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Fresh from his victory at the French Open earlier this month, Novak Djokovic comes into Wimbledon as the odds-on favourite to defend his 2019 title (don’t forget the championships were cancelled last year due to Covid-19). The opener for the in-form Serb is a first professional encounter with highly-rated British youngster Jack Draper.
Although this is expected to be plain sailing for Djokovic, Draper has looked impressive in the lead up to Wimbledon with wins over Alexander Bublik and Jannik Sinner en route to the quarter finals showing at Queen’s Club.
Despite it being too steep an ask to suggest Draper to pick up a set, we believe with the support of the centre court crowd behind him – coupled with his recent good form – the Brit should be able to keep the score respectable and remain competitive in every set. Even in his 6-3, 6-3 defeat to his countryman Cameron Norrie at Queens, the Londoner showed glimpses of what he is capable of. He is well capable of taking the world number one to Over 27.5 games.
Petra Kvitova finds herself facing a difficult opening round draw against American Sloane Stephens at SW19 on Monday. The two-time champion has suffered a few early exits since her last victory in 2014, but reached the last 16 of the competition the last time Wimbledon was played in 2019.
Her sole performance on grass this year was an impressive showing last week at the Bad Homburg Open where she made it as far as the semi-finals. This positive result suggests she has fully recovered from the freak injury she sustained while performing her media duties at Roland Garros earlier this month. She will be hopeful of progressing to the second round in the relatively open bottom half of the draw, but will not have it all her own way against fellow Grand Slam winner Stephens.
The American, for her part, is entering the tournament with no match practice on grass. She has been a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon in the past, but the grass court remains her least successful surface. That said, the former world number 3 looked in good form during her run to the fourth round in Paris earlier this month, building on her improved performances from Charleston and Parma.
Previous encounters between the two have shown the American has troubled Kvitova with her consistent baseline hitting and her ability to hang around in rallies. Therefore, we reckon Stephens can pick up a set in her encounter with the Czech. However, with her superior grass record, we believe Kvitova will win this match 2-1.
World number 28 Nikoloz Basilashvili has overcome a torrid 2020 to win two ATP titles this year, and will be hoping to improve on his uninspiring Wimbledon record – where he has never made it past the third round. Despite this, he can take great encouragement from his most recent performances on grass.
In Stuttgart, he reached the second round before losing to the eventual champion Marin Cilic and the following week made it all the way to the semi-finals in Halle, before losing out to the Russian Andrey Rublev in a close three-set encounter.
Murray, on the other hand, comes into the tournament having only played five Grand Slam matches in the last four years, losing three of them. The former world number 1 has struggled with an array of injuries over the past few years, but made a welcome return to tour at Queens where he won his first round game against Benoit Paire before being easily dispatched by the eventual winner Matteo Berrettini.
His game looked in decent shape, but there is no denying the Scot will be rusty. For this reason, I expect the Georgian to win the match. However, the two-time champions can pick up at least one set with the support of the home fans ringing in his ear.
13:00 Novak Djokovic v Jack Draper: Over 27.5 Total Match Games
15:30 Sloane Stephens v Petra Kvitova: Kvitova To Win 2-1 In Sets
17:30 Andy Murray v Nikoloz Basilashvili: Basilashvili To The Match And Both Players To Win A Set
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