2011 Wimbledon – Nick’s Picks – Women’s Singles Round 1
Maria Sharapova (RUS) vs. Anna Chakvetadze (RUS)
Sharapova is 6-0 against Chakvetadze in her career, and doesn’t usually like losing to fellow Russians. You know there will be plenty of talk about what Sharapova is wearing, but what really is important is what is in the inside. She is an unbelievable competitor and now that she is playing great tennis again, everyone has to be on alert. She’s won this tournament before, and playing on the grass really suits her game. She is definitely on the short list of potential winners.
On the other side, Chakvetadze’s career has really taken a down turn and she comes in ranked #50 in the world. Back in 2007 she was #5 in the world, but she has never been able to recapture that magic. Her best result here came back in 2008 when she reached the fourth round and to replicate that in 2011, it would be a huge surprise. I look for Sharapova to advance in straight sets even if her serves falters a bit (her return of serve is superb!).
Nick’s Pick – Sharapova in 2 sets
Ana Ivanovic (SRB) vs. Melanie Oudin (USA)
It’s hard to understand what has happened to Ivanovic over the last couple of years. She has all the tools to be one of the top women, but she has never been able to consistently play at a high level. I still believe that she can beat the best, but she has got to get herself refocused on the prize. She is 1-0 against Oudin, but that match was two years ago on a hard court.
Oudin, like Ivanovic, had a great run (see 2009 US Open) and has really never been able to duplicate that success. She plays with a great tenacity and the American fans will definitely be rooting her on, but right now I am not sure what her confidence level is and I feel Ivanovic has a bit more firepower than Oudin does. I think this match may go three and I have to give the edge to Ivanovic.
Nick’s Pick – Ivanovic in 3 sets
Venus Williams (USA) vs. Akgul Amanmuradova (UZB)
You didn’t think Venus would miss Wimbledon did you? She’s won this tournament five times and she absolutely loves playing on the grass. She is able to push her opponents back behind the baseline and when she approaches the net, it is almost impossible to pass her. She’s never played the young Amanmuradova, but I don’t feel that puts her at a disadvantage because she can beat anyone at SW19.
For Amanmuradova to win this match she is going to have to take some chances and pray that Venus’ forehand is spraying all over the place, because if Venus is on top of her game this could be over quickly. I love seeing Venus out there again and I look for her to have a very good tournament.
Nick’s Pick – V. Williams in 2 sets
Francesca Schiavone (ITA) vs. Jelena Dokic (AUS)
Dokic is 3-0 against Schiavone and has already beaten her once this year, so that should definitely give her some confidence heading into this match. Dokic has spent some time at the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy in the past and she is intense. She is very aggressive on the court and her focus is remarkable. When she practices, I bring all the kids around, because it is very special. She takes it seriously every time she steps on the court whether it is for practice or a match and that’s a good lesson to learn.
Schiavone is coming off another great run at the French Open where she reached the finals before falling to Li Na. Last year she was knocked out in the opening round, so you know she is going to want to prove that she can play here. The grass doesn’t suit her game as well as the clay does, especially early on, but if she can make it through the first couple of rounds she should be good. This is going to be one heck of a match between two women who play very different games, but I have to give the edge to Schiavone especially after what she did at the French.
Nick’s Pick – Schiavone in 3 sets