Wimbledon Women’s Singles Seed Report

Ashleigh Barty Wimbledon

Ashleigh Barty is the new world number one after her triumph at the French Open. The Aussie leads the field into the legendary lawns of Wimbledon. With play set to begin on Monday and the draw set, here’s a preview of the two weeks in London should play out:

1. Ashleigh Barty: Coming into Wimbledon riding a 12-match winning streak after her title in Birmingham to go with her first Slam in Paris. With a game made for grass, she pulled out of Eastbourne to rest up for the upcoming fortnight. Her draw is brutal with Svetlana Kuznetsova, 2017 champion Garbine Muguruza, Belinda Bencic and Serena Williams or defending champion Angelique Kerber all just to get to the semifinals. Will be interesting to see how she performs as the top seed and major champion for the first time in a Slam.
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2. Naomi Osaka: Perhaps now that she is no longer #1 and needing to win a requisite amount of matches to keep her spot atop the rankings will free the two-time major champion to play her best tennis. Lost in Birmingham to Yulia Putintseva, who she faces in the first round. Her game should translate well to this surface despite the fact she’s never been beyond the third round. I could see her making a deep run here. Mallorca champion Sofia Kenin should be her biggest threat until the quarterfinals.

3. Karolina Pliskova: I’ve picked the Czech to go deep a lot recently, especially here and again she has a great-looking draw save for a third-round encounter with either Su-wei Hsieh or last year’s semifinalist Jelena Ostapenko. Dominant to win the title in Eastbourne, this is the only major where she’s failed to reach the last four, I may roll the dice one last time with the Czech to make a deep run.

4. Kiki Bertens: Was a whisker away from the semifinals here, but failed to close out her quarterfinal against Julia Goerges. Retired in the second round of Roland Garros as the favorite and was just in the Eastbourne semis, where she was throttled by Pliskova, winning just three games. If it’s at all possible for a player ranked this high to be a dark horse, it’s the Dutchwoman, who continues to evolve her game on all surfaces. Has a kind draw until the quarterfinals.
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5. Angelique Kerber: The defending champion is looking more like the player who won here last year in Eastbourne, despite a loss in the final against Pliskova. Her run to become the first repeat champion since Serena Williams in 2015-16 could include a fourth-rounder with Serena herself, a round after facing Maria Sharapova. In a field that still feels wide-open, the German is now positioning herself as one of the players to beat with her performance in Eastbourne.

6. Petra Kvitova: A favorite the last few years due to her success in the short grass court lead-up season, the Czech is not amongst the front-runners to capture her third Wimbledon title. Calf and arm injuries that forced her out of Roland Garros still linger now and a tough first-round matchup against Ons Jabeur all could spell another early exit, similar to last year. Sloane Stephens, Johanna Konta and Amanda Anisimova are all in Kvitova’s section, which only makes things tougher should she get past Jabeur.

7. Simona Halep: She was dismissed rather easily by Anisimova on her best surface in Paris. Now on her worst, she was handled by Kerber in the Eastbourne quarterfinals. Aliaksandra Sasnovich, who beat Kvitova in the first round here last year, is the Romanian’s opening opponent. If she gets by that (which is not a guarantee), Victoria Azarenka, Daria Kasatkina, Venus Williams, Madison Keys and Aryna Sabalenka are all in her section. Halep has only made the semifinals here once and it’s likely she won’t do it a second time.
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8. Elina Svitolina: No one is talking about her and that may be a good thing. It may not matter because, like Halep, grass is her worst surface and she faces a tricky draw. Margarita Gasparyan beat her in the second round of Birmingham and is her second round opponent again. Maria Sakkari is her third round foe and Petra Martic or Anastasija Sevastova awaits in the 16’s. All in all, I wouldn’t expect a deep run and won’t be surprised when it happens.

9. Sloane Stephens: Was blasted off the court by Konta in Paris and lost in three sets to Ostapenko in Eastbourne. Wimbledon has been her least successful major with just one quarterfinal in seven career appearances. If she can just play more offensively from the baseline, she can win the tournament (or really any for that matter), but with Konta, Kvitova and Anisimova in her section and her form spotty, it’s not likely she’ll make a tremendously deep run.

10. Aryna Sabalenka: Well, the good news is that she won’t be playing Anisimova in the second round here as she has done the first two majors of 2019. Beat Caroline Wozniacki in Eastbourne to reach the quarterfinals, where she was routed by Bertens. Nothing of note outside of that result at the moment. Her weapons and talent are massive, but her draw features Magdalena Rybarikova, Venus Williams and Keys just to get to the fourth round. Ouch.
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11. Serena Williams: The great wild card in any major she plays simply because of her lack of matches. If she’s on, she can most definitely win her eighth Wimbledon title and tie Margaret Court’s record of 24 major singles titles. She’ll be eased into the tournament in the first two rounds before back-to-back semifinals and finals rematches with Julia Goerges in the third round and Kerber in the fourth. Getting revenge on the fifth seed would signal Serena is on track heading into the business end of the tournament.

12. Anastasija Sevastova: She’s not that bad on grass, although it isn’t her favorite surface (she does have a title in Mallorca in 2018). An entertaining third round clash with Martic could be the key to the Latvian making a deep run as she did when she reached the U.S. Open semifinals, but the disturbing stat is that Sevastova is 1-6 lifetime at Wimbledon and that may be the biggest detriment of all.

13. Belinda Bencic: Is quickly on her way to the Top 10. Blew the final last week in Mallorca to Sofia Kenin, but is a threat on any surface. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is an early test as is Kaia Kanepi before showdowns with Vekic and Barty await. Only a matter of time before the Swiss is in a major semi or final.
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14. Caroline Wozniacki: Recently married to former NBA star David Lee, the Dane wasted a 5-2 lead in the third set of her third round match against Sabalenka, a rematch of the previous year’s final. She’s never been past the fourth round at Wimbledon and with Veronika Kudermetova (who beat Wozniacki in Paris), Osaka, Kenin and Caroline Garcia in her section, even reaching the last 16 will be a challenge.

15. Qiang Wang: It’s a bit of a mystery how the Chinese number one will do: she’s never been beyond the second round here, has former semifinalist Eugenie Bouchard, Elise Mertens in the third and Bertens in the 16’s. Nothing of note done in the lead up to Wimbledon, Wang is in the midst of her best career stretch as her seeding shows, so this may be her chance to post a career-best result here.
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16. Marketa Vondrousova: Spectacular in becoming the first teenager in almost a decade to reach a Grand Slam final, not losing a set in the process, the Czech froze up in the championship match, winning just four games against Barty. One of the leaders in match wins in 2019, the brilliant 20-year old now plays as a seed for the first time in a major. Anett Kontaveit, Hsieh, Ostapenko and Pliskova are in her section. An early loss can be forgiven after Vondrousova’s memorable run in Paris.

17. Madison Keys’ career has been similar to Pliskova’s: a ton of power (probably more than the Czech), a semifinalist or better at every major except here and one career Slam final. Unlike Pliskova, who has 14 titles, Keys only has three and her draw has 15-year old sensation Cori Gauff, Venus Williams and Sabalenka all before the fourth round. Halep may be the American’s biggest obstacle to matching her career-best finish at Wimbledon: a quarterfinal in 2015.

18. Julia Goerges: The pressure is on the German as she has semifinal points to defend. Reached the Birmingham final, losing a relatively close match to Barty. She’s not likely to reach the last four again as Serena, who blitzed her in last year’s semi, is likely waiting in the fourth round. Still, Goerges has done a good job keeping her ranking in this range and the Eastbourne points will prevent the fall from being too precipitous when the points come off.

19. Johanna Konta: Looking to build on an incredible clay court season that unexpectedly saw her reach the final in Rabat and Rome as well as being a few games from the Roland Garros final, the Brit is back on her preferred surface. A semifinalist two years ago, Stephens, Anisimova and Kvitova all stand in Konta’s way of getting close to the last weekend again, but she is a good pick as a dark horse.

20. Anett Kontaveit: Really disappointing that she isn’t progressing or going as far as in tournaments as her talent would suggest. With no form to speak of, her draw that includes Pliskova, Vondrousova and Hsieh/Ostapenko may lead to another early exit, leaving the Estonian to try and salvage her season on the summer hard courts.
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21. Elise Mertens: Has cooled off a bit after the title in Doha and is least comfortable on grass, but not in the toughest part of the draw (Wang, Strycova/Tsurenko, Bertens), so her tough baseline game may serve her well. Lost to Pliskova in Eastbourne after defeating Vondrousova.

22. Donna Vekic: Last year, she was unseeded and drew a difficult first-round matchup in Stephens, but pulled off the upset. Now Vekic, after losing a heart-breaker to Caroline Garcia in the Nottingham final, faces a role reversal as she’s on upset alert with Alison Riske as her opening opponent. She’s in a very difficult section of the draw, a fourth-round appearance the best she can hope for.

23. Caroline Garcia: The Nottingham champion has only been beyond the third round at Wimbledon once, but with Osaka, who arrives in London with question marks and Wozniacki, who has never been comfortable on grass, the highest seeds in her section, it’s not out of the question that the Frenchwoman could equal her best previous result here.

24. Petra Martic: The Croat continued her stellar 2019 in Paris, reaching the quarterfinals and carried that over to the grass with a semifinal showing in Birmingham. A player for all surfaces and a draw that has her with Svitolina and Sevastova could very well see her make another deep run at a major.
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25. Amanda Anisimova: If it wasn’t for Vondrousova, the 17-year old American would have been the breakout star in Paris, dismantling Halep on her way to the semifinals. Now seeded, it’ll be interesting to see how the big-hitting teenager deals with expectations, especially in a section with Kvitova, Stephens and Konta.

26. Garbine Muguruza: Still milling around much lower in the rankings than she really should be, the 2017 champion would need to get past Barty and Bencic just to reach the quarterfinals, a tough ask for a player that has been to one major semifinal and one other quarterfinal since her title here. Still one of tennis’ most wasted talents.
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27. Sofia Kenin: Beat Serena in the third round of Roland Garros and won the Mallorca title, beating Bencic in the final. At a career-high, the feisty American will see some hard hitters early on with either Dayana Yastremska or Camila Giorgi in the second round and Osaka in the third. With her and Anisimova performing so well, the future of American tennis is in great shape.

28. Su-wei Hsieh: Her rise up the rankings started here last year when she spectacularly took out Halep in the third round. Drew the premier first-round matchup against Ostapenko and if she can survive that, her delightful game should get her to the third round, where she’ll try to work her magic against Pliskova.

29. Daria Kasatkina: Not much to say about the Russian as her draw is filled with opponents (Ajla Tomljanovic in round one, Azarenka or Alize Cornet in round two, Halep in round three) that can take her out at any point. One of her two career major quarterfinals came here last year, but it’s very unlikely she’ll approach the last eight this time around.

30. Carla Suarez Navarro: Another player who isn’t most comfortable on grass, but is always solid in the early rounds of majors. Samantha Stosur will provide an early challenge in the opening round, Maria Sharapova in the second and Kerber in the third. Will be worth watching for the backhand alone.
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31. Maria Sakkari: Here’s her chance to go deep at a major. Svitolina is woefully out of form, Sevastova and Martic are both beatable and the Greek is a tough out. Her 2019 that has seen her build with every tournament she plays may be taken to a different level here.

32. Lesia Tsurenko: She reached the final in Brisbane very early on in the season, but is a walking bye these days and Strycova is a terrible matchup for her. In other words, don’t expect to see the Ukrainian around for very long this fortnight.

Players to watch

Victoria Azarenka: She nearly got the signature win she’s been looking for since her comeback as she led Osaka by a set and a break in the second round of Roland Garros, but failed to close the deal. A tough opener vs Cornet, but Kasatkina is an eminently winnable second-rounder and then another chance to re-assert herself against Halep in a battle of former Wimbledon semifinalists. Two-time major champions aren’t kept down forever.
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Cori Gauff: The American has been setting records recently: at 13, she was the youngest player to reach the Junior Girls final at the U.S. Open (crushed by Anisimova), at 14, she became the youngest to win the Girls’ title at Roland Garros, defeating Caty McNally (who also qualified here) in the title match and at 15, is the youngest player to qualify for the main draw. Her game has been compared to Venus and Serena Williams and she’ll get the chance right away to show us against the elder Williams. Whatever the outcome is, Gauff is the best prospect the US has.

First round matches to watch

Su-wei Hsieh vs Jelena Ostapenko: Crafty veteran with an array of shots against youngster with tremendous firepower. The contrast couldn’t be more different. The excitement and anticipation level for this match is deservedly high. Winner could make a big impact on the draw.
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Venus Williams vs Cori Gauff: The classic case of the legendary veteran (Venus is 39) against the young, hungry challenger (Gauff is 15). “Coco”, as she’s called, gets a prime opportunity to show everyone why she’s been talked about in the juniors for a couple of years against the five-time champion. Don’t be surprised when the power is the same.

Magdalena Rybarikova vs Aryna Sabalenka: This has high upset potential as the Belarusian is nowhere near her late 2018/early 2019 form. With her ability to make errors in bunches, a matchup against the Slovak, who reached the semifinals two years ago, could prove to be disastrous with Rybarikova’s elegant grass-court game.
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Donna Vekic vs Alison Riske: Battle of former Nottingham champions and, as mentioned above, a very dangerous opponent for the Croat to deal with. Riske is most comfortable on grass and could send Vekic packing early just as the 22nd seed did to Stephens last year.

Semifinal predictions

Bencic def. Stephens.

Pliakova def. Osaka.

Final prediction:

Pliakova def. Bencic.

Main photo:
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