The Wimbledon Championships have officially begun! After an exciting and unpredictable build-up to the tournament, there are a lot of exciting match-ups and prospects ahead for both the ATP and WTA Tours.
Defending Champion Novak Djokovic began the tournament with a challenging first round match-up against German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber. Despite being broken in his first service game, he remained focused and came through the contest with an impressive 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 result. Djokovic did not play a grass-court tournament before arriving at the Championships this year, but this will come as no shock to anyone following the Serbians career as this was the same pattern taken before he won three of his previous four Wimbledon titles.
In other big news, on the first day, Italian Fabbiano stunned hot prospect Tsitsipas in an epic battle and Czech qualifier Jiri Vesely claimed his third top-10 win of his career by shocking the tournament bracket and beating six-seed Alexander Zverer 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5. There were comfortable wins for Stan Wawrinka & Kevin Anderson as well, on the first day.
As the tournament builds, there are many potential matchups that will have tennis fans everywhere chomping at the bit. It will however be, as it typically is, an assumption that Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, or Novak Djokovic will take home another grand slam title and further cement their impressive records. It is impossible to talk about the men’s side of the tournament without considering the milestones and records that the “Big-3” are now chasing. This year could be doubly important to Roger Federer in terms of both his career and legacy. No player on record has won 100 matches at a single Grand Slam event, but the eight-time Wimbledon champion can do so by advancing to the semi-finals at The Championships in the coming fortnight. Federer had a chance to earn his 100th victory at the Australian Open earlier this year, but he was upset in the fourth round. The Swiss had to make the final in Melbourne. He is getting a second crack at it in London, where he owns a record eight trophies. According to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, Federer can also break Jimmy Connors’ record for the most grass-court wins in the Open Era. Connors tallied a 185-38 record on the surface, winning 83 per cent of his matches on grass.
Rafael Nadal can earn his 50th triumph at Wimbledon in the second round. The Spaniard, who has emerged victorious at The All England Club twice, is fourth on the list of active players for most wins at the grass-court Grand Slam with 48. Four-time Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic is second among active players with 65 victories on the historic grass. The reigning titlist would have more wins at The Championships than any other major if he makes the semi-finals for the ninth time. Both Federer and Nadal open their campaigns today.
On the women’s side, four women have a chance to overtake World No.1 Ashleigh Barty after what is shaping up to be a highly-competitive fortnight at Wimbledon. After becoming just the second Australian to hold the WTA No.1 spot, Barty will be looking to hold off four women at Wimbledon: No.2 Naomi Osaka, No.3 Karolina Pliskova, No.4 Kiki Bertens, and No.6 Petra Kvitova. The 23-year-old Aussie ended No.2 Naomi Osaka's 21-week reign at the top of the rankings after running off 12 consecutive match-wins to win back-to-back titles at Roland Garros and the Nature Valley Classic in Birmingham two weeks ago.
To the surprise of everyone at the competition, any concern of Naomi Osaka catching Barty was immediately erased as she was amazingly upset in the first round by Yulia Putintseva 7-6, 6-2. Pliskova began her campaign yesterday also and she too was challenged by world No. 101 Zhu Lin, however was able to rally and claim victory in her chase for the grand slam title and a World No. 1 ranking. She now awaits the winner between either Olympic champion Monica Puig, who is coached by Chicago local & owner of the XS Sport & Fitness Club Kamau Murray, or Anna Karolina Schmiedlova.
Without question the biggest story coming out of the first day was American teenager Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff competing against former champion and future hall-of-famer Venus Williams. The fifteen year old was able to play with incredible composure on one of the biggest stages in all of sports and win 6-4, 6-4 in her first ever grand slam match.
“I want to be the greatest” Gauff said after the match. “Obviously I’m super shocked, I literally got my dream draw, so I’m just supper happy I was able to pull it out today.” Venus will now have to watch on as sister Serena carries the family torch and looks to further cement her status as the greatest women’s player of all time. Her campaign begins today against Italian G. Gatto-Monticone.
To see some of the highlights from the first day that you may have missed, click here.
The tournament is just getting started, so be sure to check back to Sportsinteriors.com for all the latest on the tournament, the upsets, and the news breaking on the professional tour.