The crystal ball is not clear for anyone looking through and attempting to predict a winner in the ladies’ draw at Wimbledon. Back at Roland Garros, the women’s field was so open that, some tennis experts picked as many as ten players to win the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen. However, all their picks were thrown out of the window as a fearless and unseeded 20-year old Jelena Ostapenko hit 299 winners en route to a dream maiden career title in the French capital.
Friday’s draw at the All England Club once again, puts us in the unknown of what it is to come during the coming fortnight, but the draw is one to savour from the opening round onwards.
Top seed Angelique Kerber needs a quick turnaround of form to have a genuine chance to win at SW19. The German is having a season opposite to her overall blistering one in 2016. She could lose the number one spot in the WTA rankings after the tournament. With the absence of Serena Williams (the defending champion), Kerber will open Centre Court play on Tuesday afternoon against a qualifier. Lucie Safarova and 2015 finalist Garbine Muguruza potentially await in the third and fourth rounds respectively. The top section also features 2012 finalist Agnieszka Radwanska who faces former number one Jelena Jankovic and two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Joining Kerber in the top half is third seed Karolina Pliskova who opens against Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina. Pliskova’s toughest test could come against another Russian and former quarterfinalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the last 16. Caroline Wozniacki also in this quarter could meet Pliskova in the last eight; the Dane starts her tournament against Hungary’s Timea Babos with Kristina Mladenovic or Coco Vandeweghe waiting along the line.
Simona Halep headlines the bottom half of the ladies’ draw seeded number two. The 2014 semifinalist’s quarter is packed with established players including two-time major winner Victoria Azarenka (faces USA’s Cici Bellis in first round) and Elena Vesnina who are both potential fourth round opponents.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova also in this section, could set a potential quarterfinal clash with whoever comes through between Halep, Azarenka or Vesnina. The returning Czech, who will be playing in only her third tournament of 2017, comes to the All England Club brewing in confidence after winning the Aegon Classic in Birmingham. Kvitova kicks off her campaign against Sweden’s Johanna Larsson and could face sixth seed Johanna Konta in the round of 16. The Briton would have vengeance in her sight in the opening round against Chinese Taipei’s Su-Wei Hsieh, who beat her in the same stage at Roland Garros.
Elina Svitolina leads the other quarter in the bottom half as the fourth seed. The Ukranian has been handed a tough start against Australian Ashleigh Barty, who reached the final in Birmingham. Newly crowned French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko (plays Aliaksandra Sasnovich in 1R) or 17th seed Madison Keys could be waiting in the fourth round.
Five-time champion Venus Williams (plays Beligian Elise Mertens in 1R), 6th seed Dominika Cibulkova who opens against Germany’s Andrea Petkovic and former semifinalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni have all been thrown in this half making it one to watch keenly.
NOTABLE FIRST ROUND MATCHES
Victoria Azarenka v Cici Bellis
Elina Svitolina v Ashleigh Barty
Agnieszka Radwanska v Jelena Jankovic
Timea Bacsinszky v Monica Puig
Alison Riske v Sloane Stephens
Coco Vandeweghe v Mona Barthel
Dominika Cibulkova v Andrea Petkovic
Carla Suarez Navarro v Eugenie Bouchard
Sabine Lisicki v Ana Konjuh
Camila Giorgi v Alize Cornet
PROJECTED FOURTH ROUND BY SEEDINGS
Angelique Kerber v Garbine Muguruza
Agnieszka Radwanska v Svetlana Kuznetsova
Karolina Pliskova v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Kristina Mladenovic v Caroline Wozniacki
Dominika Cibulkova v Venus Williams
Jelena Ostapenko v Elina Svitolina
Johanna Konta v Petra Kvitova
Elena Vesnina v Simona Halep