Even among the four grand slams, something special stands out about Wimbledon. Something that goes beyond the surface – literally and figuratively. In a sport that is always asking “what’s next?” the all-white clothing, the royal box and the 130 previous editions allow Wimbledon to remind us of what was. The weight of history is always present, lost on neither players nor spectators, and for two weeks an entire country is mesmerised, as are a nation of tennis fans spread across the globe.

As at the French Open a month ago, we enter this tournament under a cloud of uncertainty. Its defending champions either absent of form or absent entirely, with two favourites coming in off extended layoffs. It’s as wide open as it’s been this millennium, and that makes for a tantalising two weeks in prospect.

Each day, check this space for three of matches worth plonking down in front of the TV for. Enjoy the fortnight. It’s gonna be great.

Day 1

Marin Cilic (CRO) [7] vs Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) – 3rd on No. 2 Court

On paper this might seem a fairly straightforward encounter for Queens-finalist Cilic, but just as Marcus Willis has struggled with basic nutrition, so has the Croat with Kohlschreiber. The German holds a 6-3 advantage in their head-to-head, with Cilic’s last win coming over six years ago in Davis Cup action. Is Cilic still the favourite? Absolutely, but Kohlschreiber will look to stretch the court early and often, and that coupled with the low bounce will prove a challenge for the 6’6″ Cilic. That said, if he does make it through here, he should be primed for a deep run.

Sabine Lisicki vs Ana Konjuh (CRO) [27] – 4th on Court 14

A name you probably haven’t heard in a while, Lisicki had missed the entirety of 2017 prior to the grass court season. The definition of a grass-court specialist, all five of Lisicki’s quarterfinals-or-better performances in majors have come at SW19, and if her serve is still the weapon it was prior to her injury, she could be a cheeky darkhorse bet. Still, she’ll be the underdog against the 19-year-old Konjuh, who loves to drop bombs off the forehand wing seems to have already developed a similar liking for grass. This could go one hour or three, but in either case, expect it to be spectacular.

Victoria Azarenka (BLR) vs CiCi Bellis (USA) – TBA (Not before 5:00pm local)

One is a new mother, the other looks like she should still be asking her mother for pocket money, but together they make for an intriguing first round encounter. Before this year Bellis had never played on grass professionally, but in her very first match on the surface, the 18-year-old downed world no. 26 Carla Suarez-Navarro, showing off sublime agility that should serve her well in this match. No stranger to the second week here, Azarenka has the advantage in weight of groundstrokes, but with the amount of rust she’s carrying, she’s as likely to struggle for aim as find it. In short, it’s a test for both women, with the winner one to watch in the days ahead.


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