By Jake Davies

  • Andy Murray, James Ward, Aljaz Bedene spearhead the Wimbledon Men’s draw
  • On the Women’s side Johanna Konta, Laura Robson and Heather Watson all feature

WIMBLEDON, LONDON – A staggering 15 Brits are preparing for their home Grand Slam next week at SW19 – First round previews

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Andy Murray [2] vs Liam Broady [WC]

Broady faces the daunting prospect of playing Murray in the first round of the 2016 Wimbledon. It is a considerable ask for Broady to take a competitive set off the World No.2 but Broady will take a lot of confidence from his previous showing last year at Wimbledon when he won his first ever grand slam main draw match. In that match Broady fought back from two sets to love down to Marinko Matosevic.

Some would argue that Murray is in the form of his career, attaining his best result at Roland Garros and returning to Queen’s to defend his title for the first time in his career. The re-emergence of Ivan Lendl as Murray’s coach could be the catalyst for a third Grand Slam triumph.

Murray has done extremely well to make his way back to the Top 2 of the Men’s game following back surgery, but a player of Murray’s ilk will be judged by the number of grand slam victories they achieve throughout the course of his career. The two-time grand slam winner should get through this match fairly comfortably, although it will be intriguing to see how well Broady strikes his forehand, which is by far his favourite shot.

Aljaz Bedene vs Richard Gasquet [7]

Bedene drew one of the tougher players in the Round One stage of Wimbledon as he is pitted against last year’s semi-finalist Richard Gasquet. The French player experienced his first Roland Garros quarter final last month in Paris, so is arguably feeling just as confident as this time last year. Fighting through the many obstacles put in his way, is something that Gasquet has struggled with over the years but he displayed superior mental strength in order to make the Wimbledon semi-finals in 2015.

This will be a considerably difficult match for Bedene. Gasquet is more of an all-round player that can apply his tennis to different surfaces, whereas Bedene feels much more comfortable on the clay courts. Arguably this would be a major surprise if Bedene was to test Gasquet on a grass court.

James Ward [WC] vs Novak Djokovic [1]

The British wild card Ward is on a serious slump and has been dealt a brutal hand as he faces World No.1 Novak Djokovic in the first round. It’s a massive ask for Ward, who just months ago lost to someone outside the Top 1000 in the world on an indoor hard court.

Ward has to play his best tennis and pray that Djokovic is far from his best, which is possible at the early stages of a grand slam. In addition to this, Djokovic’s last competitive grass court match was at last year’s Wimbledon final, which indicates he may not be match sharp. With that being said, during Djokovic’s dominance over the last couple of years the common feature of his matches is that his worst level is still much greater than the rest of the field.

Kyle Edmund vs Adrian Mannarino

The South-African born Edmund has gained some invaluable grand slam experience inside the last twelve months, which will support his ascension in the ATP rankings in years to come. His opponent in the Wimbledon first round is Adrian Mannarino – he’s a tricky opponent on the grass courts. His quirky left-handed approach is enough to throw a lot of his opposition off their game. Mannarino also likes to utilise his ability in the forecourt and makes the most of the quicker conditions by finishing the points at the net.

Brydan Klein [WC] vs Nicolas Mahut

Like Mannarino, Mahut thrives on the faster conditions. Mahut is fresh from his third title win in s-Hertogenbosch, so realistically he should have too much for the British wild-card Klein. Surprisingly, Mahut has never quite made the second week of Wimbledon, despite his undeniable grass court attributes.

Daniel Evans vs Jan-Lennard Struff

Arguably a fantastic opportunity for both to make a rare second round of a grand slam. Evans will feel he has the variation to break Struff down on a grass court, but the Brit has failed to display the same form on grass that he showed on the Challenger circuit over the last few months.

Alexander Ward [WC] vs David Goffin [11]

The draw has not been particularly kind to Ward. He will have to play way beyond his usual level in order to get the better of a now-experienced Goffin. This is Ward’s first grand slam main draw appearance at the age of 26.

Marcus Willis [Q] vs Ricardas Berankis

In one of the greater stories of the Wimbledon qualifying stages, Willis qualified for his first grand slam main draw through qualifying despite being ranked as lowly as No.708 in the ATP rankings. Berankis, now fractionally ranked outside the Top 50, is a tough competitor who can generate immense pace off his forehand wing. The Lithuanian player favours hard courts in comparison to what a grass court has to offer.

Johanna Konta [16] vs Monica Puig

Konta and Puig are playing some of the best grass court tennis on the WTA at the moment. Konta enjoyed her best success at her home event of Eastbourne by reaching the semi-finals, while Puig made the same stage all the way from the qualifying rounds. The meteoric rise to the Top 20 of the women’s game for Konta marks a great moment in British tennis, but Konta is still yet to win a Wimbledon main draw match in four tries.

Heather Watson vs Annika Beck

This match up favours Watson marginally. Just like Watson, Beck is a fantastic mover – perhaps possessing some of the best footwork inside the Top 100 of the women’s game. Unfortunately, Beck covers every dimension of a clay court much better than on grass. Also Watson should be able to hit through the court with considerable pace much more than her German opponent. A tough match up to pick a winner, but Watson edges this one.

Laura Robson [WC] vs Angelique Kerber [4]

Robson’s game is good enough to beat a lot of the top players of the world. That was plain to see in the 2012 US Open where she beat Kim Clijsters and Li Na en route to the fourth round. Sadly, a lot has changed in the space of four years for Robson and for her first round opponent Kerber. Since Robson’s return from wrist surgery her confidence still has not fully returned to her game, which is essential for her to topple a player of Kerber’s quality.

Tara Moore [WC] vs Alison Van Uytvanck

Moore deservedly earned her wild card because of her great results at an ITF event in Eastbourne and a Quarter Final showing in WTA Nottingham. Her last two tournaments in Birmingham and WTA Eastbourne have ended in the first round, but she faltered to two very good grass courters in Tamira Paszek and Ekaterina Makarova. In this match up I sense the upset, Moore has played a greater amount of competitive matches on the grass but has not overplayed, which she could use to her advantage in her first round match.

Katie Swan [WC] vs Timea Babos

A first grand slam main draw for Swan, who is thought highly of because of her incredible juniors career. Can she translate good juniors results into impressive WTA results? That remains to be seen. But a match with Babos may have come too early in her development onto the women’s tour.

Naomi Broady vs Elina Svitolina [17]

Broady has improved tremendously in 2016 and for the first time in her career has qualified for Wimbledon on her ranking alone. If Broady serves efficiently and takes the match to the No.17 seed, she can come out with the victory in this match. Svitolina has a lot of experience for a player so young, but lacks that killer instinct and explosive power that is usually required on a grass court.

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