Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Jankovic the major 1st round casualty

The early carnage witnessed at Roland Garros has yet to be experienced at Wimbledon, at least among the top seeds, although 7th seed Jelena Jankovic again fell victim to the grass in a first round match here, three times in the past four years now.  Her conqueror on this occasion was Kaia Kanepi, the Estonian former world number 15, who often lifts for the majors, including quarter final appearances at Wimbledon in 2010 and last year where she bowed out to eventual finalist Sabine Lisicki.

Before we mention other prominent losers, it may be wise to comment on the form of those expected to be prominent deep into the tournament.

Continuing with the ladies, Maria Sharapova donated one game to her luckless opponent, Samantha Murray, in a demonstration of her quick adaptation from clay court dominatrix to grass court queen.  Serena Williams was less frugal but no less dominant in her squashing of Anna Tatishvili.
Second seed Li Na began nervously but gained traction within a few games to win in straight sets, belying her recent patchy form, and Agnieszka Radwanska put her Eastbourne demons to bed with a confidence rebuilder against Andreea Mitu, showing signs of the game that put her into the 2012 final and last years semis.

Simona Halep and two of the players I have selected to play a big part this year, Petra Kvitova and Sabine Lisicki, all impressed as they found their respective ways into the second round.

Not so impressive were 14th seed Sara Errani and 18th seed Sloane Stephens, while Samantha Stosur lost as per usual.  In a match between players on the rise, Coco Vandeweghe, winner of her maiden WTA title at the weekend, defeated Roland Garros star Garbine Muguruza.  We are sure to see those two clash in matches much later in big tournaments as their careers blossom.

On the men's side, not much drama as Andy, Roger, Novak and Rafa all comfortably made tracks for the second round, Rafa carelessly dropping the first set of his match before taking things seriously.

All the major contenders did ok, with the highest profile casualty being 18th seed Fernando Verdasco, who succumbed to in form Australian Marinko Matosevic, who refreshingly did not make another disparaging comment about women's tennis, instead letting his racquet do the talking.

Keep an eye on Feliciano Lopez.  He has made three Wimbledon quarter finals, and just before landing here this year, made the final at Queens, with wins over Hewitt (2002 Wimbledon winner) and Berdych (2010 Wimbledon runner up) along the way, before falling to Dimitrov.  He then defeated Gasquet to win Eastbourne.

He should face Isner in the third round, and the American has a lousy Grand Slam record.  Win that and he possibly will have Wawrinka, whose Wimbledon record is appalling.  After that it should be another quarter final against Federer who is more vulnerable these days even on grass.

Second round matches begin tonight and things promise to heat up.

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