Saturday, June 30, 2018

Wimbledon Preview: The Return to the Slam Where History Always Has Its Day



Maybe more than any other slam, Wimbledon embraces and promotes its past...



Present...



And potential "future."




So the occasion of the start of yet another tournament at the All-England Club is always one in which history should likely be referenced when trying to determine what to expect in the latest edition. While the same could be said for the championship honor rolls of the other three majors, the likelihood of ultimately being "shocked" by what happens between the lines at this particular slam seems especially remote.

(Only partly) because of that, of course, the reappearance of the seven-time Ladies champion, installed as the #25 seed (much to the consternation of would-be-#32-but-now-not Dominika Cibulkova) will top every conversation.

(Cue the "Jaws" music.)



As should be the case.

After all, this slam has long maintained a pattern of being an event won by the BIG names, and none are bigger than that of Serena Williams. Rarely have their been exceptions in the Open era. A Williams has won twelve times since 2000, after all. Over the last twenty Wimbledons alone, only TWO of the women's champions weren't MULTI-slam winners. And those two, Jana Novotna in 1998 and Marion Bartoli in 2013, had already appeared in slam finals (and played in at least one previous Ladies final at SW19). Both were veterans, as well, and were out of the game for good by the close of the following season.

Rare NextGen first-time slam winners at Wimbledon like Venus Williams (2000), who has won six additional majors (and would have won more if not for her sister) and Maria Sharapova (2004), who later completed a Career Slam, have more than backed up their initial triumph on the big stage. Meanwhile, maiden slam champ Petra Kvitova (2011) won the title again three years later. Conchita Martinez (1994), the rare "shocking" champion at the event (though that was mostly because of the surface, and that she defeated a still-very-good, but aging, Martina Navratilova in her last major final -- Martina only won one more slam singles match in her career, and that was a full decade later) is the third Open era Wimbledon champion whose run at the AELTC was her only major triumph, but even she's an eventual Hall of Famer who reached finals at two other majors and who won the title in the stretch that was her career peak (eight SF+ results in an 11-slam window from 1994-96).

So, essentially, when it comes to the player lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish on the final Saturday of the fortnight, truly "unpredictable" finishes are very few and very far between.

(A few more recent numbers history at Wimbledon in the picks section...)




*RECENT WOMEN'S SLAM WINNERS*
2016 AO: Angelique Kerber, GER
2016 RG: Garbine Muguruza, ESP
2016 WI: Serena Williams, USA
2016 US: Angelique Kerber, GER
2017 AO: Serena Williams, USA
2017 RG: Alona Ostapenko, LAT
2017 WI: Garbine Muguruza, ESP
2017 US: Sloane Stephens, USA
2018 AO: Caroline Wozniacki, DEN
2018 RG: Simona Halep, ROU

*ACTIVE SINGLES PLAYERS - FIRST SLAM FINAL*
1997 U.S. Open - Venus Williams
1999 U.S. Open - Serena Williams (W)
2004 Wimbledon - Maria Sharapova (W)
2004 U.S. Open - Svetlana Kuznetsova (W)
2008 U.S. Open - Jelena Jankovic
2009 U.S. Open - Caroline Wozniacki
2010 Roland Garros - Francesca Schiavone (W)
2010 Roland Garros - Samantha Stosur
2010 Wimbledon - Vera Zvonareva
2011 Wimbledon - Petra Kvitova (W)
2012 Australian Open - Victoria Azarenka (W)
2012 Roland Garros - Sara Errani
2012 Wimbledon - Aga Radwanska
2013 Wimbledon - Sabine Lisicki
2014 Australian Open - Dominika Cibulkova
2014 Roland Garros - Simona Halep
2014 Wimbledon - Genie Bouchard
2015 Roland Garros - Lucie Safarova
2015 Wimbledon - Garbine Muguruza
2016 Australian Open - Angelique Kerber (W)
2016 U.S. Open - Karolina Pliskova
2017 Roland Garros - Alona Ostapenko (W)
2017 U.S. Open - Sloane Stephens (W)
2017 U.S. Open - Madison Keys

*WIMBLEDON #1 SEEDS SINCE 2008*
2008 Ana Ivanovic, SRB (3rd)
2009 Dinara Safina, RUS (SF)
2010 Serena Williams, USA (W)
2011 Caroline Wozniacki, DEN (4th)
2012 Maria Sharapova, RUS (4th)
2013 Serena Williams, USA (4th)
2014 Serena Williams, USA (3rd)
2015 Serena Williams, USA (W)
2016 Serena Williams, USA (W)
2017 Angelique Kerber, GER (4th)
2018 Simona Halep, ROU

*RECENT WIMBLEDON SEMIFINALISTS*
[W/RU, SF/SF]
2010 S.Williams/V.Zvonareva, P.Kvitova/T.Pironkova
2011 P.Kvitova/M.Sharapova, V.Azarenka/S.Lisicki
2012 S.Williams/A.Radwanska, V.Azarenka/A.Kerber
2013 M.Bartoli/S.Lisicki, A.Radwanska/K.Flipkens
2014 P.Kvitova/G.Bouchard, L.Safarova/S.Halep
2015 S.Williams/G.Muguruza, M.Sharapova/A.Radwanska
2016 S.Williams/Kerber, E.Vesnina/V.Williams
2017 G.Muguruza/V.Williams, J.Konta/M.Rybarikova

*LOW-SEEDED WIMBLEDON SEMIFINALISTS - Open Era*
[unseeded]
1968 Ann Jones
1969 Rosie Casals
1970 Francoise Durr
1971 Judy Dalton
1983 Yvonne Vermaak
1989 Catarina Lindqvist
1994 Gigi Fernandez
1994 Lori McNeil
1996 Meredith McGrath
1997 Anna Kournikova
1998 Natasha Zvereva
1999 Alexandra Stevenson (Q)
1999 Mirjana Lucic
2000 Jelena Dokic
2008 Zheng Jie (WC)
2010 Petra Kvitova
2010 Tsvetana Pironkova
2011 Sabine Lisicki (WC)
2016 Elena Vesnina
2017 Magdalena Rybarikova
[seeds]
#23 - Lucie Safarova, 2014
#23 - Sabine Lisicki, 2013 (RU)
#23 - Venus Williams, 2007 (W)
#21 - Vera Zvonareva, 2010 (RU)
#20 - Garbine Muguruza, 2015 (RU)
#20 - Kirsten Flipkens, 2013
#18 - Marion Bartoli, 2007 (RU)
#16 - Nathalie Tauziat, 1998 (RU)
#16 - Kathy Rinaldi, 1985
#15 - Marion Bartoli, 2013 (W)
#14 - Garbine Muguruza, 2017 (W)
#14 - Venus Williams, 2005 (W)
#13 - Aga Radwanska, 2015
#13 - Genie Bouchard, 2014 (RU)
#13 - Maria Sharapova, 2004 (W)
#12 - Kimiko Date, 1996
#12 - Billie Jean King, 1982
#11 - Bettina Bunge, 1982
#10 - Venus Williams, 2017 (RU)
#10 - Gabriela Sabatini, 1986
#10 - Billie Jean King, 1983

*WIMBLEDON GIRLS FINALS - since 2002*
2002 Vera Dushevina/RUS d. Maria Sharapova/RUS
2003 Kirsten Flipkens/BEL d. Anna Chakvetadze/RUS
2004 Kateryna Bondarenko/UKR d. Ana Ivanovic/SRB
2005 Aga Radwanska/POL d. Tamira Paszek/AUT
2006 Caroline Wozniacki/DEN d. Magdalena Rybarikova/SVK
2007 Urszula Radwanska/POL d. Madison Brengle/USA
2008 Laura Robson/GBR d. Noppawan Lertcheewakarn/THA
2009 Noppawan Lertcheewakarn/THA d. Kristina Mladenovic/FRA
2010 Kristyna Pliskova/CZE d. Sachie Ishizu/JPN
2011 Ashleigh Barty/AUS d. Irina Khromacheva/RUS
2012 Genie Bouchard/CAN d. Elina Svitolina/UKR
2013 Belinda Bencic/SUI d. Taylor Townsend/USA
2014 Alona Ostapenko/LAT d. Kristina Schmiedlova/SVK
2015 Sofya Zhuk/RUS d. Anna Blinkova/RUS
2016 Anastasia Potapova/RUS d. Dayana Yastremska/UKR
2017 Claire Liu/USA d. Ann Li/USA

*FIRST-TIME SLAM CHAMPS AT WIMBLEDON - Open era*
1968 Billie Jean King, USA
1978 Martina Navratilova, TCH (CZE)
1994 Conchita Martinez, ESP
1998 Jana Novotna, CZE
2000 Venus Williams, USA
2004 Maria Sharapova, RUS
2011 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2013 Marion Bartoli, FRA

*CAREER WIMBLEDON TITLES - OPEN ERA*
9...Martina Navratilova
7...Steffi Graf
7...Serena Williams*
5...Venus Williams*
4...Billie Jean King (+2 pre-Open era)

*WIMBLEDON FINALS - ACTIVE*
9...Serena Williams (7-2)
9...Venus Williams (5-4)
2...Petra Kvitova (2-0)
2...Garbine Muguruza (1-1)
2...Maria Sharapova (1-1)
1...Genie Bouchard (0-1)
1...Angelique Kerber (0-1)
1...Sabine Lisicki (0-1)
1...Aga Radwanska (0-1)
1...Vera Zvonareva (0-1)

*BEST WIMBLEDON GIRLS/LADIES RESULTS*
[won Girls & Ladies titles]
Martina Hingis (1994 Junior champion; 1997 Ladies champion)
Amelie Mauresmo (1996 Junior champion; 2006 Ladies champion)
[others]
Martina Navratilova - 1973 Junior RU; 9-time Ladies champion
Hana Mandlikova - 1978 Junior RU; 1981 & '86 Ladies RU
Zina Garrison - 1981 Junior champion; 1990 Ladies RU
Maria Sharapova - 2002 Junior RU; 2004 Ladies champion
Aga Radwanska - 2005 Junior champion; 2012 Ladies RU
Genie Bouchard - 2012 Junior champion; 2014 Ladies RU

*BACK-TO-BACK RG/WIMB WOMEN'S TITLES - OPEN ERA*
1970 Margaret Smith-Court
1971 Evonne Goolagong
1972 Billie Jean King
1974 Chris Evert
1982 Martina Navratilova
1984 Martina Navratilova
1988 Steffi Graf
1993 Steffi Graf
1995 Steffi Graf
1996 Steffi Graf
2002 Serena Williams
2015 Serena Williams

*FIRST-TIME SLAM SEMIFINALISTS AT WIMBLEDON SINCE 2010*
2010 Petra Kvitova, CZE
2010 Tsvetana Pironkova, BUL
2011 Victoria Azarenka, BLR
2011 Sabine Lisicki, GER (RU)
2012 Aga Radwanska, POL (RU)
2013 Kirsten Flipkens, BEL
2014 Lucie Safarova, CZE
2015 Garbine Muguruza, ESP (RU)
2016 Elena Vesnina, RUS
2017 Magdalena Rybarikova, SVK

*WIMBLEDON WHEELCHAIR CHAMPIONS*
[singles]
2016 Jiske Griffioen, NED
2017 Diede de Groot, NED
[doubles]
2009 Korie Homan/Esther Vergeer (NED/NED)
2010 Esther Vergeed/Sharon Walraven (NED/NED)
2011 Esther Vergeer/Sharon Walraven (NED/NED)
2012 Jiske Griffioen/Aniek van Koot (NED/NED)
2013 Jiske Griffioen/Aniek van Koot (NED/NED)
2014 Yui Kamiji/Jordanne Whiley (JPN/GBR)
2015 Yui Kamiji/Jordanne Whiley (JPN/GBR)
2016 Yui Kamiji/Jordanne Whiley (JPN/GBR)
2017 Yui Kamiji/Jordanne Whiley (JPN/GBR)

*RECENT WIMBLEDON DOUBLES CHAMPIONS*
2008 Serena Williams & Venus Williams, USA/USA
2009 Serena Williams & Venus Williams, USA/USA
2010 Vania King & Yaroslava Shvedova, USA/KAZ
2011 Kveta Peschke & Katarina Srebotnik, CZE/SLO
2012 Serena Williams & Venus Williams, USA/USA
2013 Hsieh Su-Wei & Peng Shuai, TPE/CHN
2014 Sara Errani & Roberta Vinci, ITA/ITA
2015 Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza, SUI/IND
2016 Serena Williams & Venus Williams, USA/USA
2017 Ekaterina Makarova & Elena Vesnina, RUS/RUS

*RECENT WIMBLEDON MIXED DOUBLES CHAMPS*
2006 Vera Zvonareva & Andy Ram, RUS/ISR
2007 Jelena Jankovic & Jamie Murray, SRB/GBR
2008 Samantha Stosur & Bob Bryan, AUS/USA
2009 Anna-Lena Groenefeld & Mark Knowles, GER/BAH
2010 Cark Black & Leander Paes, ZIM/IND
2011 Iveta Benesova & Jurgen Melzer, CZE/AUT
2012 Lisa Raymond & Mike Bryan, USA/USA
2013 Kristina Mladenovic & Daniel Nestor, FRA/CAN
2014 Samantha Stosur & Nenad Zimonjic, AUS/SRB
2015 Martina Hingis & Leander Paes, SUI/IND
2016 Heather Watson & Henri Kontinen, GBR/FIN
2017 Martina Hingis & Jamie Murray, SUI/GBR

*RECENT WIMBLEDON GIRLS DOUBLES CHAMPS*
2002 Elke Clijsters & Barbora Strycova, BEL/CZE
2003 Alisa Kleybanova & Sania Mirza, RUS/IND
2004 Victoria Azarenka & Olga Govortsova, BLR/BLR
2005 Victoria Azarenka & Agnes Szavay, BLR/HUN
2006 Alisa Kleybanova & Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, RUS/RUS
2007 Anastasia Pavlychenkova & Urszula Radwanska, RUS/POL
2008 Polona Hercog & Jessica Moore, SLO/AUS
2009 Noppawan Lertcheewakarn & Sally Peers, THA/AUS
2010 Timea Babos & Sloane Stephens, HUN/USA
2011 Genie Bouchard & Grace Min, CAN/USA
2012 Genie Bouchard & Taylor Townsend, CAN/USA
2013 Barbora Krejcikova & Katerina Siniakova, CZE/CZE
2014 Tami Grende & Ye Qui Yu, INA/CHN
2015 Dalma Galfi & Fanni Stollar, HUN/HUN
2016 Usue Arconada & Claire Liu, USA/USA
2017 Olga Danilovic & Kaja Juvan, SRB/SLO

*RECENT WC SLAM SINGLES FINALS*
2015 US - Jordanne Whiley/GBR d. Yui Kamiji/JPN
2016 AO - #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED d. Aniek Van Koot/NED
2016 RG - Marjolein Buis/NED d. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2016 WI - #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED d. Aniek Van Koot/NED
2017 AO - #2 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #1 Jiske Griffioen/NED
2017 RG - #2 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2017 WI - Diede de Groot/NED def. Sabine Ellerbrock/GER
2017 US - #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #2 Diede de Groot/NED
2018 AO - #2 Diede de Groot/NED def. #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN
2018 RG - #1 Yui Kamiji/JPN def. #2 Diede de Groot/NED

*SLAM TITLES AFTER AGE 30*
10..Serena Williams, USA (age 30-35)*
3...Martina Navratilova, USA (age 30-33)
3...Margaret Court, AUS (age 30-31)
2...Billie Jean King, USA (age 30 & 31)
2...Chris Evert, USA (age 30 & 31)
1...Flavia Pennetta, ITA (age 33)
1...Virginia Wade. GBR (age 31)
1...Ann Haydon Jones, GBR (age 30)
--
*-active

*TEEN SLAM CHAMPS - since 1997*
1997 Martina Hingis, 16 (AO)*
1997 Iva Majoli, 19 (RG)*
1997 Martina Hingis, 16 (WI)
1997 Martina Hingis, 16 (US)
1998 Martina Hingis, 17 (AO)
1999 Martina Hingis, 18 (AO)
1999 Serena Williams, 17 (US)*
2004 Maria Sharapova, 17 (WI)*
2004 Svetlana Kuznetsova, 19 (US)*
2006 Maria Sharapova, 19 (US)
--
* - first-time slam winner
NOTE: Ostapenko* (won '17 RG at 20 yrs, 2 days)

*CAREER SLAM #1 SEEDS - active*
20...Serena Williams
6...Caroline Wozniacki
4...Maria Sharapova
3...Victoria Azarenka
3...SIMONA HALEP
3...Angelique Kerber
1...Jelena Jankovic
1...Karolina Pliskova
1...Venus Williams




=ROUND OF 16 PREDICTIONS=
#1 Halep d. #22 Konta
#8 Kvitova d. #12 Ostapenko
#3 Muguruza d. #14 Kasatkina
#6 Garcia d. #11 Kerber
#29 Buzarnescu d. #9 V.Williams
#23 Strycova d. #4 Stephens
#25 S.Williams d. #19 Rybarikova
#2 Wozniacki d. #16 Vandeweghe

...Halep's draw starts to get a little hairy starting here. In her first major as a slam winner, it's hard to guess which way she'll go. SI's Wertheim actually has her winning the title, but even I can't go there with the possibility of her having to take out Konta, Kvitova and Muguruza in succession just to reach the final (Ostapenko and Sharapova are also in her and Kvitova's quarter, with Kerber, Kasatkina, Garcia, Osaka and Barty in that of the Spaniard's), and then possibly having you-know-who waiting for her there (though another slam final match-up vs. Caro -- not the you-know-who I was just referencing, of course -- *would* be interesting, though it'd be far more likely to occur in New York than London).

The top half seems much sturdier and with less potential for some surprising quarterfinalists (or at least those pulled in from outside the Top 8) than the bottom. #7 Karolina Pliskova has Vika Azarenka in her path in the *SECOND* Round, and '17 finalist Venus is in their section. Can Stephens have back-to-back superior slams? If so, she might just reach the final weekend. Serena is back, with an interesting match-up with #5 Elina Svitolina (not a favorite here, but at least feeling at home since moving to London and training at a site close to the AELTC) in the 3rd Round before a possible Round of 16 vs.'17 semifinalist Magdalena Rybarikova. Buzarnescu has been a revelation on all surfaces this season, and another surprise slam run is possible here. She's got a tough 1st Round vs. Eastbourne finalist Aryna Sabalenka, though. But the Belarusian may have played herself out this week, going three sets in five straight matches (and reaching the doubles SF) and then ultimately failing to serve out BOTH sets in a straight sets loss to Wozniacki in the final. The chances that she'll be a bit flat for her match vs. Buzarnescu seem pretty good.

=QUARTERFINAL PREDICTIONS=
#8 Kvitova d. #1 Halep
#3 Muguruza d. #6 Garcia
#29 Buzarnescu d. #23 Strycova
#25 S.Williams d. #2 Wozniacki

...Halep is a former SW19 semifinalist (2014), but you get the feeling one of the big trees will take her out before she can truly think about flirting with the idea of back-to-back slam wins. Of course, that doesn't mean the final four will be Swarmette-less.

Wimbledon almost always has an abundance of double-digit seeds in the latter stages of the event. Only once (2012) since 2010, and twice since 2007 (w/ '09), has there not been a seed of #10 or higher or an unseeded player in the final four. Last year, there were three such semifinalists, and there were multiple such entries filling the slots in six of the last eleven Wimbledons (2007,'10,'13,'14,'15 &' 17). There's also been at least one first time slam semifinalist at the AELTC every year since 2010. So, of course, I've got to pick one here. Garcia wouldn't be a bad choice, but Buzarnescu's story has been building and building to such a degree that an emotional Cinderella-like run at SW19 isn't out of the question. I hadn't picked her through originally, having had her going out to Venus in the Round of 16 (w/ Sloane then reaching the semis). I won't likely get that one right, but WHAT IF I DO? I'll take the chance for the bragging rights.

If Serena gets this far, it's hard to imagine her NOT reaching the final, so it'd leave the multiple slam winners in the top half to battle it out for a chance to face her with their (career "tier-raising") *third* major title on the line.



Ummm... psych!

=SEMIFINAL PREDICTIONS=
#3 Muguruza d. #8 Kvitova
#25 S.Williams d. #29 Buzarnescu

So, hmmm...??



Ah... double-psych!

=FINAL PREDICTION=
#3 Muguruza d. #25 S.Williams

...trying to be "slightly" different, I guess. I checked-off the first-time semifinalist box with Buzarnescu, and it'd be easy to simply go the "favorite" route and pick Kvitova, or take the well-worn path of going with Serena yet again without knowing (100%, at least) what she'll be bringing to this slam (though we can likely be assured it'll be a lot, or she wouldn't be there), but I'm going to try to thread the needle and go with the one player in the draw who we know *can* defeat Williams in a major (she's done it twice at RG, though Serena has won their other three match-ups at the AO & Wimbledon -- doesn't it say everything about the Spaniard that *all five* of their meetings have taken place in a slam setting?), and a Sister in a slam final (Serena at RG in '16, Venus at SW19 last year).

Mugu has played in the Wimbledon final two of the last three years, winning a year ago, and no player is capable of putting on a more drastically different face at the majors than the one she wears during the "regular season" than Garbi. Sure, she's lost four straight to possible semifinal opponent Kvitova, and none have even been on Petra's favored grass, but the Czech has played a LOT of matches this spring/summer, and one has to wonder if her hamstring-related Eastbourne withdrawal (though probably just precautionary after winning in Birmingham) might be a sign that she won't be able to go the distance in London. The last non-Williams to defend her Wimbledon crown was Steffi Graf in 1996, so the chances that Muguruza will follow suit aren't particularly good...



But I want to roll the dice again, and who's a more risky pick than Muguruza, right?


So, it's done.




All for now. Day 1 awaits.

4 Comments:

Blogger colt13 said...

So you went with all chalk? Has never happened at Wimbledon in the 32 seed era.

Not sold on Garcia here.

Didn't even mention doubles, but Sestini Hlavackova has a chance at #1 if she wins, and gets some help.

Sat Jun 30, 03:04:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm, I didn't even realize I didn't have an unseeded player in the 4th Round (though I wouldn't call it "chalk" unless it was the TOP 16 seeds), but I do have an abundance of #20+ and two #25+ in the semis, so...

Sat Jun 30, 04:07:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Todd.Spiker said...

Hmmm, since the 32-seed draw, it looks like the usual is about 10-12 seeds into the 4th Round. Except for:

2001: 14 (all 8 QF)
2005: 13 (all 8 QF)
2006: 13
2007: 14
2017: 13

Although, I DID have Azarenka (unseeded) in my original, but swapped her out so that I could do a first-time semifinalist (maybe if Sabalenka def. Buzarnescu she's the "alternate?"). ;)

Really, though, if I can ever get 10+ 4th Rounders right I consider a good slam prediction. And with 16 seeds in the mix, maybe I have a better chance to do that.

Sat Jun 30, 04:18:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Leif Mortensen said...

Sloane Strephens OUT
Svitolina SLICED out by Maria
Aga Radwanska saves SIX (6) match points to beat Ruse 6/3 4/6 7/5

Something to write about me thinks ;)

Mon Jul 02, 04:21:00 PM EDT  

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