What was going through his mind?
The third and arguably most prestigious grand slam gets underway on Monday in the salubrious grounds of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
We know who the favourites are, but which Aussies have made the main draw, who are they playing in Round 1 and how far can they go? Let’s take a closer look.
Alexei Popyrin (99) vs Pablo Carrena Busta (59)
Having written an article just a couple of days ago about how the young 19-year-old qualifier can do some damage here, I’m happy to see him take his place in the main draw. His first-round opponent is a quality player on hard court or clay but has never won a round at Wimbledon. Popyrin can get through this match, but he will then take on Russian young gun Daniil Medvedev in what would be an enticing second-round match.
John Millman (58) vs Hugo Dellien (93)
Millman will be the clear favourite here against his 26-year-old Bolivian opponent who is making his Wimbledon debut and only his second grand slam main draw appearance. I expect Millman to cruise through Round 1 to likely play Serbian 31st seed Laslo Djere, who doesn’t have a great grass court record, in Round 2. It’s a great chance to make a third round, where a likely match up with Dominic Thiem will await him.
Bernard Tomic (101) vs Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (70)
This could be billed as the hero vs villain match of the round. Tomic hasn’t exactly endeared himself to the tennis public of late, while Tsonga has been a fan favourite for more than ten years. While Tsonga didn’t play Wimbledon last year due to injury, he has made the semis twice and quarter-finals twice. Back in 2011 Tomic made the quarter-finals here, but since then he hasn’t made it past the fourth round of any slam. While not underestimating Bernie, I expect Tsonga to be too good.
Jordan Thomson (45) vs Nick Kyrgios (43)
Australia’s second and third highest ranked males take the court against each other in what on paper looks like a very close match. Thompson is enjoying a great period right now and has reached his career-high ranking. Kyrgios, on the other hand, has dropped out of the seedings, and after his controversial appearance at Queens a couple of weeks ago, who knows which Nick Kyrgios will turn up? The most exciting thing about this match is who the winner meets in Round 2: Rafael Nadal, assuming he makes it through Round 1 awaits, and I think Kyrgios would be looking ahead to this already. For that reason I think Nick beats Jordan in this one. As for Kyrgios vs Nadal – well, that’ll be worth staying up for!
Alex De Minaur (29) vs Marco Cecchinato (40)
Australia’s No. 1 male starts his campaign against an Italian who has lost in the first round of a grand slam eight out of nine times. The one time he did get through the first round was when he made the semi-finals of the French Open last year. I don’t see Alex having too many troubles in Round 1. He will face the winner of Steve Johnson and Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the second round for a likely third-round match-up with Kei Nishikori.
Matt Ebden (91) vs Diego Schwartzman (24)
Schwartzman is a tricky first-round opponent for Ebden, but while there is quite a large ranking difference, I think this could be quite a close match. Grass is definitely not Schwartzman’s favourite surface, and Ebden reached the third round here last year. If Ebden can get through this match, he will play the winner of Dominik Koepfer and Filip Krajinovic. It’s definitely not the worst draw for Ebden, so hopefully he can take advantage.
Ash Barty (1) vs Saisai Zheng (43)
Australia’s golden girl, French Open champion and new No, 1 player in the world shouldn’t have too many issues with her opening couple of rounds. From there things will get awkward, though. If all seedings go to plan – though they rarely do – Barty may face Garbine Muguruza in the third round followed by Belinda Bencic and then either Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, or Angelique Kerber in the quarter-finals. If Barty is fully fit and doesn’t feel the pressure of being No. 1, the next two weeks will be a great test for her. Hopefully she can win her second slam in two months!
Sam Stosur (132) vs Carlo Suarez Navarro (31)
In the battle of the big hitters expect some great shot-making regardless of what the rankings say. Suarez Navarro has one of the best single-handed backhands on the women’s tour, and if Stosur gets her forehand going, she can be hard to stop. Neither player has made a deep run to the finals here, but both are more than capable on their day. This could be a close match, but I lean towards Suarez Navarro. Maria Sharapova will likely await the winner in Round 2.
Arina Rodionova (212) vs Taylor Townsend (120)
Rodionova battled through qualifying to reach her second Wimbledon main draw. As far as a first-round opponent goes, Arina has drawn fairly well. Townsend has a career-high ranking of 61 but hasn’t been in great form of late and has won only one match in the Wimbledon main draw in her career. I give Rodionova a good chance to get through to the second round, which would be a great effort, but Kiki Bertens, the fourth seed, will likely be waiting for her in the next round.
Daria Gavrilova (78) vs Elina Svitolina (8)
A tough first-round match up for Gavrilova. The pair have played each other eight times, with Daria winning twice. This is their first match-up on the grass, though, and while it wouldn’t be a total shock to see Gavrilova get the win, I think Svitolina will be too strong.
Ajla Tomljanovic (49) vs Daria Kasatkina (30)
If we look at the rankings, this is quite a tricky first-round match-up. Tomljanovic is getting back near her career-high ranking and Kasatkina has dropped a little from her career high of No. 10. Kasatkina hasn’t had a great year in the slams so far, but as a Wimbledon quarter-finalist last year, she will probably have a bit too much for Ajla to handle here.
Astra Sharma (85) vs Sofia Kenin (28)
A first-round match where both players are at their career-high ranking, so this should be an interesting affair. Sharma made her grand slam debut at the Australian Open this year, where she won her first-round match. Kenin is just 20 years old and reached the fourth round at Roland Garros last month. Although younger, Kenin will have a bit too much experience for Sharma in this one.
There are some interesting match-ups for the Aussies in Round 1, and hopefully we’ll have plenty of Round 2 matches to preview next week.