The Yawn, I mean Lawn Tennis season such as it is is drawing to a close. The Championships- Wimbledon begin on Monday June 27. The draws have been released and those who play suicide pools and racquet brackets have made their choices. So it’s okay to look at the draws from a slightly different perspective.
The draw for any tennis tournament is predictive. It tells you that based on prior performance the players are ranked in terms of how they should perform at the event. It’s a simplistic view but that is what a draw is. The implications of a draw are something else again. Bottom line it’s a snapshot not only of where players are at a fixed point in time but also their value to their respective tour(s). Your top player is your most valuable player, the face of your sport. He or she is the person who comes to mind when fans, casual or obsessed, think of the sport. Ironically for both current number one’s, for different reasons, are problematic for their tours.
Now that the woman who has been the face of the tour for several years is suspended for doping you can almost see the flailing in the executive suite trying to find a new face, someone who it can sell to sponsors as the embodiment of women’s tennis. Stung by the all blond all the time critique from many fans it seems as if Garbiñe Muguruza is leading the pack.The woman who was leading for “next” is suing the WTA and has not been playing well at all. Not much has been said about the suit by tennis journalists (of course I could’ve missed it)since when I see some journalists handles on Twitter I relexively move on, but it’s hard to push someone to the front of the line who hasn’t even bothered to hide her sense of entitlement from fans.
Not that Muguruza is any better. She does seem to have become adept at hiding behind a smiling girly public persona and is now being talked about as the next WTA #1 by none other than Chris Evert. By next year her former coaches comments about her ego will only be mentioned in the context of sour grapes from a man who was shoved aside as a player made moves to get the best coaching available.
So what’s the matter with the current WTA #1? She has dominated the tour, is the top earning female athlete on the planet, has been a great ambassador for her sport, and aside from one outburst that caused a lot of folks to over react has maintained an excellent public persona. But “she doesn’t look like a tennis player”. What does that mean? It means she’s not lithe, rail thin, white and blonde so for some that means she can never be the official face of tennis. I think in the face of current politics both in Europe and the United States it’s necessary to speak clearly. Even if she makes history there will always be a mental asterisk next to her name for some. That tennis is willing to help promote a woman who doped for ten years tells you how much the image of a female tennis player is based on nothing more complex than race.
Having said all that let’s look at the WTA draw.
WILLIAMS, Serena USA  vs SADIKOVIC, Amra SUI (Q)
MCHALE, Christina USA vs HANTUCHOVA, Daniela SVK
WATSON, Heather GBR vs BECK, Annika GER
SASNOVICH, Aliaksandra BLR vs MLADENOVIC, Kristina FRA 
STEPHENS, Sloane USA  vs PENG, Shuai CHN
MINELLA, Mandy LUX (Q) vs TATISHVILI, Anna USA
MOORE, Tara GBR vs VAN UYTVANCK, Alison BEL
WOZNIACKI, Caroline DEN vs KUZNETSOVA, Svetlana RUS 
BACSINSZKY, Timea SUI  vs KUMKHUM, Luksika THA (Q)
NICULESCU, Monica ROU vs KRUNIC, Aleksandra SRB (Q)
PUTINTSEVA, Yulia KAZ vs MELNIKOVA, Marina RUS
HSIEH, Su-Wei TPE vs PAVLYUCHENKOVA, Anastasia RUS 
VANDEWEGHE, Coco USA  vs BONDARENKO, Kateryna UKR
SWAN, Katie GBR vs BABOS, Timea HUN
PLISKOVA, Kristyna CZE vs DUAN, Ying-Ying CHN (L)
RISKE, Alison USA vs VINCI, Roberta ITA 
RADWANSKA, Agnieszka POL  vs KOZLOVA, Kateryna UKR
KNAPP, Karin ITA vs KONJUH, Ana CRO
PARMENTIER, Pauline FRA vs SINIAKOVA, Katerina CZE
BUYUKAKCAY, Cagla TUR vs GARCIA, Caroline FRA 
CIBULKOVA, Dominika SVK  vs LUCIC-BARONI, Mirjana CRO
GAVRILOVA, Daria AUS vs WANG, Qiang CHN
BOUCHARD, Eugenie CAN vs RYBARIKOVA, Magdalena SVK
PUIG, Monica PUR vs KONTA, Johanna GBR 
KVITOVA, Petra CZE  vs CIRSTEA, Sorana ROU
MAKAROVA, Ekaterina RUS vs LARSSON, Johanna SWE
RODINA, Evgeniya RUS vs TSURENKO, Lesia UKR
KONTAVEIT, Anett EST vs STRYCOVA, Barbora CZE 
PETKOVIC, Andrea GER  vs HIBINO, Nao JPN
VESNINA, Elena RUS vs PASZEK, Tamira AUT (Q)
BOSERUP, Julia USA (Q) vs MARIA, Tatjana GER (Q)
PIRONKOVA, Tsvetana BUL vs BENCIC, Belinda SUI 
To get through to the quarters Serena will potentially face several players who have given her trouble either recently or in the past. Those who have not troubled her in the past(Watson, McHale, Mladenovic) are very thirsty (Beck, Sasnovich). Hantuchova is the odd one out here (her head to head with Serena is 9-1 in Serena’s favor).
Sloane Stephens (Did she play a warm up event? I don’t think so) got a walking Bye facing Peng Shuai in her first round match. Peng is coming bac from injury and while she played a warm up looked rusty. Still the H2H between the two is 2-1 in Peng’s favor.
Wozniacki vs Kuznetova is potentially a good match. The head to head is close (6-5 in Woz’s favor) and both have a lot to prove. Sveta, when she wants to play, is dangerous and has the potential to go deep in the draw. Woz just hasn’t looked ready to me. She’s coming off of injury too and Sveta can either romp or limp off the court.
Bacsinszky runs hot and cold to me. She faces another walking Bye first round in Kumkhun. In fact on paper there is no one in her section that can pose a problem for her until she meets Pavs, who is having a lackluster year.
Coco Vandeweghe has been the big story for US tennis this spring/summer. She’s only shown her butt once during grass court season which is a miracle for her. Timea Babos will be a tough out for her and if she passes that test she could face Roberta Vinci, another tough out.
Aga Radwanska’s section should see her facing either Garcia or Buyukakcay. Should she make it through? Some will say yes. She can beat everyone in that section but someone can also push her hard.
Continuing with the bottom half of the top half of the draw there is Johanna Konta’s section with Domi Cibulkova as the other seed. Bouchard, Gavrilova (I’m not impressed) and Puig (I could be impressed) are in that part of the draw with Lucic-Baroni having the potential to wreak some havoc if she’s focused and keeps her wits about her. Cibulkova just won Eastbourne so her performance will depend on when she has to play.
Will Kvitova face her countrywoman Strycova? Petra has to win her matches in two sets. She’s looked worn out when a match has gone three. Tsurenko and Makarova are the women who could crash the party.
In the Petko/Bencic section anyone can win. Bencic has been struggling with injury and Petkovic just doesn’t seem ready to me. That’s the only section I’d call a toss up from the top half.
HALEP, Simona ROU  vs SCHMIEDLOVA, Anna Karolina SVK
SEVASTOVA, Anastasija LAT vs SCHIAVONE, Francesca ITA
KOVINIC, Danka MNE vs BARTHEL, Mona GER
OSTAPENKO, Jelena LAT vs BERTENS, Kiki NED 
ERRANI, Sara ITA  vs TIG, Patricia Maria ROU
CORNET, Alize FRA vs HERCOG, Polona SLO
GIBBS, Nicole USA vs FLIPKENS, Kirsten BEL
SIEGEMUND, Laura GER vs KEYS, Madison USA 
PLISKOVA, Karolina CZE  vs WICKMAYER, Yanina BEL
DOI, Misaki JPN vs CHIRICO, Louisa USA
DIYAS, Zarina KAZ vs FRIEDSAM, Anna-Lena GER
ALEXANDROVA, Ekaterina RUS (Q) vs IVANOVIC, Ana SRB 
BEGU, Irina-Camelia ROU  vs WITTHOEFT, Carina GER
NARA, Kurumi JPN vs BRENGLE, Madison USA
PEREIRA, Teliana BRA vs LEPCHENKO, Varvara USA
ROBSON, Laura GBR vs KERBER, Angelique GER 
WILLIAMS, Venus USA  vs VEKIC, Donna CRO
ZHENG, Saisai CHN vs SAKKARI, Maria GRE (Q)
ARRUABARRENA, Lara ESP vs GOVORTSOVA, Olga BLR
DUVAL, Victoria USA vs KASATKINA, Daria RUS 
JANKOVIC, Jelena SRB  vs VOEGELE, Stefanie SUI
FALCONI, Irina USA vs ERAKOVIC, Marina NZL (Q)
GASPARYAN, Margarita RUS vs ALLERTOVA, Denisa CZE
ZHANG, Shuai CHN vs SUAREZ NAVARRO, Carla ESP 
STOSUR, Samantha AUS  vs LINETTE, Magda POL
LISICKI, Sabine GER vs ROGERS, Shelby USA
SHVEDOVA, Yaroslava KAZ vs GOERGES, Julia GER
BROADY, Naomi GBR vs SVITOLINA, Elina UKR 
SAFAROVA, Lucie CZE  vs MATTEK-SANDS, Bethanie USA
CRAWFORD, Samantha USA vs KANIA, Paula POL (Q)
CEPELOVA, Jana SVK (Q) vs DUQUE-MARINO, Mariana COL
GIORGI, Camila ITA vs MUGURUZA, Garbine ESP 
Halep. Bertens. Barthel(?) AKS was looked at as being one of the next big things but has played like anything but recently. Ostapenko vs Bertens should be a barn burner. Bertens just won a title and Ostapenko, no matter how you feel about her, has shown she can if she wants to and stays focused. Halep should have to face either her or Bertens to make it out of that section but Halep isn’t a sure thing anymore.
I’m looking forward to Keys vs Siegemund. We know the potential Keys has. We also know that if her opponent oesn’t let her do what she wants she falls apart. Siegemund will not let her have her way without a fight.
Angelique Kerber should have no problems making it out of her section.
I always want Venus to do well but she’s not a sure thing anymore. On paper Vekic has nothing to beat her with but Venus health trumps everything else. A loss to Vekic would be devastating but any and everything is in the realm of possibility.
I’d really like to see Duval get a first round win but Kasatkina is a tough out.
JJ/CSN section = tossup
Stosur/Svitolina? Shelby Rogers?
And finally Mugu’s section. She should win her first round and romp over anyone else. If Venus loses early there is no one who can stop her getting to the quarters. If she makes another final here the PR machine will go into overdrive.
I didn’t forget the ATP draw.
DJOKOVIC, Novak SRB  vs WARD, James GBR
EDMUND, Kyle GBR vs MANNARINO, Adrian FRA
BELLUCCI, Thomaz BRA vs BEMELMANS, Ruben BEL (Q)
ROSOL, Lukas CZE vs QUERREY, Sam USA 
KOHLSCHREIBER, Philipp GER  vs HERBERT, Pierre-Hugues FRA
DZUMHUR, Damir BIH vs KUDLA, Denis USA
KLEIN, Brydan GBR vs MAHUT, Nicolas FRA
SELA, Dudi ISR vs FERRER, David ESP 
GOFFIN, David BEL  vs WARD, Alexander GBR
ROGER-VASSELIN, Edouard FRA (Q) vs GABASHVILI, Teymuraz RUS
ALMAGRO, Nicolas ESP vs DUTRA SILVA, Rogerio BRA
ISTOMIN, Denis UZB vs ANDERSON, Kevin RSA 
SOCK, Jack USA  vs GULBIS, Ernests LAT
SCHWARTZMAN, Diego ARG vs HAASE, Robin NED
SEPPI, Andreas ITA vs GARCIA-LOPEZ, Guillermo ESP
CARRENO BUSTA, Pablo ESP vs RAONIC, Milos CAN 
FEDERER, Roger SUI  vs PELLA, Guido ARG
BERANKIS, Ricardas LTU vs WILLIS, Marcus GBR (Q)
EVANS, Daniel GBR vs STRUFF, Jan-Lennard GER
DONSKOY, Evgeny RUS vs DOLGOPOLOV, Alexandr UKR 
MONFILS, Gael FRA  vs CHARDY, Jeremy FRA
JAZIRI, Malek TUN vs JOHNSON, Steve USA
FRATANGELO, Bjorn USA (Q) vs DIMITROV, Grigor BUL
TIPSAREVIC, Janko SRB vs SIMON, Gilles FRA 
CILIC, Marin CRO  vs BAKER, Brian USA
STAKHOVSKY, Sergiy UKR vs NISHIOKA, Yoshihito JPN (Q)
LORENZI, Paolo ITA vs LACKO, Lukas SVK (Q)
CORIC, Borna CRO vs KARLOVIC, Ivo CRO 
CUEVAS, Pablo URU  vs KUZNETSOV, Andrey RUS
GIRALDO, Santiago COL vs MULLER, Gilles LUX
BENNETEAU, Julien FRA vs MARCHENKO, Illya UKR
GROTH, Sam AUS vs NISHIKORI, Kei JPN 
THIEM, Dominic AUT  vs MAYER, Florian GER
VESELY, Jiri CZE vs SIJSLING, Igor NED (Q)
SAVILLE, Luke AUS (Q) vs NOVIKOV, Dennis USA (Q)
TURSUNOV, Dmitry RUS vs SOUSA, Joao POR 
ZVEREV, Alexander GER  vs MATHIEU, Paul-Henri FRA
ZEBALLOS, Horacio ARG vs YOUZHNY, Mikhail RUS
BECKER, Benjamin GER vs BAGNIS, Facundo ARG
DODIG, Ivan CRO vs BERDYCH, Tomas CZE 
BAUTISTA AGUT, Roberto ESP  vs THOMPSON, Jordan AUS
KUKUSHKIN, Mikhail KAZ vs KLIZAN, Martin SVK
ELIAS, Gastao POR vs ALBOT, Radu MDA (Q)
VERDASCO, Fernando ESP vs TOMIC, Bernard AUS 
POUILLE, Lucas FRA  vs COPIL, Marius ROU (Q)
YOUNG, Donald USA vs MAYER, Leonardo ARG
ROBERT, Stephane FRA vs DEL POTRO, Juan Martin ARG
FRITZ, Taylor USA vs WAWRINKA, Stan SUI 
GASQUET, Richard FRA  vs BEDENE, Aljaz GBR
GRANOLLERS, Marcel ESP vs ESTRELLA BURGOS, Victor DOM
POSPISIL, Vasek CAN vs RAMOS-VINOLAS, Albert ESP
LAMASINE, Tristan FRA (Q) vs TROICKI, Viktor SRB 
ISNER, John USA  vs BAGHDATIS, Marcos CYP
OLIVETTI, Albano FRA (Q) vs BARTON, Matthew AUS (Q)
DANIEL, Taro JPN vs MONACO, Juan ARG
CERVANTES, Inigo ESP vs TSONGA, Jo-Wilfried FRA 
KYRGIOS, Nick AUS  vs STEPANEK, Radek CZE
LAJOVIC, Dusan SRB vs BROWN, Dustin GER
DELBONIS, Federico ARG vs FOGNINI, Fabio ITA
RAM, Rajeev USA vs LOPEZ, Feliciano ESP 
PAIRE, Benoit FRA  vs SKUGOR, Franko CRO (Q)
MILLMAN, John AUS vs MONTANES, Albert ESP
LU, Yen-Hsun TPE vs KUDRYAVTSEV, Alexander RUS (Q)
BROADY, Liam GBR vs MURRAY, Andy GBR 
The top half of the draw, while not as ridiculous as the Roland Garros draw, is still set up for one result. There are some interesting players in the bottom half of the draw though.
Thiem. Alexander Zverev. RBA. All of these players are in the top part of the bottom half of the draw. So are Berdych and Wawrinka. The bottom part of the bottom half with one exception is pretty soft. Will Murray have to play Kyrgios? We’ll see. Those pics of Kyrgios drinking out of a hip flask don’t instill confidence.
Still this is Wimbledon. The US and English tennis journalists make this, along with the US Open, and a lesser extent Melbourne their raison d’être so every result will be looked at as oracle’s of the future. The US will be looking for decent results from Sock (vs Gulbis first round), Fritz (vs Wawrinka first round), and Isner (vs Baghdatis first round).
Sadly, or some would say purposely, Roger Federer, who is more of a danger to Murray than he is to Djokovic, is in the bottom half of the top half of the draw. The other seed in his section is Dolgopolov. Federer usually gets a cake walk to the quarters but once out of his section there are some men who could potentially do some harm if they weren’t coming off of injury.
The men’s draw is set up for one specific purpose and unless something drastic happens there’s no reason the people who set up the draw not to get what they want.
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