Most of the top seeds in the Ladies’ Singles had a disastrous time at Wimbledon in 2018. Garbine Muguruza, Petra Kvitova, Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep all lost early on, and they were far from the only big stars who fell to unheralded opponents.
So is the same kind of carnage going to happen again this year? Hopefully not to the same extent, but you never know with the women’s tour because it is so competitive at the moment.
Likely Wimbledon Winners
Defending champion Angelique Kerber is on fire in Eastbourne this week. She is yet to drop a set and she took down Simona Halep with a brilliant performance in the quarter-final.
On the strength of those displays, and her past record on grass, the German should be regarded as the best player on grass and the favourite to win Wimbledon. However, she does have a very tough draw to contend with.
Karolina is also in brilliant form. She is storming through the draw at the Nature Valley International and looks imperious on grass at the moment.
Before 2018, the Czech had never made it past the second round at Wimbledon. Last year, she finally broke that streak by reaching the fourth round, and it seems very likely that this time she will go even further.
Considering how well she is playing, Pliskova can definitely win Wimbledon this year. She has a favourable draw, and a potential third-round meeting with the mercurial Jelena Ostapenko could prove to be the biggest obstacle she faces before the semi-final.
Barty may suffer early exit from the quarter of death
You may be wondering why you did not see new World No.1 Ashleigh Barty in the previous section. She will be flying high after lifting her first Grand Slam trophy at Roland Garros and then immediately following it with a Premier title in Birmingham.
However, the Australian faces probably the most difficult draw imaginable. She is seeded to meet 2017 champion Garbine Muguruza in the third round, Belinda Bencic or Donna Vekic in the fourth round, and then Kerber in the quarter-final. If she somehow gets through that minefield, anything is possible.
As it that quarter did not sound loaded enough already, it also features Serena Williams, Julia Goerges and Maria Sharapova. The 23-time Grand Slam champion is in poor form and short of match practice. Therefore, she will probably lose in the third round to Birmingham finalist Goerges. Sharapova will almost certainly lose to Kerber at the same stage – if she gets that far.
Osaka, Svitolina and Stephens also look vulnerable to upsets
The rest of the draw are probably delighted to see that medley of grass court specialists thrown in together. However, that does not mean there will not be any other shocks.
Ninth seed Sloane Stephens really struggles on grass. She could theoretically lose at any time. One thing is certain: she will be very worried about a potential third-round meeting with Johanna Konta.
Eighth seed Elina Svitolina still does not look comfortable on grass. Furthermore, she is yet to reach peak match fitness after her knee injury, so she will probably lose to either Margarita Gasparyan in the second round or Maria Sakkari in the third round.
No.2 seed Naomi Osaka also looks all at sea on the lawns, so she could lose at any time. Her first match will be against Yulia Putintseva, the player who beat her in Birmingham.
The Japanese player may also succumb to Dayana Yastremska, Camila Giorgi or Mallorca champion Sofia Kenin in the third round. If she makes it past that stage, she could fall to Caroline Garcia or Caroline Wozniacki in the last 16.
Two other seeded players could be particularly vulnerable at Wimbledon. French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova has only won four of the 11 matches she has played on grass since turning professional. Therefore, she could lose to Madison Brengle, Anett Kontaveit or Heather Watson.
Meanwhile, Elise Mertens has also struggled on the lawns in the past, so she could be knocked out by Andrea Petkovic or Monica Niculescu in the second round.
Who else could win Wimbledon?
While the favourites are easier to identify than last year, there is a long list of other potential winners.
If Barty or Serena emerge from the quarter of death, they could win. If Osaka finds her feet on grass, she could take home the title. And if Petra Kvitova is fit enough to play and gets through the early rounds, she could claim a third Wimbledon crown.
Then there are several players who are definitely capable of winning the title but will need to step up at crucial times.
Madison Keys is a superb grass-court player. However, she may not be fully fit and she will probably have to beat Aryna Sabalenka and Simona Halep to reach the last eight. Halep finds grass the most challenging surface but she will have a chance if she can get past Keys.
The draw has been kind to Johanna Konta, particularly if Kvitova withdraws, so she could go a long way if she can handle the weight of expectation from the home crowd.
Then there are four other players in the quarter of death – Muguruza, Bencic, Vekic and Goerges – who could go on to great things if they survive. There are also two big-hitters elsewhere in the draw who can beat anyone on their day: Sabalenka and Ostapenko.
[Also published on womenssporthub.com]
2020 US Open Champions To Get $3 Million Payout Amid COVID-19 Crises
A full breakdown of what players will win in every round of the tournament have been revealed.
This year’s US Open will see their prize money pool slashed by $3.6 million compared to 2019 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) has published a breakdown of the earnings players will be receiving at the Grand Slam which will start at the end of this month. Similar to other tour events such as the Western and Southern Open, earnings for early tournament losers will be increased compared to 12 months ago and those going further on in the tournament will see theirs going in the opposite direction.
Singles champions in both the men’s and women’s draws will take home $3 million, which is a $850,000 drop compared to what the winners took home in 2019. Last year the US Open had the highest prize money pool in Grand Slam history at $57 million. As for the runner-up their reward will be $1.5M, which is a fall of $400,000.
“We’re proud to be able to offer a player compensation package that maintains nearly 95 percent of the prize pool from 2019,” USTA CEO Mike Dowse said in a statement. “The prize money distribution for the 2020 US Open is the result of close collaboration between the USTA, WTA and ATP, and represents a commitment to supporting players and their financial well-being during an unprecedented time.”
The only increase when it comes to the singles tournament is related to the first round where the losers will take home 5% more ($61,000) than what they would have won at the same stage last year. The second and third round prize money remains unchanged.
On Tuesday the US Open suffered a blow when reigning champion Rafael Nadal confirmed that he wouldn’t be playing this year due to ongoing concerns about the virus. Joining the likes of Ash Barty, Nick Kyrgios and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova who have also confirmed they will not be playing in Flushing Meadows.
“The situation is very complicated worldwide, the COVID-19 cases are increasing, it looks like we still don’t have control of it,” Nadal wrote on Instagram.
“This is a decision I never wanted to take but I have decided to follow my heart this time and for the time being I rather not travel.”
Due to the pandemic this year’s competition is taking place behind closed doors in what is a heavy financial blow for the USTA, who relies deeply on the revenues generated in New York. Which attracted more than 700,000 fans in 2019. The event usually brings in $400M in revenue annually, which makes up roughly 80% of the USTA’s tally.
Prize money breakdown
More Top Names Expected To Withdraw From US Open, Warns Andy Murray
Who will be the next tennis star to announce their withdrawal?
Former world No.1 Andy Murray believes some male players will follow Ash Barty in withdrawing from next month’s US Open over travelling and COVID-19 concerns.
The British tennis star told reporters on Thursday he had heard that some ‘top players’ will not be playing in the Grand Slam without elaborating further. This year’s US Open will take place without fans for the first time in history due to the pandemic. Players will be restricted as to where they can stay or visit whilst based inside what is being described as a ‘protective bubble.’ Murray has already committed to playing at the event but he is less certain about some of his rivals.
“I have heard some of the top male players aren’t going to play. I would expect that would be the case,” he said.
“It’s everyone’s personal decision. If they don’t feel safe, and don’t feel comfortable, travelling and going there and putting themselves and their team at an increased risk, then it’s completely understandable.”
In recent months both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have cast doubts about travelling to America and hinted that they may instead focus their intention on the European clay swing. Although no official decision has been disclosed to the public. Both of them are currently on the entry list for the Western and Southern Open, which takes place at the same venue as the US Open the week before. Roger Federer and Gael Monfils are the only two top 10 players not entered into the event.
Despite New York seeing a much more steady rate of COVID-19 infections compared to other parts of America, many players have voiced concerns over travelling there during the pandemic. The US government has already said that athletes are excluded from quarantine rules and the same is likely to be applied to events in Europe too.
“All of the players will have some reservations and it’s whether or not you feel comfortable taking that risk,” said Murray.
“Like I said the other day, my feeling is once we are inside that bubble they created, we will be okay. It’s more the international travel, and getting there which I will be a bit concerned about it.”
Amid the uncertainty surrounding who will play at the US Open, Murray believes when the Tour resumes there will be a series of upsets. Paving way for what he describes as ‘interesting results’ at the major event.
“You just can’t replicate matches in practice, it just isn’t the same,” the three-time Grand Slam champion commented. “It is different on the body, on the mind. The pressure is just different and no matter how hard you try to make your practices as challenging and difficult as matches, they just aren’t.
“Some players who have had injury lay-offs will probably be a little bit more experienced in terms of coming back after a long period, but it’s an opportunity for players. There will be upsets for sure. Going into the US Open with potentially only one or two matches in the Cincinnati event in New York, it will make for some interesting results.”
The US Open will start on August 31st. In the men’s draw world No.2 Nadal is the reigning champion.
Ash Barty To Skip US Open Over ‘Significant Risks’ As Former Champion Signs On
The Australian has become the first top name to pull out of New York, but how many others will follow?
This year’s US Open will take place without the presence of the women’s world No.1 due to ongoing concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ash Barty has become the first top 10 player to officially confirm that they will not be playing at the New York major next month. The Australian released a statement on Thursday saying she felt uncomfortable travelling to the region because of the ‘significant risk’ posed by the virus. In recent weeks there has been speculation that Barty may withdraw from the event.
“My team and I have decided that we won’t be travelling to the US for the Western and Southern Open and the US Open this year,” Barty said.
“I love both events so it was a difficult decision but there are still significant risks involved due to COVID-19 and I don’t feel comfortable putting my team and I in that position.
“I wish the USTA all the best for the tournaments and look forward to being back in the US next year.”
America has seen a surge in COVID-19 cases nationally with new daily cases regularly exceeding the 50,000 mark. Although the situation in New York, where the US Open is held, is better than many other states. Earlier this week America exceeded 150,000 deaths related to COVID-19 in what is the highest figure in the world.
It is unclear when the 24-year-old will return to competitive tennis, but she is expected to play at the French Open where she will be deafening her title. Barty hasn’t played a match on the WTA Tour since her semi-final loss to Petra Kvitova at the Doha Open in February.
“I will make my decision on the French Open and the surrounding WTA European tournaments in the coming weeks,” she said.
Barty leads the WTA rankings by more than 2000 points with a tally of 8717.
Osaka to play
On the same day as Barty’s announcement, it was confirmed that Naomi Osaka would be playing at the Grand Slam following recent speculation. A report by Opencourt.ca said the 2018 champion is yet to sign up for the event, which has a deadline of August 3rd, and hasn’t entered to play in the Western and Southern Open.
In a statement issued to Reuters by Osaka’s management, they have now dismissed those claims. Saying the two-time Grand Slam winner would actually be playing at both events. Although it is unclear as to why the Japanese player didn’t sign up for the Western and Southern Open before the deadline.
Osaka hasn’t played in any exhibition events during the Tour Break and the last competitive match was during her country’s Fed Cup tie with Spain in February.
Reuters didn’t publish any quotes issued by Osaka’s management team.
Others in doubt
There are also doubts surrounding other members of the top 10 on the women’s Tour. Simona Halep, who pulled out of next week’s Palermo Open due to ‘travelling anxiety,’ is looking increasingly likely she will stick to European clay over the summer. The Romanian has said she is yet to make a decision but has signed on to play a clay-court tournament in Prague, which started three weeks before the US Open.
“It’s too early to make a decision, right now she would have to quarantine for two weeks after coming back from New York, so it’s a difficult situation. I’m more optimistic with regards to the French Open, I live in Paris and still wear a mask in public, but the situation has improved a lot and I think that a 50-60% capacity event might actually happen.” Halep’s manager Virginia Ruzici told UbiTennis earlier this month.
Meanwhile, Elina Svitolina has previously mentioned one of her potential plans includes returning to tennis in Madrid after the US Open. Hinting that she may focus her attention solely on the european swing ahead of the French Open.
“Considering how things are today, I think I will start in Madrid and will not play at the US Open,” Ukrainian Tennis portal btu.org.ua quoted Svitolina as saying on July 14th. “So this is what I think at the moment, but so it is not a 100% final decision.”
Angelique Kerber is another former Grand Slam winner yet to commit to the event.
The US Open will get underway on August 31st.
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