Wimbledon 2017 Women’s Draw Preview and Analysis

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Photo Ray Giubilo

Photo Ray Giubilo

Defending champion Serena Williams will not be at this year’s Wimbledon due to her pregnancy, leaving the tournament currently quite open although there are two notable favourites from the Czech Republic leading the field of potential winners.

Full draw here: Wimbledon women’s draw

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Despite being World No.1, expectations are low for Angelique Kerber. The German was a finalist last year but those in her quarter will be sensing the opportunity to make a name for themselves with it all up for grabs. She did manage a quarter final in Eastbourne but was defeated by Johanna Konta, who won in a fairly comfortable fashion to move on. Her early round opponents don’t look too troubling but Lucie Safarova has the perfect aggressive style to take on a Kerber low on confidence and with two semi finals on grass, is in fairly confident form herself. The only issue may be her injury that saw her withdraw from the Birmingham semi final. Garbine Muguruza may be a Wimbledon finalist herself but that continues to amaze given her major inconsistencies on grass, most recently losing to Barbara Strycova and picking up just 1 game in the process.

On paper, Agnieszka Radwanska is another player who would be looking at this draw and thinking she could turn around her awful year by going deep, especially when she has always thrived at Wimbledon. However, it feels like she is so out form that a reversal of fortunes in such quick succession is unlikely. She was outplayed by Lauren Davis in Eastbourne but the draw at least doesn’t match her up with any power players that could blast her off the court until late with the first possible one being Monica Puig, who will find it tough in round one against the seeded Timea Bacsinszky. Seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova rounds off the draw – she has never made it past the quarter finals at SW19 and even then, all three of her runs there were 2007 and earlier.

Karolina Pliskova is the first of the hot favourites and she heads up the second quarter of the draw. Many have been waiting for the Czech to dominate a slam and establish herself as one of the elite, with the added bonus of World No.1 coming if she does it this time round. Her semi final run in Paris was far beyond what was expected and she has taken that confidence into Eastbourne, turning it into a final appearance. It feels like she has the perfect early rounds too ease her way into the tournament although Magdalena Rybarikova (round 2) has been finding her feet once more in ITFs and may give the Czech a tricky time if she is off her game. She is 5-0 against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, her projected fourth round opponent while Daria Gavrilova is another option although the energetic Australian will need to be at her best defensively to have a chance against Pliskova.

There could be a rematch of the Eastbourne final in the quarter finals with Caroline Wozniacki the seed projected to come out of that section. Despite her run here, it isn’t a gimme that she repeats that at Wimbledon. She has often found herself outplayed by aggressive big hitters and Coco Vandeweghe seems the perfect choice for that scenario this week. The American outplayed Johanna Konta in Birmingham but it will be concerning that she had to retire in her next match in the end of the second set. Kristina Mladenovic is the other of the possible seeded players although she has never done much at Wimbledon, her best run being a third round in 2015. It is also good to see the return of Sloane Stephens, who enters the tournament with her protected ranking.

Petra Kvitova set the ball rolling by being the first 90s born player to win a slam and finally a third addition was made to that list, 6 years after Kvitova. Jelena Ostapenko‘s stunning run to the French Open title was backed by some stunning aggressive tennis and she could thrive at Wimbledon although her serve becomes more of a liability on this surface. She should be able to ease her way into the tournament with two fairly easy openers before a possible matchup with big hitters Camila Giorgi or Madison Keys. Keys would have come into the tournament as one of the favourites had she played a full season and showcased her usual level of tennis but it has not been the case. She has played just 10 matches all year with a dismal 4-6 record to show for it. ‘Upset alert’ will be on for Elina Svitolina’s match in round, with the fourth seed taking on Ashleigh Barty. Barty’s surprise run to the Birmingham final has brought her back to people’s minds and as such, the confidence in her is that high that she is actually favoured by the oddsmakers to beat Ukranian.

Venus Williams is in the news for reasons other than her tennis right now and will want to turn them around swiftly with a good run and she has a legitimate chance of ensuring the name Williams remains on the Wimbledon trophy for the year of 2017. She was a semi finalist last year and has to be amongst the favourites to win her quarter. It does contain an array of big hitters although Dominika Cibulkova, the highest seed, has not done great on grass for example. It has the potential to be one of the clashes of round 1 but it is almost disappointing that Ana Konjuh and Sabine Lisicki drew each other. Lisicki is a former finalist and always dangerous on grass while Konjuh is one of the rising stars on tour and was phenomenal in destroying Victoria Azarenka in Mallorca – even if the former No.1 was way off her game.

Speaking of Azarenka, she will need to have made major improvements in the past 10 days to look anything like a contender. In theory, she has the kind of draw that could allow her to work her way into the tournament with Anastasija Sevastova a possible round three opponent. Simona Halep will want to avoid the slam final blues and get right back into things when she takes on Marina Erakovic in round one. Eugenie Bouchard has gone from a Wimbledon finalist to being a fairly comfortable underdog against Carla Suarez Navarro in the space of three years. It probably is justified too with her going 0-2 on the grass this year, losing three setters to Schiavone and Strycova.

Finally, the two other major contenders also reside in the bottom quarter of the draw although the Johanna Konta train seems to be running a bit on hype. Concerns will also be raised after her fall in the win over Kerber at Eastbourne, where she banged her back and head points away from victory. There are no suggestions of concussions although she did withdraw as a precaution at the semi final stage. The way she was blown off the court by Coco Vandeweghe in Birmingham doesn’t suggest champion while another opponent that beat her this week is a potential round two opponent – Donna Vekic. Finally, Petra Kvitova caps off the draw and she has transformed herself into a legitimate contender. The popular Czech has delighted many a tennis fan with the way she has recovered and bounced back from the horrifying attack she suffered in her home at the start of the year. Many will have expected her best tennis to take far longer to come back, if at all – given her injuries. However, she has played herself into favouritism for the event after dropping just 1 set on her way to the Birmingham title.

Prediction
SF: Karolina Pliskova def. Lucie Safarova
SF: Petra Kvitova def. Venus Williams
F: Petra Kvitova def. Karolina Pliskova

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