So No.1 Seed Maria Sharapova picked up where she left off at the French, looking as though she has no intentions of dropping a set, much less a match to anyone. She did show some scratchy patches of play near the end of both sets in her first match against Anastasia Rodionova, an opponent she totally outclassed. That could be trouble against a quality opponent.
No. 6 Seed Serena Williams got the train rolling again, but it’s chugging rather than humming along. She showed patches of her expected brilliance, but the chinks in the mental armor that felled her at the French were still evident at times in her first round match against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
Prime example was serving for the match at 5-3, deuce, she played a great point and had a sitter backhand which she hit into the net. An unforced error on the backhand side from the middle of the court lost her that game. Who knows what’s going on in Serena’s head, but she is playing like an imposter. Who is this woman? Serena? Playing scared? She’ll have to pick up the pace to claim the title here.
No. 2 Seed Victoria Azarenka looked great off the blocks, got to 4-0 and serving at 30-15 before “La La Land” beckoned and she double-faulted twice and made an unforced error to give American Irina Falconi a hint of hope. She broke right back, playing well again, but threw another double while serving for the set. She did serve out the first set though. Falconi did not go away, however, and hung in there gamely in the second set, forcing Azarenka to fight for the 6-4 second-set win.
Defending Champion, No.4 Seed Petra Kvitova, got off to a shaky start, dropping the first three games and facing break points in the fourth. She battled back to hold that game and took control of the match to win 6-4, 6-4 against Akgul Amanmuradova. Much like Serena, she’ll be exiting Wimbledon earlier than she would like without bringing her game up a few notches.
No.3 Seed Agnieszka Radwanska is seeded way up there, but I don’t think anyone really considers her a “favorite.” Favorite or not, she downed Magdalena Rybarikova in straight sets to move into the second round. I didn’t see this match so can’t comment on her form. With speed, tenacity, and savvy play her primary weapons, I wouldn’t expect her to have too deep a run on this surface where power typically rules.
No.5 Samantha Stosur took care of business against Carla Suarez Navarro and should have a relatively clear path through the Round of 16. She will have to get over her antipathy to grass to do so though.
No one is mentioning No.8 Seed Angelique Kerber as a possible threat to win, and I imagine she likes that just fine. She has had an excellent season thus far, and that continued in her first round, straight-set win over Lucie Hradecka. No.9 Marion Bartoli and No.11 Na Li also advanced in straight setsIn Li’s case, you can’t overlook a Grand Slam winner as a potential Champion. It would be a major upset, but so was her French Open title last year.
The AmericansThe second highest ranked American in the world, No.28 Seed Christina McHale is still struggling to close out matches. Again she had a sizable lead and failed to close out the match against Johanna Konta, a wildcard entry into the main draw. She did hang tough at 7-8, 15-30 to draw even at 8-8 in the third.
McHale had multiple break points in the following game, and finally converted the break on the fifth opportunity. She did survive a break point when serving for it the following game, and barely got a second serve over on her first match point, which Konta hit long. A bit of drama, but McHale moves on to face unseeded Mathilde Johansson in Round 2.
Nineteen-year-old Floridian Sloane Stephens, who climbed to No.57 in the world by virtue of her Round of 16 showing at the French, moved into the second round by defeating Karolina Pliskova a 20-year-old Czech who also has been steadily climbing the ranking ladder. Stephens won 6-2, 6-2 and will face another Czech in the second round, No.23 Seed Petra Cetkovska. Cetkovska downed American Vania King in straight sets in Round 1.
One other American, Varvara Lepchenko, an Uzbekistani-turned-American since 2007, also advanced in straight sets against Patricia Mayr-Achleitner.In addition to Falconi and King, American’s who didn’t cut the mustard in the first round include Venus Williams, a five-time Wimbledon Champion; and Melanie Oudin, who was coming off her first WTA event title, winning eight matches (qualies and main draw) at Birmingham in London.
No.16 Flavia Pennetta exited unceremoniously in straight sets at the racquet of Camila Giorgi, a 20-year-old that is ranked No.145. Uh, what happened there Flavia? Must not have liked the “flava” of Giorgi’s game.
No.18 Jelena Jankovic did what she could, but what she could was not enough against Kim Clijsters who was unseeded. Always nice to get a multiple-Grand-Slam-Winner for your first round match, right? Ya!
Seeds on Tap
No.7 Caroline Wozniacki, the all but forgotten former World No.1, faces Tamira Paszek in her first round match. Paszek is coming off her only event win of the year in Eastbourne, a tune up for Wimbledon. She took down Wimbledon’s 8th and 9th seeds, Kerber and Bartoli, respectively en route. Wozniacki went out against Christina McHale in the first round of the same event. Care to pick this one?
No.10 Sara Errani will take on Coco Vandeweghe, the final American to take to the courts of Wimbledon. Given the records of the two this season, you can lay a bundle on Erani…if she can escape the Niles Jinx.
The always-entertaining No.13 Dominika Cibulkova faces Klara Zakopalova in her first round match. Cibulkova had a fine showing in French, reaching the Quarters and knocking off Azarenka before falling to Stosur. Cibulkova has beaten Zakopalova both times they’ve played, including this year in Barcelona, but it was a tussle and Zakopalova has been playing well. This is likely to be one worth watching...as most of them are. Game, set, match...T. A.