With all the focus on the top quarter of the draw, and the carnage within, it is time to see a ninja-like Karolina Pliskova do her stuff. It has not always been a happy hunting ground at Wimbledon for the Czech, especially after she has a decent run at Eastbourne.
She breezed through her first-round match, but even so, she felt that was still room for improvement.
She said, after her first-round match: “I think my timing was a little bit off today. I just didn’t have any chance to hit on the match courts, which I felt they were totally different than Aorangi courts. Always kind of, you know, struggling here with this because you just practice there and then the courts are just different.
“Of course, it was different compared to Eastbourne. But I feel fine, physically perfect. Maybe even better that I didn’t really stop and I could just continue what I was doing in Eastbourne.”
Since winning the Olympic Gold in Rio, it has been a bit up and down for Monica Puig, with her best run this year at Charleston, but her first win on grass this year came at SW19.
Where the big-serving Czech comes into her own is to sneak under the radar while all the focus is elsewhere, and she will not have been disappointed on the first day with all the chaos.
The key question is whether Simona Halep pulls up ok after tweaking her ankle in her first-round match. The grass has been a bit of a voodoo for the former world No. 1, who rolled her ankle in her semi-final in 2014 and despite reaching the quarter-final twice more since then.
She said, after her first round win: “I feel a little bit. I think it’s a little bit stretched, the muscle behind the knee, and also the Achilles. Hopefully is nothing dangerous and I can recover until the next match.”
Last year Mihaela Buzarnescu really enjoyed her time on the grass courts, reaching the quarter-finals in Nottingham, semi-finals in Birmingham, and the third round at Wimbledon. Her form this year has not been as consistent.
Halep relies so much on her movement and ability to scramble all around the court, that Buzarnescu (no stranger to injury herself), might take advantage of any tentativeness from the No. 1 Romanian.
Prediction: Halep in three sets.
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While it was a straight sets win in Novak Djokovic’s first match against a tricky opponent in Philipp Kohlschreiber, his pre-tournament press conference painted a picture of a player battling with the politics of his tour.
Now the tournament has begun, we ought to expect to see the defending champion hit his groove. Denis Kudla is more of a counter-puncher and will test the flexibility of Djokovic as he likes to pick his spots to attack.
By now hopefully some of the nerves and indeed frustrations of the political shenanigans will have gone, and Djokovic can concentrate on his title defence – else we might seeing having to come back again from breaks down to regain a foothold.
Prediction: Djokovic in straight sets.
Play begins on outer courts at 11am, and at 1pm on Centre Court & Court No. 1 (BST)
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