Wimbledon: 2019 First-Round Tips And Preview4 min read
Our tennis man Andy Schooler picks out four underdogs to follow in the first round of Wimbledon 2019.
Jiri Vesely to beat Alex Zverev
Zverev’s 2019 struggles – well founded due to a host of issues in his life away from the court – have continued on grass with defeats to Dustin Brown in Stuttgart and David Goffin in Halle and now he’s back in Grand Slam circles where he was so often failed to deliver. Strong-serving Vesely looks a big price to add to those woes. He’s just come through qualifying, only losing serve twice in three matches. He’s been to the last 16 of the main draw in two of his last three visits to Wimbledon and looks capable of an upset.
Jordan Thompson to beat Nick Kyrgios
Thompson delivered for this blog in Den Bosch a few weeks ago, reaching the final as a 35/1 shot, and he’s since been to the semis in Antalya, losing only 7-6 in the final set there. His serve has been strong and with Kyrgios’ return game frankly pretty poor, this should at least be tight. In the meantime, Kyrgios has been ‘compiling’ a 1-2 win-loss record on the surface. Much has already been written about a potential Kyrgios v Nadal match in round two but the temperamental Aussie is hardly known for his focus and it would be absolutely typical for him to take his eye off the ball against a very useful opponent on this surface. The form player looks worth backing here.
Camilla Giorgi to beat Dayana Yastremska
Giorgi is only just back from injury but it’s surprising to see her at such a big price against a player who is undoubtedly a rising star but also one who has never won a tour-level match on grass. In contrast, Giorgi has a strong grasscourt record and just 12 months ago she was pushing Serena Williams to three sets here in the quarter-finals. She also has a WTA title on grass on her CV and she wasn’t too far away from returning to the tour with a victory in Eastbourne last week; she probably would have done but for a horror day on serve which produced 16 double faults. That’s unlikely to happen again here and the Italian’s experience and nous can win the day in this one.
Svetlana Kuznetsova to beat Alison van Uytvanck
Kuznetsova is another player on the comeback trail who knows her way around a grasscourt. Like Giorgi, she’s been in a Wimbledon quarter-final fairly recently – in her case 2017 – and it is notable she’s beaten two top-30 players since returning to action in April. Victory over Aryna Sabalenka in relatively fast conditions in Madrid was particularly eye-catching with Wimbledon in mind. Her Belgian opponent has been dashing round the grasscourt warm-up events but without much success and it looks like too much weight has been placed on her win here last year against former champion Garbine Muguruza.