By Ros Satar, at Wimbledon

  • Defending champion Angelique Kerber lands in a stacked quarter as World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty looks to complete. ‘Channel Slam’
  • Top Seeds: Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka, Karolina Pliskova, Kiki Bertens
  • British Interest: Johanna Konta [19], Heather Watson, Harriet Dart [WC], Katie Swan [WC]
LONDON, UK – Defending champion Angelique Kerber looks in fine form but lands in a very top-heavy section of the draw.

 

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[1] Ashleigh Barty

Since winning her maiden Slam, and then going on to win the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham and then snagging the World No. 1 spot, it seemed a wise decision indeed to pull out of Eastbourne as she arguably has a tough draw.

Barty’s Path to the Final (Ranking/Seeding)

  • R1: Zheng Saisai | Barty leads H2H 3-0
  • R2: Alison Van Uytvanck | Barty leads H2H 1-0
  • R3: Garbiñe Muguruza [26] | Tied at 1-1
  • R4: Belinda Bencic [13] | First meeting
  • QF: Angelique Kerber [5] | Tied at 2-2
  • SF: Kiki Bertens [4] | Barty leads 4-0
  • F: Naomi Osaka [2] | Barty leads H2H 2-1

It is not the easiest of draws for the World No. 1 who will now have inevitable eyes on her as she comes in as the most recent Slam winner on the block. However, that whole section of the draw is completely stacked, with Serena Williams, Garbiñe Muguruza, Maria Sharapova and defending champion Angelique Kerber all in the same quarter.

On the one hand, that opens things up straight away for anyone in the bottom other quarters of the draw, but we fancy whoever comes out of that section is likely to win the whole kit and caboodle.

 

[2] Naomi Osaka

Naomi Osaka in the first round of the Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham 2019

Naomi Osaka in the first round of the Nature Valley Classic, Birmingham 2019 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

It has been a curious grass court season. After her loss in Birmingham to Yulia Putintseva, Osaka declined to do press, and this is her first appearance since then.

Osaka’s Path to the Final (Ranking/Seeding)

  • R1: Yulia Putintseva | Putintseva leads H2H 2-0
  • R2: Iga Swiatek | First meeting
  • R3: Sofia Kenin [27] | Tied at 1-1
  • R4: Caroline Wozniacki [14] | Wozniacki leads H2H 2-0
  • QF: Simona Halep [7] | Halep leads 4-1
  • SF: Karolina Pliskova [3] | Tied at 2-2
  • F: Ashleigh Barty [1] | Barty leads H2H 2-1

With so little grass court play as well as admitting this is a surface she least enjoys, it feels unwise to put too much store in Osaka achieving anything of note. That being said, with such a loaded top quarter of the draw, she would be made not to try and get some magic going here. However, it looks like a first week exit is on the cards.

 

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[3] Karolina Pliskova

Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-final of the Nature Valley International, Eastbourne 2019

Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-final of the Nature Valley International, Eastbourne 2019 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Fresh from her Eastbourne triumph, Pliskova has only made it as far as the fourth round and thus the second week of Wimbledon, often stalling in the second round (five years in a row, from 2013-2017).

Pliskova’s Path to the Final (Ranking/Seeding)

  • R1: Zhu Lin | First meeting
  • R2: Monica Puig | Pliskova leads H2H 4-0
  • R3: Hsieh Su-Wei [28] | Tied at 1-1
  • R4: Marketa Vondrousova | Pliskova leads H2H 1-0
  • QF: Elina Svitolina [8] | Pliskova leads H2H 5-3
  • SF: Naomi Osaka [2] | Tied at 2-2
  • F: Ashleigh Barty [1] | Barty leads H2H 3-2

On paper she should at least make it to the second week, and had been playing extremely well in Eastbourne, not least of which she did not have to contend with the stress of playing her sister once more, as she did in Birmingham. A run to the semi-finals at the very least feels manageable.

 

[4] Kiki Bertens

Kiki Bertens at the Media All Access day, WTA Finals 2018 Singapore

Kiki Bertens at the Media All Access day, WTA Finals 2018 Singapore | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Bertens was still trying to work out how she felt about the grass – and although she enjoyed a run to the Eastbourne semi-final – it is still an uneasy relationship.

Bertens’ Path to the final (Ranking/Seeding)

  • R1: Mandy Minella | Tied at 1-1
  • R2: Taylor Townsend | First Meeting
  • R3: Lesia Tsurenko [32] | Tsurenko leads H2H 1-0
  • R4: Wang Qiang [15] | Wang leads H2H 1-0
  • QF: Petra Kvitova [6] | Tied at 3-3
  • SF: Ashleigh Barty [1] | Barty leads H2H 4-0
  • F: Naomi Osaka [2] | Tied at 1-1

She actually made it to the quarter-final last year, but she has a couple of tricky opponents who have the better of her, early on. Perhaps the second week might be a stretch this time.

 

Wimbledon takes place between 1-14 July.

 

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