Over the past 15 years at Wimbledon, the “Big Four” have combined to win every Gentlemen’s Singles Trophy. Is it finally time for some new blood to crash that exclusive party? And since the year 2000, the Williams sisters have raised the Venus Rosewater Dish 12 of 18 times. Only four ladies’ finals have not featured at least one of them. With Neither Venus nor Serena arriving at SW19 at their best, chances are the champion will have a last name other than Williams. The eras of dominance we’ve bear witness to during this millennium are surely coming to an end very soon. While we enjoy the twilight of their careers, the questions remain: who will step up to take their place, and when?
Here are the most intriguing matchups to follow on Day 2.
Rafael Nadal vs. Dudi Sela
Twice in his career, Nadal has won the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double, most notably of course in 2008 when he dethroned Roger Federer at The All England Club in what many consider to be the greatest match of all-time. However, Nadal has not been passed the fourth round at Wimbledon since 2011, and is just 8-5 at SW19 in his last five appearances. The grass has troubled Nadal for a long time now, though many have spoken of how this year’s hot and dry conditions may work in his favor. Rafa also may benefit from a nice draw, as Juan Martin Del Potro is the only true title contender in his quarter. That being said, Nadal has been prone to shocking upsets to players you would never suspect in recent years at Wimbledon. And lest we forget, he withdrew or retired from every tournament he entered prior to the clay court season, though his body appeared to be fully healthy on the clay. His opponent on Tuesday has some nice memories at Wimbledon, as he upset John Isner just last year. Sela though should not pose any threat to Nadal, who is 2-0 lifetime against the 5’9” Israeli. Let’s see how comfortable Rafa looks on the grass as he starts his campaign for a third Wimbledon title.
Petra Kvitova vs. Aliaksandra Sasnovich
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Here’s another left-handed, two-time Wimbledon Champion who comes into this tournament with a lot of confidence. Kvitova leads the WTA with five titles and 38 match wins in 2018. Most recently, she won the tournament just two weeks ago on the grass of Birmingham. While Petra has never faced her first round opponent, Sasnovich should not cause her any trouble. Sasnovich went 0-2 in her grass court warm-up events. I’m most curious to see if Kvitova is 100% healthy and rested, considering she withdrew from Eastbourne last week due to a hamstring injury. Hopefully that was just a precaution, and a reason to get some rest ahead of this fortnight. If so, I consider her the favorite to win her third Wimbledon title.
Angelique Kerber vs. Vera Zvonareva
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In this first round matchup, we have two former Wimbledon finalists. Though for Zvonareva, this is her first Major appearance in three-and-a-half years. In 2010, Vera finished the year at a career-high ranking of two in the world, in a season highlighted by consecutive Major finals at Wimbledon and the US Open. Her career was derailed by injuries in the coming years, and she then took an extended hiatus from the sport as she became a wife and mother. Her comeback began last year on the ITF circuit, and she came through qualifying last week to make her first Wimbledon appearance since 2014. Of course Zvonareva may be best known for her on-court emotional meltdowns, highlighted by tears, racket abuse, and her patented towel-over-the-head during changeovers. Kerber has bounced back nicely from her dismal 2017, and already has 32 wins this year. While she’s yet to win the title at The All England Club, Angelique is fully comfortable on the grass. She was the finalist two years ago, and last year lost to eventual champion Garbine Muguruza in a great fourth-round battle. Kerber is playing with a lot of confidence, coming off a quarterfinal at Roland Garros on her weakest surface. She also reached the semifinals just a few days ago in Eastbourne, narrowing going down in defeat to Caroline Wozniacki. This will be Angelique’s and Vera’s first-ever career meeting. It could be a fun one if Zvonareva can dial up her shot-making skills of yesteryear. While it will be nice to see Vera back on court, Kerber will be a heavy favorite.
Caroline Garcia vs. Belinda Bencic
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2017 was a breakout year for the Frenchwoman, when she won back-to-back titles to close out the year and qualify for her first WTA Finals. 2018 though hasn’t seen Caroline continue that success. This year she has no titles to date, and hasn’t even made a tournament final. Two weeks ago on the grass of Mallorca, she lost to a qualifier. Bencic is still struggling to come back from multiple injuries, and is just 4-8 on the year. But Belinda showed us she’s a dangerous unseeded opponent in Melbourne, where she upset Venus Williams in the first round. These two have never played before, so there’s no head-to-head history to speak of. Garcia should prevail here, though I also wouldn’t be surprised to see the 21-year-old Bencic pull off another Major upset. We already saw the fourth and fifth women’s seeds fall on Day 1, and this is a tricky first round draw for the sixth seed.
Denis Shapovalov vs. Jeremy Chardy
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19-year-old Canadian phenom Denis Shapovalov has drawn one of the hottest players on tour in the opening round. In the past month, Chardy is 12-2 on grass. The 31-year-old Frenchman won a Challenger title in Great Britain, then made a run to the final at s-Hertogenbosch. Chardy followed those results up with a semifinal appearance at Queen’s Club. The grass courts are a great surface for Jeremy when his go-for-broke groundstrokes hit their spots. On the other side of the net, it’s hard to believe it was just one year ago that Shapovalov made his Major debut at The All England Club. He’s since made the fourth round at the US Open, as well as two Masters 1,000 semifinals. The lefty’s game would seem to be well-suited for the grass, but he went just 1-3 on grass in June. Hitting a slump early in his career after achieving such big results is hardly surprising, and many players take more time to acclimate to playing on grass. Even though Shapovalov is the seeded player, I’d consider him the underdog. If both players are on, this could be a compelling, hard-hitting affair.
Full order of play
CENTRE COURT – SHOW COURT – 13:00 START
1 Garbine Muguruza (ESP)  33 vs Naomi Broady (GBR) 34
2 Dudi Sela (ISR) 127 vs Rafael Nadal (ESP)  128
3 Simona Halep (ROU)  1 vs Kurumi Nara (JPN) 2
No.1 COURT – SHOW COURT – 13:00 START
1 Kyle Edmund (GBR)  73 vs Alex Bolt (AUS) 74
2 Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR) 31 vs Petra Kvitova (CZE)  32
3 Tennys Sandgren (USA) 79 vs Novak Djokovic (SRB)  80
No.2 COURT – SHOW COURT – 11:30 START
1 Johanna Konta (GBR)  9 vs Natalia Vikhlyantseva (RUS) 10
2 James Duckworth (AUS) 95 vs Alexander Zverev (GER)  96
3 Dominic Thiem (AUT)  65 vs Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) 66
4 Vitalia Diatchenko (RUS) 23 vs Maria Sharapova (RUS)  24
No.3 COURT – SHOW COURT – 11:30 START
1 Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG)  97 vs Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 98
2 Angelique Kerber (GER)  49 vs Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 50
3 Matthew Ebden (AUS) 111 vs David Goffin (BEL)  112
4 Belinda Bencic (SUI) 63 vs Caroline Garcia (FRA)  64
COURT 12 – SHOW COURT – 11:30 START
1 Ashleigh Barty (AUS)  41 vs Stefanie Voegele (SUI) 42
2 Nick Kyrgios (AUS)  81 vs Denis Istomin (UZB) 82
3 Jack Sock (USA)  105 vs Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 106
4 Heather Watson (GBR) 19 vs Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) 20
COURT 18 – SHOW COURT – 11:30 START
1 Ernests Gulbis (LAT) 91 vs Jay Clarke (GBR) 92
2 Taro Daniel (JPN) 119 vs Fabio Fognini (ITA)  120
3 Monica Niculescu (ROU) 55 vs Naomi Osaka (JPN)  56
4 Jana Fett (CRO) 47 vs Daria Kasatkina (RUS)  48
COURT 4 – 11:30 START
1 Ana Bogdan (ROU) 5 vs Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) 6
2 Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) 35 vs Polona Hercog (SLO) 36
3 Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 125 vs Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) 126
4 Benoit Paire (FRA) 101 vs Jason Jung (TPE)  102
COURT 5 – 11:30 START
1 Alize Cornet (FRA) 11 vs Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) 12
2 Marius Copil (ROU) 83 vs Robin Haase (NED) 84
3 Julien Benneteau (FRA) 69 vs Marton Fucsovics (HUN) 70
4 Marketa Vondrousova (CZE) 13 vs Sachia Vickery (USA) 14
COURT 6 – 11:30 START
1 Damir Dzumhur (BIH)  89 vs Maximilian Marterer (GER) 90
2 Jennifer Brady (USA) 37 vs Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 38
3 Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) 123 vs Mischa Zverev (GER) 124
4 Magda Linette (POL) 45 vs Yulia Putintseva (KAZ) 46
COURT 7 – 11:30 START
1 Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 99 vs Federico Delbonis (ARG) 100
2 Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 93 vs Taylor Fritz (USA) 94
3 Pauline Parmentier (FRA) 29 vs Taylor Townsend (USA) 30
4 Alison Riske (USA) 61 vs Mariana Duque-Marino (COL)  62
COURT 8 – 11:30 START
1 Daria Gavrilova (AUS)  25 vs Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 26
2 Diego Schwartzman (ARG)  113 vs Mirza Basic (BIH) 114
3 David Ferrer (ESP) 67 vs Karen Khachanov (RUS) 68
4 Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) 59 vs Kaia Kanepi (EST) 60
COURT 9 – 11:30 START
1 Jiri Vesely (CZE) 115 vs Florian Mayer (GER) 116
2 Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 109 vs Stephane Robert (FRA) 110
3 Sofia Kenin (USA) 21 vs Maria Sakkari (GRE) 22
4 Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP)  57 vs Carina Witthoeft (GER) 58
COURT 11 – 11:30 START
1 Ana Konjuh (CRO) 51 vs Claire Liu (USA) 52
2 Frances Tiafoe (USA) 71 vs Fernando Verdasco (ESP)  72
3 Gilles Simon (FRA) 107 vs Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) 108
COURT 14 – 11:30 START
1 Christian Harrison (USA) 87 vs Kei Nishikori (JPN)  88
2 Gabriella Taylor (GBR) 43 vs Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 44
3 Katie Boulter (GBR) 53 vs Veronica Cepede Royg (PAR) 54
COURT 15 – 11:30 START
1 Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) 7 vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)  8
2 Pablo Cuevas (URU) 117 vs Simone Bolelli (ITA)  118
3 Guido Andreozzi (ARG) 77 vs Horacio Zeballos (ARG) 78
COURT 16 – 11:30 START
1 Shuai Peng (CHN) 27 vs Samantha Stosur (AUS) 28
2 Yuichi Sugita (JPN) 75 vs Bradley Klahn (USA) 76
3 Saisai Zheng (CHN) 3 vs Qiang Wang (CHN) 4
COURT 17 – 11:30 START
1 Bernard Tomic (AUS) 85 vs Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 86
2 Denisa Allertova (CZE) 39 vs Anett Kontaveit (EST)  40
3 Marco Cecchinato (ITA)  121 vs Alex De Minaur (AUS) 122
NOT BEFORE 18.00
4 Danielle Collins (USA) 15 vs Elise Mertens (BEL)  16
MATCHES TO BE ARRANGED
NOT BEFORE 17.00
1 Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 103 vs Denis Shapovalov (CAN)  104
2 Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)  17 vs Katy Dunne (GBR) 18
Australian Open Day 5 Preview: Five Must-See Matches
Friday will be highlighted by two of the sport’s brightest young stars meeting for the second consecutive Major.
At the US Open last summer, Naomi Osaka easily dispatched of 15-year-old Coco Gauff. But it’s what happened after the match that warmed the hearts of the tennis world. Seeing her younger opponent was upset after the loss, Osaka encouraged Gauff to join her for the post-match interview, in a touching display of kindness. Five months later, Is Coco ready to compete with Naomi? That’s only one of many appetizing third round matches today. Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Ash Barty, and the retiring Caroline Wozniacki will also be in action.
Naomi Osaka (3) vs. Coco Gauff
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Gauff only managed to take three games from Osaka in New York. And she struggled at times against Sorana Cirstea two days ago, squeaking out a victory 7-5 in the third. But I think she’ll be much more ready for the challenge of playing Osaka today. Since their US Open match, Gauff won her first title in Linz, and spent time training in the offseason with Serena Williams. However, no one has played better since the US Open than Osaka. She’s won 16 of her last 17 matches, claiming titles in both Osaka and Beijing. While I expect a more competitive match between these two today, Naomi remains the favorite.
Stefanos Tsitsipas (6) vs. Milos Raonic (32)
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Both men should be fully fresh for their first career meeting. Neither has dropped a set through two rounds, and Tsitsipas received a walkover on Wednesday as Philipp Kohlschreiber retired with a back injury. The 29-year-old Canadian has battled a plethora of injuries throughout his career, and again missed significant time in 2019. But he’s managed to perform very well at this event despite the injuries, reaching the quarterfinals or better in four of the last five years. While Tsitsipas is coming off the biggest title of his career at the ATP Finals, he went just 1-2 at the ATP Cup, and is only 1-3 in his last four matches at Majors. In what could easily become an extended affair, I’m tipping Raonic to continue serving well and pull off the slight upset.
Roberto Bautista Agut (9) vs. Marin Cilic
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This is a rematch from last year’s Australian Open, which Bautista Agut won in four hours and five sets. That was the third of three five-set wins for the Spaniard here a year ago, as he also outlasted Andy Murray and John Millman. That was the start of Roberto’s best season to date, reaching the quarterfinals here and the semifinals at Wimbledon. By contrast, 2019 was Cilic’s worst season since his drug suspension in 2013. Marin has crumbled in pressure situations all too often, though he showed some great grit by taking out Benoit Paire in a fifth set tiebreak on Wednesday. But that had to take a lot out of Cilic, and he’s now faced with one of the ATP’s strongest competitors. Bautista Agut has won his last 10 matches, dating back to the Davis Cup in November. He should be favored to extend his winning streak to 11.
Petra Kvitova (7) vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova
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It’s the 2019 finalist against one of the hottest players on tour. The 25-year-old Alexandrova is on a 12-match winning streak, including her ITF title run last month at Limoges and her first WTA-level title two weeks ago in Shenzhen. She’s now the Russian No.1, and looking to reach the fourth round of a Major for the first time. Kvitova survived a tight match two days ago against another up-and-coming player, Paula Badosa of Spain. Petra fought through hot and windy conditions in that match, and she’ll be pleased to find the weather cooler and calmer today. In their first career meeting, Kvitova should be able to control play and advance to the Australian Open round of 16 for the fourth time.
Roger Federer (3) vs. John Millman
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At the 2018 US Open, Millman took advantage of Federer’s suffering in extremely hot and muggy conditions, defeating Roger in four sets. That victory propelled the 30-year-old Millman to his first Major quarterfinal. John would struggle mightily over the next 12 months under the weight of new expectations, but finally rediscovered some confidence after last year’s US Open. He won a challenger event in Taiwan, and was a finalist at the ATP event in Tokyo. And Millman already has six match wins in 2020, with notable victories over Felix Auger Aliassime and Karen Khachanov. All that being said, he’ll still be a considerable underdog against the 20-time Major singles champion. Federer took both of their other previous meetings, and looked extremely sharp in his first two matches here. As Chris Fowler of ESPN highlighted, Roger has broken his opponent’s serve at the beginning of all six sets he’s played this week. Despite the lack of a warmup event, Federer is in fine form, and should advance comfortably against an opponent like Millman who does not possess any big weapons.
Other notable matches on Day 5:
- Serena Williams (8), who displayed intense anger with her form on Wednesday, vs. Qiang Wang (27), who lasted only 44 minutes against Serena at last year’s US Open in a 6-1, 6-0 pummeling.
- Novak Djokovic (2), who lead Serbia to the ATP Cup two weeks ago, vs. Yoshihito Nishioka, who has reached the third round of a Major for the first time.
- Australian Ash Barty (1) vs. Russian teenager Elena Rybakina (29), who won a total of 57 matches at all levels last season.
- Diego Schwartzman (14) vs. Dusan Lajovic (24). When they played in Melbourne two years ago, Schwartzman survived 11-9 in the fifth.
- Caroline Wozniacki, who pulled off impressive comebacks in both sets against Dayana Yastremska in the second round, vs. Ons Jabeur, who loves utilizing the slice against her opponents.
Order of play
Rod Laver Arena
A. Barty (1) versus E. Rybakina (29) Women’s Singles 3rd Round
Q. Wang (27) versus S. Williams (8) Women’s Singles 3rd Round
Y. Nishioka versus N. Djokovic (2) Men’s Singles 3rd Round
N. Osaka (3) versus C. Gauff Women’s Singles 3rd Round
J. Millman versus R. Federer (3) Men’s Singles 3rd Round
Margaret Court Arena
D. Schwartzman (14) versus D. Lajovic (24) Men’s Singles 3rd Round
E. Alexandrova (25) versus P. Kvitova (7) Women’s Singles 3rd Round
M. Keys (10) versus M. Sakkari (22) Women’s Singles 3rd Round
S. Tsitsipas (6) versus M. Raonic (32) Men’s Singles 3rd Round
S. Zhang versus S. Kenin (14) Women’s Singles 3rd Round
L. Hewitt (WC) J. Thompson (WC) versus J. Nam (WC) M. Song (WC) Men’s Doubles 1st Round
O. Jabeur versus C. Wozniacki Women’s Singles 3rd Round
M. Cilic versus R. Bautista Agut (9) Men’s Singles 3rd Round
G. Pella (22) versus F. Fognini (12) Men’s Singles 3rd Round
D. Jakupovic R. Olaru versus T. Babos (2) K. Mladenovic (2) Women’s Doubles 1st Round
M. Fucsovics versus T. Paul Men’s Singles 3rd Round
A. Riske (18) versus J. Goerges Women’s Singles 3rd Round
T. Sandgren versus S. Querrey Men’s Singles 3rd Round
Karolina Pliskova gets through to the third round
Karolina Pliskova beat Laura Siegemund 6-3 6-3 after 86 minutes. Siegemund went up an early break to take a 3-1 lead, but Halep came back by winning five consecutive games to win the first set 6-3.
Pliskova earned an early break at the start of the second set and won a long fifth game to come two games away from the win. Siegemund fended off a break point at 1-4 and held a break point in the sixth game. Pliskova fended it off and held on her serve to secure her spot in the third round on her third match point.
“I am not sure if it was really nice tennis today. I think she has a very ugly game for me, so I am never going to feel amazing playing her. I am just happy to be through because this was an ugly match for me. Last time we played was on clay, so I am just happy I am through and hopefully I can feel better in my next round”,said Pliskova.
Elena Rybakina reaches her second consecutive final in 2020
Elena Rybakina beat British qualifier Heather Watson 6-3 4-6 6-4 after 2 hours and 16 minutes in the Hobart International semifinal setting up a final match against China’s Zhang Shuai.
Rybakina has become the first player to reach back-to-back finals in the first two weeks of the year since Agnieszka Radwanska in 2013. The Kazakh player finished runner-up to Ekaterina Alexandrova last week in Shenzhen.
Rybakina earned the first break in the first game, but Watson broke back with two forehand winners in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Rybakina broke for the second time with a crosscourt forehand in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead and sealed the first set with another break on the first set point, as Watson hit her dropshot into the net.
Rybakina saved three break points with two aces and a service winner, but Watson converted her fourth chance with her forehand return winner.
Watson went up a double break with a forehand pass and held her serve to race out to a 5-1. Rybakina converted her second break point chance to claw her way back to 3-5.
Rybakina earned two break points in the 10th game, but Watson saved the first chance with a backhand winner before serving out the second set with consecutive service winners.
Watson saved a break point in the second game of the third set as Rybakina made a backhand error. Rybakina fended off a break point chance in the fifth game with a down-the-line backhand winner. Rybakina converted her second break point chance with a drop-shot winner on the match point.
“It was a really tough match. I was still missing all these balls in the second set. In the last few games I was playing really risky, and I am really happy that I won this match”, said Rybakina.
Rybakina set up a final against Zhang Shuai, who reached the third WTA final of her career after a 6-3 6-4 win over Veronika Kudemertova.
Zhang earned three break point chances at 2-1 with a backhand crosscourt winner and converted her first chance after Kudemertova sent her forehand wide. Kudemertova won two hard-fought service game at 4-2 and at 5-3. Zhang closed out the set on her second set point in the ninth game.
Both players held on their service games in the second set until 4-4. Zhang earned a break point in the ninth game, as Kudemertova made a forehand error. The Chinese player got the break, as Kudemertova made her forehand error. Kudemertova earned her first two break points of the match, as Zhang was serving for the match. Zhang held her serve at deuce, as Kudemertova missed returns on the next four points.
“The winter training went really good for me. Training with the national team, a lot of coaches helped me, so I was already ready before this tournament. I think all matches I played really well this week, and also a lot of the Chinese fans are coming to cheer for me, so I have had a lot of motivationto win”,said Zhang Shuai.
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