Jun 27, 2021

2021 Wimbledon WTA Round One Writeup

WTA time! After a ridiculous Roland Garros I’m almost craving another roller coaster draw. Unfortunately, as I said in the ATP post I’m moving/competing in some events over the next week or so and won’t be able to really do justice to the writeups. Feel free to not really notice my absence, and check out the bracket comps that DC is hosting :

Registration is still open for the Wimbledon ATP and WTA bracket challenges!
Barty vs Suarez Navarro :

Tough opener for Suarez Navarro. The slower hard courts like Indian Wells are likely to be where she first makes some inroads on tour after her return. Barty’s health is a bit in question heading into this, but she should be consistent enough to rally even with CSN and her serving can give her a big edge. Barty in 2.

Blinkova vs Babos :

Blinkova is starting to get her game back and a win over talented phenom Clara Tauson proved that. Babos has won their only previous meeting, but she isn’t at her best on grass and this is a good spot for Blinkova to pull away. Blinkova in 3.

Govortsova vs Vandeweghe :

Funny that Govortsova had to work through qualifying to play someone who’s been way more inactive than her on tour. Vandeweghe is not the most pleasant competitor on court, but she does hit the ball big enough when she’s playing well that she’ll likely arrive in a 3rd set here even with Govortsova playing her best. Coco’s return to the tour has gone slowly, and it’s one of those “I’ll believe it when I see it” spots for her. Govortsova in 3.

Siniakova vs Konta :

Hometown favorite Konta will have to be in good form to get the crowd involved here. Siniakova has had a brilliant couple of weeks and with her serve improving a bit there’s a good chance that she wins this. Konta is a terror on offense but I’m not sure she can trade in long rallies as well as Siniakova. Katerina has been playing a lot more tennis and will probably be sharp for this. Siniakova in 3.

Bertens vs Kostyuk :

Tough draw for Bertens who I believe is retiring from the tour soon. Kostyuk’s serve and power are just the recipe to dispatch Bertens, whose return from injuries just hasn’t really produced the same type of Mertens level consistency of results and deep runs that Bertens used to churn out. Kostyuk in 2.

Sevastova vs Diyas :

Diyas is always tough but lacks weapons. Sevastova’s ability to create angles and play a variety of slices are going to make her a difficult and tiring opponent in this event. Sevastova in 2.

Petkovic vs Paolini :

Any match against Petkovic is winnable for someone in the top 100, and yet any set is also loseable regardless of your ranking. Petkovic’s size and athletic ability let her compete at the higher echelon, but her inconsistency and lack of matchplay often keep her from closing out when her opponents cut down their own errors. Paolini has the genuine “outlast” strategy available to her here, and she’s not the favorite but she’ll have a decent chance and a simple path forward. Petkovic in 3.

Tauson vs Krejcikova :

Krejcikova hasn’t played since Roland Garros, but the Czech player is on something like a 20 match win streak. This is relatively unheard of on the tour in recent history, and despite her results on grass not being as good as clay or hardcourt, she has a pretty good chance of advancing here. Tauson is likely to grab a few titles in the next year at smaller events, but she hasn’t really started to produce the top level tennis she can all the time. Some of that is simply inexperience but some is also the volume that these juniors play. Nonstop grinding to stay on tour once you get there can leave you a bit less focused, and it’ll take time for her to really iron out the process of travelling on tour. For now, her game is good enough to beat Krejcikova, but the surface is likely to be a bit of an equalizer and even though Barbora has swings that are a bit too big for grass, she’s riding a very good run. If she hasn’t trained since RG, she’ll lose, but that’s unlikely and I think she’ll win a match or two here. Krejcikova in 2.

Azarenka vs Kozlova :

Kozlova plays a similar tactical game to Azarenka. Extending rallies, playing within herself, and outlasting more offensive minded opponents. Azarenka is just a couple notches better at it though. Azarenka in 2.

Cirstea vs Murray :

I am not optimistic about most of the wildcards in the draw, and this is the first. Hometown support is great, but Murray hasn’t really notched any wins on tour that would point to her winning this. Cirstea is really not great at getting low the way the ball dips on grass, but her overall edge in power and experience should get her through in 2.

Raducanu vs Diatchenko :

The qualifiers here are all playing well, but it was one of the more varied groups of participants you’ll find at a major. Raducano has a decent chance here having just won a match recently against Storm Sanders, but Diatchenko closed out well in her qualifier against Kalinina, and it’s likely that the “experience” factor continues to be a dictator in the outcomes here. Diatchenko in 2.

Voundrousova vs Kontaveit :

Voundrousova is always a good defensive challenge, but Kontaveit is probably up to the task. She lost to Ostapenko in the finals this past week, but played well to get there and fatigue is likely to take a round or two to really become a factor. Kontaveit in 2.

Kasatkina vs Tig :

Tig is a very tough out. She’s the type of player people declare a pusher and dismiss, but struggle to really beat. Looping returns and nonstop slices and squash gets are on display when she’s playing well, and this usually works well but Kasatkina’s general tennis game is a bit too good to be undone by this. She plays with margin and her serving was decent against Ostapenko until the match became more about outlasting her in rallies than it was about beating her. Kasatkina should come through here in straight sets, but Tig may make it a lengthy (timewise) battle and since Kasatkina has had some injury issues it’ll be important to watch her after a long week in Bad Homburg.

Fernandez vs Ostapenko :

Normally I’d like Fernandez in this matchup, but Ostapenko played her absolute best last week. Something clicked against Kasatkina after a verbal obscenity warning, and all she did from there was play perfect offense and insist the line judge be removed for telling the umpire what she had said. It was a Karatsev level performance in how she immediately flowed to the next shot and managed to hit each with power and direction. Clean winners are so fun to watch when she’s playing well, and it makes her a decent favorite in this one. Fernandez is, like most WTA pros, a likely candidate to outlast Ostapenko if she loses range, but currently Ostapenko is playing very well and it’ll take a good performance to unsettle her. Ostapenko in 3.

Minnen vs Tomljanovic :

Greet Minnen playing on grass is enjoyable. Her serving and quick transition to offense make the surface very good for her, and Ajla Tomljanovic just hasn’t been crushing worlds on tour. The qualifier Minnen should win here. Minnen in 2.

Cornet vs Andreescu :

Aliza Cornet has had some leg injuries this season, and she seems to play through them when she can but her movement just isn’t perfect at the moment. Andreescu’s sloppy play since her return has hindered her from reaching the top echelon of the game, but this reminds me a bit of an inevitable yet difficult result to achieve for Bianca. Andreescu’s power and tactical mind are ideal to eventually get her up the court enough to hit through Cornet. Andreescu in 3.

Svitolina vs Van Uytvanck :

Svitolina looks like a dangerous sleeper for this event, but she has a tough opener here. Alison Van Uytvanck is one of the better servers on tour, and this is a really tough draw at an event where I’d expect her to win a few rounds. Svitolina is one of the best defenders on tour, but she hasn’t really crushed it so far on grass. AVU, on the other hand, dropped down to win a grasscourt warmup event and despite the lower tier comp I expect this to be a very close match. Svitolina in 3 but oooooh is this a dangerous opponent.

Linette vs Anisimova :

Linette had a decent clay season, and Anisimova has been a bit inconsistent in her return. A few solid matches in the past two weeks though see her as a moderate favorite in this match. A few wins and a tight loss to Kerber last week are Anisimova’s claim, but Linette has a straight sets win in 2019 on grass and played Giorgi pretty well in her one grass match this year. Anisimova in 3.

Tsurenko vs Putintseva :

Lesia Tsurenko is one of the smoother players on tour from the baseline. She doesn’t seem to be hitting it too hard, or necessarily with a huge amount of spin, but she moves her opponents around well. It reminds me a bit of Gilles Simon at times, but this is a difficult first round for a player who thrives on errors from her opponents. Putintseva hasn’t been rolling though, and the oddsmakers have given a slight nod to the in-form qualifier. I don’t see a huge reason to disagree, and their H2H history has enough matches that Tsurenko will certainly be comfortable in the affair. Tsurenko in 2.

Bolsova vs Badosa :

Bolsova and Badosa are both better on clay, but Badosa’s serving and power translate a bit better to grass. Badosa in 2.

Muchova vs Zhang :

Muchova is still learning the ropes on grass, but should have this in 2.

Teichmann vs Giorgi :

Tough to decide what to expect here. Teichmann retired before playing her last match, and hasn’t played since. The hardworking lefty does have the power and consistency to outwork Giorgi, but Camila has been playing solid grass tennis for the past two weeks. Giorgi in 2.

Pliskova Kr vs Kovinic :

Here it is. Krystina Pliskova will finally get back in the win column. Kovinic is excellent on clay, and tough on hardcourt, but grass benefits servers and Pliskova has a very solid ability to score quickly. Pliskova hasn’t won a match since January and it’s beginning to seem pretty bad. This is a must-win or she’s likely to see herself off tour by next season. Pliskova in 2.

Bogdan vs Pavlyuchenkova :

Pavs coming off a major finals is likely to continue the march here. Bogdan’s backhand and offense are good for at least one solid set of tennis, but Pavs is more consistent here. Pavlyuchenkova in 3.

Bencic vs Juvan :

Bencic is starting to look like she did when she made her big surge into the top 20, and it’s a welcome change. Kaja Juvan is promising, but grass isn’t her best surface. Bencic in 2.

Perez vs Burel :

Ellen Perez played great in qualifying, and was only slightly overshadowed by Burel who upended one of my favorite young players (Storm Sanders) in the qualifier final. Genuinely hard to be sure what to expect here. Perez had a slightly more impressive performance in the qualifier but Burel has been making more inroads into being a tour regular and likely has a bit more offense here. Burel in 3.

Vesnina vs Trevisan :

Vesnina’s return to the tour has gone slowly. This seems to be a theme. Trevisan got some much needed points at Roland Garros but is unlikely to really thrive on grass. This is a pretty even matchup but Vesnina’s experience may let her get through. Vesnina in 3.

Jones vs Gauff :

Francesca Jones should get on tour eventually. She has solid groundstrokes and plays a very powerful game. It isn’t the type of overwhelming power you need to unseat Cori Gauff though. Gauff in 2.

Kerber vs Stojanovic :

Angelique Kerber winning a grasscourt title seems so normal, but compared to her play so far this season it makes no sense at all. Will she carry that high level over into this contest? If so, she should win, but Stojanovic is a bit like Azarenka as far as applying pressure to her opponents and playing consistent tennis. Kerber is likely to get through here, but it may take 3 sets.

Sorribes Tormo vs Konjuh :

Tormo’s solid play seems to have faded a little as the tour moves onto grass, and this is a verytough first round for her since Ana Konjuh is easily the toughest player in the qualifiers. Konjuh has power, and seems like her ascent up the rankings will continue up until she gets to the 40-50 mark. Konjuh in 2.

Hibino vs Pera :

Bernarda Pera winning matches makes such a believer out of me. Her big windup on the forehand really freezes her opponents and being a lefty is a huge advantage. Her backhand though seems to really lose the plot when she gets stuck in that corner, and matches like this are very winnable but huge speedbumps to her getting higher seeds in the future. Hibino is a hard worker and a very fast retriever. She hasn’t won a match on grass this past month though, so Pera in 2 is very possible.

Sasnovich vs Williams S. :

Serena’s level is always going to be interesting to see at this late stage in her career, and this is another in a career full of winnable matches. Williams tends to start a bit slowly, and Sasnovich has at least one perfect set from the baseline in her tank, so I wouldn’t be surprised if this was close, but Serena’s serving should get her through eventually.

Pliskova Ka. vs Zidansek :

Roland Garros forehand hero Tamara Zidansek enters Wimbledon riding a career high, but this is a tough start. Pliskova is prone to errors and Zidansek can hit past her with her forehand, but Pliskova’s serve is pretty worldclass and likely to be a big advantage here. Pliskova in 2.

Vekic vs Potapova :

Vekic is back! Or not! Or maybe! Her play seems somewhat below her peak, but she should win these kinds of matches. Potapova is an oddsmakers favorite, but she hasn’t proven herself in the spots she’s expected to win in. Vekic in 3.

Li vs Podoroska :

It’d be odd for Podoroska to win on grass, but the tour has produced stranger results. Ann Li is a lot better on hardcourt, but she has the right style of play for grass and is more likely to hit clean winners. Podoroska plays a little further behind the baseline and has a bit more trouble creating her own offense from neutral rallies. Li in 3.

Martincova vs Riske :

Alison Riske has always confused me as a player. Her forehand seems uncomfortable, and she has the same accuracy issues as Madison Keys. Grass is where she’ll win most of her points this season, so this is a must win. Martincova seems better indoors, but still has good enough tennis to play Riske even especially considering her inconsistency issues. Someone in 3.

Pegula vs Garcia :

Caroline Garcia and Pegula both hit the ball tremendously hard, but Pegula’s defending has set her apart from the rest of the tour and landed her in that top tier of almost champions like Mertens and Rybakina and Sakkari. Garcia seems a bit too stiff to excel on grass. Pegula in 2.

Samsonova vs Kanepi :

This is a popcorn match. Liudmila has really played great recently and her fitness improvements are a big part of that. A singles title in Berlin is a huge result for her, and makes her a solid favorite against Kanepi. If Kanepi was active, I’d make this an even contest, but she hasn’t played since Roland Garros and seemed a bit out of practice there. Samsonova in 2.

Ahn vs Watson :

Good for Kristie Ahn to get a lucky loser spot. She mostly hovers around the US hardcourt circuit, but has the ability to play at tour level. Heather Watson is only really good on fast surfaces that favor servers. Her defending isn’t world class, and she’s at her best in a shootout. This is a spot where Ahn will provide solid resistance, but Watson should have a much easier time holding serve. Watson in 2.

Stephens vs Kvitova :

Kvitova isn’t as automatic on grass as I’d like, but her power and deep range on her offensive shots makes her opponent somewhat irrelevant at times. Stephens is resurgent, but this is a spot where her lack of big match play may cost her. Kvitova in 2.

Mertens vs Dart :

Harriet Dart is pretty consistent, but it’s the wrong recipe against Elise Mertens. Mertens in 2.

Zhu vs Barthel :

Lin Zhu and Mona Barthel is somewhat of a mystery to me. Zhu hits bigger in general, but neither have really crushed it on grass, and Barthel’s rust makes it hard to back her here. Barthel in 3 is likely.

Swan vs Keys :

The best thing about Madison Keys is how committed she is to hitting big. The worst thing is how many matches she gives away by making unforced errors. It really is exhausting to watch or predict her matches. This is a player who could win a major but can also lose any single match. Swan was excellent in qualifiers, and might win this also. I have little to no faith in Keys at this point. Swan in 2.

Kudermetova vs Golubic :

Dump more popcooooorn in my lake please. This is a good one. Golubic’s backhand is unreal and Kudermetova’s level is top ten quality at times. Neither are really grasscourt wizards, so this will likely come down to who is able to play less defense. Kudermetova is a bit more consistent and I’d expect her to get by in 3.

Hercog vs Collins :

Collins looked great at the French but unravelled a bit against Serena Williams’ aggressive returning. As a result, I’m not entirely ready to advance her in this spot. Hercog’s backhand slice and accurate forehand make her a tough out on grass, and Collins hasn’t played since RG. Impossible to call, I’d expect Collins to be better but Hercog having played a few matches should make it close.

Brengle vs McHale :

Madison Brengle seemed like she’d be off tour soon but she’s notching wins in the strangest situations lately. This is likely to be a close contest as the two are very familiar with each other and since neither one has a clear way to pull away in this. Expect long rallies and a lot of duece service games. Small edge to Brengle.

Wang vs Kenin :

Xinyu Wang is becoming a very reliable qualifier in these events but this is a rough first round. Kenin played 0 warmup matches heading into this event and may start slow, but Wang will have a hard time hurting her since Kenin is such a good mover. Kenin in 3.

Swiatek vs Hsieh :

Hsieh exists to trip me up : ) When I think she’s slumping, she leaves my opponent on 1,3. When I think she’s ready for a deep run, she loses to someone like Errani. It’s hard to really gauge when her opponents will be frustrated enough to fall into defending, but Swiatek luckily is strong enough that it shouldn’t matter. Iga moves very well and has enough variety in her skillset that she can hang with Hsieh in those intangible rallies. Swiatek didn’t get past Kasatkina, but it was a good showing where she did start to find her range on grass. Swiatek in 2 entertaining sets.

Bouzkova vs Zvonareva :

Similar quality of play and results for both in the past two weeks. The shortened warmup season makes so many of these matches hard to predict. Zvonareva and Bouzkova are both very adept baseliners, so this will probably come down to who wins the longer rallies. My dollars would have to go with the youth, but Bouzkova’s results have fallen off a bit. Zvonareva in 3.

Begu vs Volynets :

I am unceremoniously expecting the qualifiers to do great in this event. There is no substitute for matches when it comes to a unique surface like grass, and Begu hasn’t played a match. Volynets has no matches that would suggest she’s ready to beat Begu, and the qualifier was a fairly weak draw, but this is a spot where she will have a real big chance to get a big paycheck. Volynets in 3 but I think I am cheering as much as I am picking.

Gracheva vs Martic :

Varvara Gracheva is becoming one of my favorite players on tour. She seems to fly under the radar but wins a few matches at every major event. Petra Martic has struggled but grass is an ok surface for her since she hits pretty big but not really with any small margin. Her slice backhand should be good to keep the ball low and she leads the h2h 3-0 at this point so she’ll understand what to do do beat Gracheva. As much as I’d expect a straighforward match though, Martic has struggled to win matches and Gracheva is playing her best tennis this year. Martic in 3.

Jabeur vs Peterson :

Ons Jabeur finally won a title, and it’s likely to open her game up a bit for the rest of the year. A lot of expectation and pressure is lifted when you win, and you finally get to enjoy yourself on the court for a short while. Peterson is good enough to beat the bad Jabeur, but not dangerous enough to overwhelm the good Jabeur. Ons in 3.

Buzarnescu vs Williams V. :

This is a winnable match for Venus. Buzarnescu is certainly not going to hit it right by Venus, and Venus’ power is still formidable despite her mobility issues. This season feels like a swan song for Williams, and it’d be cool to see her win a match here. Williams in 3 once she gets warmed up.

Kuznetsova vs Pattinama Kerkhove :

Pretty surprising for Pattinama Kerkove to make it through qualifying. She’d been struggling to really make an impact in the few matches she showed up in on tour, but a slightly weaker qualifier draw sees her into the main draw. This is also a good opportunity since Kuznetsova has not really excelled on grass in recent years. I wouldn’t expect the upset, but Kuznetsova is not likely to be at her best here, so it’s a very possible event.

Ferro vs Muguruza :

Ferro is a promise for the future, but right now she’s really not playing great all-court tennis and is mostly a clay specialist. Muguruza should serve her way through this one. Muguruza in twoguruza.

Sakkari vs Rus :

Aranxta Rus can play some really tricky grass tennis, but Sakkari is one of the short list players who can beat anyone on tour at any given time. Her victory against Swiatek basically handed the French Open to Krejcikova, and since grass rewards good reactive athletes she should have another good run here. Sakkari in 2.

Rogers vs Stosur :

Sam Stosur is just incredible, but the tour has passed her by a little in the past few years. Rogers isn’t really the right player to excel on grass, but she should win this behind her power. Rogers in 2.

Doi vs Liu :

Claire Liu was solid in qualifying, and this is a winnable match. Misaki Doi is one of those players who tempers her aggression despite being down in the scoreline. She plays a steady and simple pattern of shots and eventually makes inroads with some clever down the line forehands and a genuine “outlast you” strategy. The problem has always been that she lacks power so closing out matches isn’t simple. Against Liu, there isn’t a huge difference in baseline ability nor in power, so this should be a long match. Liu in 3 is the safest prediction, but this is very winnable for Doi.

Mladenovic vs Rybakina :

Rybakina is a consistently bigger hitter than Mladenovic, and their games and shot patterns are very similar. Rybakina in 2.

Alexandrova vs Siegemund :

Alexandrova can have some slumps but her power and aggressive groundstrokes make her a really difficult early round opponent on a fast surface. Siegemund is always up for a challenge but she will likely spend this match defending. Alexandrova in 2.

Osorio Serrano vs Kalinskaya :

You might not expect a clay specialist to thrive on grass but the WTA’s lack of big serving due to the height differential between the ‘ol ladiez and menz means that good play is good play. Playing Parrizas Diaz in the finals was also pretty cool because she popped up on the tour around the same time as Osorio Serrano. Kalinkskaya hasn’t had a better season, but she hits a bit bigger than Osorio Serrano and I think it’ll be tough for either player to really get out of basic bh to bh exchanges once they adjust to each others shot patterns. Kalinskaya to outlast the youngster in 3.

Lao vs Boulter :

Katie Boulter is still one of the Astra Sharma types on tour. When she plays well she seems like she’ll be great, but the results are so wildly inconsistent. Danielle Lao on the other hand zoomed through her qualifier bracket, and there’s a good chance that she takes this match despite being against the hometown favorite. Lao in 2.

Niculescu vs Sabalenka :

If you’re Aryna Sabalenka, the last thing you want is to play an opponent in the first round who slices every single shot. This is the tallest player with the biggest swings having to dig out low sliding ball after low sliding ball. It’s a recipe for a very interesting contest, and seeing how Sabalenka navigates this test should tell use whether she goes to the semis with ease or has an absolute war with Sakkari/Rybakina. Sabalenka should win here, but Niculescu has long been a very live underdog on tour. Her problem will be holding serve if she does get the initiative, since there isn’t much power in her game. Sabalenka in 2 tricky sets. They’re gonna be so tricky! Ok time to pack. I’ll see you all soon!