Wimbledon 2019 draw: No1 Barty in at deep end with former champs Williams, Muguruza, Kerber, Sharapova
No1 ranking up for grabs again by Osaka, Pliskova, and Kvitova
It is probably fair to say that world No5 Angelique Kerber feels very at home on the grass of Wimbledon. Not only is she the defending champion, but she reached the final in 2016, the semis in 2012, and has accumulated a 30-10 record on London’s lawns.
It is equally fair to say she is comfortable on grass, full-stop: This weekend she plays the final of the prestigious Eastbourne Premier—she beat Simona Halep in the process—which is her third final there, and she made the semis in Mallorca, too. But the popular German may be less happy with the world when she sees her draw in SW19 this year.
Barty, Kerber, Bertens, Kvitova and Serena half
She is in a quarter topped by the new No1 Ashleigh Barty, but she finds the unseeded former champion Maria Sharapova in her segment—a possible Round 3 opponent—and the formidable seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams lined up for the fourth round.
She beat Williams here last year as the American made her return from maternity leave and subsequent health problems by reaching the final both at Wimbledon and the US Open. Kerber, though, was beaten by Williams in the 2016 final.
The other woman to beat Kerber at Wimbledon in recent years is Garbine Muguruza, in 2015 and 2017, and as luck would have it, the Spaniard is also in her quarter, though the 2016 champion will have problems of her own with Barty likely in the third round and either Donna Vekic or Belinda Bencic possible in the fourth round.
It is, by any measure, a loaded quarter.
First things first, however. The French Open champion Barty begins against Zheng Saisai, ranked 43, and has the veteran Major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in Round 2, with Muguruza lined up for Round 3.
However, the world No1 took the title in Birmingham, extending her winning streak to 12 matches—and she was junior Wimbledon champion in 2011.
In the fourth round, No22 seed Vekic and No13 Bencic—another former junior champion— have both had decent grass results ahead of SW19 in the past, though dangerous big hitters such as Kaia Kanepi and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova plus in-form Alison Riske are also here.
For all her record-making stats, Williams will also need to start strong. She arrives here with just 12 matches to her name this season, with her quarter-final run in Australia her only significant success. Her first match is against Giulia Gatto-Monticone, and her first scheduled seed is Birmingham runner-up Julia Goerges, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon last year but beaten there by Williams.
The other quarter of this top half, the one in which No19 seed Johanna Konta features, is led by No4 Kiki Bertens, who will first play Mandy Minella, one of a number of dangerous unseeded players here—Barbora Strycova among them. But Bertens, who fell ill during Roland Garros, has been in great form, and on grass made the final in s-Hertogenbosch and the semis in Eastbourne.
Konta will face qualifier Ana Bogdan and could take on No9 seed Sloane Stephens in the third round in a rematch of their French Open quarter-final. There, Konta came out an impressive winner on her way to the semis, and grass is a good surface for the Briton.
Things may get tough for Konta in the fourth round, too, where former champion Petra Kvitova waits, though there may be a concern about her fitness after picking up an injury at Roland Garros. The Czech is due to play Ons Jabeur first, though the Tunisian also got injured before her semi contest in Eastbourne.
Osaka, Pliskova and Halep half
At the other end of the draw, No2 seed Naomi Osaka, the reigning US and Australian Open champion, faces Yulia Putintseva, who beat her in Nottingham, in a high-profile first round, with the possibility of the quality teenager Iga Swiatek—yet another Wimbledon junior champion—in the second.
Next for Osaka could be Sofia Kenin, who beat Serena Williams at Roland Garros, and beat Bencic to win her second title of the year in Mallorca. It gets no easier, with Caroline Wozniacki or Caroline Garcia up next for Osaka, the latter having won in Nottingham. And all that before No7 seed Halep.
However, Halep has her own challenges: she opens against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, with Daria Kasatkina or unseeded Victoria Azarenka in the third round. Come Round 4, and multiple champion Venus Williams may lie in wait, also unseeded. However, the veteran will play one of the most highly anticipated openers in the draw against 15-year-old Cori Gauff, the youngest player to qualify for the main Wimbledon draw in the Open era. Their age gap will be 24 years.
However, the 21-year-old Aryna Sabalenka, seeded 10, and No17 Madison Keys are strong seeds in the Venus segment.
That leaves No3 seed Karolina Pliskova in the remaining quarter. She opens her campaign against Zhu Lin, in a section that should see her make at least the fourth round—her best result here so far—and build on her powerful grass strengths.
She is in the final in Eastbourne, where she has had considerable success before, though the smart skills of the 20-year-old No16 seed Marketa Vondrousova could trouble Pliskova in the fourth round. The talented fellow Czech is 28/7 this season, and on a steep upward trajectory.
The next highest seed in this quarter is No8 Elina Svitolina, who faces Daria Gavrilova in a tricky opener, and another dangerous player here is No31 seed Maria Sakkari.
No1 up for grabs: the scenarios
Osaka, Pliskova, and Kvitova can all challenge Barty for the top spot at Wimbledon.
· Osaka needs to reach at least the third round
· Pliskova must make the semi-final
· Kvitova must win the title and also needs results elsewhere in the draw to fall in her favour
· Johanna Konta, No19 seed, plays qualifier Ana Bogdan (134).
· Wild card Harriet Dart (170) faces lucky loser Christina McHale (109).
· Wild card Katie Swan (207) opens against Laura Siegemund (84).
· Heather Watson (122) plays 17-year-old qualifier Caty McNally (164).
Former champions/finalists in draw
Champions Kerber (defending) 1, Muguruza 1, Serena Williams 7, Venus Williams 5, Kvitova 2, Sharapova 1
Finals (additional to titles) Serena Williams 3, Venus Williams 4, Kerber 1, Muguruza 1, Sharapova 1, Eugenie Bouchard 1
June’s grass winners
Eastbourne: finalists Pliskova and Kerber