Saturday, June 30, 2018

Wimbledon first round matches to watch

Here are some intriguing first round matches at Wimbledon:

Alize Cornet vs. Dominika Cibulkova: The unpredictable Frenchwoman will try to eliminate the hard-hitting, not-too-happy-these days Cibulkova. The Slovak lost her seeding because of the decision to seed Serena Williams as number 25, and she has been clear about her disagreement with that move. Cibulkova is not one to hold back (which I like), though sometimes, what comes out of her mouth (I'm talking about her nastiness toward Sharapova here) can be totally uncalled for.

But in this case, I wish fans and media would cut her some slack. While I stand by the decision to seed Serena, I can't imagine any player who loses her seeding because of that not feeling upset. At any rate, there's some built-in drama now, and of course, Cornet loves some drama. It could be a very straightforward thing--or not.

Heather Watson vs. Kirsten Flipkens: Watson, whose star has been eclipsed by that of Jo Konta's, is nevertheless a player who has been known to do well at Wimbledon. Flipkens is especially good on grass. I think we could see some good tennis here.

Angie Kerber vs. Vera Zvonareva: Zvonareva is back and through qualifying, but the tennis gods didn't want to make it easy for her. It's hard to imagine that she can get past Kerber, but it might be a nice match to watch--just to see Vera again.

Monica Niculescu vs. Naomi Osaka: Niculescu vs. Anybody is always a good match to watch, especially on a big stage, where the Romanian tends to get show-offy, sometimes in a deadly way.

Aryna Sabalenka vs. Mihaela Buzarnescu: Well, this is the one. It feels so unfair that these two have to meet in the first round. Buzarnescu is arguably the hottest non-elite player on the tour right now, and Sabalenka just showed the world what she can do on grass. What a shame that one of them will have to leave so early. Sabalenka, who made it all the way to the final in Eastbourne, may be a bit tired, which could affect the outcome.

Julia Goerges vs. Monica Puig: Goerges is best known for her clay and hard court play, but now that she's so much more consistent with that big serve of hers, she can probably do some damage on grass. Puig is a talented player whose inconsistency is puzzling. If they both show up in form, this could be a great match.

Donna Vekic vs. Sloane Stephens: This will be all about Stephens. If she shows up in form, that will be that. But if she doesn't, Vekic is just the kind of player who could make it hard for the U.S. Open champion to maneuver on grasss.

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