Friday, June 26, 2015

The Green Green Grass of London SW19: The Ladies

by Savannah

Okay tennisheads you have three days. Three days to get your life in order, kiss your kids and significant other, do your food shopping, make sure you have clean underwear and get some sleep. Monday, June 29 at 1100h London time, 6:00a Eastern US time, play begins for the Championships Wimbledon. We've been told the top half of the Gentlemen's Draw (weakest) and top half of the Ladies draw (strongest) will be up first.

Between now and then every tennis "journalist" will be presenting his or her analysis of who is going to win based on what their masters on the tours and public relations tell them is going to happen because they say it will. Most of these people haven't watched a bit of tennis since the French Open ended and have no idea who has been having a hard time and who has been flying under their radar if not the radar of dedicated fans who are better informed than they're being paid to be. If a player used to give top players a hard time then of course he/she is still giving top players a hard time in their minds regardless of what their recent results have been. Call it what you want: cakewalk, cupcake, soft, there are several players who have been given these gifts. The usual suspects? Of course. As regular readers know I don't do predictions. I just look at the draw(s) and having watched a lot of tennis since the French Open (as the bags and dark circles under my eyes prove) feel safe in calling bullshit on some of the accepted wisdom.

Let's start with the women, excuse me, Ladies Singles Draw.

Top Half

S.Williams (USA) [1] vs Q M.Gasparyan (RUS)
T.Babos (HUN) vs Q P.Cetkovska (CZE)
D.Hantuchova (SVK) vs D.Cibulkova (SVK)
H.Watson (GBR) vs C.Garcia (FRA) [32]

S.Errani (ITA) [19] vs F.Schiavone (ITA)
A.Krunic (SRB) vs R.Vinci (ITA)
M.Erakovic (NZL) vs Y.Putintseva (KAZ)
M.Brengle (USA) vs V.Williams (USA) [16]

C.Suarez Navarro (ESP) [9] vs WC J.Ostapenko (LAT)
A.Dulgheru (ROU) vs K.Mladenovic (FRA)
K.Flipkens (BEL) vs A.Beck (GER)
WC A.Kontaveit (EST) vs V.Azarenka (BLR) [23]

B.Bencic (SUI) [30] vs T.Pironkova (BUL)
V.Diatchenko (RUS) vs A.Friedsam (GER)
A.Van Uytvanck (BEL) vs Q B.Mattek-Sands (USA)
Q Y.Xu (CHN) vs A.Ivanovic (SRB) [7]

M.Sharapova (RUS) [4] vs WC J.Konta (GBR)
Q R.Hogenkamp (NED) vs Q.Wang (CHN)
N.Gibbs (USA) vs L.Tsurenko (UKR)
D.Gavrilova (RUS) vs I.Begu (ROU) [29]

F.Pennetta (ITA) [24] vs Z.Diyas (KAZ)
L.Zhu (CHN) vs Q A.Sasnovich (BLR)
M.Duque-Marino (COL) vs WC N.Broady (GBR)
S.Rogers (USA) vs A.Petkovic (GER) [14]

Ka.Pliskova (CZE) [11] vs I.Falconi (USA)
C.Vandeweghe (USA) vs A.Schmiedlova (SVK)
E.Gallovits-Hall (USA) vs U.Radwanska (POL)
D.Kovinic (MNE) vs S.Stosur (AUS) [22]

B.Strycova (CZE) [27] vs S.Stephens (USA)
P.Hercog (SLO) vs L.Davis (USA)
Q S-W.Hsieh (TPE) vs K.Kanepi (EST)
A.Riske (USA) vs L.Safarova (CZE) [6]

Johanna Konta has had a pretty good warm up season coming into Wimbledon. She has to be ready for the screaming, bullying and gamesmanship of Maria Sharapova though and I'm not sure she is. If she can handle all the distraction Sharapova brings and ride the support the crowd will give her she could potentially give Sharapova a hard time. Potentially. If she can't Sharapova will go through her section of the draw like a hot knife through butter.

The interesting potential meeting is between Karolina Pliskova and Lucie Safarova, who made it to the Final at Roland Garros. Lucie has to prove her run in Paris wasn't a fluke and will definitely be feeling the pressure. Pliskova owns the head to head 2-1 and hasn't tired herself out in the run up tournaments. Neither has Safarova. If the seedings hold and they meet it should be an interesting match.

Am I dismissing Sloane Stephens, Samantha Stosur, Barbora Strycova, Flavia Pennetta and Andrea Petkovic? Yes. Sloane had the chance to win her first title at Eastbourne but in keeping with the current US meme of focusing on the Slams she lost in the semi to Agniezska Radwanska

As for the top half of the top section of the draw Belinda Bencic vs Tsvetana Pironkova is the match to watch. I think Alison Van Uytvanck is a dark horse in that section if she plays her "a" game and holds on to her nerves. I know a lot of people are going to pic Ana Ivanovic but her issues are still her issues. She could make it out of her section but it's not a guarantee.

There is no reason Carla Suarez Navarro can't end up playing Victoria Azarenka, on paper. She looked completely lost on the grass the other day though and it wouldn't be a surprise to see her go out early. Kristina Mladenovic could be the one to fill the void in that section.

The top of the top see's Serena Williams seeded to face her sister Venus Williams. Both women are confident in their grass game and haven't played any warmups. Serena did lose early last year though and that should give her the motivation she needs to push herself forward. Venus should get through her section but a lot depends on how she holds up, especially since a heat wave is forecast for the first week of the tournament.

Bottom Half

C.Wozniacki (DEN) [5] vs S.Zheng (CHN)
K.Siniakova (CZE) vs D.Allertova (CZE)
L.Arruabarrena (ESP) vs P.Parmentier (FRA)
T.Pereira (BRA) vs C.Giorgi (ITA) [31]

G.Muguruza (ESP) [20] vs V.Lepchenko (USA)
M.Lucic-Baroni (CRO) vs Y.Shvedova (KAZ)
A.Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs M.Barthel (GER)
C.Witthoeft (GER) vs A.Kerber (GER) [10]

T.Bacsinszky (SUI) [15] vs J.Goerges (GER)
S.Karatantcheva (BUL) vs S.Soler-Espinosa (ESP)
J.Larsson (SWE) vs C.McHale (USA)
J.Gajdosova (AUS) vs S.Lisicki (GER) [18]

S.Kuznetsova (RUS) [26] vs Q L.Siegemund (GER)
Kr.Pliskova (CZE) vs T.Smitkova (CZE)
M.Puig (PUR) vs M.Niculescu (ROU)
J.Cepelova (SVK) vs S.Halep (ROU) [3]

E.Makarova (RUS) [8] vs Q S.Vickery (USA)
K.Knapp (ITA) vs M.Rybarikova (SVK)
A.Mitu (ROU) vs Q O.Govortsova (BLR)
A.Konjuh (CRO) vs A.Cornet (FRA) [25]

M.Keys (USA) [21] vs S.Voegele (SUI)
Y.Wickmayer (BEL) vs E.Kulichkova (RUS)
T.Maria (GER) vs B.Jovanovski (SRB)
Q Y.Duan (CHN) vs E.Bouchard (CAN) [12]

A.Radwanska (POL) [13] vs L.Hradecka (CZE)
A.Tomljanovic (CRO) vs K.Koukalova (CZE)
Q T.Paszek (AUT) vs C.Dellacqua (AUS)
M.Doi (JPN) vs E.Svitolina (UKR) [17]

J.Jankovic (SRB) [28] vs E.Vesnina (RUS)
E.Rodina (RUS) vs WC L.Robson (GBR)
M.Linette (POL) vs K.Nara (JPN)
K.Bertens (NED) vs P.Kvitova (CZE) [2]

To the top of the bottom.

Caroline Wozniacki is seeded to face the new male tennis fan and writer fan Camila Giorgi. Giorgi hits harder than her size would have you believe but she runs hot and cold. If she's hot she can give anyone a hard time. Garbiñe Muguruza has been in a bit of a slump and that makes her section wide open with either Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Mona Barthel able to do some damage there. Will anyone there be able to beat Angelique Kerber though?

Timea Bacsinszky's section is hers to lose. She's a sentimental favorite for many, including me, along with Lucic-Baroni. Sabine Lisicki will try and serve her way into the second week and with heat possibly making the ground hard if she makes it out of that section she will be dangerous.

Svetlana Kuznetsova had decided to play tennis again in recent weeks but who knows if she will feel like it in London? When she does she's very hard to beat and a great fighter. Simona "no expectations" Halep will probably come in on fire. If both women play up to their potential barring a huge upset there's no one to stop those two from facing each other.

Sachia Vickery came through Qualies and will face Ekaterina Makarova in the first round. I've seen Sachia play and to say she's easily distracted is putting it mildly so I don't see her doing much here. Magdalena Rybarikova is a bit of a dark horse in this section. It goes without saying that Alize Cornet has the same pressure on her Lucie Safarova has. Was last year a fluke? We'll see.

Some US tennis "journalists" are alrady hyping the potential Madison Keys vs Eugenie Bouchard face off.
I guess they're forgetting that Key's has been AWOL for the extended grass season officially because of the flu and looked simply dreadful last week at Eastbourne. Technically there isn't anyone in that section who should trouble either Bouchard or Keys but that's on paper. We could see a surprise non seeded player coming out of there to face Makarova, Rybarikova (unseeded) or Cornet.

That last section featuring Aga Radwanska, Elina Svitolina, Jelena Jankovic and Petra Kvitova as the seeds should break the way of the seeds but Kvitova is out of shape and with the threatened heat could go out early. JJ's antics could frustrate some of the players there but from my perspective it's a total toss up as to who will come out of that part of the draw. Robson is just coming back from a 17 month lay off and I'm not sure Nara Kurumi can do much damage.

With so much uncertainty in the bottom part of the draw it's easy to say the winner will come from the top half. But it's always up to the luck of the draw isn't it?

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