2022 Wimbledon ATP & WTA Day 3
Djokovic vs Kokkinakis :
Novak looked a tiny bit rusty in his opener against Kwon, but credit should go to Kwon here. Rather than force the issue or try to play above his level, Kwon played steady from the baseline. When he has his timing right, he’s very solid and he did well in this one with two strategies. One, he hit most of his backhands flat and down the center of the court. This isn’t a cure-all strategy for beating Djokovic, but it does make your opponent create their own offense and Djokovic’s rust and the quick surface led to some uncharacteristic errors. The second thing I liked was how willing to pull the trigger down the line Kwon was with his forehand. On hardcourt that’s a really dangerous shot to hit since Novak’s body control lets him pretty much always find the open court. Here it was an effective play since, again, the ball is sliding a bit and Novak is still warming up. While Kwon was playing his best grass-court tennis of the year, Djokovic was plugging along as he usually does in an early round of a major. There are always a few hiccoughs but his spot-serving is probably the best on tour and his base level is good enough that the errors only make games close, they don’t cost him the match.
Kokkinakis will be a different test for Novak since his game is pure offense. He got past Majchrzak with a solid serving performance and again Kamil’s game is solid but he has no way of creating distance between himself and his opponents in the scoreline. Earning all your points from the baseline is tough on grass. Kokkinakis can certainly push Djokovic but he’s also a perfect warmup for his returning. Kwon helped Djokovic with his baseline game, Kokkinakis will sharpen his returning. I’d expect a similar scoreline but I think part of Kwon’s set-win was the surprising level that he brought into that clash; he’d been struggling mightily prior and I think even Djokovic was surprised by the durability he displayed. Kokkinakis has the same chance here as most servers. Djokovic in 3-4.
Tabilo vs Kecmanovic :
Every time I tuned into Tabilo vs Djere I saw the same patterns. Djere driving the ball and Tabilo using a ton of slice returns with his forehand. It really shouldn’t have worked, but he was serving well enough to create pressure. Djere had control of most of the rallies but couldn’t really find angles or depth to make Tabilo miss. Not a bad level at all, but Djere will be a bit frustrated not to have finished that match off. Another marathon baseline affair was going on in the Kecmanovic Millman match. Throughout this match Millman looked like a slightly less powerful version of Kecmanovic. It had to be frustrating, but Miomir was just a bit more durable and his serve netted him more cheap points. This match will look very similar to the Tabilo Djere clash, but Kecmanovic’s offerings are more varied than Djere and his returning is more aggressive as well. It’s funny to think that Kecmanovic is primed for a 3rd round at Wimbledon, but sometimes the draw opens up nicely. I can’t tell you why Tabilo was using the slice forehand so often, but it will give Kec too much time and control in rallies and he hits inside out forehands very well and has a decently disguised backhand down the line. Kecmanovic in 4.
Basilashvili vs Halys :
Rosol was one of the more dangerous underdogs and almost pulled out the win. In the end, younger legs prevailed as Basilashvili was able to ratchet up the pace late in the match. Facing a 36 year old who’s been off tour for a while in a 5th set must feel nice, and this will set up another match against a guy who spends most of his time on the challenger level. The difference I think is in trajectory of careers. Halys was slated to beat Benoit Paire coming in something like -300 at the start. Part of this is due to Paire’s general struggles with motivation and focus, and part is due to Quentin’s gradual rise. He’s in a good serving rhythm, his slices and deft touch is helped by the surface, and he’s been winning more tour level sets and matches when he’s getting his opportunities at the majors. Basil could lose this one, and the oddsmakers are leaning heavily into that possibility with a nearly even price offered (-135 basil +110 Halys on most sites). I agree, but this is another iteration of “where’s your ceiling?” Halys is in uncharted territory here, but this is a likely opponent to be upset and he likely would have crashed out against Rosol if he were a bit younger and smarter. Halys is both, and Basil’s swings seem a bit rushed on grass. Halys in 5.
Van Rijthoven vs Opelka :
Reilly Opelka this week is going to be a tale of two Reillys. When he serves, it makes me want to buy Opelka futures to win the event. He’s nearly unplayable on hardcourt, so the grass just makes it a joke. He aced Taberner a bunch of times, and they all made me laugh out loud even though I knew what was coming. The other Reilly seems incapable of catching up to the pace on grass. He doesn’t need to do a ton in the rally, but he isn’t making the ball over the net. Balls long are generally adrenaline/nerves. Balls into the net are a player not up to the speed, and that’s a big problem. Rijthoven won partially because he’s tremendous and partially because the entirety of r/tennis is pulling for him. He’s a great story, and Delbonis first round was a great draw. This is a much tougher challenge, but if he can put balls in play he’s likely to pull off another upset (though the odds have this as a pickem).
Tim’s slices will be a real problem for Opelka. It’s always tough for tall guys to bring the ball low to high when they’re moving forward, and Opelka looked a bit rough against Taberner’s singular pace in the first round so the variety from Rijthoven could be a problem. I’d expect this to be decided in tiebreaks and I do think Rijthoven’s serving is good enough to get him through. Rijthoven in 4-5.
Sinner vs Ymer :
A lot of understandable talk about Wawrinka beating Sinner before their match. Wawrinka has been the king of showing up and winning even though his main tour results haven’t been impressive, but he lost to younger legs in this one. Sinner won a number of rallies in the frontcourt where he just made an extra get or forced Stan to stretch a bit further than he could. I didn’t love the level from Sinner, but he minimized his errors and was able to come through on the big points. I’d throw him in the mix for the third round here, because Mikael Ymer takes a more conservative approach to the safe style of game Sinner is playing. Jannik pushes the pace on every shot and tries to keep them moving. Ymer does the same but uses his legs a bit more to create errors. When a guy defends as well as Ymer, the court feels smaller and can force you into errors. It also makes players forget about driving the ball down the center of the court. On grass, Sinner gets an extra benefit of the ball sliding and he mixed in some dropshots well in the first round. Part of Ymer’s straight sets win was Altmaier being a bit flat tactically. He hit a number of balls long and couldn’t see to find the timing with his backhand. Sinner is still figuring out how to play on grass, but he’s got a lot more offense in this contest and he should have time to solve the problem. Sinner in 4.
Murray vs Isner :
This one is a mess for me. Prior to looking at the odds, I thought Isner might have a good shot. Murray had a few scares against Duckworth, and his grasscourt tennis has been better than the other surfaces but he still is a tiny bit vulnerable. Isner served more than 50 aces against Couacaud, and he’s the same out as Opelka here basically which means he’s 50/50 to wind up in a tiebreaker. Murray’s priced at -263, and that’s tricky for a few reasons. One, the event is in Britain. This is always going to nudge the price of the British players up a tiny bit, and for Murray this is exaggerated even more so since he’s a legend. Murray leads this H2H 8-0 also, so that’s going to inflate the price. That means the line really doesn’t tell me much. Is he -263 because of the H2H, because of the hometown lore, or because he’s actually going to win?
Probably best to just work through the math. Murray’s mobility is not the same as it was when he was dominating Isner, but Isner’s serve isn’t the sort of thing you’re running for. Baseliners have an edge against Murray, but his reads will be the same. Isner will be in a decent rhythm, but he did just play a 5-setter and the big dude has not been playing a ton of tennis. That 5-setter was also against Couacaud who isn’t as good of a server as Murray and doesn’t have the stability from the baseline and on his backhand return that Murray does. I don’t think Andy can shut out Isner completely, and I hate paying a premium against a server since the match is often decided in tiebreaks, but Murray should win here. Murray in 4-5.
Otte vs Harrison :
Both these dudes are here in straight set victories but one was way simpler than the other. Gojowczyk is looking only half committed to tennis at this point. He might be training but lack of matches and a struggling ranking are good indicators that someone is not ready to pull a huge upset at a major. There’s always a little danger when compatriots play since the underdogs tend to feel a bit more comfortable at times but Otte cruised, dropping just 4 games. On the flipside of this bracket, Jay Clarke brought some of the best tennis he’s ever played in a 7-6, 6-1, 7-6 loss to Harrison. Clarke was up 4-1 in the third and looking good to equalize things. He doesn’t play the most creative game but his weight of shot and movement were keeping him in rallies. Harrison, who marches around the court like he’s ingested his weight in pre-workout and who has been known to tear his shirt open in losses, was up to the task though. Throughout this match his first serve was an absolute cannon and he leaned into every groundstroke. This will be his best result at a major and he has a puncher’s chance against Otte since he has a great deal of power.
Otte is exceptional at outdueling offensive talents and at staying ahead of defensive wizards. Harrison is somewhere between these two. His first serve is certainly good enough to net him free points against Otte, and his groundstrokes may prove effective against Otte’s junkball heavy approach. Where I think Harrison will struggle though is in his shot selection. He’s pretty set on wearing his opponent down and can telegraph his shots. Since Otte’s only real weakness is his lateral movement, this will help him hang. Otte also is a serve and volley player and that’s something challenger level guys like Harrison don’t get to play against too often. I’d expect Harrison to win at least one set here, but Otte is going to have a much easier time holding serve and Harrison will likely feel some pressure in the situation if he starts thinking about the finish line. Otte in 4-5.
Griekspoor vs Alcaraz :
Fognini scared me pretty good in the first set, and to his credit he never really threw in the towel against Griekspoor. If Fognini were to use a towel at all, it’d likely be tiny and muscular and have a general aversion to getting wet. He shook his head in disbelief many times at Griekspoor’s play, which is even funnier because Griekspoor pretty much plays exactly the same solid tennis from the start of the match til the end. Tallon will be a real tough test for Alcaraz, but one where the phenom has more time. Struff was able to push Alcaraz to 5 and could have easily won the match. Out of seemingly nowhere, he was able to serve bombs on all the big points (12/14 saving break points). His groundstrokes were rockets and he pressured Alcaraz from start to finish. Struff only landed around 55% of his first serves, but he won about 80% of those points. Griekspoor will be way more stable than Struff, but he won’t get as many free points on serve and he won’t be able to hit winners as easily.
Struff serve and volleyed a lot and this looked to be a very effective tactic against Alcaraz. Griekspoor isn’t going to be able to rush as many, but he’s pretty comfortable at net so his team will have told him to implement this a bit. Alcaraz almost losing to Struff is the sort of result that makes me think Griekspoor can beat him, but surviving a 5 setter is the sort of thing that can really grow a player’s confidence. Alcaraz had some “just a kick serve” rumors floating around him, but he was pretty effective against Struff on serve. Griekspoor is going to look competitive throughout but I think he’ll have a hard time getting the lead back if he goes down a break in sets, and scoreboard pressure in the sets where Alcaraz is serving first could be an issue. Alcaraz isn’t a proven commodity yet, but Struff played above his head and Alcaraz will likely only improve each round. Alcaraz in 4-5.
Ruud vs Humbert :
Oddsmakers have this at a pickem and while I somewhat agree, Humbert hasn’t displayed the level necessary to give him a shot against Ruud. Casper is way better on hardcourt and clay, but he isn’t particularly terrible on grass. Humbert’s has beaten big names in the past like Zverev, but those wins are feeling more and more distant every day. His backhand is flat and hard to read which is effective on grass, and his forehand has a very fluid and rounded swing which makes it useful for adjusting as the ball skips along the grass. If Ruud is on the back foot, Humbert can create angles and win this match. The tough part is Humbert’s relatively poor form. He’s been almost at the finish line in some of his mid-tier matches (3rd set losses to Monteiro, Rinderknech) and has lost outright against top competition (straight sets to Hurkacz). This is a big investment in his level rising to the occasion, but I still like Humbert here. His style being more suited to grass should count, and since Ruud is no expert I believe he’ll play Humbert into form. Humbert in 5.
Goffin vs Baez :
Welcome to tinytown. Goffin and Albot was a match I expected to be a minimum of 4 sets, but Goffin was able to completely shut down Albot’s offense. It’s rare that you see Albot upset but he allllllllmost got frustrated in this one. For Goffin, Wimbledon seems to have magically returned his serve to a useful state, and he landed around 60% of first serves which for him is actually an upgrade. The next match against Baez is likely to be a bit tougher than Albot, not on paper but in terms of form. Baez wasn’t really expected to play well on grass but he has already beaten Thompson and secured a straight sets victory against Taro Daniel that looked pretty straightforward. It seems really tough to hit through him and his backhand is crushing the ball crosscourt. This is a spot where the upset is entirely possible. Goffin hasn’t been at his best in quite some time, and Baez is on a roll. Similar to the match above, there is a chance that Goffin will be played into his best form by Baez. Goffin is no stranger to long rallies, but he has experienced problems with long COVID and some of his longer matches have seen him fatigue and take losses. Not entirely sure what to expect here as Baez is a new commodity, but Goffin is the favorite unless he gets tired. Goffin in 4 or Baez in a difficult to watch fifth.
Tiafoe vs Marterer :
Tiafoe was able to sneak past Vavassory in 3 single break sets. It was a solid performance for Tiafoe, and on the back of his Hurlingham magic it lends it self to possibly seeing the talented American go far in this tournament. It’s not surprisinghis opponent each round will be tougher, but he now faces a big server with a great deal of power. Marterer dropped the first set but always seemed to be applying too much pressure for Bedene. At the Australian Open I thought he would give Fritz a real hard time but it seemed like his singular pace played Fritz into shape. That was the first match where I thought Fritz’s backhand looked like a high level shot in his career, and I want to say Marterer can win this match but he may play him into the same form he did with Fritz. Maximilian (what a name) is a guy I have expected to break onto the tour for a long time now but he hasn’t. For me to keep picking him would be kinda foolish, but I WANT TO PICK HIM DAMNIT. Straightforward crushing of the ball always catches my eye, but Tiafoe will have a better serve here. He’ll have trouble if he gets too slice-happy with his backhand, but Marterer is looking to hit through his opponents and Tiafoe’s footspeed should negate that. He also has one of the bigger forehands on tour and does extremely well with a target which Marterer’s backhand can present. Overall, I think Marterer is good enough to push this to the deep end of sets, but he’s been on the losing end of those close sets for most of the past few years. Tiafoe in 4 close ones.
Bublik vs Lajovic :
Fucsovics put up a nice fight but his movement to his backhand side looked hampered the entire match. Bublik gets another gift here as Lajovic earned a forfeit win against PCB. Lajovic may produce some magic as he’s almost in a lucky loser position here, but Bublik served great against Fucsovics and fatigue won’t be an issue since it was a quick three setter. Lajovic will be rushed, and his own serve isn’t good enough to keep Bublik from having ample chances to break. Bublik in 3.
Norrie vs Munar :
Pablo awakens with a start. Lighting is flashing against the cool white night sky. But wait. Is that the sky behind the lightning? Or is it a british kid’s forehead?
“What is the meaning of this?” demands Andujar, while debating turning into a jaguar made of eagles.
“BIT OF FUN EH?” chirps a nearby bush. “SHOW YOURSELF,” demands Pablo, who’s last memory was donning all white for a ceremonial annual self-sacrifice.
“IT IS I, ANNORRIEDUJARRRRRRRRRRR” declares Cam Norrie, who is eating raisins by the literal handful.
“….. Dude I told you that’s kinda my thing,” says Pablo.
“Oh yeah,” says Cam. “My bad” “No worries,” says Pablo, through a mouthful of raisins.
“Are those raisins?” says Cam. “Yeah man” says Pablo. “Sweet,” says Cam.
Norrie is a fake test for the tour. He doesn’t miss, he doesn’t go for anything too wild, and he works hard enough on the court to pretty much run down everything that’s reasonable. He can lose his service rhythm occasionally, and his forehand gets a bit whippy at times, but wow is he a tough out if you don’t have a big serve. This match against Munar might take a while, but Norrie is at a higher level and his hometown slam is definitely a spot where any close match is likely to go his way. Munar notched a nice upset against Monteiro, but this is probably ze end of the road. Complementary raisins on your way out <3. Norrie in fourie.
Peniston vs Johnson :
If you think I’m going to make dick jokes here, you guys are nuts. (ALEXA PLS INSERT GIF OF LIZARD GOING HEHEHEHEHEHEHE TY). Anyway, Ryan Peniston is having a heck of a June. It’s likely to continue here as Steve Johnson is a player who isn’t going to blow anyone off the court. Laaksonen just wasn’t as sharp as Peniston, and Peniston kept his level steady throughout even when the finish line appeared. He has great poise and solid fight for a fresh player on tour, and him being lefty is likely to help him against Johnson. Having the backhand slice as a safe target is really useful, and coming off the challenger tour he’ll have seen his fair share of slices. Steve Johnson got a bonus here with Grigor Dimitrov withdrawing in the first round. Grigor was leading by a set when he hurt his groin. He was unable to move and after trading breaks with Johnson he bowed out. This is a guy who finished out a match against Karatsev when his back was barely functional, so for him to withdraw it must have been a rough injury. I’m only hesitant to announce this as a win for Peniston because he’s playing a new opponent. In terms of quality, he’s already bested Mannarino and Draper and Ruud and Rune and his grasscourt play is at its peak. I think he’ll have huge crowd support in this one, and Johnson is a little bit past his prime. Should be a good serving battle, with the younger legs getting the edge. This is the “too late” round for backing Peniston in my opinion; he’s 50/50 to win or lose here. Peniston in 5. Also if anyone knows how to use Alexa lmk.
Paul vs Mannarino :
Tommy Paul is supposed to win this matchup. He’s younger, he’s stronger, he has a bigger serve, and he has a bigger forehand. He won his first match 3-0, while Mannarino went 5 with a guy who’s mostly a doubles player on tour. The thing about Mannarino though is that he doesn’t listen when he’s an underdog. It’s the same formula to beat him every time. Keep the points short, isolate his backhand, and hit with enough power that he has difficult reflecting the ball with depth. Tommy’s first serve percentage is likely what will dictate the outcome here. I’m not going to be like IBM Watson weird tennis channel commercials and pretend I know what % nets it for him, but I will say that Mannarino is likely to lose the early sets if Paul serves well. He lost them to Purcell, and Tommy will be much more adept at closing out since he’s used to the big moments and has won most of his deciding sets in recent history. These are matches you have to win if you want to get to the next tier of tennis majors. There are always crafty veterans looming who you need to play 4-5 good sets of tennis to get past. Paul has all the tools. Will his hat be backwards enough? Paul in 4-5.
Vesely vs Davidovich Fokina :
The good thing about Hurkacz losing is that everyone’s brackets were equally destroyed at once. With Fokina nursing left wrist injury and Hurkacz being basically the best performer on grass this season, it’s hard to have seen the upset coming. Fokina went to a one-handed slice for the duration of this match, only really using his two hander to hit passes when Hurkacz was at net. It paid dividends as Hurkacz struggled and sprayed errors, and Fokina gave away one set of match points but managed to close out in a thrilling fifth set.
I was a bit surprised to see Vesely vs Fokina opened at a pickem, and this made me think Vesely is going to win here. The market has already bought the Fokina price up, and I think that’s a mistake. I’m guilty of being led astray by oddsmaker pricing, but you have to ask yourself who is watching Fokina upend Hurkacz and rushing in to bet on a guy stuck on the challenger tour? If they open this at -210 Fokina, people will take Fokina. If they open this at -250, that price still might rise to around -300. At a pickem they pretty much know going int that ADF’s side is going to see lopsided investment. Books take positions all the time but the pricing here is fairly simple to set since it’s a major (the public bets more during these events and the public is always very big on name recognition). ADF needed to open as a favorite to balance money. Vesely beat Coria fairly easily but that win doesn’t mean much. What does mean a lot is Fokina being stuck without a two-handed backhands. Vesely hits a very heavy ball crosscourt with his lefty forehand and slides his serve out wide that way to great effect (this is a guy who beat Djokovic on grass by sending him wide and hitting forehands down the line). I’m not crowning Vesely king of the moon just yet, but the price offered should give people pause.
Vesely is fresh, Hurkacz played pretty poorly, and Fokina is still playing injured and just had a 5 setter. I’m siding with the books here. Vesely in 4-5.
Bouzkova vs Li :
If you like straightup ridiculous rallies and scrambling, Collins vs Bouzkova was the match for you. It’s rare that Collins’ aggression is matched, but Bouzkova has settled in after almost a year of struggling and her ability to extend rallies and defend to her backhand wing is top tier stuff. Her serve is pretty well placed despite not being the most powerful offering, and the main thing she has going for her is just constantly seeing the ball go through the hoop. There isn’t a main weapon, just an overall focus on taking time away from her opponents and on making them play one extra ball; that’s huge in tennis. Her opponent, Ann Li, is kinda where Bouzkova was a year ago. Li has packed on a bunch of muscle this year, and has referenced new philosophies from motivational podcast types like David Goggins. Her wins have been inconsistent though, so it was good for her to get past a claycourter in the first round. Bronzetti was not ready for grass it seems, but the experience will be good to have in her pocket and 50,000 dollars (the prize money for a first round loss) fits nicely in a pocket also. Li is a better server than Collins, but it’s hard to include her in the same weight class when it comes to baseline play. Collins was a bit worse than her peak, but Bouzkova earned that win and Li’s errors are going to cost her this match. This would be a monumental win for her confidence and would signal that she’s finding her range again. It’s important to note that Li (maybe two seasons ago) was moving the ball incredibly and defending the baseline as well as anyone, so the game is there. It’s just two separate levels in this clash. Bouzkova in 2.
Chwalinska vs Riske-Amritraj :
New name developments on this one. I didn’t know Alison Riske got married but I guess she has. At first glance I read the name backwards to see if the website was trying to signal me for help, but I guess congratulations are in order for Riske. This should be a simple match, but Chwalinska kept up her qualifying run with a straight sets win against Siniakova that included a 6-0 first set. I’m guessing this means her knee injury is not a factor, and if she’s serving that well she has a chance to win at least a set against Riske. Playing an unknown can be really tough, so it’ll be interesting to see how Riske navigates this one. Siniakova isn’t the offensive player that Riske is, so I think Riske may pull through. As a bettor, I’d avoid backing either player here. Riske is a whole new challenge, and Chwalinska seems good enough to play anyone in the mid tier on grass to the deep end of a set. Riske in 3.
Zhang vs Kostyuk :
Shuai Zhang continues to be solid, and this is a good spot for her to make the third round. Marta Kostyuk is lucky to be through against Katie Swan. She got in trouble with errors in the first, and despite being up a break in the third she started to unravel emotionally. It’s a tough ask, but her coaches need to give her some perspective on what she’s doing and how good she is. This is a player who battles even with the top players on tour when she plays them, but can’t get past the bottom 50-100 ranked players without a major struggle and a genuine crisis of confidence. It’s just execution and focus that’s lacking, as she moves great and hits the ball really heavy. This was a match where Swan was unable to really hit through Kostyuk, but it was ultimately decided by a single break. That’s a hard fought win, but an avoidable situation. Enter Zhang, who hits the ball a lot heavier than Swan and has all the experience you’d want on tour. If Kostyuk doesn’t bring her peak performance, she’ll lose here. I expect the mirror situation of Kostyuk’s first round, with her play peaking for a stretch and netting her a set, but Zhang’s steady play being a cut above when Kostyuk struggles in the rough patches. Zhang in 3.
Garcia vs Raducanu :
It’s a pretty impressive thing for Raducanu to get a win of Alison Van Uytvanck in this spot. A solid 8-9 months of rough losses, and various injuries. A media circus asking if she’s fake, if she’s distracted, if she’s a choke artist, etc. Fair questions that come with the spotlight, but tough things to navigate as a young player who doesn’t exactly have the answers to these questions rooted in her soul. Raducanu was able to really execute in rallies in this one. She kept the ball in play and as soon as she got a backhand, she dug into the bh to bh exchanges to great effect. It’s great to see any slumping player get a win, and Caroline Garcia has certainly been turning things around this grass season as well. A title last week had me thinking she’d roll in an early round against Miyazaki, but Garcia really struggled with errors in this one. Miyazaki was comprehensive on defense and Garcia was a bit late on a lot of her swings. this makes me think Raducanu is about an even prospect in this match (oddsmakers have her at -160 or something because well, British #1 in British slam). For Raducanu, the key will be depth. Garcia is inconsistent, but she’s crushing the ball and is on 7 wins in a row. The 13 hours she’s spent on court in the past week may take its toll, but she’ll be comfortable with the opponent since these two just played three sets at Indian Wells (Emma won that one). Same outcome is likely here. Raducanu was down 3-1 in the second against AVU and Garcia is a more confident frontrunner. Her errors are going to draw cheers from the crowd though and Raducanu’s pace should draw them enough to edge by. Raducanu in 3.
Kerber vs Linette :
This is really tough. Kerber made quick work of struggling French Grand Slam doubles champ Mladenovic in the first set, racing to a 6-0 victory. The second was much closer and the drop in level coupled with Mladenovic’s improved serving almost saw her go to a third. Against a server like Linette, she’d have lost the second set. Linette played a solid defender in Contreras Gomez and showed that her offense is legit. Kerber is a tougher defensive test since she hits bigger, but Linette is capable of hitting multiple winners per rally if she has control. She’s been the victim of a number of close losses, so it’s really tough to point to whom will elevate their game here. Kerber’s serving well, and her defending causes errors. Linette’s serving well, and isn’t really missing once she has control. This likely goes to a third. Kerber in 3.
Uvardy vs Mertens :
Mertens needed a major regroup after a 6-1 drubbing at the hands of Camila Osorio Serrano in round one. She did the job, and ended up getting a withdrawal up 4-2 in the third. Mertens just hasn’t been at her best this season and it’s hard to point to anything that’s really different. Sometimes it’s just the draws that are less ideal, but this is another match that feels like a must-win given how her season has gone, and yet feels like a tricky spot given how her season has gone. Panna Udvardy winning a match on grass is pretty surprising since she hasn’t really cracked hardcourt yet and is a clay specialist, but Zidansek seemed to have less weapons at her disposal in a match that could have gone either way but went the Udvardway (ALEXA GIMME THAT HEHE LIZARD GIF AGAIN TY). If Mertens doesn’t serve well, this will wind up in a third. I think she’ll find her range and the experience will edge her past the upset. Mertens in two close sets.
Parry vs Hontama :
Diane Parry may have pulled off the upset of the first round. I didn’t give her much of a chance against Kanepi’s pace, but Parry used her slice backhand to great effect, and Kanepi looked like she had trouble infusing her own pace and keeping the ball in the court. It might just be grass, but it’s a useful formula for the rest of the tour to consider since Kanepi is pretty much even at worst with everyone outside the top 5 when she’s on. Hontama got a nice bonus with a forfeit from Tauson, who doesn’t seem fully recovered from her injury issues. Mai is a really solid counterpuncher from the baseline, but Parry has this one on her racquet. Her clay background gives her a really good amount of patience, and her using the slice so comfortable means Hontama will have to supply her own power her. She also served pretty solid against Kanepi, and the crowd seems to really like her. I do too. Parry is great for the tour, and a one-handed backhand is a thing of beauty. Hontama is legit, so this isnt a gimme just because she beat Kanepi; if this were on hardcourt I’d like Hontama, but Parry showed a really high level in round one here. Parry in 2-3.
Kawa vs Jabeur :
Tough loss for Marino as something like a -800 favorite. Polish tennis is in such a good place right now, and that is a good perspective to hold onto as everyone’s favorite instagrammer Ons Jabeur wins this match. I don’t want to jinx it, but Jabeur has really levelled up. Bjorklund was the type of player who Jabeur would lose focus against in the past, but Jabeur’s consistent winning has her in autopilot in these early rounds. Jabeur in 2.
Sakkari vs Tomova :
Sakkari is the Muguruza of Sabalenkas. I’m almost scared to watch her early rounds because she just tends to struggle when you least expect it. This was a good performance against Hives, and she hung on to the lead at the end of a tricky second set. Up next is a tough test for Sakkari’s defense, as Viktoriya Tomova is in solid form. Her and Saville played a nearly 3 hour affair in round one, and Tomova was supplying all of the power for the entirety of the match. Her forehand really booms the ball, and she takes 0 swings off. Is that enough to upend Sakkari? Probably not, but Sakkari’s backhand can break down when she lets herself hang behind the baseline because she doesn’t take much of a backswing with it. If Maria is going to contend for this title, then she should win this in two. I think it’ll go to a third set though, just because it’s her first big test. Sakkari in 3.
Maria vs Cirstea
Sharma fell to the same problemo that Tatjana Maria has been presenting for years. We’ve all played the slice-only players in our local leagues, and it is just never as easy as we want it to be. Sharma was able to dominate the match, but couldn’t keep the ball in play and push her opponent for the duration. It’s pretty impressive stuff and I genuinely wonder why more players on the WTA don’t go to a slice-heavy game during the grass season. Maria is 34 and still winning consistently every time the season gets green. Can she unravel Cirstea in the same way? I want to say no, but I’ve seen Cirstea struggle against players giving her no pace before (Vondrousova always pops into my mind). The good news for Cirstea is she won their last two meetings, so this won’t be unfamiliar territory. She’s also just edged out a 7-6, 7-6 win against Krunic which means she’ll be a bit more stress free here. Cirstea in 3.
Cocciaretto vs Begu :
Good server’s battle here. Cocciaretto didn’t have much trouble against Trevisan, who seemed like grass isn’t going to be her surface for a while. She made a bunch of uncharacteristic errors, and the only bright side was that she looks extremely strong physically. Begu had a similarly quick win over Gorgodze despite dealing with a layover as play was suspended due to darkness. Begu is going to put a lot more balls back than Trevisan did, and her own serving will challenge a player who’s been off tour for quite some time. I wouldn’t put the upset past Cocciaretto since she’s serving so well, but this will probably get into tiebreakers and the rust can punish players there. Begu in 3.
Wickmayer vs Ostapenko :
Another upset incoming here? Very few players displayed the skill level that Wickmayer did in round one. She broke early and held on to the lead, and Zhu was really at a loss for a strategy to stop Yanina. Ostapenko comes in as one of the hottest players on tour having just made the finals in Eastbourne, but watching Kvitova struggle a bit makes me think Ostapenko could run out of gas also. She was only a single break better than Dodin in round one, and Wickmayer is an actual grasscourt specialist. This should be closer than the odds will indicate, and I’ll give Ostapenko the nod but I wouldn’t back her for bucks. Ostapenko in 3.
Wang vs Watson :
Bencic didn’t even played bad in round one tbh, Wang was just in great form. No big deal, just a random peak at a major. Her backhand was so slidey. There’s no better way to describe it. She’s hitting the ball really sharp and outhitting and rushing Bencic is impressive. In fact, it’s exactly what I said was a bad plan when I predicted a Bencic win. She’ll win this match and with Juvan and Galfi waiting Wang might be primed for a great run. Watson got the job done against Korpatsch but it was very tense for most of it. Qiang won’t give her that many chances. Wang in 2.
Galfi vs Juvan :
Couple of three setters for both in the first round. Galfi was favored against Inglis, and her power is the reason why. Dalma can lose range, but she serves huge and her forehand and backhand can hit past most players on tour. Inglis was basically tasked with making her placement a major factor, and it netted her a set but Galfi rolled from there. I don’t think she can enjoy the same success against Juvan, but it’s a different test for Juvan than her first round. Kaja somehow upended Haddad Maia’s Wimbledon bid in three sets and it was one of the most tenacious performances I’ve seen from Juvan. She leaned into her backhand really well and credit to Beatriz but she looked like she’s physically hit a wall. The good news is her hardcourt game is pretty solid too, so the North American swing should be a chance to move further up the rankings since she isn’t really defending any points. Galfi’s power likely gets her close, but Juvan should be the better and more consistent player overall. Siding with experience here. Juvan in 2.
Kalinina vs Tsurenko :
Slava Ukraini baby. Kalinina probably would prefer to play another offensive talent, having bested Bondar in a close servers battle in round one. Playing a compatriot is always tough because they’re so familiar with your game. As a server, that’s a rough thing to give up. Tsurenko beat Burrage (much to my chagrine) with a pretty simple strategy. She just keeps moving the ball in a very similar style to Cornet and gives her opponent so many different looks that it’s difficult for them to really get in a groove. Given Kalinina’s occasional trip to errorland, Tsurenko should be a small favorite here. Somehow these two haven’t played each other, so this is really tough to call. Again I think experience matters in these spots. Tsurenko in 3.
Niemeier vs Kontaveit :
This is where I pick Niemeier and get humbled. I did the same thing with Schunk. I did the same think with Dolehide for a few seasons. I’m a big fan of power. I see someone crushing the ball and I say “THE BEST! THE ABSOLUTE BEST! ALL THEY NEED IS A NICKNAME AND THEY’LL HAVE MAJORS!” I’m slowly learning this isn’t the case. When you’re hitting huge, the ball comes back faster against the top players. Kontaveit has struggled against huge hitters like Muguruza, but Niemeier is probably not there yet. I like her chances to win a set, since Kontaveit hasn’t played many matches, but the serving and experience of Kontaveit probably edge her by. Kontaveit in 3.