After an intriguing grass court season, action begins at Wimbledon very shortly, and once again several women are in contention for Grand Slam glory when play begins on the world-famous grass courts on Monday.
Two of those in contention will be reigning champion and fifth seed Angelique Kerber, and last year’s finalist and tenth seed Serena Williams, who is aiming for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title. Intriguingly, they are projected to face off in the fourth round are located in a stellar top section of the draw which also features former champion Maria Sharapova and Garbine Muguruza, as well as the newly crowned world number one Ashleigh Barty, who is one of the form players on tour.
Those are by far not the only big names present in the top half of the draw. Fourth seed Kiki Bertens has improved dramatically on grass over the past season or two, whilst two-time champion Petra Kvitova is also a threat, though injury doubts do surround the Czech. The likes of Sloane Stephens and home favorite Johanna Konta are also in the top half, though the bottom half also has big stars. Recently-crowned Eastbourne champion Karolina Pliskova is the third seed and is looking very dangerous, whilst reigning US and Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka is seeded second and will be looking to pick up some form after a tricky few months. Seventh seed Simona Halep and eighth seed Elina Svitolina also feature here.
Projected Q/F: (1st) Ashleigh Barty vs (5th) Angelique Kerber
No section of any Grand Slam draws in recent years has perhaps been as stacked as this, meaning this will be an incredible part of the draw to follow. Kerber, as previously mentioned, is set for a fourth round clash against Serena Williams. The German looked good in Eastbourne and in Mallorca, though Williams is always a tough test, and is apparently pain free after struggling earlier this year. However, there are huge tests for these two to even manage before a potential meeting; Kerber may come up against Maria Sharapova in round three, whilst Williams may face 18th seed Julia Goerges in a rematch of their semifinal last year.
Above all this sets Barty, who has looked so impressive in winning the French Open, and backing that up by winning in Birmingham to take the world number one ranking. The Australian’s first real test should come in the third round against 26th seed Muguruza, who is not in her best form but often improves at the Grand Slam tournaments, whilst a fourth round encounter against 22nd seed Donna Vekic or 13th seed Belinda Bencic may loom. Both Vekic and Bencic are in strong form in 2019 and have reached finals on grass, though neither has an easy opener; Bencic comes up against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, whilst Vekic faces s-Hertogenbosch winner Alison Riske.
Prediction: Kerber def Barty
Projected Q/F: (4th) Kiki Bertens vs (6th) Petra Kvitova
Bertens has improved massively over the past 18 months or so, and her recent good form on grass suggests she could be a danger here. The Dutchwoman was the runner-up in s-Hertogenbosch and a semifinalist in Eastbourne and should ease through her first couple of rounds, though Barbora Strycova is a potentially dangerous third round opponent for the fourth seed; if she comes through that test, she should have a safe path to the last eight.
One of the big question marks in this draw is Kvitova’s fitness, with the sixth seed having not played since Rome in mid-May. The Czech has struggled in recent years at Wimbledon though has generally been consistent when she has played in 2019, with a potential early test coming in French Open semifinalist and 25th seed Amanda Anisimova. Ninth seed Sloane Stephens also looms in this section, though has been far from her best this year, and is set on a collision course with 19th seed Johanna Konta in the third round win, with the Brit having beaten the American at the French Open, and enjoying a resurgence in recent months.
Prediction: Konta def Strycova
Projected Q/F: (8th) Elina Svitolina vs (3rd) Karolina Pliskova
Though having played so well on the grass before, being now a double Eastbourne winner and former Birmingham finalist, Pliskova has never reached the last eight at SW19. The Czech, however, has generally been handed a kind draw. She could face Jelena Ostapenko or 28th seed Su-Wei Hsieh in the third round, potential tests she should pass, and potential fourth round opponent and French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova, the 16th seed, doesn’t appear to be too strong on grass at this stage of her career.
Svitolina, meanwhile, has also never thrived at Wimbledon, and is struggling with injury at the moment. The Ukrainian could face Margarita Gasparyan, who beat her in Birmingham, in round two, whilst 31st seed Maria Sakkari also lurks here, and is a danger. 12th seed Anastasia Sevastova has reached the second week at both slams so far this year and has won in Mallorca in the past, though faces a very tricky third round match against in-form 24th seed Petra Martic, who reached the last four in Birmingham last week.
Prediction: Pliskova def Martic
Projected Q/F: (7th) Simona Halep vs (2nd) Naomi Osaka
Halep has had a consistent, if not blockbuster, season so far, and despite being a former semifinalist here, has not always brought her best to the third slam of the year in the past. The Romanian does not have a particularly easy draw either, facing Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round, and potentially Victoria Azarenka in the third round. Tenth seed Aryna Sabalenka also lurks here and looked as if she was picking up some form in Eastbourne this week, though could have a tough second round against Venus Williams, or a tough third round against Madison Keys, who generally performs well at the Grand Slam tournaments.
Osaka has had an iffy few months, meanwhile, and has an incredibly tricky opener against Yulia Putintseva, who made light work of the Japanese when they met in Birmingham last week. The Japanese is perhaps also not helped by the presence of 23rd seed and Nottingham champion Caroline Garcia, who could face 14th seed Caroline Wozniacki in round three, and also of 27th seed Sofia Kenin, who won in Mallorca last week, and impressed in reaching the fourth round at the French Open.
Prediction: Keys def Kenin
Kerber def Konta
Pliskova def Keys
Kerber def Pliskova