2017 Wimbledon Women’s Preview and Predictions
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
It is the biggest grass court tournament on the calendar and one of the biggest tournaments in sports, Strawberries at the ready, it is time for Wimbledon.
128 women will fight for the Venus Rosewater Dish over the next two weeks, but only one will be called champion. Here is a run down of the womens draw.
World number one Angelique Kerber is still searching for her best form, but perhaps the motivation of potentially losing her ranking this week could change her fortunes. The German opens against a qualifier but could have a tough round two against former Wimbledon semi finalist Kirsten Flipkens. The dangerous Lucie Safarova is projected for the third round. Garbine Muguruza has also landed in this section as she also searches for her grand slam winning form. The Spaniard is working with Conchita Martinez for the tournament, will that make a difference to her form? Muguruza has some tough matches ahead with Yania Wickmayer potentially a second round foe followed by Kiki Bertens. It could all lead to a monster round four clash with Kerber on manic Monday.
Grass had never been Svetlana Kuznetsova’s best surface, but she is a former three time quarter finalist at SW19. Can she go any further in 2017? A qualifier should not be much trouble in round one, but a round two against fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova will be interesting. If Kuznetsova survives then she is projected to face American Lauren Davis in the third round. Grass has always been a good surface to Agnieszka Radwanska, but her struggles may leave the Pole prone to upsets. Jelena Jankovic is first up for the ninth seed, then possibly Christina McHale in round two. Timea Bacsinszky is scheduled for round three, but the Swiss has drawn the ever dangerous Monica Puig in her section, meaning Radwanska could face the Puerto Rican in round three.
Karolina Pliskova enters Wimbledon as arguably the pre tournament favourite after her win in Eastbourne. The Czech comes into the tournament in good form and will be hoping to convert that into a first grand slam title. Evgeniya Rodina is her first opponent followed by a tricky proposition in Magdalena Rybarikova or Monica Niculescu. Shuai Zhang is the first seed Pliskova may come across, but the Chinese player may be beaten by Julia Goerges in the second round. A fourth round against the streaky Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will be interesting, and the Russian has a good draw with Daria Gavrilova being her toughest opponent.
Caroline Wozniacki is in good form herself after reaching the Eastbourne final, and she would love a shot at revenge on Pliskova for the final defeat. The Dane has a tough draw ahead though, starting with the big serving Timea Babos who could be dangerous on this surface. Tsvetana Pironkova is a potential round two opponent, with Daria Kasatkina possible for round three. The Russian has a tough draw against Annette Kontaveit though and the Estonian could be the round facing Wozniacki in round three. Kristina Mladenovic is projected for round four, but the Frenchwoman could lose out to Coco Vandeweghe who is a good grass court player.
Grass is the weakest surface for fourth seed Elina Svitolina, and a tough draw could see the section open up for a surprise quarter finalist. The Ukrainian has a tough start against Birmingham finalist Ashleigh Barty, a match that could spring the first major upset of the tournament. If Svitolina can pass the Aussie, then she could run into the dangerous Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in round three before facing either Jelena Ostapenko or Madison Keys in round four. Needless to say, it is going to take a lot from Svitolina to just make the last eight. Keys could be a dark horse depending on her form and fitness, whilst Ostapenko is the current French Open champion and will be eager to repeat that success at Wimbledon.
Dominika Cibulkova has struggled for form all season so the Slovakian could also be a contender for an early exit. Andrea Petkovic is her first opponent, with Danka Kovinic her second. The third round is scheduled to face Ana Konjuh, but the Croatian faces Sabine Lisicki who is seemingly tailor made for Wimbledon courts. Venus Williams could end up being the favourite to make it out of this section when it is all said and done, but the American has some difficult tests herself. The up and coming Elise Mertens is her first round opponent, then she could face Barbora Strycova in round three. But with form being an issue for many of the top seeds in this section, do not be shocked to see it fall apart.
Simona Halep heads into Wimbledon not only searching for a her first grand slam, but also the world number one ranking. It will be interesting to see how she has recovered from another final loss at Rolland Garros last month, and she has a good draw ahead of her. A qualifier lies first with Laura Robson possible for round two. Carla Suarez Navarro is projected for round three, but the Spaniard could be ousted by Eugenie Bouchard or Shuai Peng before then. Elena Vesnina is the seeded fourth round opponent, but her section has some dangerous floaters including Victoria Azarenka who she could face in round two. Anastasija Sevastova, fresh off her Mallorca success, is also in this section alongside Britain’s Heather Watson who played well in Eastbourne.
Petra Kvitova’s comeback story continues, and thus far it has gone better than expected. The Czech won the Birmingham title and has put herself among the favourites for the title again. She has a good draw to the fourth round with Caroline Garcia being her toughest test in the third round, and It could lead to a blockbuster fourth round match with Johanna Konta. The Brit has a decent draw herself and will look to take revenge on Su Wei Hsieh and Donna Vekic in the opening rounds. Roberta Vinci is projected to be her first seeded foe, but the Italian could fall to Kristyna Pliskova in the first round.
Round of 16:
Kerber def. Muguruza
Radwanska def. Kuznetsova
Pliskova def. Pavlyuchenkova
Vandeweghe def. Wozniacki
Venus def. Cibulkova
Ostapenko def. Barty
Kvitova def. Konta
Halep def. Vesnina
Muguruza is so hard to predict these days, so it is tough to back her beating Kerber. Radwanska’s grass court prowess should be enough to get past Kuznetsova. Pliskova will keep her form going against Pavlyuchenkova, and I see an upset with Vandeweghe beating Wozniacki. Venus should have enough to down Cibulkova, and I can see Ostapenko going well here and ending Barty’s run. Kvitova vs Konta is so hard to predict, but if Petra hits her best form then she should win. Halep should have enough to get past Vesnina.
Kerber def. Radwanska
Pliskova def. Vandeweghe
Venus def. Ostapenko
Kvitova def. Halep
With the world number one ranking on the line, I can see Kerber finding some form this fortnight and defeating Radwanska. Pliskova will end Vandeweghe’s run, and Venus will do the same to Ostapenko. Kvitova is a difficult prediction to make, but her best on grass is better than Halep’s.
Pliskova def. Kerber
Kvitova def. Venus
Pliskova, being the player in better form, should have enough to get by Kerber. It is hard to call Kvitova vs Venus, but I can sense a big story coming over the two weeks with Kvitova.
Pliskova def. Kvitova
That said, I feel like it might be Pliskova’s time this tournament. It is not a confident prediction by any means because anything can happen, but I feel the third seed is in the best form and is the favourite to go all the way.