The season’s third Grand Slam is here. Excitement is at fever pitch in Australia for the chances of new world number one Ash Barty, but this will be no easy task for the Queenslander to win two Slams in a row. The big W has made the grass slower than Mr. Magoo’s driving but we’ll go with it and hope for at least some serve and volley.
So get your hot tea and winter jammy jams ready as the next two weeks may see some late nights. As always lets go with the Ladies draw first. The number one seed Ash Barty pulled out of Eastbourne this week after winning on the Birmingham grass, she mentioned an existing arm injury but insists that she is ready to go.
The 23 year old is in the brutal top half of the draw but starts off with Saisai Zheng from China who she is 3-0 against. The next two round get decidedly tougher as she’s likely to face two players who have won Slams, with a 2ndround match against Sveltlana Kuznetsova and 3rdround match up with Garbine Muguruza.
Last years Champion Angie Kerber hasn’t won a tournament all year but had a solid grass warm up making the semi’s in Mallorca last week, the German should make a 3rdround meeting with Maria Sharapova, Sam Stosur or Suarez Navarro.
The 23 time Slam Champion Serena Williams only has a 9-3 record for the year, that’s not a lot of matches, the 37 year old hasn’t played since a shock Roland Garros 3rdround loss to Sofia Kenin, she’s still one Grand Slam short of Margaret Courts 24.
Even though coming into the big W with lack of match play and knee injury concerns I can’t write her off, not on the grass where her serve can be so dominant. No player will want to see her make the second week, the American is in the brutal top half, a 2ndround against the lefty Kristyna Pliskova could be tricky.
An interesting 1stround is 39-year-old, yes you read that right, 39 year old Venus Williams up against 15 year old Coco Gauff, who qualified yesterday, talk about the generational divide, Gauff is one to watch and took up tennis because of the Williams sisters.
Potential QF matchups, Barty vs Kerber, Bertens vs Kvitova, Svitolina vs Pliskova, and Halep vs Osaka, I guarantee not all the players will make it this far.
Wimbledon has been known to surprise us with a champion nobody picked, see Marion Bartoli in 2013, it could happen again and I wouldn’t be surprised if it does, on grass there’s probably ten players that could legitimately win it but I’d say Kerber, Kvitova, Osaka, Pliskova, and Barty have the best chance.
The problem for Barty is she has played a lot of matches the past month, its been an emotional high with winning Roland Garros and becoming world number one, at some point during this event she’ll hit a wall and it could all catch up to her, the key will be whoever she’s playing at the time can they take advantage of it, it could happen in the 1stround, QF’s, who knows, if Barty gets out of that match she could win the whole thing, if she doesn’t then she’ll be out.
Ok, time to choose a winner. I’m reliving 2013 here and going for a shock Champion, Madison Keys has the power to put it all together on the grass, the 17thseed has consistently made deep runs over the past three Slams, US Open (SF), Australian (4thRound), French Open (QF), and is in the weaker bottom half of the draw, she’s also paying $21.
Now lets move over to the Men. Novak Djokovic is seeded number one and with good reason, the Serb has won three out of the last four Grand Slams and is last years’ Wimbledon Champion, although he has an uncomfortable 1stround against Philip Kohlschreiber who he has a 10-2 record against but Kohlschreiber did defeat Djokovic in Indian Wells this season.
Djokovic decided not to play any grass lead up events, instead resting and training back in Serbia after losing a French Open semi final against Dominic Thiem three weeks ago. A tasty 4thround against Monfils could happen.
The recent French Open Champion Rafa Nadal opted to rest after winning in Paris but knows how to adapt to grass, he’ll look to advance further than last years’ semi final where he lost a barn burner to Djokovic 10-8 in the fifth, the Spainard has landed on Federer’s side of the draw, a 2ndround against Nick Kyrgios would provide sparks.
Roger Federer will look to add to his 20 Grand Slams these next two weeks; the 37 year old had a good grass warm up winning the Halle event for the 10thtime. He’ll open against Lloyd Harris from South Africa playing his first Wimbledon. A likely QF would be Nishikori or big serving John Isner.
As for the Australians Nick Kyrgios is likely to do the most damage, either to the draw or the court, your guess is as good as mine, he’ll face fellow Aussie Jordan Thompson in the 1stround, get through that and Nadal awaits. Potential QF match ups, Djokovic vs Tsitsipas, Anderson vs Zverev, Thiem vs Nadal, Nishikori vs Federer.
Ok, time for a pick. Just as Serena’s chase for 24, the men have historical implications at these Slams, Federer’s 20 is under threat, Nadal is on 18, Djokovic on 15, and you know those two aren’t done yet, so with each passing Grand Slam it becomes so important for Federer to add to his tally as I’d say he will retire first.
I really like Djokovic’s draw, he should cruise week one, and I doubt his QF seed Tsitsipas will make that match-up as the Greek has a very uncomfortable potential 2ndround against Ivo Karlovic the ace master and his semi final seed Kevin Anderson has struggled this season, that leaves Nadal/Federer who both have tougher draws, especially Nadal. I’m picking Novak to win his 16thGrand Slam.