Wimbledon Preview: Halep goes with flow after breaking grand slam duck

Simona Halep enters this year's Wimbledon having finally secured a grand slam title at Rolland Garros, can she push on at the All England Club?

Simon Halep


After three painful major finals, Simona Halep finally had one to savour in Paris this month.

The Romanian overwhelmed Sloane Stephens, capturing her first grand slam title and foisting the eye of Sauron onto the next ‘best player without a slam’.

Can Elina Svitolina or Madison Keys follow Halep and make the ultimate breakthrough this coming fortnight or will one of the 13 current or former grand slam champions in the draw cash yet another oversized cheque?

Top Half

Red clay is undoubtedly Halep’s favoured surface but she is also a significant force on the turf.

<> at Wimbledon on June 29, 2018 in London, England.

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The world no.1, 14/1 to win her second grand slam title here, made the quarter finals at the All England Club in three of the last four years and will feel that she can at least equal that given her draw.

Now overflowing with confidence, Halep should have too much game for her early opponents. The fourth round will provide a stern test for the Romanian though with Jo Konta or Elise Mertens projected opponents.

Mertens is yet to show us her best tennis on grass but Konta is an experienced operator on the oldest surface. The Brit’s level has dropped off considerably from 12 months ago but a run to the final in Nottingham may have renewed confidence.

If Halep makes it to the last eight, she will probably face a fellow major winner there in the shape of Petra Kvitova, Maria Sharapova or Jelena Ostapenko.

xxx on day one of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 3, 2017 in London, England.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, who is a slim outright favourite currently, has been in sparkling form this season with five titles already including the warm up event at Birmingham last week. When the Czech hits top form on grass, there is little that any opponent can do and she could very well lift the Venus Rosewater Dish for a third time on Saturday week.

As for Sharapova and Ostapenko, it’s difficult to predict how they will fare.

The Russian did well to make the last eight in Paris before Garbine Muguruza took her apart for the loss of just three games. The Latvian on the other hand crashed out in the first round as she attempted to defend the title. I expect a stronger showing from the 21-year-old at SW19 as Ostapenko is a former Wimbledon junior champion and loves the grass.

Apart from those two, watch out for Maria Sakkari in the top quarter.

The unseeded Greek player has beaten a lot of big names of late and will have Sharapova in her sights should they meet in the second round.

Defending champion Muguruza, outright favourite currently,”>9/1 in the betting, comes alive at the majors and should make it through to the fourth round unscathed unless the unforced errors take hold. If the Spaniard gets there, she will probably receive a stern test from grass court specialist Ashleigh Barty or the uber talented Daria Kasatkina.

2016 finalist Angelique Kerber also sits in the top half and looks dangerous having just made the semis in Eastbourne.

Bottom Half

How this section pans out will depend on one woman and you might just know her. She has won the event seven times before.

While the French Tennis Federation did not budge on the idea of giving Serena Williams a seeding for the French Open, the All England Club has placed her at 25 and that could make all the difference. Dsepite this, she is our 6/1 second favourite.

If the 36-year-old has recovered from the pectoral muscle issue that forced her out of Roland Garros then she will have little trouble with her first two opponents. The fun starts in the third round where Williams could meet world no.5 Elina Svitolina.

If Williams prevails in that contest, a showdown with either French Open semi-finalist Madison Keys or grass court aficionado Magdalena Rybarikova would likely follow.

The 23-time major winner and Keys are the overwhelming threats in the fourth quarter as I think that they will have too much power for high profile seeds Caroline Wozniacki, Agnieszka Radwanska and Coco Vandeweghe.

The remaining quarter is headlined by French Open finalist and reigning US Open champion and 18/1 shot Sloane Stephens.

The American has done little at the All England Club since a quarterfinal run in 2013 but don’t be fooled. Stephens is an entirely different force these days and should find herself in the quarters once again unless Donna Vekic shocks her in the opening round.

Karolina Pliskova and Venus Williams also reside in this quarter but keep an eye on the first round encounter between Mihaela Buzarnescu and Aryna Sabalenka.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: A ground staff works on Centre Court ahead of day nine of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 12, 2017 in London, England. Rufus is used to scare away pigeons which can distract the players. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Buzarnescu is a very talented lefty from Romania who likes the grass and has found the best form of her career aged 30. Sabalenka is only 20 but has shown off an impressive variety of shots (and grunts) in a run to the final of Eastbourne this week.

The winner of this match could completely disrupt the quarter and upset some big names.

    *All odds correct at time of posting
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