We’re halfway done with the majors in 2014, and the tennis calendar turns its attention to its most famous event: The Championships, Wimbledon. Both tours have experienced quite a bit of transition this season, and with tennis’s biggest event on the horizon on the sport’s most iconic surface, there’s a chance we may be crowning a new champion or revisiting one of the sport’s longtime favorites. The BadManBureau is here to break down the draws for both the Gentleman’s Singles and Ladies’ Singles at this event, providing you with insight on who might be making a big run and who might be crashing out early.
Section 1: Serena Williams’s Section
Seeds: (1) Serena Williams, (13) Eugenie Bouchard, (20) Andrea Petkovic, (25) Alize Cornet
Serena Williams comes in wounded after failing to win either of the first two majors, but the fact her 2014 trophy cabinet is sparse at the moment might be the right kind of motivation for her to be ready to play from the first ball. Her section of the draw features several dangerous but beatable players such as a third round encounter with Alize Cornet, who has a win over Serena this year. Williams could also encounter a French Open semifinalist in the fourth round in either Andrea Petkovic or Eugenie Bouchard. Bouchard, in particular, could threaten Serena. She’s been on a hot streak of late, and she is a former junior champion at Wimbledon.
Potential Sleeper: Petra Cetkovska. The Czech, currently ranked 61 in the world, has had an injury-plagued career, but was just two years ago a top 25 player. She hits a very hard serve and combines that with hard and flat groundstrokes. In recent years, her best major results have come at Wimbledon, including a close third round loss to Sloane Stephens. She could potentially upset Alize Cornet in the second round.
The Quarterfinalist: Serena Williams
Section 2: Maria Sharapova’s Section
Seeds: (5) Maria Sharapova, (9) Angelique Kerber, (24) Kirsten Flipkens, (26) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Maria Sharapova will try to go for the Channel double, winning both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year. Her results at Wimbledon of late have disappointed, but she’ll open up her campaign with relative ease. That does not mean this section of the draw is not full of upset-minded floaters. Young guns Camila Giorgi and Alja Tomljanovic sit here, as well as Petra Martic, an intriguing player who has disappointed of late but could threaten to make noise.
Grass Court Specialists: Tamira Paszek and Alison Riske. Paszek and Riske are both excellent grass court players. Paszek’s most recent title on the WTA tour came in 2012 on the grass in Eastbourne, while Alison Riske at one point in her career had collected all of her WTA main draw match wins on the green grass. Both players open up against seeds: Tamira Paszek takes on a Wimbledon semifinalist from last year in Kirsten Flipkens while Alison Riske faces Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Both have excellent chances to pull off the upsets.
The Quarterfinalist: Maria Sharapova
Section 3: Simona Halep’s Section
Seeds: (3) Simona Halep, (15) Carla Suarez Navarro, (21) Roberta Vinci, (29) Sorana Cirstea
Simona Halep, fresh off of a run to the final of the French Open, is handed a section of the draw where there shouldn’t be many issues. She’s landed in a part of the draw chock full of clay court specialists, especially among the seeds. Relatively unknown players like Teliana Pereira, Zarina Diyas, and Shuai Zhang also populate this section. Because of their relative question mark status, they could either cause some shakeups or go quietly from the event. Watch out for the youngsters Belinda Bencic and Donna Vekic though. They thrive on faster hardcourts, which could be beneficial to them on the grass.
Welcome Back: Vera Zvonareva. The former world number two and Wimbledon finalist is playing in just her fifth event since right shoulder surgery in 2013. Vera has slipped all the way to outside the Top 500 in the world, but Wimbledon organizers are quick to hand wild cards to players who have had success at SW 19 before. Zvonareva will open up against a fellow wildcard in Tara Moore and could find herself in a good section of the draw given the players around her.
The Quarterfinalist: Simona Halep
Section 4: Jelena Jankovic’s Section
Seeds: (7) Jelena Jankovic, (11) Ana Ivanovic, (19) Sabine Lisicki, (31) Klara Koukalova
Jelena Jankovic is the top seed, but this is a very dangerous part of the draw. There are a ton of players here that have had success on grass that can all make a deep run at this event. Ana Ivanovic just won a grass court title in Birmingham this year. Sabine Lisicki is last year’s Wimbledon finalist and always outperforms at Wimbledon. Klara Koukalova compiled a 5-2 record on grass this season, losing both of her matches in the warmups to the eventual champions. The unseeded players are also threats: Zheng Jie is a former Wimbledon semifinalist; Madison Keys won a title last week in Eastbourne; Monica Puig reached the fourth round last year; and Kaia Kanepi reached the quarterfinals last year.
Also here: Yaroslava Shvedova. The Russian-turned-Kazakh, Yaroslava Shvedova is an up-and-down player who has major experience on every surface. She’s a former doubles champion at Wimbledon, and she performed a feat so extremely rare that it’s only been documented twice in tennis history. Shvedova is one of five players to have achieved a golden set: winning a set 6-0 without letting your opponent win a point. She did it in the third round in 2012 against Sara Errani, who was just coming off of her run to the final at Roland Garros.
The Quarterfinalist: Sabine Lisicki
Section 5: Victoria Azarenka’s Section
Seeds: (8) Victoria Azarenka, (10) Dominika Cibulkova, (23) Lucie Safarova, (27) Garbine Muguruza
Victoria Azarenka returns to the collective tennis consciousness for the first time since she lost in Indian Wells back in March. The big question surrounding her is whether or not she’s healthy enough to compete at the high standard she’s set for herself in the last few years. She opens against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, a former Wimbledon semifinalist from 1999(!) and finds herself against some power players in later rounds. Serena killer Garbine Muguruza is finally seeded at an event but finds herself pitted against American Coco Vandeweghe, the woman who beat Muguruza in the quarterfinals in ‘s-Hertogenbosch en route to Vandeweghe’s first career title.
Potential Stud-or-Dud Match: Dominika Cibulkova vs Aleksandra Wozniak. Cibulkova, the Australian Open finalist, has had a solid year since the first major of the year and takes on Wozniak, a talented but oft-injured Canadian. Wozniak qualified this year for Wimbledon, but in order for her to have a long stay, she’ll have to take out Cibulkova in the first round. Wozniak has the kind of game that could trouble Cibulkova; she hits a heavy first serve and can hit the ball relatively flat. However, she’s never gotten out of the second round in her prior appearances at Wimbledon and prefers slower surfaces. Cibulkova can use the grass to her advantage to improve the quickness of her shots and will be looking to have another successful major.
The Quarterfinalist: Dominika Cibulkova
Section 6: Agnieszka Radwanska’s Section
Seeds: (4) Agnieszka Radwanska, (14) Sara Errani, (22) Ekaterina Makarova, (28) Svetlana Kuznetsova
Agnieszka is a former finalist at Wimbledon, but she comes in with doubts. For yet another major, Radwanska saw the main threats to her seizing her first major title go by the wayside, only for her to suffer a premature exit, losing to Alja Tomljanovic in the third round at Roland Garros. She’s been handed a funky section of the draw, full of players that could normally beat her… if the event were not on grass. Grass court specialist Tsvetsana Pironkova lurks in the other part of this section and could be primed for a second week appearance if she’s able to summon the form that had her reach a Wimbledon semifinal. Also here: the young Estonian Anett Kontaveit, who was a major player on the junior tour recently. She’s qualified for her very first major main draw appearance.
Popcorn Match: Ekaterina Makarova vs Kimiko Date-Krumm. This match could be great, or it could be straightforward. But the match will be an entertaining show for fans. Makarova is a lefty Russian who plays well on grass, using her lefty spins and serve to confound opponents. Across the net stands the long-time veteran in Kimiko Date-Krumm. Date-Krumm at age 43 still sits on the Top 100 and has experience on grass, reaching the semifinals way back in 1996. She plays a throwback game, using the ability to hit the ball early to redirect and cut short the time her opponents has. She played an extremely exciting match against Venus Williams at Wimbledon in 2011, falling in three tight and entertaining sets.
The Quarterfinalist: Ekaterina Makarova
Section 7: Petra Kvitova’s Section
Seeds: (6) Petra Kvitova, (12) Flavia Pennetta, (18) Sloane Stephens, (30) Venus Williams
The potential for a big matchup between former Wimbledon champions lurks in the third round here, but will it materialize? Kvitova, the 2011 champion, opens against a hard hitting fellow Czech in Andrea Hlavackova, and Venus Williams, while her path to the third round appears to lack any serious challenge, has been up-and-down in recent years as evidenced by her second round loss at Roland Garros. On the other side is a fairly wide open section. Flavia Pennetta is the top seed, but she’s not a great grass court player. Alisa Kleybanova, still on the comeback trail from her return from cancer, could find herself winning a few matches here.
Potential Stud-or-Dud Match: Sloane Stephens vs Maria Kirilenko. This match has great potential. Both players have been excellent at majors including at Wimbledon, where both players have a quarterfinal appearance to their credit. Both can test each other with their groundstrokes, and the match could easily go either way. However, this match could also be a snooze. Sloane is known to be prone to periods of distraction, failing to stay focused in a match. Maria Kirilenko has been sidelined with an injury and may still be rusty; she’s playing in just her fifth tournament this year and sits at just 1-4 on the season.
The Quarterfinalist: Petra Kvitova
Section 8: Li Na’s Section
Seeds: (2) Li Na, (16) Caroline Wozniacki, (17) Samantha Stosur, (32) Elena Vesnina
Li Na sits at the bottom of the draw, and quite frankly, she shouldn’t be troubled with her first week. Elena Vesnina is a very good grass court player that should trouble the Chinese number one, who has three quarterfinal appearances at Wimbledon to her credit, but other than that, many of the players here simply don’t have the grass court expertise to trouble the world number two. Caroline Wozniacki might be able to mount a challenge; normally a decent but unspectacular performer on grass, she did reach the semifinals of the event in Eastbourne, losing a winnable match to Angelique Kerber.
Upset Alert: Yanina Wickmayer over Samantha Stosur. It’s a tired saying to tennis fans, but with Stosur’s big forehand and fantastic kick serve, the Aussie should be a serious contender on grass. Instead, the speed of the surface gives her trouble, and her forehand breaks down more often than not. Stosur sports a below .500 record at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club and has never advanced past the third round. If Wickmayer, a player who can run hot and cold in a match, can make Stosur doubt her ability on grass, the Belgian could pull an upset over the former U.S. Open champion.
The Quarterfinalist: Li Na
Wimbledon Final Prediction: Serena Williams defeats Petra Kvitova in two sets.
These predicted quarterfinals don’t lack for star power: Serena-Maria and Li-Kvitova would both be must-watch tennis, while the other two quarterfinals would still feature good players, particularly on the grass. Serena is almost certainly out for blood, and she does certainly get better as the tournament progresses. Once she gets past Sharapova, a match with either Simona Halep—the newcomer to the Top 5—or Sabine Lisicki—who stunned Serena last year at Wimbledon—would await. Serena would relish a chance at revenge against Lisicki, where Williams simply choked away a third set lead. On the other side, Kvitova is certainly the most accomplished player on grass, but Li Na, Cibulkova, and Makarova would not make it easy for her. Can she keep down the unforced errors and play the kind of tennis that wowed the world en route to her 2011 title? If she can, she can likely get through to the final, but I think Serena won’t let slip another title opportunity if she faces off against the lefty Czech.