By Ros Satar, at Wimbledon
- With no defending champion Serena Williams this year, and with Maria Sharapova pulling out of Wimbledon Qualifying after injury on her comeback, the field is wide open.
- The World No. 1 spot is on the line at Wimbledon
LONDON, UK – The Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles draw is wide open this year with Eastbourne champion Karolina Pliskova in pole position to overtake last year’s finalist and World No. 1 Angelique Kerber.
POLL – Who will win the Wimbledon Ladies Singles Title?
Top Quarter – Angelique Kerber, Svetlana Kuznetsova
Not that you would expect anything less from a top player as they come into a Grand Slam final, but once more Kerber has been talking the talk about finding her form. She managed a couple of matches in a heavily rain disrupted Eastbourne, going out in the most unusual circumstances to Britain’s Johanna Konta after a heavy fall from the Brit on her match point.
There is no doubt though that Kerber is not anywhere near the coasting confidence she had last year that took her to two Grand slam titles, an Olympic silver medal, the Wimbledon and the WTA season ending finals. Oh, and the World No. 1.
There are few potential bumps in the road for her as well – first up she faces Lucie Safarova in the third round who has reached the Wimbledon semi-finals before, and former finalist Garbiñe Muguruza in the fourth round, who seemed to find some form again on grass in Birmingham.
Kuznetsova has never made it past the quarter-finals and with former Wimbledon finalist Radwanska only just coming back from her worst season for a long time marred with injury, if Kerber can play herself into form, Kuznetsova is likely to stop there.
Second Quarter – Karolina Pliskova, Caroline Wozniacki
We could be heading full tilt towards a re-match of the Aegon International final in the final week of warm0up before Wimbledon as one of the hotly tipped players to grab the World No. 1 spot this week leads the bracket.
Pliskova has discovered the delights of the second week of a Grand Slam at last, and her confidence seems high now after an elbow injury post Roland Garros dented her preparations a lot, seeing her pull out of Birmingham.
Wozniacki has also seemed to come alive this grass court season, and her run to the Eastbourne final kept her good record up down by the sea-side although the Dane has the likes of Coco Vandeweghe or Kristina Mladenovic coming for her potentially in the fourth round.
Third Quarter – Dominika Cibulkova, Elina Svitolina
Welcome to injury corner. Cibulkova seems to be slowly inching her way back after a wrist injury at the start of the clay court season, and she had no joy on the grass court circuit before Wimbledon, falling at first hurdle in all three warm-up events. She could actually be a candidate for an early exit, as could Svitolina. She pulled up with ice in Birmingham after just one round on the grass, and she has a tough start with Birmingham finalist Ashleigh Barty, the always dangerous Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the third round before maybe the reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko before she gets there.
Bottom Quarter – Simona Halep, Johanna Konta
Despite that appallingly heavy fall, Konta has had pretty good preparation coming into Wimbledon this year. She reached the final in Nottingham and the semi-final in Eastbourne for the second straight time, and if she suffers no ill effects, then expectations are high fir her to go far.
She only made it to the second round last year for the first time, and amazingly draws Su-Wei Hsieh for the second time in a Slam. This is by no means an easy draw for Konta – provided she has learned from her mid-match wobble that saw her lose in the first round in Paris, she could face Petra Kvitova in the fourth round.
Kvitova is actually a decent pick for the whole tournament. She won the Aegon Classic in Birmingham on just her second tournament back, and is surely one of the favourites. At the other end of the draw, Halep at least picked up a couple of rounds, also having had a few injury niggles, not to mention probably recurring nightmares of her French Open final.
Both her seeds on the way to the quarter-final (Carla Suárez Navarro and Elena Vesnina) are no slouches on grass, but their form coming in is probably no better than the couple of rounds Halep racked up in Eastbourne.
Wimbledon takes place between 3-16 July.
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