muchova. It’s a huge match for both players as the winner will advance to their first ever Slam semi-final!

Simona Halep vs. Zhang Shuai: Interestingly, Zhang Shuai leads this head-to-head, 2-1, with two straight set wins back in 2016 at the Australian Open (6-0 6-3) and Beijing (6-0 6-3). Zhang’s story is pretty incredible as she hadn’t won a match in the singles at Wimbledon prior to this year and is now in the quarters. Zhang has also had a pretty average year in singles but she is a player that can just catch a hot streak. After two tough openers, Halep has eased past Victoria Azarenka and Cori Gauff in the last two rounds for the loss of just ten games. I think like Svitolina, Halep has been very steady this tournament without really peaking, and she continues to quietly have great runs at Wimbledon.

I think there are clear favourites in all four matches. Of the four matches, I think the one most likely to produce an upset is actually this one. Zhang has beaten Halep twice before and has the type of game, if working well, that can take the game away from Halep. Tough match for Simona but I think she is the favourite to make the final from this bottom half.

QF Stage Poll

Tuesday’s QF Polls

Monday’s R4 Previews

Ashleigh Barty vs. Alison Riske: Two of the best grass courters and in-form players on the tour collide in this fourth rounder with a first ever Wimbledon quarter-final on the line. Riske has won 13 of 14 matches on the grass, while Barty is a perfect 8 out of 8 on the grass and is currently riding a 15 match winning streak with her last loss coming in Rome nearly two months ago. Barty has dropped just 12 games through her 3 matches and has cruised into the second week of Wimbledon. Riske’s run has been anything but routine with three consecutive three set matches and plenty of fighting spirit.

The pair have played just once before back at a $50K ITF in Eastbourne which was in Barty’s comeback tournament. Riske won in two tight sets, 7-6(4) 7-5. This will surely be Barty’s toughest match of the tournament so far. Riske turned the match around against Bencic by being more aggressive and coming forward, and she’ll need to do that again to stand a shot against Barty. I just think Barty’s going to be too solid.

Serena Williams vs. Carla Suárez Navarro: Suárez Navarro has gone under the radar this week to reach the last 16 of a Slam for the 15th time. The Spaniard, who hadn’t won a match on grass prior to Wimbledon, has yet to drop a set this tournament. Serena played her best match of the tournament against Julia Goerges in the third round. I’m going with the head-to-head on this one as Serena has won all six of their previous matches in straight sets with Suárez Navarro not winning more than three games in any of the 12 sets they’ve played.

Elise Mertens vs. Barbora Strycova: Strycova has taken out two seeds en route to the last 16 and scored her first top 10 win in over a year to beat Kiki Bertens in the third round. Mertens won her 7th match on grass this year and her toughest by far in the third round, missing a match point in the second set but ultimately coming through, 6-2 6-7(9) 6-4 victory over Wang Qiang. Mertens has been quite quiet for much of the year (Doha aside) but seems to be playing a bit better and racking up more wins. Strycova spoke in her press (via WTA Insider on Twitter) about possible retirement in the next two years so it sounds like she is really taking in this moment.

The pair have played just once before at the US Open last year where Mertens sneaked out a tight two set win, 6-3 7-6(4). You just never know with Strycova as she can totally lose her mind but I think that grass gives her a platform to be aggressive and she’s so comfortable at coming forward and dominating at the net. If she can execute the gameplan, particularly against Mertens who does tend to sit back at times and defend from the baseline, then I think Strycova will win this.

Petra Kvitova vs. Johanna Konta: Probably the match of the day. Kvitova has looked in superb form and is yet to drop a set through the first three rounds. Konta’s win over Sloane Stephens in the third round was very impressive as she had looked second best for much of the match. Konta kept plugging away, saving break points on serve and then seizing on her opportunity to force a decider. Stephens started the third set poorly and while she did improve again, Konta didn’t let up as she stormed through the decider.

Kvitova leads the head-to-head, 3-1. Half of their matches have been on grass, perhaps a sign of their prowess on this surface. They have split their encounters on the green stuff with Konta’s lone win coming in Eastbourne back in 2016 where she won in three sets, 5-7 6-4 6-0. Of all the last 16 matches, this is the only one where i’m really struggling to get off the fence!

Kvitova’s looked so sharp and I do think there’s an element of less expectation and pressure because of the forearm injury. Konta’s reached the second week at the last two Slams and is mentally on point at the moment. I think i’d give a slight edge for Petra because her game can just go to another level and once she makes the second week of a Slam, particularly Wimbledon, she’s just so damn tough to beat. I’m still wary because Konta has competed so well in the past few months and I do still think there’s a bit of of a concern about Kvitova’s forearm injury.

Elina Svitolina vs. Petra Martic: Svitolina may be the number six seed but I think it’s a bit of a surprise to see her reach the last 16! Svitolina lost both her matches at the Wimby tune-ups but often seems to have a run when you least expect it. Svitolina came through a tough third rounder against Maria Sakkari, missing two match points in the second set, but ultimately playing the steadier tennis to win in three sets. Martic has won all three of her matches in three sets. She’s been such a gritty competitor of late and has been constructing points beautifully on the grass with her backhand slice.

Svitolina leads the H2H with Martic, 4-0 (1 win by retirement). Interestingly, all their previous matches were on the clay. The one match-up that stands out was their fourth round meeting at Roland Garros in 2017 where Martic was unable to convert on a 5-2 third set lead. Svitolina has been solid this tournament but I still feel she’s resorting a bit too much to defence on the grass. Earlier in the week, Gasparyan had Svitolina on the ropes and I think Martic is similar to Gasparyan in the way that she can build points so thoughtfully. My only concern is the nerves for Martic but she did break through that last 16 barrier at the French. I’m going against the H2H on this one and picking Martic for the win.

Karolina Pliskova vs. Karolina Muchova: An all-Czech match-up for the last 16 with Pliskova trying to reach her first ever Wimbledon quarter-final and Muchova trying to reach her first ever Slam quarter-final period. I thought Pliskova played a great match to beat an in-form, Hsieh. It felt like a potential banana skin of a match, like Martic in the third round at the French Open, but she served brilliantly and managed to prevent Hsieh from unleashing her full level of funkiness in the third set. Muchova has had a favourable draw, but she’s taken advantage of it and beat Anett Kontaveit in the third round for the second straight Slam.

Muchova for me is the real deal and I think she’ll crack the top ten in years to come. I think she’s that good and reminds me a bit of Barty. Pliskova and Muchova have played once before earlier this year at the Australian Open where Pliskova won, 6-3 6-2.  As much as I like Muchova, I would favour Pliskova with her serve and how well she has been playing through Eastbourne and Wimbledon. My only concern for Pliskova is that this match is on Court No.2 where she struggled in her first rounder against Zhu Lin and noted the court was playing very slow.

Simona Halep vs. Cori Gauff: The story of the 2019 Championships rolls on with Gauff reaching the second week. It’s been an astonishing run for the 15-year-old. While I think she’s a huge talent, the hype has been unreal. I was surprised by the one-sided nature of Halep’s 6-3 6-1 win over Victoria Azarenka in the third round. I feel like Halep’s results at Wimbledon have gone a bit under-the-radar as it’s the fourth time in the last six years that she has made the last 16 at Wimbledon. It will be a fascinating match-up and there’s just no knowing how Gauff will react again to the situation. I’m tending to think Halep will win this comfortably in straight sets but who knows 🤷.

Zhang Shuai vs. Dayana Yastremska: I think this is probably the most unexpected Manic Monday match-up. Yastremska has broken new ground at a Slam by reaching the second week for the first time in her career, while Zhang won her first ever singles match at Wimbledon. Just like the AO, when she got that first win, Zhang Shuai has got on a roll! In their only previous match-up, Yastremska beat Zhang, 7-5 6-4 in Hong Kong last year. This is a huge opportunity for both players with a first ever Wimby quarter-final on the line so I think there will be some nerves. While she’s in uncharted territory, I think i’d go for Yastremska. I like her fighting spirit on court and she’s been gutsy and bold in the big moments at this tournament.

Monday’s R4 Polls

Saturday’s R3 Previews

Sloane Stephens vs. Johanna Konta: Most interesting match-up on Saturday’s schedule for me with Konta bringing in a 3-0 H2H record with all matches taking place in this season. Both players have eased through their first two rounds at Wimbledon. I was very impressed with Stephens in her first round win and she was playing aggressively. At the French, Konta played an absolute peak match against Stephens and served the best i’ve seen her in years. It’s unlikely that Konta’s going to bring that A-star level again. I feel like Stephens almost comes in as the underdog with their H2H and recent form, even though she is the higher ranked player. I still think the match is on Konta’s racquet and I would go for Jo but think it could be a close one.

Saturday’s R3 Polls

Friday’s R3 Previews

Elina Svitolina vs. Maria Sakkari: Ring the bells for a first time match-up! I’m surprised these two have never played each other. Svitolina was a tad fortunate to advance to the third round after her opponent, Margarita Gasparyan was forced to retire deep in the second set. It was a wonderful match and Gasparyan had played so well, getting within two points from the victory. Sakkari has gone under-the-radar with two straight set wins to reach the third round. This is an interesting match and no data points in the H2H. I like how Sakkari always makes life uncomfortable for her opponent. I think Svitolina is the favourite but think it could be a bit of scrap.

Petra Martic vs. Danielle Collins: Another first time meeting! Both came from a set down on Wednesday to reach the third round. Martic produced another gritty display as she rallied from a set down for the second straight match. The way she managed to hang in against a peaking Potapova was very impressive. Collins was in even more trouble as she was down a set and a double break to Anastasija Sevastova. Collins won what was a rollercoaster clash – big effort considering Collins came into the tournament with so little match play on the grass. A confident Collins is always very dangerous as proven by her AO run. I’m moved by how Martic is working out a way to get through these matches and I think her resourceful game and mental fortitude will give her the edge in this one.

Anett Kontaveit vs. Karolina Muchova: A Roland Garros rematch from the first round. Muchova came from a set down to beat Kontaveit in the first round in Paris last month. It will be fascinating to see how the dynamics of this match change from clay to grass. Kontaveit’s had a ropey few months but her second round win over Heather Watson showed some progress. She was clearly nervous at the start but stayed in contention and got better and better, growing in confidence to win the second set quite handily. Muchova’s had a pretty favourable draw and credit to her, she’s taken advantage of it! Really torn about this one. Muchova’s got the variety to unsettle Kontaveit but I do feel Kontaveit is in a better position compared to RG where she’s got two wins under her belt and steadily improving.

Karolina Pliskova vs. Hsieh Su-Wei: I was hoping we’d get this match and lo and behold, the draw gods have produced! Both players have yet to drop a set this week. Pliskova played much better in her second rounder, easing past an erratic Monica Puig. I was worried for Hsieh against an equally flamboyant opponent in Kirsten Flipkens but she played another strong match to win in straights.

The pair have split their last two meetings which both went deep into a third set. Pliskova won in Miami last year, 6-4 1-6 7-6(4), while Hsieh won earlier this year, 6-4 1-6 7-5 in Dubai. At this same stage of the tournament last year, Hsieh upset Halep. Hsieh loves a big match and has beaten four top 10 players just this year.

I think this is a really tricky match for Pliskova, particularly on grass. Hsieh can slice for fun and will keep the ball low, out of Pliskova’s strike zone. Hsieh also loves pace and redirecting it. Key for Pliskova will be to exploit Hsieh’s serve. The Czech player spoke a good game in press about this match where she hoped her power would be too much for Hsieh. While I have Pliskova is my champ, this is definitely an upset alert.

Simona Halep vs. Victoria Azarenka: Blockbuster match-up alert! The pair last played in the last 16 of Wimbledon where Halep won, 7-6(3) 6-2. Azarenka has looked in fabulous form through her first two rounds and dropped just two games against Ajla Tomljanovic in what was a ruthless display. Halep’s had to battle, overcoming a lengthy three setter with Mihaela Buzarnescu. While she’s not reached top form yet and said in press she was playing “OK”, I think the fighting performances are favourable for Halep.

This has been a good match-up for Halep in the past because of her superior movement. Azarenka has beaten 3 top 10 players in 2019 but has yet to have a big win at a Slam or a Premier Mandatory event. As much as I like Halep, I would love to see Azarenka get a big win. Perhaps a good omen is that I have kept going for Azarenka in my draw challenges this year and this time went for Halep 😂.

Polona Hercog vs. Cori Gauff: I just don’t know what to say about this one! Gauff has been so, so impressive and I did think Rybarikova’s game would be difficult for her to deal with. Hercog has a really cracking slice and strong serve, and has been playing some of her best ever tennis so it won’t be a walk in the park. I’m just generally in stunned at this Gauff run.

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Zhang Shuai: Wozniacki and Zhang haven’t played in over three years. I think their last meeting, which Zhang won in three and 24 minutes, was the match where Woz imitated Zhang’s grunt! I was impressed with how solid Wozniacki was on Wednesday and she gave absolutely nothing away. While I think she’ll need to step it up against the increasing quality of opponents, I think she’s looking good considering the health issues she has experienced this year. I haven’t seen Zhang this tournament but her results have been pretty resounding so far with straight set wins over Caroline Garcia and Yanina Wickmayer. I’m favouring Woz’s solidness.

Dayana Yastremska vs. Viktorija Golubic: Yastremska and Golubic will be bidding to reach the last 16 of a Slam for the first time in their careers! Yastremska had a brilliant win over Sofia Kenin where she was rewarded for her boldness. Golubic beat Osaka’s conqeror, Yulia Putintseva in the second round which I really wasn’t expecting. I’m leaning towards Yastremska because while she can make a lot of errors, she’s brave in the big moments and I think that could be crucial in this clash.

Friday’s R3 Polls

Thursday R2 Previews

Ash Barty vs. Alison Van Uytvanck: I think this could be a gorgeous match to watch on grass! Barty got off to a solid start with a straight sets win over Zheng Saisai. It was a mostly passive display but she did what she had to do to get the win and served exceptionally well in the second set. Van Uytvanck battled to a three set win over Svetlana Kuznetsova. The pair have played just once before with Barty winning in Montreal last year, 7-6(7) 6-2. AVU had a great run at Wimbledon last year and knocked out Garbiñe Muguruza at this stage last year. I think AVU will need to play a very aggressive match to threaten Barty. I think Ash will just too be solid.

Beatriz Haddad Maia vs. Harriet Dart: Huge opportunity for both players as they compete to reach the third round of a Slam for the first time in their respective careers. Dart came through a nailbiter against Christina McHale, while Haddad Maia knocked out Garbine Muguruza in straights. It was a surprise with Muguruza’s calibre but not so much when you delve deeper as BHM had come through qualifying and had some good wins on the grass. I think this is a 50-50 match. BHM has the stronger game IMO but she’s not had that much success at the Slams and I wonder if Dart can get the crowd involved. I like Dart’s temperament on court so definitely in with a shot.

Alison Riske vs. Ivana Jorovic: Jorovic won her first main draw match at a Slam on Tuesday with a straight sets win over Lesley Kerkhove. I really admire Riske’s attitude and fighting spirit on court as she came from a set down and then a break down in the decider to beat Donna Vekic in one of the best matches of the tournament so far. Riske will be the heavy favourite in this match and she didn’t seem to know anything about her opponent when asked in her post-match interview. As long she doesn’t get complacent or underestimate her opponent, then I think she will get through this one.

Belinda Bencic vs. Kaia Kanepi: The most intriguing match-up of the day IMO. Bencic has a tough draw here and opened with a comfortable win against the normally seeded, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Kanepi came from a set down to beat Stefanie Voegele in the first round, 5-7 7-5 6-4. It was actually Kanepi’s first win at Wimbledon since 2014. Kanepi has become the player all seeds want to avoid at the Slams so it’s a tough draw for Bencic. I like how Bencic has been playing and I think she’s a dark horse at this tournament. You just never know with Kaia but sticking with BB.

Serena Williams vs. Kaja Juvan: I wasn’t that impressed with Serena in her first round match but she got through it in straight sets. Next up is the 18-year-old, Kaja Juvan, who earnt her first ever main draw win at a Slam with an impressive three sets victory over Kristyna Pliskova. Will be interesting to see how Juvan acquits herself in one of the biggest moments of her young career so far.

Julia Goerges vs. Varvara Flink: Flink was another player on Tuesday who won their first ever main draw match at a Slam! Again, I’d favour the more experienced player in Goerges.

Carla Suárez Navarro vs. Pauline Parmentier: I had Stosur-Sharapova in R2 so was not expecting this one! CSN won her first match on the grass this year, beating Sam Stosur in straights, while Parmentier advanced when Maria Sharapova retired deep in the third set of their first rounder. Parmentier leads the H2H, 3-2, but they haven’t played in nearly five years. I would favour CSN but think it could be a bit of a scrap and go the distance.

Angelique Kerber vs. Lauren Davis: Kerber opened with a win on Centre Court against a very tricky opponent. I thought Kerber handled it well because it felt like a banana skin of a match as she had to generate a lot of the pace against the slicing-and-dicing, Maria. Davis got into the main draw as a lucky loser and took advantage of her opportunity with a straight sets win over Kateryna Kozlova. The match-up should be much more comfortable for Kerber although Davis has the ability to mix it up. The pair haven’t played each other in nearly eight years so the H2H data is pretty much irrelevant. Kerber in straights.

Kiki Bertens vs. Taylor Townsend: Bertens won her 35th (!) match of the season on Tuesday with yet another solid display against Mandy Minella. Townsend won her first match away from the US since last year’s Wimbledon! It was a very comfortable win for Townsend, beating Arina Rodionova in straights. Townsend hasn’t played a great deal in 2019 but she seems to be playing well. Grass is surely her surface with how comfortable she is coming forward to the net. I still remember watching Townsend on the practice courts at Wimbledon years ago with Billie Jean King. Slightly wary of the threat that Townsend poses but going for Bertens who has just been so, so steady this year.

Barbora Strycova vs. Laura Siegemund: If there’s going to be any drama then it’s likely to come from this one! Siegemund’s antics can always be interesting and Strycova isn’t afraid to speak up. Siegemund won her first match on grass since 2016, beating Katie Swan in the first round. Strycova upset a seed in Lesia Tsurenko in the first round but it wasn’t a surprise at all. I’d go for Strycova here because she is much more comfortable on the grass. I’d be really surprised if Siegemund won this one but stranger things have happened…

Elise Mertens vs. Monica Niculescu: Mertens was the fastest winner on day 2, beating Fiona Ferro in just 48 minutes! Niculescu meanwhile was embroiled in one of the closest matches of the day as she beat Andrea Petkovic, 7-5 in the third set. I love Niculescu’s net charges on grass and her slice increasingly drew errors from a fast-starting, Petkovic. Mertens leads the H2H, 2-0 and has dropped just eight games in the two matches combined. I think Niculescu is at her trickiest on the grass but with Mertens knowing what to expect from previous match-ups and having started so strongly at Wimby this year, I’d go for the Belgian player.

Wang Qiang vs. Tamara Zidansek: Zidansek was involved in the first extra-time finish on Tuesday, beating Eugenie Bouchard, 8-6 in the third set. Wang Qiang had a routine win over Vera Lapko and this is generally a favourable draw for her IMO. Wang Qiang for the win in straights.

Sloane Stephens vs. Wang Yafan: Flying under the radar on a busy Tuesday, I thought Sloane Stephens played an excellent match against Timea Bacsinszky. Stephens built the points brilliantly and was noticeably aggressive. Wang Yafan has finally put her nightmare run behind her (0-5 on clay in 2019) and is picking up wins again. Based on Stephens’s first round performance, I don’t think this is an upset alert.

Johanna Konta vs. Katerina Siniakova: Konta got off to a solid start against Ana Bogdan, holding all 10 of her service games in a straight sets victory. I was surprised to see Siniakova win her opener and in a crazy lopsided scoreline against Alexandrova, 2-6 6-1 6-1. There’s no denying Siniakova’s talents – it’s her emotions that always worry me! I’m wondering how she handles the occasion if this gets close and the crowd get involved. Dangerous match for Konta but I like how she’s playing. If she can serve well and throw in some variety to stop Siniakova getting into a rhythm then I think she’ll get through this match.

Amanda Anisimova vs. Magda Linette: Only saw snippets of Anisimova’s first rounder but it looked like a good match against Cirstea. I did see at least one ferocious return winner from Anisimova! Linette’s a solid player so not an easy match for Anisimova. It’s all happening so quickly for Anisimova with this being her first Slam as a seed. Still not seen enough to rate Anisimova’s game on the grass but I think she’s one to keep an eye out for in this draw.

Petra Kvitova vs. Kristina Mladenovic: Kvitova looked in fine form in her opener, beating Ons Jabeur in straights. She felt no pain in the arm but expected to feel some soreness on Wednesday and it sounded like she would be resting before her next match. Mladenovic needed three sets to get past the huge-hitting, Vitalia Diatchenko. Kvitova and Mladenovic last played in Madrid where Kvitova was not at her best but managed to get the job done in straights, serving well in the crucial moments. Kvitova’s been more reliable and consistent this year, but generally is a bit of an unknown quantity at this tournament because of the arm. If anything, I feel she’s more relaxed because expectations are low and every win is a bonus with no points to defend from last year. I’ll tentatively go for Petra with the H2H 6-1 in her favour.

Thursday R2 Polls

Wednesday R2 Previews

Elina Svitolina vs. Margarita Gasparyan: A rematch from Birmingham where Gasparyan beat Svitolina in the first round, 6-3 3-6 6-4. That was the best win of Gasparyan’s career! Svitolina recorded her first win on grass this year with a straight sets win over Daria Gavrilova on Monday. I thought Svitolina served well but was mostly passive. She managed to draw away in the second set as Gavrilova rather unravelled. I’ve been really impressed with Gasparyan during this grass court season and this surface seems to suit her game. She enjoyed a no-nonsense first round win over Anna-Lena Friedsam. I think she must have built confidence through the past few weeks. I’m going for the upset. Gasparyan for the win.

Maria Sakkari vs. Marie Bouzkova: Nice to see Sakkari doing better this year on the green stuff having not won a match on grass in 2018. Bouzkova recorded a first ever main draw Slam win on Monday against Mona Barthel. Intrigued to see what Bouzkova can do in this one as I like her energy. I think I’d stick with Sakkari who has been up and down this year but generally seems to be playing more solid since Charleston.

Petra Martic vs. Anastasia Potapova: Both players came from a set down in their first round matches to reach the second round. I saw bits of Martic’s win over Brady and she really had to work hard to turn the match around. I adore Martic’s game and I think the early test will set her up nicely for the rest of tournament. Potapova is a junior Wimby champ and she also battled hard to get through her opener, but I think Martic just has more experience and versatility in her game.

Anastasija Sevastova vs. Danielle Collins: Ring the bells for a first-time match-up! Both won their openers in straights. Collins was perhaps a bit of a surprise winner having played just five games on grass prior to Wimbledon as she pulled out of her opener in Eastbourne due to a lower back injury. The American player saved a set point in the second set to beat Zarina Diyas in straights. I can never judge Sevastova – some days she can be magnificent, others woeful! I think she’s got facets to her game that can thrive on grass but it is her weakest Slam and she’s never made it past the second round before. Collins is inexperienced on grass and I think she only played on it for the first time in 2018. However, I feel like her game and general bravado could get into Sevastova’s head. I’m taking a whirl with Collins.

Karolina Muchova vs. Madison Brengle: I’m on a mission to see Muchova at Wimbledon on Friday so I’m hoping she wins! I think she will…

Anett Kontaveit vs. Heather Watson: Kontaveit leads Watson, 2-1 in their H2H. I think their first round wins were both huge. Kontaveit needed three sets to get past Rogers. I was surprised it went three because Kontaveit was flawless in the opener against a very flat, Rogers. Watson recorded her first tour level win (!) of 2019 with a hard fought straight sets victory over Caty McNally. No doubt that win for Watson gave her a much needed boost of confidence and she’s produced some Wimby magic before. I’m a bit unsure of Kontaveit right now but I feel like this is a match she should win.

Hsieh Su-Wei vs. Kirsten Flipkens: Niceeee match! I do love me some WTA variety. Both cruised through their openers for the loss of just four games. I think they both love the grass and this should be a bit of a feel-good match-up. Flipkens leads the H2H, 2-1, but Hsieh won their only previous match on grass at Eastbourne in 2017, 5-7 7-6(6) 7-5. I’m actually a bit worried for Hsieh in this one as I think she’s probably more comfortable playing a power hitter and redirecting their pace. Both won’t be giving much rhythm so I think it will be a very fun match. Somewhat on the fence but I’ll stick with Hsieh.

Karolina Pliskova vs. Monica Puig: I wasn’t that impressed with Pliskova in her first rounder but she got it done in straights against Zhu Lin. When she faced set points, she pulled out the huge forehand on two of them. Pliskova spoke about the slow courts compared to Eastbourne/Aorangi and it definitely felt like she was struggling a bit out there. Puig will always be a danger, even though she rarely brings the consistency. Pliskova has won all four previous matches against Puig so will know what to expect. Slightly wary after her first round showing but I don’t really see this being an upset alert for Pliskova.

Simona Halep vs. Mihaela Buzarnescu: Halep and Buzarnescu have only played once before – that was 11 years ago in 2008 (!) at a $25k ITF (!) on clay where Halep won, 6-3 6-0. Halep seemed to injure her ankle/leg in her first rounder against an error-strewn, Aliaksandra Sasnovich, but managed to get through in straights. Buzarnescu had a rare win in the first round against Jessica Pegula, a first since Rome. A few unknowns with this one with Halep. I’m always hopeful that Buz is going to buzz into life again because her form was just so good last year!

Victoria Azarenka vs. Ajla Tomljanovic: I forgot to write about it in my day 1 post but I really enjoyed the end of Azarenka-Cornet. I thought it was a clean match from Azarenka who won 22 of 27 points up at the net. Tomljanovic knocked out a seed in Kasatkina but I don’t think it was a surprise based on recent form. I do like Tomljanovic and she’s underrated IMO. However, I’m going for Azarenka as I like the way she is playing on the grass and I think she has a workable draw.

Madison Keys vs. Polona Hercog: Keys and Hercog last played in Rome where Keys edged a tight two setter. I’m surprised that Keys didn’t play any warm-up events on grass but I guess there must have been a reason. Unsurprisingly, she started well on the grass with a straight sets win over Luksika Kumkhum. This is a much tougher match and Hercog, under the radar, has had a great year, posting a 26-16 W-L record for 2019. Hercog beat Viktoria Kuzmova, 7-5 in the third set in what was one tightest WTA match on day 1. I do think Keys’s lack of matches on grass could catch up with her later in the tournament but for now, I think she’s got the matching of Hercog on grass.

Magdalena Rybarikova vs. Cori Gauff: The story of day 1 was undoubtedly Gauff’s monumental win over Venus Williams. I was taken aback by her composure and calmness trying to serve out the biggest win of her career and on such a big stage. I was so impressed with Gauff’s movement against Venus and she defended especially well. The serve too didn’t allow Venus to attack. Rybarikova also caused an upset on day 1, playing a wonderful match to beat Sabalenka in straights.

I have no idea what to expect with this match. There are still so few data points with Gauff and at just 15, it’s impossible to know how she reacts mentally to that win over Venus. I have no doubt she’s going to be a huge star in the future. In this match-up, I am wondering if she’s ever played someone like Rybarikova who is going to mix it up, chip and charge, and generally make life uncomfortable. I’d probably go for Rybarikova because of her variety but certainly not writing off Gauff.

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Veronika Kudermetova: A Roland Garros rematch awaits for Wozniacki as she takes on her conqueror from Paris. Kudermetova beat Wozniacki in the first round of the French Open, 0-6 6-3 6-3. I thought Wozniacki looked great in her first two matches in Eastbourne but seemed to run out of steam against Sabalenka in the third round. I haven’t seen enough of Kudermetova to say this confidently but would have said that grass is a good surface for her. I’m not convinced Wozniacki was fully fit at the French so I was not surprised that Kudermetova won that match. While I think Wozniacki is in a much better shape health-wise, I still think Kudermetova is a threat. On the fence with this one but definitely an upset alert.

Zhang Shuai vs. Yanina Wickmayer: I was expecting Garcia vs. Peterson! Zhang enjoyed one of her best wins of the year in defeating the in-form Garcia, while Wickmayer came through qualifying and took out the very competent, Peterson in the first round. Instinct with Zhang but feels like a bit of a toss-up.

Sofia Kenin vs. Dayana Yastremska: This is my match of the day. Both are seeking to reach the third round of Wimbledon for the first time in their careers. Kenin’s having a real surge right now after reaching the last 16 of the French including a gutsy win over Serena and then won in Mallorca against a quality field, saving championship points to defeat Belinda Bencic in the final.

Yastremska hasn’t had the wins yet on the big stage but she’s making her move on the tour and has won three WTA titles. Yastremska hasn’t peaked on the grass yet either and she said in her press via WTA Insider that she had been ill during the grass. She overcame a tricky-looking opener against Camila Giorgi. She didn’t play her best but overall played a measured match and got through in straights.

Ring the bells for a first time meeting! I think this is a huge clash in the bottom half of the draw and I think the winner will make the quarters. Kenin will be the favourite but I do think Yastremska has the game for grass. Tough one but I’d give the slight edge to Kenin on her recent form and mental toughness.

Yulia Putintseva vs. Viktorija Golubic: Surprised how solid Putintseva was against Osaka in the first round. It was such a clean match from start to finish with no wavering of her focus! If she keeps her head, I think she’ll have the beating of Golubic.

Wednesday R2 Polls

Tuesday R1 Previews

Ash Barty vs. Zheng Saisai: Barty spoke highly in press about Zheng Saisai’s game. Barty leads the head-to-head, 2-0, but both matches, which took place in the last two years, went the distance. Zheng Saisai hasn’t won a match on grass this year and posted on Instagram from Eastbourne about being in A&E due to an allergic reaction to something. This is a new phenomenon for Barty to come into a tournament having just won a Slam and now as world number one. I think she’s doing a smashing job so far and am fascinated to see how she progresses through the draw. I’m going for Barty in straights.

Alison Van Uytvanck vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova: AVU is defending last 16 points from Wimbledon last year in what was a breakthrough Slam for her. Unfortunately, she hasn’t managed to maintain that form on a consistent basis. Kuznetsova came back on the clay after extended periods away from the tour due to wrist and knee injuries. I thought she played a fantastic match against Bencic in Madrid but hasn’t won a match since that clash. Kuznetsova hasn’t played any warm-up events on grass and i’m not sure why. 50-50 clash between two flashy players who are beautiful to watch on their day. I’ll go for AVU on grass.

Christina McHale vs. Harriet Dart: I really like this draw for Dart and think she has a real shot at a first ever Slam main draw win. She was impressive in the first round of Eastbourne against Anett Kontaveit until a nasty slip on the grass derailed her upset bid.

Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Beatriz Haddad Maia: Unlike Muguruza, Haddad Maia has matches on the grass including a win over grass court GOAT, Magdalena Rybarikova and having come through three rounds of qualifying. Not a clue what to expect from Muguruza. There’s not many people talking about her chances. I think she’s had a quite steady year but up against her credentials and two time Slam champ winning ways, it’s probably classed as a disappointment. I feel she’s going to snap somewhere and have a big run. Not convinced it’s here.

Donna Vekic vs. Alison Riske: Why are the draw gods so mean?! Vekic and Riske are two of the best grass courters on tour. Riske won ten straight matches to win Surbiton and Rosmalen, the latter saving a string of match points to beat home favourite, Kiki Bertens in the final. Vekic reached the final of Nottingham but hasn’t won since and pulled out of Eastbourne due to injury. Vekic’s recent draws have been brutal.

Vekic leads the H2H, 2-1, although Riske’s only win came on the grass courts of Birmingham. The pair haven’t played in two years. I’m wondering how Riske is doing physically as she was forced to pull out of Eastbourne due to injury. Riske’s form has been the much better but I find myself trending towards Vekic who has the more aggressive game.

Belinda Bencic vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: Tough first rounder on paper for BB as Pavs has been a Slam seed for years and years. Interestingly, Pavs pulled out of all the grass court warm-ups although she seemed to be training elsewhere. I really like Bencic’s form and she’s fantastic on the grass as she takes the ball so early. The pair haven’t played each other in over three years. I never trusted Pavs as a seed but she’s probably more dangerous unseeded and looming! Sticking with Bencic because of her match time and general joy on the grass.

Julia Goerges vs. Elena-Gabriela Ruse: I remember Ruse from Wimbledon last year with that fabulous first round match against Agnieszka Radwanska and walking into a ballkid with a towel on her head! For the second straight year, Ruse has successfully advanced through qualifying at Roehampton to reach the main draw. A big tournament for Goerges who is defending semi-final ranking points. The German player had the perfect preparation with her best result in months, reaching the final in Birmingham. I think Ruse could be a dangerous opponent. Going for Goerges in 3.

Carla Suárez Navarro vs. Sam Stosur: Rolling back the years with this one! The pair first played each other in 2010. I was really impressed with Stosur at Eastbourne and she dominated her final qualifying match with big serving and heavy forehands. I think her attitude and commitment is admirable. CSN has had a so-so year. Some good wins but nothing stands out particularly in 2019. CSN leads the H2H, 5-3, and the pair are 1-1 in grass court meetings. I’m going with what I saw in Eastbourne so Stosur for the win and the “upset”.

Angelique Kerber vs. Tatjana Maria: The opener on Tuesday’s Centre Court schedule and should be a nice one for the crowd as both play a bit differently and love the grass. Maria made the semi-finals of Surbiton and Nottingham (1 match on grass) but hasn’t played since. I think this could be a tricky match for Kerber as Maria can be a real shock to play at first with her slice and charges to the net. Kerber likes pace which Maria won’t give her but Kerber also likes a target so Maria will have to be on it coming forward. Kerber in 2 with at least one close set.

Kiki Bertens vs. Mandy Minella: Bertens and Minella last played each other nearly nine years ago! Not feeling any upset alerts with this one.

Katie Swan vs. Laura Siegemund: Another good opportunity for Swan to get a Wimbledon main draw win. As tricky as Siegemund can be to handle, both her tennis and her antics, she’s not a lover of the grass and hasn’t played a competitive match on the green stuff since 2016. Swan had a close loss to Zhang Shuai in Eastbourne, going down in three sets. Key for Swan will to be to stay calm with all the junk that Siegemund will throw at her. I’ll go for Swan.

Lesia Tsurenko vs. Barbora Strycova: Tsurenko’s the seed, but I’d say that Strycova is the clear favourite. Their last meeting was at Wimbledon last year where Strycova, the then higher ranked player, beat Tsurenko in the second round, 6-1 6-4. I think Strycova is much more comfortable on the grass and showed some promising form in Birmingham. Strycova for the win.

Andrea Petkovic vs. Monica Niculescu: Struggling to make a pick here! Niculescu won the $100k ITF in Ilkley two weeks ago and her slice can be lethal on this surface. Petkovic, never really a lover of the grass, played two great matches in Eastbourne – beating Daria Kasatkina from a set and a break down, and losing out in two tight sets but a very high quality match to Caroline Wozniacki. Petkovic even tweeted a video of her serve and volleying at Wimbledon! The pair are tied at 3-3 in their head-to-head but they’ve never played before on grass. I’m going for Niculescu because I think her wild spins and slices will be challenging for Petkovic to deal with on what i’d still class as her least favourite surface.

Sloane Stephens vs. Timea Bacsinszky: Nice to see Bacsinszky in the main draw! I watched her in qualifying at Eastbourne and sadly did think she was struggling with her game. Stephens played just the one match on grass, losing a lopsided three setter to Jelena Ostapenko in Eastbourne, but it was more than last year. As much as i’d love to see Bacsinszky win this, I would favour Stephens’s general solidness.

Ekaterina Alexandrova vs. Katerina Siniakova: Alexandrova has quietly had an excellent grass court season with two quarter-finals and four top 50 wins. Siniakova hasn’t won a match on grass yet, going down in straights in Eastbourne to Margarita Gasparyan. Alexandrova leads the H2H, 2-1, and I think her grass-court form will carry her through this match.

Johanna Konta vs. Ana Bogdan: Konta and Bogdan last played in Rabat on the clay where Konta won in three sets, 6-1 6-7(6) 6-2. No doubt Konta won’t underestimate Bogdan after that match and having come through three rounds of qualifying at Roehampton. I think Konta’s in a good place right now and while she hasn’t had as many matches on grass as normal, her two losses were not concerning to me as she was simply outplayed by peak opponents on the day. She’s handled the attention at Wimbledon before and I think she might need to again as I could see her making the second week.

Petra Kvitova vs. Ons Jabeur: Both players head into this opener with a wedge of uncertainty. Kvitova skipped the French Open due to a forearm injury and according to her press conference, has only started practising normally a few days ago. It sounds like she will play but I don’t know what to expect. Expectations will be lower which may work in her favour. Jabeur had her best result of the year in Eastbourne but was sadly forced to retire from her quarter-final match having twisted her ankle towards the end of her previous match. A first time meeting and let’s hope both make it to the court!

Tuesday R1 Polls

Monday R1 Previews

Elina Svitolina vs. Daria Gavrilova: This will be the pair’s ninth career meeting with Svitolina leading the head-to-head, 6-2. I think both are struggling for confidence right now and have been dealing with health concerns. Svitolina has lost seven of her last eight matches, while Gavrilova’s woes are rather more deep-rooted having won just six matches all year. I thought Svitolina looked frustrated on the practice courts in Eastbourne and i’m hoping that she’s past the knee injury and not just battling through it. Despite her struggles, I think Svitolina is the better player in most departments and this is a decent opener for her on paper. Svitolina in 2.

Margarita Gasparyan vs. Anna-Lena Friedsam: A nice match-up between two players who have spent lengthy spells on the sidelines. Gasparyan was out for over a year between 2016 and 2017 due to a serious knee injury. Friedsam has had various injuries, spending two separate year spells off the tour. Finally, there seems to be light at the end of tunnel for both players and both have enjoyed good results on the grass. Gasparyan has beaten a higher ranked player at each of her grass court warm-up events, while Friedsam reached the third round of Eastbourne with a straight sets win over the world #20, Anett Kontaveit. Having watched Gasparyan play in Brum and Eastbourne and been really taken by her game and level, i’m going for the Russian player to have a bit of a run at SW19.

Marie Bouzkova vs. Mona Barthel: I’ve really developed a soft spot for Bouzkova and her game. I loved her energy in a final qualifying match against Kristyna Pliskova that I watched in Brum. Plus she looks reminds me of Lucie! As much as I also like Barthel, the German player is not a grass courter and has lost her last four matches. I’m going for Bouzkova to win her first ever main draw Slam match.

Maria Sakkari vs. Bernarda Pera: Sakkari snapped her winless streak on grass at five with a first round win in Eastbourne over Jessica Pegula. Pera is a fine ball striker but i’ve noticed a trend with her matches during the grass court season as she has lost three of her matches from a set up. One of those in Brum qualifying was from match point up against Iga Swiatek. I like Sakkari’s variety and as long as she doesn’t feed Pera with pace, I think Sakkari will win.

Petra Martic vs. Jennifer Brady: Both players have reached a semi-final on grass this year. Martic made the semi-finals in Birmingham, while Brady, playing mostly on hard court (!), reached the last four in Nottingham. Brady’s having a good, solid year with 24 match wins in 2019. It is Martic though who stands out and has been one of the most consistent performers on the tour since April. I thought Martic looked superb in Birmingham with her slice on grass and she’s clearly confident right now. I’m going for Martic and a deep run into the second week.

Danielle Collins vs. Zarina Diyas: One of the tightest first rounders IMO and to be honest, i’ve not really made my mind up! Collins retired down 0-5 in her first match in Eastbourne with a lower back injury. I think the American has had very limited experience on the grass but she’s a real, gritty competitor. Diyas has had much more exposure on the grass. I think it depends on Collins’s back injury and whether she can get an early foothold in this match.

Anastasija Sevastova vs. Kristie Ahn: Sevastova has found herself in a very favourable section of the draw. Not feeling an upset alert with this opener against the qualifier, Ahn.

Marketa Vondrousova vs. Madison Brengle: I’d like to see some of Vondrousova on grass because I haven’t made my mind up about whether her game translates to this surface yet. I think this is a solid opener for Vondrousova.

Karolina Muchova vs. Aleksandra Krunic: I was hoping to watch Muchova live in Brum or Eastbourne but she only showed up in ‘s-Hertogenbosch! She lost her opener but it was to the eventual champion, Alison Riske, and in three sets. Krunic hasn’t had the best of years and I sense confidence may be low after that brutal loss to Lesia Tsurenko at Roland Garros. Muchova for the win.

Caty McNally vs. Heather Watson: I’ve been trying to find an opportunity to watch Caty McNally and have so far been unsuccessful! McNally successfully came through qualifying and seems to be a very bright talent. She’s the favourite with the bookmakers to beat Watson and i’d go along with that. While Watson is normally at her best at home on the grass, she’s not found a win at the WTA events. She said in press in Eastbourne about playing well in practice but it not quite happening for her in the matches. Could be a nervy one but i’d go for McNally in three.

Anett Kontaveit vs. Shelby Rogers: I think this could be a close match. Kontaveit’s form since Stuttgart has been a bit disappointing and while I like her game for the grass, i’m not convinced by recent performances. I’ve been impressed with what i’ve seen of Rogers in her comeback from a serious knee injury. She won three matches in Mallorca and retired in a third set against eventual finalist, Belinda Bencic. Apparently it wasn’t related to the knee. A bit of a toss-up. Not feeling brave enough to call Rogers for the upset!

Hsieh Su-Wei vs. Jelena Ostapenko: I think this is my favourite first round match 😍. Both are at their best on the grass and at completely opposite ends of the spectrum with their games. Ostapenko has had a miserable year but something seemed to click in Birmingham. She enjoyed two comprehensive wins over Swiatek and Konta before ending with a crusher against Petra Martic where she missed five match points. Ostapenko managed to put that loss behind her in Eastbourne with two wins including a first top ten victory of 2019 over Sloane Stephens. Ostapenko retired in the third round with a hip injury but i’m not too concerned about that. Grass definitely accentuates her strengths.

Hsieh rolled back the years with stellar runs at the Australian Open and Wimbledon last year and she’s just continued that this year with a consistent slate of results so far with 20 victories. I still think it’s underrated that Hsieh is enjoying the best spell of her career at 33. She’s been pretty nifty in doubles as well and won the doubles title in Birmingham with Strycova.

In their only previous match-up, Hsieh beat Ostapenko at the 2016 Australian Open, 3-6 7-5 6-1. The bookmakers can’t split them and I think it’s one of the closest first rounders. I’m going for Hsieh as I feel she has elements of her game with the slice and trickery that can halt the free-flowing, winner-punching rhythm of Ostapenko. Hsieh has already beaten Sabalenka and Giorgi on grass this year so I think she’s well prepared to handle with another big hitter.

Karolina Pliskova vs. Zhu Lin: Quick turnaround for Pliskova which she mentioned in her interview after winning Eastbourne. My goodness she looked good in the Bourne! Solid opener here and not feeling any alarm bells with this opener.

Simona Halep vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich: Last year Sasnovich caused one of the biggest upsets of the year when she defeated Petra Kvitova in three sets. This year, she’ll get a shot at Simona Halep in the first round of Wimby. I was generally impressed with Halep’s level in Eastbourne and it was favourable IMO that she got some matches on the grass in both singles and doubles. Sasnovich hasn’t shown any form pre-Wimby and is currently riding a five match losing streak. Still dangerous in my opinion. What’s the betting this is on Court No.1 as well!? I’ll go with Halep but slightly wary.

Mihaela Buzarnescu vs. Jessica Pegula: Buzarnescu is winless on the grass this year. It’s sad what has happened since that bad injury in Montreal as she was at the height of her career. I don’t know if she’s fully over that injury or still got other health issues. Pegula’s had a good year so I think this is a 50-50. I’m going to go for Buz.

Victoria Azarenka vs. Alizé Cornet: There’s not an easy draw about but I think Azarenka has done better than the French and at least has more opportunities this time round. First up is Cornet who is coming off a strong run in Eastbourne where she reached her first quarter-final since January. Azarenka played just the one match on grass, losing in a tight three setter to the in-form, Caroline Garcia. While they haven’t played since 2016, Azarenka has a perfect 5-0 head-to-head record against Cornet. I’m really rooting for Vika to have a deep run here. One match at a time. I think she’s playing well enough to at least get through this one.

Daria Kasatkina vs. Ajla Tomljanovic: Tough opener for Kasatkina against the generally underrated, Tomljanovic. After a really serious shoulder injury, i’m impressed by Tomljanovic’s progress and her rise back into the world’s top 50. Kasatkina now has new coach, Carlos Martinez, in tow. I thought there were positive signs in her opener at Eastbourne against Andrea Petkovic where she was really going after her forehand. I feel like this year is already a bit of a write-off and I hope she can build her confidence up again for 2020. I actually quite like Tomljanovic for the “upset” here. Prove me wrong, Dasha.

Madison Keys vs. Luksika Kumkhum: A repeat Wimbledon match-up from last year that I got to watch live! Keys played a solid match to beat Kumkhum in the second round of Wimby last year, 6-4 6-3. Keys hasn’t played any warm-up tournaments on grass for the third consecutive year. I’m slightly baffled why she hasn’t played anything this year but i’m sure there’s a valid reason. Keys has become one of the best at coming into a Slam cold and managing to perform strongly. Kumkhum has played just seven tournaments this year, the same as Keys! No upset alert IMO.

Polona Hercog vs. Viktoria Kuzmova: Tough one to call! Hercog has had a strong year. Her last five losses on tour have been against Stephens, Keys, Stephens, Riske (ON GRASS) and Halep. I watched her play Pauline Parmentier in qualifying in Eastbourne and she served very well. I’ve always been a fan of Kuzmova and I think grass is her thing, but she hasn’t won a match on this surface yet in 2019. Hercog won their only previous match in Mallorca last year in straight sets. Everything points to a Hercog win… so i’m going for Kuzmova 😂.

Venus Williams vs. Cori Gauff: What a match! Probably the most impactful first round match that has really gained traction with the media. The 39-year-old, Venus Williams takes on the 15-year-old qualifier, Cori Gauff. I’ve only seen Gauff play once but she’s clearly a huge talent as she strolled through three rounds of qualifying beating quality opposition. I was pleasantly surprised Venus played Birmingham and she looked good and seemed to enjoy the week there. Fascinated by this clash. I hope it gets a big court and a nice moment at the net. Venus and all her wealth of experience for the win.

Aryna Sabalenka vs. Magdalena Rybarikova: First time match-up! Really intrigued by this one. Sabalenka’s had a tough year and has so many points to defend in the next few months. She saved a match point to beat Wozniacki in Eastbourne which felt like a turning point. Sabalenka crumbled at the end of her quarter-final against Bertens but it was a competitive three setter and I feel like it was a good tournament overall for Sabalenka. Rybarikova loves the grass but has had a miserable year on the court and since reaching the final of Surbiton in the second week of RG, has gone 1-2 in Nottingham and Ilkley. Rybarikova’s record at Wimby is just curious. Excluding the stunning run to the semi-finals in 2017, Rybarikova is 2-10 in Wimby main draws.

Don’t rule out a Rybarikova resurgence on the grass against an opponent who hasn’t looked completely sure of herself in 2019. Prior to the slight improvement in form at Eastbourne, I would probably have gone for Rybarikova. I think i’ll stick with Saba.

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Sara Sorribes Tormo: SST did beat Kanepi at Wimbledon last year which shocked me to the core but I think this is generally a very favourable opener for Wozniacki. I thought Woz looked good in Eastbourne, perhaps just a bit under prepared having not played a great deal of tennis of late because of injuries.

Rebecca Peterson vs. Yanina Wickmayer: Wickmayer successfully came through qualifying, winning two of her matches from a set down. Peterson’s two losses on grass were against Belinda Bencic and Angelique Kerber so not too shabby. Peterson enjoyed two wins in Eastbourne and I think she’ll get  a win in this first rounder too.

Caroline Garcia vs. Zhang Shuai: Tough match-up on paper as Zhang Shuai has historically been seeded at the Slams. Garcia had a tremendous run through Nottingham and Mallorca which trumped anything she’d done this year. The final vs. Vekic in Nottingham was one of the matches of the year IMO. Just wondering whether she can maintain that form at a Slam. I’m going for CarGar and her recent form to come through.

Dayana Yastremska vs. Camila Giorgi: This match-up hasn’t attracted much attention but it draws me in! Giorgi played her first match at Eastbourne since Miami due to injury. Coming back from a set and a break down, the Italian player got into a winning position against Hsieh but couldn’t close it out. Yastremska was also in a winning position against the eventual finalist in Birmingham in the first round. In their only previous match, Giorgi beat Yastremska, 6-7(1) 6-2 7-5 in Strasbourg in 2017. I like Yastremska’s commitment and drive, and i’d probably give her the edge with a bit more match time of late.

Naomi Osaka vs. Yulia Putintseva: Putintseva beat Osaka just two weeks ago in Birmingham, 6-2 6-3. Osaka didn’t really respond in Wimby pre-tournament press to having an injury but something seemed up in Brum as she didn’t do press afterwards. Osaka has spoken in press before about learning from losses and I think she’s one of the best at overturning prior results. I’m unsure about Osaka for this tournament but I think she’ll get through this first hurdle.

Monday’s R1 Polls

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