Archive for June, 2012

28 Jun 2012

Stuck at work? Without Twitter? Need a place to follow along? Catching up? I’ve got you covered! I’ll be on Twitter as well, but this will be my place for catching up with all of the days action. Tell a friend! Comments welcome.

[4:58] Big thanks to those who have read the live blog. It’s a nice place to scratch down random thoughts as they come. Going to close it up for today. Working on a big post on tennis tactics (and the similarity to football) and off later to watch the second Euro semfinal (go figure). I’ll be back tomorrow, and then all of next week. Thanks for reading!

[4:01] Good win for Ivanovic. Playing very erratically. It’s good though. She’s going for it, which she needs to on grass… and every surface. Making a lot of errors because of it, but so be it. She has next to no success when she tries to hold back and feel her way through rallies. She’s not that type of player, and never will be. In that sense, you have to give props to Li Na. She goes out, goes for it, and if she burns out, so be it. Has to be a similar approach for Ivanovic, I think. She’s doing enough to get through, and putting pressure on her opponents. That’s what matters at the end of the day. She’ll get Goerges in the next round, which should be a great, forehand destroying match.

[3:39] Only a matter of time before Ivo bored me to death. To Ivanovic. 5-6 in the second. Tiebreak could be a messy affair.

[3:29] There really is little in this match. Some interesting points, some unreturnable serves, some service holds. Duh. 1-2.

[3:17] What an odd set. Double fault from Ivo, set to Murray. Murray moving quite well, returning well. Good signs.

[2:45] Focusing on Murray. Bit too frustrating from Ana, if I’m honest. Good hands from Karlovic. Murray doing a great job to get stuff back but Ivo is ready for it. Still amazes me how laboured yet fluid Karlovic’s motion is.

[2:41] Ha. Ivo comes to net, lucky net cord, ball goes flying past him and lands in. On serve again, 1-1. Right. Should be an odd match. Bit of a wind in the stadium too by the looks.

[2:38] One day you’re killing it on centre court as the only match in play, the next day you’re playing Alize Cornet on court 14. Funny sport this. Murray broken against Karlovic, set is basically over already.

[2:31] Amazing interview from Baker. Guy has come such a long way to get back to playing tennis, and really is playing well. Inspiring stuff. Murray up coming. Ivanovic grinding away on court 3 against Bondarenko. Backhand actually looks pretty good. Getting through the zone quick, relatively confident with it.

[2:17] Pressure does strange things to people. Sharapova put all the pressure on Pironkova, and that was it really. Well played. Murray is up coming as Serena is through easily, and Ivanovic up next as Malisse downs Simon. I’ll have both of those. Curious to see how Murray will do.

[2:04] Pironkova is without a sniff. Has the game to trouble Sharapova, but if Masha can just crush the living crap out of the ball, there’s little anyone can do. About to be 4-0. This one is all but done. Ice Queen ahoy.

[1:57] Very good hitting from Sharapova. Not trying to crush it, just controlling it and placing it where it needs to go. Pressure clearly on Pironkova and she’s not dealing very well. Early break, 1-0.

[1:48] Well. Pironkadonk and here wonky game have pushed Masha into a third. This might get… loud.

[1:46] Apparently repeatedly getting less than 6 hours of sleep each night catches up with you. Who knew. Up now! Masha/Tsveti on then.

[12:15] Back in a few.

[12:02] Lots of big name players on tap for today, not the most exciting of matches. However, there is likely to be an upset somewhere, so keep an eye open.

27 Jun 2012

Stuck at work? Without Twitter? Need a place to follow along? Catching up? I’ve got you covered! I’ll be on Twitter as well, but this will be my place for catching up with all of the days action. Tell a friend! Comments welcome.

[8:09] Well. Good hold from Sorana. Still down a break, 3-2.

[8:01] Crap. Bound to happen eventually. Break for Na…. Li. Li Na. 2-1. Sounds like she was hitting a ton of errors. Sorana will have to up her game here, then.

[7:54] Great straight forward hold from Sorana. Keep the momentum going. What she needs.

[7:51] Breaks to take the set. Lovely. Will serve first in the second. That’s good. If she gets further in that set, it’s basically guaranteed she will tighten up. Helps to serve first.

[7:47] Blows it. Bloody hell. Set points in both games. Definite momentum swing not owning it up to go 6-1. Still has a break.

[7:41] Had my freak out tweet ready. Not yet. Li Na saves some set points, Cirstea will have to come back out to serve it out, up 5-2.

[7:35] 1-5. Bloody frickin’ hell.

[7:28] What the fricky frack? Double break to Sorana, 4-1. Right. Keep er goin’, girl.

[7:24] Quite a long game for Sorana. Not sure if it’s good or bad. Has saved four break points in it.

[7:20] Deuce… ad Sorana… deuce… ad Li. I’m starving and have had too much coffee. Portugal/Spain soon. Fantastic combo.

[7:15] Li Na holds by… hitting the tennis ball. I don’t know, I can’t freaking see it. Sorana to serve. 30-0. Bloody hell.

[7:12] 0-2 Sorana to start. Breathing.

[7:09] Sorana breaks to open. Yes. Great. Get my hopes up.

[7:07] Sorana is on the board. Hope. Here we go. Oh, and two sets to Gulbis now. Think he’ll be fine, if I’m allowed to say that. Clijsters up a set too.

[6:52] I’ve toned my fandom down a lot over nearly three years of the blog, mostly because I want to be able to have followers who are fans of all sorts of players and won’t get tired of my fanboying. Makes sense. And to be honest, I have become more of a fan of the sport for what it is than individual players over the years, and I’m quite ok with that. My Sorana love is not likely to ever fizzle out though. She plays Li Na on court 4 next. She’s probably going to get crushed, but don’t tell me that.
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26 Jun 2012

It was a match that popped out the second it was drawn. Crafty veteran and Roland Garros champ Francesca Schiavone against big hitting, full of promise young Brit Laura Robson.

It was pretty clear who had the edge early on. Robson played near flawless tennis on serve. Her serve out wide on both sides was devastating, and she was getting a lot of forehands. The first shot after the serve impressed, and she dictated play wonderfully. In a blink of an eye she was up a set.

The second set was much more tight. Schiavone started to hit more to the Robson backhand, and Laura’s power was beginning to disappear. At 3-3, 0-40, it looked like Robson had the match she was looking for. But five straight points from Franny and suddenly it was a different match. It seemed at that point Schiavone knew she needed to flip the switch, and she did. Chasing balls, being creative, using the slice and she had herself a break.

Taking the set and largely steamrolling through the third set, there is no doubt that Schiavone raised her level. The problem was that Robson was unable to respond. She was at times torn whether to go for it, or focus on moving her feet and hitting a clean ball. Near the end of the third set she was able to get a break and starting hitting well again, but it was a bit too late.

Having watched these players (Robson and Watson) for a bit now, and now on back to back days, I will say this much: for two girls who seem so bubbly, likable, and similar off the court, they couldn’t have less in common on the court. And I by no means is that a bad thing.

Watson is the cool, collected, technique based hitter with athletic movements and an incredibly smooth stroke for a youngster. She doesn’t get too high, she doesn’t get too low, and just tries to go about her business, for better or worse.

Watson is the near opposite. She’s had some issues closing out matches and letting the moment get to her as a youngster, but has also shown great periods of intensity. Robson doesn’t rely on a smooth stroke, she relies on pummeling the living crap out of the ball. It’s a big serve, and an even bigger lefty forehand. She hasn’t quite found the happy medium of aggression and defense, but periods of successful aggression means she is nearly unplayable, particularly on serve.

At first glance, the answer seems easy. Seems. Watson has such a consistent stroke for such a young age, something that was even apparent when I saw her last year in Toronto. She’s got a cool head. The complete package. In a sense she is already reaching that level.

Just because Robson may be lacking in things such as mental strength and movement does not mean these are things that can be worked on and improved. The one thing that Robson has that Watson will likely never have is power, something you can never underestimate in the women’s game. Movement, and in a sense, concentration levels can be improved. Robson is still only 18, and is probably still growing. A certain Maria Sharapova hardly has the greatest movement ever seen.

The transition from junior to pro is a difficult one. It is very unlikely that we will see a player such as Sharapova come through and win Wimbledon at 17; the game has changed dramatically. The fact that Robson has so much she can improve on is a proof of her ultimate potential. Staying healthy and avoiding injuries will help, and and increased mental strength and movement on top of ever increasing pace of shot could see Robson sky rocket up the rankings over the coming years. Take note.

26 Jun 2012

Stuck at work? Without Twitter? Need a place to follow along? Catching up? I’ve got you covered! I’ll be on Twitter as well, but this will be my place for catching up with all of the days action. Tell a friend! Comments welcome.

[7:30] Brutal, brutal luck. Net cord that flopped over on a return for Querrey. Break point. Long rally. Excellent forehand from Pospisil off a slice, ball comes back, panics and drop shots into the net. Quick hold from Querrey. 2-5. Terrible for the Canadian.

[7:23] Zzz. Nothing in this third set. Both content to sit back for the tiebreak. Both guys are total money on serve so far.

[7:11] Great tiebreak from Pospisil. This match may not finish today. Finally takes it on his sixth set point. Querrey really had so many chances to break and should have taken it, but excellent work under pressure from Pospisil. Really believes in his serve, as he should. Confident dude.

[7:04] Tiebreak.

[6:54] Three set points gone for Vashy. Absolutely destroying the second serve of Querrey. Ton of pressure on both guys serves. I dare say Querrey has had the better chance to win this, having had so many set points.

[6:51] Ridiculous winners from Pospisil. Has no business being in this set and now has two set points.

[6:48] Pospisil making things incredibly difficult for himself. Break points against. Again.

[6:41] Back to back breaks for Querrey. Far from done, with Querrey’s track record. But if he keeps serving like he is, that will be two sets for him. 7-5, 1-0.

[5:50] Both players making some in roads on the return game then. Both using the big serve to get out of jail though. Of course.

[5:45] Bit of an opening for Querrey there. Terrible miss. Makes a weird face. Spins the racquet. Ace. Nevermind then. 2-3.

[5:41] The chance of there being any breaks in this match, ever, at all, seems low. Both guys killing it on serve and with zero interest on the return. So far.

[5:39] Pospisil/Querrey time. Great to watch a match on a real outer court. Feels a bit like being there. Quite the atmosphere.
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25 Jun 2012

– If you’re willing to play by the sword, you need to be willing to kill by the sword. Gulbis pushed one time Wimby finalist Berdych to three tiebreaks, and won them all. Both guys only had one break each, and Berdych only earned one break point all match. Gulbis showed some rare mental stability, blowing several match points and going down a minibreak in the third tiebreak. But he kept serving huge and used some… choice creativity to make the magic happen. Grass should always be a good surface for Gulbis, and if he can remain focused, he could do some damage.

– Heather Watson is rounding into the tennis player I hope she can be. She has incredible self belief, and never once let the occasion of centre court overwhelm her. The confidence oozes through her game. She has wonderful footwork and is a true ball striker. She looks like a player who has worked meticulously on her game and knows what she is capable of. Magnificent stuff.

– The one player who did let the occasion get to her was the player Watson defeated: Iveta Benesova. Failing to break in a long game in the first set, she failed to capitalize on big points and essentially threw in the towel in the second set, from what I saw. Minutes, perhaps seconds after getting off court she tweeted:

My new favourite saying for anything terrible.

– It was a tough day for Yen Hsun Lu. As I wrote, he showed off his grass court prowess in the first set, but came up lame with a groin injury at the start of the second. It didn’t seem to effect him that badly, but his net game let him down massively and his movement was not the same. Still, a treat to watch and an excellent match that featured many points of high, high quality grass tennis. Harrison will play Djokovic next.

– I hate to say it, and it may upset people, but Jankovic is becoming a bit of a disgrace to the sport. As a slam finalist and former number 1, her complete lack of interest or self belief is mind boggling. Her backhand looked back to old ways, digging out some low balls and pounding others. Her forehand was atrocious and her gameplan was even worse. At times it seems she was making adjustments, trying to get to net. It often ended in a terrible volley. Other times she defended, other times she ball bashed, other times she totally went for it. It was like an exhibition match where JJ was completely blind to who was across the net (one Kim Clijsters). Even when she was in the second set, she was never really in it. Sorry JJ fans, it appears things are getting worse before they’ll be getting better.

– As far as first days go, today was fantastic. I’m not sure if it was the allure of Wimbledon, the fact that I had the day to sit down and really, really write, or all of them, but today got my tennis passion back into overdrive. And it felt damn good. Thanks everyone.

– Reminder: live blogs every damn week day. One down, nine to go. Tell a friend. Cheers.

25 Jun 2012

With age comes many things. Sore joints, blurry eyes, hair in strange places, or maybe no hair at all. But it also brings something much more wonderful. Perspective.

Surface changes in tennis are a strange thing, but the switch to grass remains the most peculiar of all. What kind of sport would have it’s biggest tournament on a surface people play on for only four months at a time? Tennis, that’s what.

With history comes knowledge, but so does an over simplification of the facts. Wimbledon, and grass in general, is a fast surface. This much we know. For years, Pete Sampras and his cannon blast serve dominated the competition. It was no wonder he wasn’t much of a fan of practicing. Patrick McEnroe recounted in his book that Sampras was a fan of playing tiebreakers, typically for $100 bucks a pop just to give them some sort of meaning.

Big serving giant Lendl. High flying Rafter. The whip of Roddick. In the eyes of most people, grass is a simple surface. Serve big, and serve big often.

In reality, the stereotypical view of what grass courts are like may be closer to what an indoor hard court is like. Yes, big serving has and always will yield results on grass. However, while grass may be slightly slower than the insane speeds of yore, bounces incredibly low. It is an almost opposite problem to the speed of the stuff.

Two years ago, 82nd ranked Rendy Lu took out Andy Roddick. It was seen as a choke on Roddick’s part. How could such a big server lose to such a little guy on a fast surface?

Watching Lu today, it is very apparent that grass rewards all risk takers. Lu has nearly mastered the art of small guy grass tennis. We smaller players (and I speak from experience) are used to playing defensively against big hitters. Outlast, outwit, and defend.

Lu has learned over time that there is hope for the little guy. Footwork is the key ingredient. At 5’11, Lu is hardly Leo Messi, but he is hardly John Isner either (Isner is 14 inches taller than Messi). He is on the shorter side for a tennis player. He keeps his feet moving. Always. This aids his ability to put real angle at the ball, as he is setting up before his opponent has made a shot. This further boosts his ability to react and push opponents into difficult areas, particularly off easier cross court shots.

Lu has a good serve, but not an excellent serve, but he is able to play with a pattern similar to a big server. In the first set against Harrison he served at 67% but won 97% of his first serve points. For big servers, it’s easy. Hit the serve, wait for the weak return, crush the forehand.  Lu has found a nearly similar style of play, but involves creating that opening from the shot after due to excellent footwork and quick thinking, not from a bomb serve out wide. This doesn’t mean that he was hitting winners directly after the serve, but that he set himself up to succeed. Again, lower centre of gravity and excellent footwork means he is able to creep into the net and make quick decisions to finish off points. Excellent movement largely blurs the line between offense and defense (think Nadal). Most importantly, he has the confidence to go for it time after time, and very rarely settles for less.

Grass is a surface that demands you to go for it. Those who shoot first shall be rewarded, it is simple as that. And while power never hurts, grass can also reward those who can use the low bounce, react and move quickly, and be creative (the other side of Federer’s game, for instance).

As an individual sport, tennis can feel repetitive and rather simple. Players who can rethink their game and make the necessary adjustments so that surfaces work in their favour and not vice versa should always have a special place in the hearts of tennis fans.

(Wo)man Your Battle Stations

Posted by Brodie under: Ms. Licky, SW19

25 Jun 2012

Never underestimate the power of power in the women’s game.

It was a difficult start for Sabine Lisicki against up coming Croat Petra Martic. Martic employed a tricky grass court game that pushed Lisicki around, and pushed her out of her comfort zone. Her excellent front to back movement meant drop shots and creativity a plenty.

Power is the great devastator in the women’s game, and it is never more apparent on grass. Lisicki, down a break, could have panicked. A couple of aces and a fantastic service game and suddenly the pendulum had swung.

Martic knew it too. On one point in particular, she hit four shots to the Lisicki backhand, hoping to avoid the inevitable. One shot to Lisicki’s forehand, a dipping one at that, and the German ripped it up the line. Martic got there, but had no response to the shot.

Four games in a row, and Lisicki was on her way to a straight sets win. If Lisicki can find her spots, she can cause some serious damage at this tournament.

Struggling with health and injury issues has been the bane of her career, but she looks very fit and is moving very well. To boot, the low bounces of grass tend not to bother her, and she is able to still turn on shots from both wings. There was a certain professional confidence to her win today too, which bodes well for future matches.

Lisicki is hardly an outlier in this regard, as there are many other powerful floaters in this draw. Crush it, and you will be rewarded.

25 Jun 2012

Stuck at work? Without Twitter? Need a place to follow along? Catching up? I’ve got you covered! I’ll be on Twitter as well, but this will be my place for catching up with all of the days action. Tell a friend! Comments welcome.

[7:10] What a win for Gulbis! Three tiebreaks, massive serving and great creativity. Huge upset that will destroy a bracket or two.

I’m off for the day! Thanks to all of those who read. I’ll be here every week day of the tournament. Tell a friend! See you tomorrow. The matches should be great.

[7:01] Kim through, 6-2, 6-4. Shaky at times but never any doubt. Some positive signs from Jankovic, particularly her backhand, which will serve her well on hard courts. Desperately needs to sort the forehand, however. Will not be good enough for the summer like that.

[6:57] Game Clijsters. On serve, as the clock is about to strike 7. I’m not sure why that is significant. Berdych has saved 3 match points, one with the help of hawkeye. Serving for a third set tiebreak.

[6:50] Messy from Kim. Very typical. Can play so fast. When stuff gets tight, it gets really tight. Struggles to hold, finally broken. JJ at 3-4.

[6:48] Positive stuff from JJ’s backhand. Good in offense and defense. Digging a lot out while coming forward, which is harder to do than it looks. Forehand is still failing her though, and struggling to get on top of points.

[6:40] Mentally, Lu hasn’t had it today. Hard to know if it’s tied with the groin issues or not. Still a lovely match with a lot of great shot making. Harrison in four sets. Novak next.

[6:32] JJ is playing better. Kim is still really good at tennis. Lu hanging in.

[6:18] Such an opportunity missed by Lu. First break points since the first set. Surely has to take those. Needs to keep believing in himself on the next return game. Clijsters in freak mode right now.

[6:14] Amazing lack of plan from JJ. Not sure whether to come to match, bash, or what. Being embarrassed by Kim. 6-2. Gulbis two tiebreaks to love versus Berdych. Wow.

[6:06] Another set with no break chances for Lu. Creating a bit on Harrison’s serve but a few too many errors. Big serving from Harrison, very confident on serve. Both players off to the washroom. Right. Clijsters up a break, 4-2.

[6:01] Pressure gets the Lu. Saves two break points, but Harrison manages to get a good serve back on break point, and Lu buries it into the net. Trouble. 5-4 Harrison. Clijsters in cruise control. As you were.

[5:58] Just incredible stuff from Kim. Amazing wrist strength, able to create such pace with spin out of nothing like no other. Such intelligent shots, too. Beautiful to see. Lu goes on a bit of a walk about but saves two break points. Very brave.
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24 Jun 2012

Women’s Draw Preview Here

Top Half – Djokovic’s Quarter

Overall, this looks like a pretty straight forward quarter for Novak. He avoids many of the big serving floaters. A second round clash against Harrison should give him a good push and force him to look towards top gear.

Waiting for him in the quarters is likely to be Tomas Berdych. It’s nearly impossible to predict what you’re going to get from the T-Berd, but his best tends to show up at Wimbledon. If it does, he will make the quarterfinals without difficulties.

A potential Djokovic/Berdych match-up is a big wonder. Berdych’s serve is massive when on, but Djokovic is an excellent returner. It is very plausible that he will be able to get more balls back to Berdych, and then get to shots immediately after that. Djokovic’s ability to play defense on grass will likely plant the seeds of doubt in Berdych’s mind and I like him to get through a test such as that.

Predicted Quarterfinal: Djokovic vs. Berdych

Top Half – Federer’s Half

Once again the potential for a Federer/Djokovic semifinal looks ripe and ready for the picking; and the tournament hasn’t even started yet. Really, Fed’s draw is THAT easy. Simon and Tipsarevic are the other top seeds, and all players Fed can and will devour on grass.

The only name that in any way sticks out at me in this quarter is Isner. Yes, another Isner/Mahut match (three years running!) is possible. Tree still has massive difficulties with returning, but when he’s on his game, he can take tiebreaks off anyone on grass, and that is good enough. As much as it’s a favourable draw for Fed, you have to think it is for Tree too.

Predicted Quarterfinal: Federer vs. Isner

Bottom Half – Murray’s Draw

With all eyes turning from football to tennis, the lens will once again focus on Andy Murray. The tennis gods have not been kind to him, unfortunately, as tons of dangerous floaters lurk around nearly every corner of this draw. Literally.

Roddick, Cilic, Raonic, Querrey… and even Karlovic in the second round. Obviously Murray won’t have to play every one of these players, but there is a very good chance he will play Karlovic, one of Cilic, Raonic or Querrey, and lastly Roddick. These are all winnable, albeit incredibly difficult matches.

Overall, I’ve largely been underwhelmed with what I have seen from Murray this year. He has lacked that creative spark much of the time and his self-defeatist attitude continues to take it’s toll. While the home crowd tends to help him, playing against big servers requires a ton of patience, and Andy’s patience will be tested to the limit in this quarter.

Special shoutout has to go to Raonic. He was injured in the second round of Wimbledon last year and we never really got to see what he could do on grass. In Halle of this year he was good but not great, losing in a third set breaker to Federer. That added intensity of a grand slam (there was zero atmosphere in Halle until later in the match) will help Raonic with his focus. Likewise, coach Galo Blanco is always looking to push Raonic’s game to new levels, and will likely address the first shot after the serve as well as the ongoing improvement of movement. Could we see a five set Raonic/Roddick epic in the quarters?

Predicted Quarterfinal: Roddick vs. Raonic

Bottom Half – Nadal’s Quarter

After winning Roland Garros last year, the bitter disappointment of not regaining his Wimbledon crown was obvious after a scrappy final in 2011. Nadal will be hungrier and more confident than ever.

His draw is a big boost, avoiding so many of those big servers who could be problems (since they all ended up in Murray’s first 1/8th) for far tamer versions in Dodig and Lopez. These are players that he should and will beat. At first glance the other side of the quarter seems troublesome, with a Fish/Jo fourth rounder looming. Luckily for him, this should be a quarter easily dealt with. Fish has been injured and missing for some time now.

Jo is a different story, and continues to be one of the more fascinating players on the tour for me. Jo is the complete package, but has difficulty piecing it all together. For him, grass is his safe haven, and he has called it his best surface. On clay, Jo has difficulty with decisions on his shots; when to go for it? When to rely on athleticism? Does athleticism automatically equal effective defense? On grass, Jo not obviously shows off his power, but he goes for it. He absolutely goes for it. It’s why his comeback against Federer last year remains one of the most amazing comebacks in tennis history. Against the greatest grass player ever, Jo simply threw caution to the wind, bombed his serve, and whipped forehands out wide to devastating effect. Fed had no answer. No one would have.

If Jo can get over his difficult defeat to Djokovic in Paris, he can and will give Nadal problems. However, I’m not sure if Jo can mentally outlast Nadal in five sets.

Predicted Quarterfinal: Nadal vs. Tsonga

Predicted Semifinals: Djokovic vs. Federer, Nadal vs. Roddick
Predicted Final: Djokovic vs. Nadal
Predicted Champion: Djokovic

24 Jun 2012

Top Half – Sharapova’s Quarter
It was only two weeks ago that Maria Sharapova completed the career slam, with all four under her belt. It was a long eight years ago that a 17 year old Sharapova won her first ever grand slam on the speedy lawns of London. The distance between these two staggering facts makes Sharapova the most intriguing story for this fortnight.

Lest we forget, Sharapova made the final of Wimbledon last year. She went out with a whimper, however, against the big hitting Petra Kvitova. It has been a common theme versus Serena Williams and was the same story at this year’s Australian Open against Azarenka. Sharapova only has one way of playing, and it overwhelms the vast majority of opponents. However, those who hit hard and take matters into their own hands give Sharapova cause for caution, and that’s why her draw is incredibly important to her success at this tournament.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t get much worse for her. She has Pironkova second round, and possibly Lisicki fourth round, followed by Kerber or Clijsters in the quarters. While she can not face Kvitova, Azarenka or Serena until the final, it is far from smooth sailing for the Russian. Winning back to back slams has become somewhat of a rarity in the WTA and while Sharapova has to be the favourite for the title, I really think this draw could and will get to her at some hurdle. She might be a difficult pick for winning it overall.

Predicted Quarterfinal: Sharapova vs. Kerber

Top Half – Radwanska’s Quarter

Unfortunately, grass has never really been Aga’s surface and never will be. She will out smart and out drop shot opponents that she can dictate. However, up against a power player she is likely to be overwhelmed. A second round blockbuster against Venus Williams may derail her hopes before they’ve even set up on the runway.

The next seeded favourite is Sam Stosur. As a player who relies on a kick serve and getting on top of the ball, Wimbledon and grass in general will never be a welcoming place for her.

Beyond that there are many question mark floaters. Li Na comes to mind, but she is incredibly streaky and has never made it past the quarterfinals here. Petrova? Dani? Kiri? CIRSTEA?! Players rarely look at their draw, but if they have, they should be thrilled with this quarter which appears to be the one that will be incredibly open and entirely unpredictable.

Predicted Quarterfinal: Radwanska vs. Li

Bottom Half – Kvitova’s Quarter

There is very little in this quarter outside of the potential Kvtiova/Serena match-up that almost certainly will happen barring disaster. So what of it? These are the types of matches Serena loves. A chance to defeat the defending champion and make headlines once again. It doesn’t hurt that Serena can work her way into this tournament with some players she should and likely will absolutely dominate.

One name to watch out for in this quarter is Laura Robson. She’s a growing girl and has had some difficulties with health and injuries, but she has the type of game that is just shouting out for a coming out party. A first round match against Franny is difficult, as she will have to manage the creativity of Schiavone. At the same time, she has the power to push Schiavone who can become incredibly error happy at the worst of times. After that the draw opens up, and could open up even more than that. A surprise fourth round run, and a further push up the rankings? It’s possible. Keep an eye on that one.

Predicted Quarterfinal: Kvitova vs. Williams

Bottom Half – Azarenka’s Half

Azarenka truly came to form at the beginning of the season en route to her Australian Open win. She showed the mental strength necessary and absolutely went for it; with devastating results. This nearly reckless abandon will be necessary again if she hopes to make it past her best ever result of a 2011 semifinal. With eyes focused on Sharapova, Kvitova, and the Williams sisters, this may be the perfect opportunity for Vika to continue doing her thing and spring a trap. I, for one, think she may. Azarenka has the confidence and discipline to routine the players she should, and that is incredibly necessary in grand slams and particularly Wimbledon where a good start in matches and the tournament overall is incredibly important.

Her opponent is likely to be Marion Bartoli or Caroline Wozniacki. Bartoli plays a similar style to Azarenka with weaker movement and a less devastating forehand, and I like her chances to get through a quarterfinal against her.

Predicted Quarterfinal: Azarenka vs. Bartoli

Predicted Semifinals: Kerber vs. Li, Azarenka vs. Williams
Predicted Final: Kerber vs. Azarenka
Champion: Azarenka

Mind The Racket Podcast:

Episode 7 – US Open Week 2 Wrap-Up