Monday, 2 July 2018

Wimbledon preview - ladies singles

In contrast to the men’s draw, there is much less certainty regarding who will progress through to the final days of women’s singles Wimbledon 2018.

The inclusion of Serena Williams, unsure of her fitness, both overall and in match readiness, plus her seeding, fills the event with the perfect wandering danger woman, searching for an eighth title on the English lawn.

Let’s begin with the top seed, Simona Halep, who hasn’t lifted a racquet in competition since her breakthrough Grand Slam title triumph in Paris.

Round one she plays Kurumi Nara, ranked 101, an opponent she has met once before and beaten, in Indian Wells 2014.

Another player Simona has beaten the once they have met is Qiang Wang, the likely second round opponent, ranked 69, the win achieved also in Indian Wells but earlier this year.

Of the women who could play Halep in the third round, the only one to have ever won a match against her is Lara Arruabarrena, and that was on a hard court in Beijing in 2015.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (30) is the likely opponent in round three, but she is 0-7 in head to head with Simona.

Elise Mertens (16) lies in waiting for a round of sixteen clash but she must survive a solid group of players including Johanna Konta (22), Alizé Cornet, Dominika Cibulková, Marketa  Vondrousova and Elise’s first round opponent Danielle Collins.

I see Mertens making it to the third round but losing to last years semi finalist Johanna Konta, and for Konta to stop the Halep run in the fourth round.

That would mean a quarter final clash with Petra Kvitová (8), who needs to battle through a path blocked with either Maria Sharapova (28) or Jelena Ostapenko (12), both major winners, Maria here in 2004.  Petra won her maiden Wimbledon in a final against the screaming Russian and I expect her to win her way into another quarter final where she should defeat Johanna Konta.

Defending champion Garbiñe Muguruza (3) is also in the top half of the draw, and opens her account against the UK’s Naomi Broady.

Her first test should be third round competitor Anett Kontaveit, before the serious round of sixteen clash with Daria Kasatkina (14).  Daria has won both times they have met this year, once on hard court, the other on clay.

If Garbine survives the fourth round I believe it will be a quarter final against Angie Kerber (11).  Angie was a recent semi finalist in Eastbourne and the match was top class, so the 2015 Wimbledon finalist has the game to defeat players such as Naomi Osaka (18) and Caroline Garcia (6) who she is drawn to play in the third and fourth rounds.

From the top half semi finalists should be Muguruza / Kvitová 

In the bottom half of the draw sit Caroline Wozniacki (2) and Sloane Stephens (4), along with the Williams sisters.

Wozniacki won the Eastbourne title and will have plenty of confidence in the early rounds.

A test will be likely third round opponent Aga Radwanska (32), 2012 Wimbledon finalist and this year Eastbourne semi finalist.

CoCo Vandeweghe (16) could be the round of sixteen obstacle.

The head to head score has Wozniacki leading 2-1, but the last match saw Vandeweghe win in Wimbledon’s round of sixteen last year.

Caroline should reverse that result this year.

Seeded to meet Elina Svitolina (5) in the quarter finals, Wozniacki may find it is Serena Williams (25) who is there instead.  Serena is drawn to play Svitolina in round three.

Meanwhile Venus Williams (9), last years finalist, is drawn to play Karolina Pliskova (7) in a blockbuster round of sixteen clash.

The winner of that possible match would most likely play Sloane Stephens in a quarter final.

Julia Goerges, with her big serving game, could threaten the progress of Stephens, but the odds are in the American’s favour.

My prediction for semi finalists in the bottom half are Wozniacki / Serena Williams

Picking Serena for the final four is a leap of faith , but she is an incredible athlete and I am willing to back the best tennis player of our generation and possibly the best female exponent of the sport ever.

I am also backing Garbiñe Muguruza to defeat Serena Williams in the final after two of the best semi finals in history.

I hope my selections are not just things of dreams.

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