With Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka out before the third round, this Wimbledon seems like Serena Williams’ tournament to lose. The American is the heavy favourite in a draw in which Li Na, Petra Kvitova and Samantha Stosur remain the only other grand slam champions. But before we go that far ahead, let’s preview the best third round matches on the women’s side.
While the young brigade in the women’s draw is making quite an impression, the grand dame of women’s tennis is re-writing the record books. 42 year old (yes, that’s right – FORTY-TWO), Kimiko Date-Krumm, the 1996 semi-finalist here, has become the oldest player ever to reach the third round at the All-England Club. Two years ago, Date-Krumm met Venus Williams in the second round and the two played some of the best tennis of that fortnight before Venus finally prevailed 8-6 in the decider. The Japanese player, who retired at the age of 26 and the returned to tennis 12 years later, plays old-school tennis. Flat groundstrokes, early backswing, sharp angles and volleys. Serena plays the modern game better than any other woman in the world. The American is riding high with 33 consecutive wins. And while it may be an interesting match-up to watch, Serena will have too much raw power for Date-Krumm to have any legitimate chance.
Prediction – Williams in straight sets
On paper, Samantha Stosur has all the ingredients to be Wimbledon champion – she’s Australian, has the best kick serve in women’s tennis, a booming forehand, and knows how to volley. Yet, Wimbledon is the only slam where Stosur has not reached the second week. The Australian does not like the bounce of the grass and prefers the higher-bouncing hardcourts and clay courts– as can be seen by her 6-10 lifetime record at SW19 prior to this week. At the other end, her opponent in the third round seems to being her best game to Wimbledon every year. Germany’s Sabine Lisicki has reached at least the quarter finals at the All-England Club in her last three visits and feels at home on the grass. Stosur has won 4 of their 5 career meetings (including both on grass). But given their prior records at Wimbledon, Liskci would be favoured to cause an upset in this match.
Prediction – Lisicki in three sets
This is going to be the pick of the third round matches on the women’s side and not just for the contrast of styles. 18 year old Madison Keys is considered to be one of the most talented youngsters in the game and the tennis world is waiting for her grand slam breakthrough. Keys has a big serve and can blast the ball off both wings. Fourth seeded Radwanska, who lost to Serena Williams in the final here 12 months ago, plays with finesse of a touch artist. The Pole has limited ability to create her own pace but she can absorb the pace that comes from across the net and use the court and use the court better than any other player on the women’s tour today. Whoever wins, it should be fun to watch,
Prediction – Keys wins in three sets
Two left handed streaky players who both like playing on grass. Kvitova won the title here two years ago but has failed to live up to the expectations that came with that win. Her big serve, powerful groundstrokes are ideal for the grass. Makarova is a former Eastbourne champion who can match the Czech stunning shot-for-stunning shot but whose serve is not in the same league as Kvitova’s. The math is simple on this one – the player making the lesser number of errors on the day will win.
Prediction – Kvitova wins in straight sets