WTA Wimbledon 2018 Draw: Preview & Analysis
Jul 3 7 min read6:08 am
The 125th edition of the ladies’ singles competition at Wimbledon is all set to take place from July 2-15. Seven women have lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish this century, with Venus and Serena Williams combining for 12 titles. Petra Kvitova is the only player apart from the Williams sisters to have won the title more than once.
Having won the French Open earlier this year, Simona Halep is the top seed. The Romanian’s best result at Wimbledon was a semi-final appearance in 2014. Defending champion Garbine Muguruza is seeded third and is 1-1 on grass this year. There are multiple first round matches to watch out for with the seeds being challenged right from day one.
First Quarter: Halep, Kvitova, Mertens, Konta, Sharapova
World No. 1 Simona Halep begins her 2018 Wimbledon campaign against Japanese No. 2, Kurumi Nara. Halep won their lone meeting at Indian Wells in 2014 and another win against Nara would put the Romanian up against another Asian player - Qiang Wang or Saisai Zheng. In the third round, Halep could run into Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who is seeded 30 but suffered early exits in Eastbourne and Birmingham. However, Halep’s biggest challenge will probably be her potential fourth round opponent, Johanna Konta. Halep lost to Konta last year in the quarter-finals and will look forward to avenge her defeat to the home favourite.
Konta has a healthy 3-1 lead against Halep. However, the British No. 1 needs to overcome possible challenges from Dominika Cibulkova and Elise Mertens before facing Halep. The first round match between Cibulkova and Cornet will be their 10th career meeting but first grass. Cibulkova leads the head to head 6-3. Mertens, who was a semi-finalist at the Australian Open and has won three titles this year is seeded 15th in only her second main draw appearance at SW19.
2018’s title leader and two-time Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova will face Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first round. Kvitova will have to beat Pauline Parmentier or Taylor Townsend to do better than her 2017 performance. Kvitova is likely to face Daria Gavrilova in the third round. Both of them are tied 2-2 in the head to head but the Czech leads 1-0 on grass - a match which she won this year at Birmingham.
Heather Watson or Kirsten Flipkens are likely to face last year’s quarter-finalist Jelena Ostapenko in the second round. Maria Sharapova returns to Wimbledon after two years and will face compatriot and qualifier Vitalia Diatchenko in the first round. If they can win their respective matches in the first three rounds, Sharapova and Kvitova are likely to face each other in a battle of former champions in the fourth round. Sharapova and Kvitova have met 11 times in their career, of which the Russian has won seven matches. However, they have not met on the court since 2015.
Possible Quarter-finals: Kvitova vs Halep
Second Quarter: Muguruza, Kerber, Garcia, Barty, Kasatkina
Defending champion Garbine Muguruza will begin her title defense against British No. 4, Naomi Broady. She faces a stern test in the third round where she might face 28th seed, Anett Kontaveit. If Muguruza can get through the Estonian test, she might face Ashleigh Barty or Daria Kasatkina in the fourth round. Barty, who won the Nottingham Open this year could face 2014 finalist Eugenie Bouchard in the second round. Daria Kasatkina, who was a finalist at Indian Wells and Dubai this year reached the quarter-finals at Eastbourne in her preparation for Wimbledon.
Former World No.1 Angelique Kerber, who was the top seed last year lost to eventual champion Garbine Muguruza in the fourth round. The German’s big challenge in the initial rounds could be against Japanese No.1 Naomi Osaka in the third round. Osaka will be facing Monica Niculescu in the first round. French No.1 Caroline Garcia has Belinda Bencic to overcome in the first round followed by potential obstacles in the form of Alison Riske, Carla Suarez Navarro and Angelique Kerber in the first week. Kerber leads Garcia 4-2 in their head to head record but they have never met on grass before.
Possible Quarter-finals: Muguruza vs Kerber
Third Quarter: Pliskova, Venus, Azarenka, Stephens, Goerges
Seventh seed and former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova will face British wildcard Harriet Dart in the first round. Pliskova lost in the second round last year and faces another potential threat in the second round as she might face Victoria Azarenka for the sixth time in her career. Azarenka leads Pliskova 3-2 in their head to head record. The Belarusian lost their last meeting at the Madrid Masters this year. The winner of that match might face Birmingham semi-finalist Mihaela Buzarnescu or Eastbourne finalist Aryna Sabalenka in the third round.
Kiki Bertens will probably go on to face Kristyna Pliskova or Venus Williams in the third round. Venus, a five time champion at Wimbledon was the runner-up last year and will make her 21st appearance at Wimbledon. In a battle of big servers, Kristyna might be a challenge early on in the second round for the elder of the Williams sisters. Another match to look forward to in the opening round will be Monica Puig taking on 13th seed Julia Goerges. Puig leads their head to head 4-1 which also involves a win on grass. Two-time grand slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova will face 23rd seed Barbora Strycova in the opening round. The Russian leads the Czech 2-0.
2018 Roland Garros finalist Sloane Stephens will be playing her first match on grass this season at Wimbledon. The American’s first round opponent is Donna Vekic, who reached the semi-finals at Nottingham this year. Chinese No. 1 and 31st seeded Shuai Zhang has never managed to get past the first round in her four main draw appearances at Wimbledon. This year she faces World No. 95 Andrea Petkovic in the first round. Petkovic defeated Zahng in their lone meeting at Strasbourg seven years back.
Possible Quarter-finals: Pliskova vs Stephens (strictly based on seedings)
Fourth Quarter: Wozniacki, Svitolina, Keys, Radwanska, Serena
Despite being ranked outside the Top 150, Serena Williams was provided with the 25th seed in the ladies’ draw. This was largely considered because of Serena’s absence on tour due to pregnancy, which led her to slip in the rankings. However, the seeding has raised many questions and has not been accepted too fondly. A strong argument against the AELTC is that the same issue was not raised when Azarenka made her return to Wimbledon after pregnancy last year.
Serena will face Arantxa Rus for the first time in her career in her opening round. A win would put her up against a wildcard entrant or a qualifier in the next round. The former No. 1’s real test begins from the third round where fifth seed Elina Svitolina be her potential opponent. However, Svitolina can herself face a tricky customer in the second round in the form of Kristina Mladenovic. Mladenovic won their lone meeting in 2011 in a junior tournament.
2018 Birmingham finalist and last year’s Wimbledon semi-finalist Magdalena Rybarikova is likely to converge with Madison Keys in a fourth round battle. Keys leads their head to head record 3-1. The No. 3 American’s lone loss to the Slovakian came on their lone meeting on grass at Birmingham in 2013. Keys or Rybarikova might face Svitolina in the fourth round. Svitolina is 1-1 against Rybarikova but trails Keys 0-2 in the head to head record.
Coco Vandeweghe and Caroline Wozniacki are yet again drawn to face each other in the fourth round at Wimbledon for the second consecutive year. Wozniacki will probably face 2012 finalist and 2018 Eastbourne semi-finalist Agnieszka Radwanska in the third round to contest their first battle on grass and 18th battle overall. Both players fell in the fourth round last year. Wozniacki, the current World No. 2 and a former No. 1 has never made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon. Last year, she fell to Vandeweghe in straight sets in the fourth round. If the Dane can overcome her third round Polish challenge, then chances are that she might get another chance to avenge her fourth round loss to Vandeweghe last year.
Possible quarter-finals: Rybarikova vs Radwanska