Wimbledon 2013: Day 1 Preview (Federer in his House)
June 23, 2013 · Print This Article
The 2013 Wimbledon championships get underway at the All England Club today, with 7-time Wimbledon champion and defending champion Roger Federer kicking off proceedings on Centre Court on the first day of play.
Matches of the Day – Day 1
1. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. David Goffin
For sixth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and his coach Roger Rasheed, this year’s French Open must seem, on reflection, like a missed opportunity and yet, at the same time, like a perfect example of Tsonga’s ability to beat the biggest players on the biggest stages. Tsonga’s demolition of Roger Federer in Paris proved the Frenchman can topple anyone at his best; Tsonga’s insipid loss to David Ferrer showed he is still prone to mental fragility at crucial moments.
Tsonga has played some of his best tennis in recent years at Wimbledon, where he is not afraid to serve and volley against all players. If Tsonga can view the French Open as a positive experience and use it as a stepping stone to greater heights, there’s no doubt that he has a chance to go very deep in this tournament. Young Belgian David Goffin has exquisite timing off both wings, but he is most likely to be overwhelmed by Tsonga’s big serve and raw power from the back of the court. Tsonga in 3.
2. Victor Hanescu vs. Roger Federer
Third seed Roger Federer begins his quest for an eighth Wimbledon crown against wily Romanian veteran Victor Hanescu, a former top 30 player who favours a traditional serve and volley style of play. Hanescu made the round of 32 in Paris a few weeks ago and will have nothing to lose against the Swiss superstar.
It’s hard to think of a tougher draw that Federer could have been given at this year’s tournament, with a potential quarter-final against his great rival Rafael Nadal, a potential semi-final showdown against Andy Murray and then, all going well, a final against the world number one, Novak Djokovic. Still, if anybody has the ability to rise up against the odds and claim another major, it’s Federer. Look for the third seed to make the early running against Hanescu and cruise to victory, wary of overexerting himself when so many big match-ups lurk in the second week of the tournament. Federer in 3.
3. Marcos Baghdatis vs. Marin Cilic
Lanky Croat Marin Cilic doesn’t immediately strike you as a strong grass-court player, but the tenth seed has quietly gone about building a solid grass-court record. Cilic won the title at Queen’s Club last year and almost repeated the win this year, losing to top seed Andy Murray in a hard-fought final.
Cilic faces a danger match against Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis today, with Baghdatis having previously made the semi-finals at the All England Club. Cilic will need to stay on the offensive against such a capable ball-striker, but his recent good form (both on the grass and more generally over the last 12 months) leads me to predict that the Croat will advance in this one. Cilic in 4.
4. Lleyton Hewitt vs. Stanislas Wawrinka
This has to be one of the best opening round match-ups, pitting former world number one and Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt against one of the form players on the ATP Tour this year, eleventh seed Stanislas Wawrinka. Hewitt has battled a raft of injuries in the last few years, but put in an inspired performance at Queen’s Club last week, upsetting Juan Martin Del Potro en route to the semi-finals. Wawrinka also warmed up for the year’s third major in style, making the final of the ATP event in Rosmalen, his first-ever grass-court final.
Even as he approaches the end of his mightily impressive career, Hewitt remains one of the best grass-court players going around, and the Aussie will be desperate to record a few more wins at the All England Club before he calls it quits. With a better draw, I’d back the veteran to notch up a couple of wins at Wimbledon this year, but Wawrinka is full of confidence at the moment and has the better fitness if the match goes the distance. Wawrinka in 5.
5. Maria Sharapova vs. Kristina Mladenovic
Maria Sharapova has claimed a career Grand Slam, but ask the Russian which of the majors she’d most like to win again and I’m almost certain she will say Wimbledon. Sharapova has been around the mark for the last couple of years at the All England Club, losing the 2011 final to Petra Kvitova and claiming the silver medal at the London Olympics last year.
With plenty of gossip flying around about Sharapova’s comments in response to a recent feature article on rival Serena Williams, the third seed will be eager to get on court and let her racquet do the talking. Frenchwoman Mladenovic, a former world junior champion, is still finding her feet on the WTA Tour, but is a fighter and should be competitive for the most part against the 2004 champion. Sharapova in 2.
Put your house on: Second seed Victoria Azarenka, in search of her maiden Wimbledon crown, should cruise past Portugal’s Maria Joao Koehler in her first match of the tournament.
Upset alert: American Jamie Hampton, who made the final at Eastbourne last week as a qualifier, might surprise her higher-ranked compatriot, seventeenth seed Sloane Stephens, when the pair clash at the All England Club.
Likely to go the distance: Veterans Xavier Malisse and Fernando Verdasco lock horns today, whilst there is an all-Serbian encounter between fourteenth seed Janko Tipsarevic and his Davis Cup winning teammate, Viktor Troicki. I’m predicting that both matches will go to 5 sets.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter: @satelliteserve.