By Ros Satar, at Wimbledon

  • Venus Williams v Cori Gauff [Q] | First meeting
  • Naomi Osaka [2] v Yulia Putintseva | Putintseva leads H2H 2-0
  • Novak Djokovic v Philipp Kohlschreiber | Djokovic leads H2H 10-2
WIMBLEDON, UK – It is finally here – Day 1 of Wimbledon and there are some corking matches on the schedule

 

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Venus Williams v Cori Gauff [Q] | First meeting

For a 15-year-old who stated that Serena Williams was the reason she wanted to play tennis, the chance of playing older sister, 39-year-old Venus Williams must be quite the day for qualifier Cori Gauff.

Venus took a wild-card into Birmingham to get some grass under her feet, getting to the quarter-final of the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham, with Gauff just getting qualifying rounds under her belt since the French Open.

Williams still very much has her striking power from the back of the court, and serve, and has always looked imperious on the grass. She also has the experience of playing on a big court – and in the past we have seen that atmosphere up-end newcomers to the tour. As yet Gauff is unbeaten on grass in her short career!

Prediction: Williams in three sets.

 

Naomi Osaka [2] v Yulia Putintseva | Putintseva leads H2H 2-0

Naomi Osaka in the quarter-final of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Stuttgart 2019

Naomi Osaka in the quarter-final of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, Stuttgart 2019 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

It was all going on at the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham. Yulia Putintseva took her second win over Naomi Osaka, who declined to come into press after the loss. A lot has changed now for Osaka who relinquished the World No. 1 ranking to Ashleigh Barty and almost comes in under the radar – especially avoiding THAT quarter.

She said, ahead of the tournament: “I think it’s better for me now to be, like, I was going to say lower ranked – isn’t that crazy – to be No. 2 here because the only, like, upside is if you win the tournament, you’re automatically No. 1. That, for sure, is a really big goal of mine. I don’t have to think about defending the ranking or anything.”

This is going to be a challenge for Osaka – Putintseva is still a very solid player, and has a strange mix of patience and aggression, not to mention the usual antics we see. Osaka will need to get over her heebie-jeebies with the grass and smartly.

Prediction: Osaka in three sets.

 

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Novak Djokovic v Philipp Kohlschreiber | Djokovic leads H2H 10-2

Novak Djokovic in the third round of Wimbledon 2018

Novak Djokovic in the third round of Wimbledon 2018 | (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Defending champion Novak Djokovic’s lead up to the tournament has been far from straight forward! His long and detailed answer to the news of a flurry of resignations after a long and ultimately unsuccessful council meeting before the start of the tournament has tied up Djokovic’s mind when he ought to be considering a title defence.

In Philipp Kohlschreiber he has quite a tricky competitor, who can inflict the odd surprise as he did earlier this year, snapping a seven-match losing streak to the Serbian at Indian Wells.

However, Kohlschreiber is not that great on grass and his chances of reliving his quarter-final run of 2012 is highly unlikely, but it will be interesting to see if he can take advantage of all the other things on Djokovic’s mind and trouble him for a set?

Prediction: Djokovic in straight sets.

 

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