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    #76
    Rybarikova is trying everything she can think of. She started set two by trying to Arthur Ashe Gauff, giving her slow junk. This sort of worked, but not well enough. Now she is chipping and charging. That hasn't really worked either.

    Comment


      #77
      These two are playing so close to the lines and corners so often. And Gauff is so damn quick. Balls that wouldn't come back from pretty well any other player in the WTA (and quite a few on the ATP) are just regularly still on the island, but not just that. Back to depth.

      Comment


        #78
        3&3. Be afraid Polona Hercog. Be very afraid.

        Comment


          #79
          Day 4 picks

          Womenís
          #1 Barty vs Van Uytvanck Ė 1st on #2
          Kanepi vs #13 Bencic Ė 3rd on #18
          Davis [LL] vs #5 Kerber Ė 3rd on #2
          Siniakova vs [19] Konta Ė 2nd on Centre
          Mldenovic vs [6] Kvitova Ė 1st on #1

          Ash Barty goes for 15-in-a-row in the opener tomorrow on Court 2 against Alison Van Uytvanck. One would think she is rather likely to get it, both due to her own white hot form (16 sets in a row now) and also that grass is her surface. However, itís not a bad one for the Belgian, who has compact groundstrokes with a curtailed backswing and a strong serve. She is good enough to challenge Barty for a bit and has good memories of Wimbledon after a run to R4 last year, but she is surely taking on too much here. One other note Ė at least Channel 7 in Australia are not going to have tricky scheduling decisions for this one (there was controversy when they stuck with Kyrgios-Thompson rather than showing the World No.1 during R1).
          Iím rather amazed to discover that Kaia Kanepi and Belinda Bencic have never met competitively before. How have they avoided each other for so long? Must be the injuries... The grass of Wimbledon is good location to have that first test as it suits both players. Kanepi is more of a power player, whose aggressive attacking play from the baseline gets the most out of the surface, whilst Bencic is cuter in her approach with a variety of angles and slices in there as well as the power. It will depend on who imposes their style on the other. I favour the Swiss, but only 55/45.
          Lauren Davis vs Angie Kerber is the opposite of Kanepi-Bencic Ė both players play very similarly, itís about who can pull it off the best. Kerber has admitted to being rather nervous before her R1 match against Maria, but now that is out of the way hopefully she can grow into her title defence. Serve could be a factor in this match, because only one of them can really fire and that is Kerber. If she manages that, it could keep the rallies short in her service games, which will be a help. Because once serve and return have happened things could easily extend as they are two players who just plain hate to miss. However, Kerber is better at it and so should gut her way through.
          Having got through reasonably comfortably against Bogdan, Jo Konta now faces her first major test of the event in the form of Czech Katerina Siniakova. It looks a nasty match up from the Brits perspective as she likes opponents to try and hit through her so she can redirect and use their power against them. That isnít Siniakovaís way, she is more of a ball manipulator. And in the past that has been the sort of player who has given Jo considerable problems. However she seems to have overcome that recently, and will hopefully re-find the serving punch she showed on clay, because that is one clear area of superiority. They get a Centre Court stage for their show, which might help Konta who must be increasingly used to playing on that patch of lawn.
          The grass of Centre is also very familiar to Petra Kvitova, but she will have to win another match or two before getting back there as this one is takes place on the secondary stage. Which is still a good place to be. They get the run out there as Kvitova vs Kiki Mladenovic is match between two Ďnamesí that anyone reasonably knowledgeable in the crowd will be familiar with both. Kvitova has had something of a lock on Mladenovic in recent years, winning their last six meetings without conceding a set. However, with her lack of practice and still open questions about injury, this may be a chance for the Frenchwoman to reverse that pattern. Mladenovic has not had as much success as maybe she ought on grass given her doubles pedigree (current World No.1 indeed), which gives her a game that should be adaptable to the singles court. But too often she hangs back when on her lonesome and her serve lacks pop, particularly compared to Petra. If Kvitova is fit, she should win this.


          Menís
          Evans vs #18 Basilashvili Ė 2nd on #2
          Kyrgios vs #3 Nadal Ė 3rd on Centre
          #8 Nishikori vs Norrie Ė 1st on Centre
          Johnson vs #25 de Minaur Ė 1st on #18
          #17 Berrettini vs Baghdatis [WC] Ė 4th on #2

          Dan Evans lived up to his genuine billing as one of the most dangerous non-seeds in the Menís Singles this Wimbledon with a straight sets win over Federico Delbonis, who is a clay court specialist. Having beaten one of these, Evo now takes 18th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili, who has no particular record to speak of on grass. The Georgian is not an out-and-out clay courter, he has had decent results on hard as well, but grass has never been his friend. He lost both his warm-up matches on the surface, and struggled to beat James Ward in R1. Evans is better than Ward, and will be the fresher of the two. The bookies make the Brit the strong favourite, which makes perfect sense to me.
          And then the clear centrepiece of the day. A bit of complete melodrama, during which a Tennis match may break out. Nick Kyrgios took aim at several players who he probably considers his peers but who donít replicate that sentiment. Of them, Djokovic, who is on a continuous campaign to make more friends amongst the fans, tried to shrug it off as he probably thinks bitter words will harm him elsewhere. It was just Nadal, who is very sure both in his own skin and of his fanbase, who was willing to respond somewhat in kind and point to the hulking great elephant in the corner of the room of any argument that Kyrgios makes, i.e. that he is a pathetic man-child who would be better off growing up and dealing with his own manifest issues than talking about perceived flaws in others. I donít believe those were the exact words to come out of the Rafa camp, but that was the jist. There are two possible ways this will go. Either Kyrgios comes out ready to play and battle, in which case this will be of Final Sunday quality and could go either way, albeit Nadal would still win 2/3. Or Nickís head space will be wrong, and then we will have headlines about misbehaviour and even potentially a default. Which one depends on so many factors surrounding Kyrgios that are unknowable to anyone, least of all the man himself. The one constant in all of this is Rafa. Rafa will be utterly ready and very, very determined. And that is a bad combination for nearly anybody, even a special talent like the Aussie. Oh, and one final thing. When Kyrgios won in 2014, he was very well prepared having won a bunch of grass court challengers in the preceding weeks. This time his preparation has been shambolic. This is a key difference to the last time they ran into each other here.
          Before the circus hits town, Kei Nishikori and British No. 2 Cameron Norrie take to the Centre Court stage. It will be a rather more respectful match. Is it one where a shock could happen. In truth, probably not as Norrie has been in poor form recently, with just 5 wins in his last 15 Tour level singles matches. He also has no particular record on grass with not even a Futures final reached on the surface, though with his upbringing in New Zealand and the US College system is probably not that surprising. He will not have played on the surface much. That makes this match-up a bad one from Norrieís point of view. He will try and do the same things as Nishikori, but Kei does them better. The Centre Court crowd will have to work overtime if they are to inspire their player to victory.
          Steve Johnson, who was an exceptional player in the US College system, made an apparently seamless transition to the pros. He spent around 5 years as a low seed at Slams until the premature death of his father in 2017 really hit him hard, with time off tour needed to get over the mental health issues it induced. He hasnít ever totally recovered because you donít, from that. However, he is still a solid player and can cause the young Aussie Alex de Minaur problems. De Minaur is more of a clay courter from his time spent in Spain as a youngster, but he has done well on grass in Challenger level events previously. Both he and Johnson are capable of all-court stuff but prefer to stay back. It should be a tough contest and may well go to five. However, recently, these have been going against Johnson and today will probably be no different.
          And finally, we have Matteo Berrettini vs Marcos Baghdatis out on Court 2. Baghdatis proved his wild card entry was not just nostalgia from the AELTC (his Semi appearance was 13 years ago!) by winning comfortably in R1. Having justified his presence, he is now free to take a shot at Berrettini without much to lose. The Cypriot will likely have the crowd on his side as he has always been popular and is now very much a veteran, but it will likely take more than that to shift Berrettini, who has been on exceptional form recently and is rocketing up the rankings. His title win in Stuttgart, beating a string of useful grass court names (Kyrgios, #2 Khachanov, Kudla, Struff, #7 Auger-Aliassime) came without dropping a set or even losing serve. He is obviously a player, as Marcos was also once. Was. Berrettini in four.

          Comment


            #80
            Kyrgios just won a game with an underarm serve. McEnroe came down in favour of him using it as a legitimate play - presumably to force Nadal closer from the baseline.

            Meanwhile, Serena's in a little trouble in her first set.

            Comment


              #81
              I'm with McEnroe on that. If a player is standing too deep and can't get to what is effectively a drop shot, why shouldn't someone take advantage of that?

              As for Serena, her first set trouble is over. She has lost in 6-2.

              Comment


                #82
                Some rather unexpected losses so far today. Federer to Clar.... ha! no (Clarke did push set 2 to a breaker, though0. But Isner to Kukushkin and Cilic to Sousa are definitely out of the blue. Kerber to Davis less so, though still unexpected. De Minaur going down to Johnson and Djere to Millman were more predictable. And Evans toppling Basilashvili very much so.

                Oh and Bertens vs Mertens is ON!!! Ach, no, I'm a round early on that...
                Last edited by Janik; 04-07-2019, 16:33.

                Comment


                  #83
                  Kyrgios tends to polarise opinion but put me down as a fan. He is electrifying to watch, good or bad. There are enough sportsmen who have perfect PR and act appropriately. As long as he isn't hurting anyone then i am all for a bit of antagonism between players. What he said about Vekic was crossing the line but underarm serves, tweeners and silly antics are all fine by me.

                  Comment


                    #84
                    Just noticed that Sandgren is winning against Simon. A bit of a shock that one. And annoying that the right-wing dick is back doing well again too.

                    Comment


                      #85
                      How is Nadal getting away with time violations while serving?

                      Comment


                        #86
                        You could have been asking that for 15 years.

                        Comment


                          #87
                          Simon promptly wins the next two sets, and it's into a fifth. Allez Gilles!

                          Comment


                            #88
                            Ugh.

                            Comment


                              #89
                              What's the plan for this Murray doubles? Roof? Live on BBC 1?

                              Comment


                                #90
                                Match to miss tomorrow: Opelka v Raonic. Anyone wanting anything approaching actual tennis, look away. It'll basically be unreturnable serves for a few hours, won't it?

                                Comment


                                  #91
                                  Most of my watching today btw was Fognini's match. I love watching him play. For a top tenner, he's very under-rated, and he uses angles that many players never even think about. Tends to make life difficult for himself though, and so it proved today - a real marathon.

                                  Comment


                                    #92
                                    So I have tickets for Court No. 2 tomorrow, what do we think of :

                                    No.2 COURT - SHOW COURT - 11:00 START

                                    1 Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) [14] 113 vs Shuai Zhang (CHN) 119

                                    2 Karen Khachanov (RUS) [10] 49 vs Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) [23] 56

                                    3 Daniil Medvedev (RUS) [11] 17 vs David Goffin (BEL) [21] 24

                                    Comment


                                      #93
                                      • How is Nadal getting away with time violations while serving?
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                                      • San Bernardhinault
                                        San Bernardhinault
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                                        #86
                                        Today, 19:05
                                        You could have been asking that for 15 years.
                                      Quite. Someone ought to do a Brian Clough on Nadal. "All those trophies, you can throw them in the bin. Cos you won them all by breaking the rules giving yourself an unfair time advantage". It's bloody infuriating what he gets away with. Gutted that Krygios lost today.

                                      Comment


                                        #94
                                        That goes rather too far, I feel. The serving delays don't seem all that beneficial really. He wins with or without them. As does Djokovic, another who has delayed serve interminably with his ball bouncing at times in his career.

                                        Originally posted by multipleman78 View Post
                                        Kyrgios tends to polarise opinion but put me down as a fan. He is electrifying to watch, good or bad. There are enough sportsmen who have perfect PR and act appropriately. As long as he isn't hurting anyone then i am all for a bit of antagonism between players. What he said about Vekic was crossing the line but underarm serves, tweeners and silly antics are all fine by me.
                                        My bold. He has admitted trying to hurt Nadal today by drilling him with the ball. If the guy was a showman it would be fine. But this isn't an act. He actually is a genuine pillock.

                                        Originally posted by Ray de Galles View Post
                                        So I have tickets for Court No. 2 tomorrow, what do we think of :

                                        No.2 COURT - SHOW COURT - 11:00 START

                                        1 Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) [14] 113 vs Shuai Zhang (CHN) 119

                                        2 Karen Khachanov (RUS) [10] 49 vs Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) [23] 56

                                        3 Daniil Medvedev (RUS) [11] 17 vs David Goffin (BEL) [21] 24
                                        Wozniacki vs Zhang should be a decent match, a 3/5 one. And it's a huge chance for both players. Wozniacki is one of two seeds left in her quarter of the draw.
                                        Khachanov vs Bautista Agut should involve lots of good shot making. Bautista Agut is an all-court player, more so than Khachanov, but the Russian has the big serve.
                                        The best of the batch is the last one, though. David Goffin is great to watch as whilst he hits the ball extremely well for his frame, his lack of inches mean he doesn't possess overwhelming power so has to do things differently. And Medvedev is somewhat the same. The rallies could be quite long and varied in their content.
                                        Possibly the most notable thing about that schedule though is it only has three matches on it despite an 11:00am start. Court 2 invariably has four matches planned. Why might that be? Well, Wimbledon need to find a court for S.Williams/A.Murray vs Gurachi/Mies, which is listed on the schedule as Court TBA not before 5:30pm. For security and crowd control reasons, that match can basically only go on to a court with full reserved seating as the crush and lines to get a seat anywhere else would be so big as to be dangerous. There are only three courts with no free-for-all seating:- Centre, #1, #2. With two Women's and one Men's match on Centre things there could be over early and that would be the ideal stage from the tournament's perspective. However if that isn't over early, I think there is a high chance that Serena/Muzza end up on Court 2. Basically don't leave the grounds and scan your ticket for charity resale until it's clear where that match will be played!


                                        Oh, and Tomic fined 100% of his prize money for his pathetic 'efforts' against Tsonga in R1.
                                        Last edited by Janik; 04-07-2019, 22:25.

                                        Comment


                                          #95
                                          Originally posted by multipleman78 View Post
                                          Kyrgios tends to polarise opinion but put me down as a fan. He is electrifying to watch, good or bad. There are enough sportsmen who have perfect PR and act appropriately. As long as he isn't hurting anyone then i am all for a bit of antagonism between players. What he said about Vekic was crossing the line but underarm serves, tweeners and silly antics are all fine by me.
                                          100% agree. First time I'd seen Krygios today. I warmed to him straight away. Shame he lost.

                                          Comment


                                            #96
                                            Well, my page 1 predictions have been predictably trashed in short order. Kyrgios failed to beat Nadal, and Anisimova went out before she even faced any of the other 3 seeds in her eighth of the draw who I'd predicted her to beat to the QF spot. And Kerber out. All that remains possible of my predictions is a final place for Pliskova and a men's final of Djokovic v Federer, hardly a money-saving hedge. Happy to report that I didn't back any of my hunches with cash.

                                            Comment


                                              #97
                                              British results from R2 singles and R1 doubles

                                              Harriet Dart [WC] bt Beatriz Haddad Maia [Q] 2-1
                                              #19 Jo Konta bt Katerina Siniakova 2-0
                                              Heather Watson l to #20 Anett Kontaveit 0-2

                                              Way to go Harriet! Konta also played very well.


                                              #30 Kyle Edmund l to Fernando Verdasco 2-3 (from two sets to love and 3-0 up)
                                              Dan Evans by #18 Nikoloz Basilashvili 3-0
                                              cameron Norrie l to #8 Kei Nishikori 0-3
                                              Jay Clarke l to #2 Roger Federer 0-3 (and it wasn't even on Centre!)

                                              Evo is genuinely the best British grass court player at the moment. The right one is through to R3.


                                              Grey/Silva GBr [WC] l to Cirstea/Voskoboeva 0-2
                                              Dart/Dunne GBr [WC] l to [9] Hc.Chan/L.Chan Ė0-2
                                              Christie/Swan [WC] l to Minnen/Van Uytvanck [Alt] 0-2
                                              Minella/Watson l to [16] Atawo/L.Kichenok 1-2
                                              Bains/N.Broady [WC] l to [2] Krejcikova/Siniakova 0-2

                                              One little note on these - I knew Christie/Swan's conquerors, Minnen/Van Uytvanck, were a couple. I hadn't realised they were the first out gay pair to play Wimbledon.


                                              L.Broady/Clayton [WC] l to [11] Mahut/Roger-Vasselin 0-3
                                              Evans/Glasspool [WC] l to Mayer/Sousa 1-3
                                              Munar/Norrie bt [15] Inglot/Krajicek 3-2
                                              [10] J.Murray/N.Skupski lead Dodig/Polasek 2-1 overnight
                                              Hoyt/Johnson [WC] l to Monroe/M.Zverev [Alt] 0-3
                                              Herbert/A.Murray [PR] bt Copil/Humbert 3-1
                                              [12] Ram/Salisbury bt Albot/Jazirin 3-0
                                              K.Skupski/Smith bt Clarke/Ward [WC] 3-0
                                              Bambridge/OíMara l to [3] Klaasen/Venus 0-3
                                              Draper/Jubb [WC] l to [2] Cabal/Farah 0-3

                                              Comment


                                                #98
                                                Actual R3 Draws

                                                Gentleman's Singles

                                                Novak Djokovic Srb [1] vs Hubert Hurkacz Pol
                                                Felix Auger-Aliassime Can [19] vs Ugo Humbert Fra
                                                Daniil Medvedev Rus [11] vs David Goffin Bel [21]
                                                Fernando Verdasco Esp vs Thomas Fabbiano Ita

                                                Kevin Anderson RSA [4] vs Guido Pella Arg [26]
                                                Reilly Opelka USA vs Milos Raonic Can [15]
                                                Karen Khachanov Rus [10] vs Roberto Bautista Agut Esp [23]
                                                Benoit Paire Fra [28] vs Jiri Vesely Cze


                                                Sam Querrey USA vs John Millman Aus
                                                Tennys Sandgren USA vs Fabio Fognini Ita [12]
                                                Joao Sousa Por vs Daniel Evans GBr
                                                Jo-Wilfred Tsonga Fra vs Rafael Nadal Esp [3]

                                                Kei Nishikori Jpn [8] vs Steve Johnson USA
                                                Jan-Lennard Struff Ger [33] vs Mikhail Kukushkin Kaz
                                                Matteo Berrettini Ita [17] vs Diego Schwartzman Arg [24]
                                                Lucas Pouille Fra [27] vs Roger Federer Sui [2]


                                                Ladies Singles

                                                Ashleigh Barty [1] vs Harriet Dart GBr [WC]
                                                Alison Riske USA vs Belinda Bencic Sui [13]
                                                Serena Williams USA [11] vs Julia Goerges Ger [18]
                                                Carla Suarez Navarro Esp [30] vs Lauren Davis USA [LL]

                                                Kiki Bertens Ned [4] vs Barbora Strycova Cze
                                                Elise Mertens Bel [21] vs Wang Qiang Chn [15]
                                                Sloane Stephens USA [9] vs Johanna Konta GBr [19]
                                                Magda Linette Pol vs Petra Kvitova Cze [6]


                                                Elina Svitolina Ukr [8] vs Maria Sakkari Gre [31]
                                                Petra Martic Cro [24] vs Danielle Collins USA
                                                Karolina Muchova Cze vs Anett Kontaveit Est [20]
                                                Hsieh Su-wei Tpe [28] vs Karolina Pliskova Cze [3]

                                                Simona Halep Rou [7] vs Victoria Azarenka Blr
                                                Polona Hercog Slo vs Cory Gauff USA [Q]
                                                Caroline Wozniacki Den [14] vs Zhang Shuai Chn
                                                Dayana Yastremska Ukr vs Vikorija Golubic Sui


                                                The biggest carnage has been in section 3 of the men's draw. But even with that, there are still lots of good names left there.

                                                Comment


                                                  #99
                                                  Originally posted by Janik View Post
                                                  That goes rather too far, I feel. The serving delays don't seem all that beneficial really. He wins with or without them. As does Djokovic, another who has delayed serve interminably with his ball bouncing at times in his career.


                                                  My bold. He has admitted trying to hurt Nadal today by drilling him with the ball. If the guy was a showman it would be fine. But this isn't an act. He actually is a genuine pillock.


                                                  Wozniacki vs Zhang should be a decent match, a 3/5 one. And it's a huge chance for both players. Wozniacki is one of two seeds left in her quarter of the draw.
                                                  Khachanov vs Bautista Agut should involve lots of good shot making. Bautista Agut is an all-court player, more so than Khachanov, but the Russian has the big serve.
                                                  The best of the batch is the last one, though. David Goffin is great to watch as whilst he hits the ball extremely well for his frame, his lack of inches mean he doesn't possess overwhelming power so has to do things differently. And Medvedev is somewhat the same. The rallies could be quite long and varied in their content.
                                                  Possibly the most notable thing about that schedule though is it only has three matches on it despite an 11:00am start. Court 2 invariably has four matches planned. Why might that be? Well, Wimbledon need to find a court for S.Williams/A.Murray vs Gurachi/Mies, which is listed on the schedule as Court TBA not before 5:30pm. For security and crowd control reasons, that match can basically only go on to a court with full reserved seating as the crush and lines to get a seat anywhere else would be so big as to be dangerous. There are only three courts with no free-for-all seating:- Centre, #1, #2. With two Women's and one Men's match on Centre things there could be over early and that would be the ideal stage from the tournament's perspective. However if that isn't over early, I think there is a high chance that Serena/Muzza end up on Court 2. Basically don't leave the grounds and scan your ticket for charity resale until it's clear where that match will be played!


                                                  Oh, and Tomic fined 100% of his prize money for his pathetic 'efforts' against Tsonga in R1.
                                                  Thanks Janik, I was wondering if there was any chance of seeing Serena/Murray there and was going to ask about it but convinced myself I was reaching. Fingers crossed and thanks for the overview in general, looking forward to a good day.

                                                  Comment


                                                    Day 5 picks

                                                    Men's
                                                    Djokovic [1] vs Hurkacz - 2nd on #1
                                                    Auger-Aliassime [19] vs Humbert - 3rd on #1
                                                    Medvedev [11] vs Goffin [21] - 3rd on #2
                                                    Opelka vs Raonic [15] - 1st on #12

                                                    This is the second slam in a row where Novak Djokovic and Hubert Hurkacz have met. They also clashed in R1 of Paris. That was trailed as an interesting match as it was thought the Pole, who is held to be a talented individual, might give Djoker a bit of a challenge. As it turned out he didnít really, winning just eight games (4,2,2). He will probably win more here given his big serve, but enough to take a set? High unlikely.
                                                    The last step for Felix Auger-Aliassime before a much anticipated clash with the Djokerman is confirmed is another young gun in the form of Ugo Humbert. The Frenchman nearly didnít get this far as he trailed Gael Monfils by two sets in R1 but Monfilsí body then played up, Humbert eventually getting a retirement in the fifth set. A solid victory in R2 brings him here and another match where he is cast as patsy as the crowd cheers on his opponent (he was on the other side of the net vs A.Murray in R1 of the Menís Doubles). Both players are very raw in terms of Slam experience, this is Humbertís fourth event, first R3 and only seventh match compared to Auger-Aliassimeís even barer second slam and third match. The Canadian has more other relevant experience though, and should ease through.
                                                    Match of the day on the Menís side from a Tennis perspective looks to me like the one that pits Daniil Medvedev against David Goffin. They also met at the same stage in this yearís Aussie Open, a match that Medvedev won in three sets. Goffin has been in good form recently, playing well in Paris and making the Final in Halle, and picked up an impressively comprehensive win against Jeremy Chardy in R2. Medvedev has also been in decent form (SF at Queens) and this looks to me as a toss-up who wins it. See above for the likely contrast in styles, but in the end I think Medvedevís steadiness wins out. Hope Iím wrong, though...
                                                    This is not a day where a lot of matches stand out as particularly worthy. So we get the inclusion of what Jimski predicts will be an utter serve fest. I think that slightly undersells Milos Raonic, who could get into Reilly Opelkaís service games a decent amount. If he doesnít, expect tie-breaks galore. And the reason for including it, if these are shared 2-2 we may get out first 12-all in the fifth decider in this match.


                                                    Women's
                                                    Svitolina [8] vs Sakkari [31] - 1st on #3
                                                    Hsieh [28] vs Pliskova [3] - 1st on #2
                                                    Halep [7] vs Azarenka - 2nd on Centre
                                                    Wozniacki [14] vs Zhang - 1st on #2

                                                    Elina Svitolina coped an undoubted break when Magarita Gasparyan retired hurt when nearly in touching distance of victory in R2. Svitolina possibly considers that karmic for her, as luck has mostly been absent for her in Slams. For a player who has spent long periods in the top 5, her best ever showing of QFs is poor and for someone whose game works decently on grass a best evert at Wimbledon of R4 is equally underwhelming. The Ukranian has been below her best in regular play during 2019 to date (no titles compared to four by this point of 2017 and three prior to Wimbledon in 2018), but all that would be forgotten is she makes an impact here. Playing Sakkari, who is a strong player but not a grass courter, might be another step towards making that happen.
                                                    You couldnít ask for a greater contrast in styles than between Hsieh Su-wei and Karolina Pliskova. The tall Czech is immensely and makes very good use of that, blasting down serves and leaning through groundstrokes. Her fitness and movement have improved this year, but she remains at heart a power player. Hsieh is anything but that. In fact, power players tears of frustration? Nectar to her. What Pliskova most wants is rhythm, and that is precisely what Hsieh will attempt to deny her. Pliskova has to impose her will on the match, hit through the ball confidently and keep the unforced error count low. Do that and she comes through, any flicker of doubt and that could swiftly escalate into an all-consuming fire that burns her out of the competition in week one yet again. Their two previous meetings have both been inordinately close, Pliskova winning in Miami 2018 7-4 in a deciding set breaker, Hsieh taking a third set 7-5 in Dubai earlier this season.
                                                    In amongst a bunch of quite mundane looking matches on paper, one sparkles like a diamond Ė the meeting of Simona Halep and Victoria Azarenka. For two player who are both Slam champions and former World No.1s, these two have meant on surprisingly few occasions (just 4 times) until one steps back and thinks about it. And then you realise that despite the general overlap, itís almost never been the case that both were at the top at the same time. Halep broke through into the top rank in 2014, which was when Azarenka started to suffer from injuries that saw her drop away from the player who had made all four hardcourt Slam Finals played in 2012 and 2013 (won 2, lost 2). Since then Azarenka has only had one spell when the old Vika appeared to be back, early 2016, and that was followed by pregnancy and the subsequent custody battle. Early 2016 corresponded to a period when Halep was out of sorts with herself, seemingly making excuses for poor defeats. And of course, neither is in totally scintillating form at the moment. It would be nice of this one against each other on the grand stage is where they play their way back in. It should be a tough and drawn out battle with lots of baseline hitting and extended rallies. If it does go like that though, one has to favour Halep. She is the steadier and these days the stronger mentally. She ought to win, probably in two.
                                                    Last but not least we come to Caroline Wozniacki vs Zhang Shuai. Both of these players have had their troubles in slams over the years. For Wozniacki it was a case of repeatedly falling short and not matching her often World No. 1 status. For Zhang it was even worse Ė 14 entries and 14 R1 exits. Both put those demons behind them in Australia, Zhang finally getting that first win in 2016 (against Halep no less) and going on a tear to make the QFs (l to Konta). Wozniacki also succeeded in Oz by beating Halep, in her case winning the 2018 Final. Both have faded away from those peaks since, but this is an opportunity to return as their part of the draw is rather open. Stylistically they are both pretty damn similar, defensive baseline counter-punchers. It will really come down to whoever executes best. In which case I go for the Dane.

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