Here are short previews of two Wimbledon first round clashes including Victoria Azarenka taking on Catherine Bellis, and a popcorn tie featuring Camila Giorgi and Alize Cornet. ICYMI, check out my full preview of the Wimbledon main draw here.
1. Victoria Azarenka [No.678] vs Catherine Bellis [No.40]
Overview: The last player to snag a seed at Wimbledon was Lucie Safarova ranked No.34, and youngster Catherine Bellis barely missed a seeding, standing at No.40 in the rankings. That just shows how well Bellis is playing right now, having started the year at No.73. Her best results being semifinals in Mallorca, and quarterfinals in Dubai and Rabat, Bellis has shown her potential on all three surfaces and is definitely an unseeded dangerous floater. She also notched her first WTA win on grass and that was in Mallorca. Really unfortunate for Azarenka to get her in the first round…
Victoria Azarenka made her return to the WTA tour in Mallorca in her first tournament since last year’s French Open. The rust was obviously still there but it was a decent level from Azarenka having not played for a year. Her fighting spirit shone through as she saved match points to beat Risa Ozaki, but she faded away pretty quickly against Ana Konjuh. Playing another young star, Azarenka’s level will have to be at a high level if she is to progress into the second round.
Thoughts: This is probably one the most difficult first rounders to pick! It’s the first time Bellis is playing at Wimbledon, with Vika obviously the more experienced player. However this is just the Belarusian’s third match in her comeback and the rustiness would probably still be there. Slight edge with Bellis on this one…
2. Camila Giorgi [No.84] vs Alize Cornet [No.41]
Overview: A delicious, dramatic popcorn match in the form of Alize Cornet and Camila Giorgi will face off in the first slot on Court 8. Both have widely different playing styles, but Cornet has been the more consistent one over the past few years. Grass however has not been Cornet’s favourite, having a negative record on this surface, but she has made the fourth round here before, shocking Serena Williams enroute but fell to Eugenie Bouchard. She went 0-2 this year on grass losing in her openers in Birmingham and Eastbourne.
Camila Giorgi is now at a low ranking of No.84, and that was relatively boosted by her quarterfinal run to Birmingham, beating Elina Svitolina enroute. In contrast to Cornet, grass has been Giorgi’s favoured surface, posing a 31-16 record on the green stuff. The Italian reached the fourth round as a qualifier in Wimbledon back in 2012, in the end losing to Agnieszka Radwanska.
Thoughts: Giorgi matches are usually decided by if Giorgi makes the court more often than not, and it is usually the latter that takes place! However the Italian’s fast paced game has always been suited to the grass and her glimpses of brilliance had just been two weeks ago in Birmingham. Supposing the injury that ruled her out of the match against Ashleigh Barty is better now, she could force Cornet into some errors and get the win.