Emma Raducanu has drawn one of the most difficult first-round opponents she could have faced at Wimbledon in the form of Alison Van Uytvanck while Andy Murray and Serena Williams were both handed favourable opening matches.
Raducanu’s participation still hinges on her having sufficiently recovered from a side strain suffered at the start of the grass season while Van Uytvanck is an accomplished and experienced grass court player with a good serve, a solid forehand and an all-court game. In 2018, the Belgian defeated the Wimbledon defending champion Garbine Muguruza en route to the fourth round.
Since the beginning of this grass season, Van Uytvanck has won the Surbiton $100k tournament and the WTA 125 event in Gaiba, Italy, in addition to a quarter-final at ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands. Her only defeats on grass this year have come in third set tie-breaks to the world No 6 Aryna Sabalenka and No 25 Amanda Anisimova this week in Bad Homburg.
As she continues her recovery from the side injury she sustained in the first game of her grass season in Nottingham, Raducanu will train on No 1 Court as Wimbledon continues its new initiative of allowing players to break in the top courts in order to lessen the chances of competitors falling in the opening rounds.
Murray will open his campaign against 77th-ranked Australian James Duckworth. If he is in any good shape, it is a match that he will have a great chance of winning. Duckworth has lost his last nine ATP main draw matches and he missed four months of this season due to injury. The defending champion Novak Djokovic begins his quest for a seventh title against South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo while second seed Rafael Nadal, who is set to make his first appearance at Wimbledon since 2019, faces Argentina’s Francisco Cerúndolo as the Spaniard aims to win his third consecutive grand slam title.
Williams cannot have any issues with her draw, having been handed a decent opening round that should allow her to find her range after a one year absence. Harmony Tan is both extremely inexperienced on grass and at the top level of professional tennis. She has lost seven of her last eight tour main draw matches and she had only played for the first time on grass at last year’s Wimbledon.
A potential second-round match against the interminable Sara Sorribes Tormo would likely be a significant test of Williams’ rally tolerance after such a long layoff, but the Spaniard’s lack of weaponry can be exposed on faster courts. Meanwhile, sixth seed Karolina Pliskova could face Williams in the third round. Pliskova has been in dire form this year after undergoing hand surgery in the off season, compiling an 8-10 record in 2022. She will be looking to rediscover the form that sent her to last year’s final.
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