With the world’s most prestigious tennis tournament just around the corner, here is a quick look at five players who could break their Wimbledon hoodoo and reach the second week.
Pliskova is considered by many to be the Wimbledon favourite following her triumph at Eastbourne. The 25-year-old is blessed with massive groundstrokes and a potent serve, with an ability to serve and volley when necessary. Her end-of-year ranking has risen every year since 2006 and she has claimed three titles on the WTA Tour this year, with the latest in East Sussex her second on grass after winning in Nottingham last year. The absence of Serena Williams undoubtedly opens a window of opportunity for Pliskova to stake her claim to become world number one and the Czech’s current form suggests that she will be difficult to stop.
Svitolina is another player who has made continuous improvements since entering the senior ranks in 2010 and, at the age of just 22, she has plenty of time to get even better. Her aggressive game should suit grass, but the Ukrainian has not yet claimed a Tour title on the surface. However, her form this year has been scintillating, picking up titles in Rome, Istanbul, Taipei City and Dubai, defeating both Pliskova and Simona Halep in the Italian capital. The Odessa-born player also matched her best-ever performance at a Grand Slam last month, reaching the last eight of Roland Garros. A repeat outcome in SW19 would definitely be considered a success.
As the only British woman in the top 100, Konta is very much carrying the weight of expectation on her shoulders. Of the five players listed here, her improvement has been the most startling. As 2014 drew to a close, the 25-year-old was world number 150 and was struggling to find any sort of consistency. Fast forward two-and-a-half years and she is one of the in-form players on the circuit, with her serve being a major asset. Konta has already notched up two titles this year in Sydney and Miami, with a runner-up finish in Nottingham. Her home Grand Slam does not hold happy memories, but, if fit, she should progress beyond the second round, her best performance to date.
France’s top female player, Mladenovic comes into this tournament having reached the quarter-finals of Roland Garros. Her ability at the net and her use of drop shots and volleys to good effect makes the 24-year-old a highly unpredictable opponent. These skills have allowed her to carve out an excellent doubles career. She partnered Timea Babos at the All England Club three years ago, reaching the final and went one better in the mixed event the previous year, playing alongside Daniel Nestor. She partners Svetlana Kuznetsova this time round. It is hard to envisage her lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish on 15 June, but she is a different proposition in doubles.
Ostapenko is by no means the youngest or the lowest-ranked player ever to win a major, but her sensational win at Roland Garros rocked the tennis world. Her high-risk strategy did not change throughout the tournament, as the Latvian produced an astounding number of winners and unforced errors, swinging freely and giving her opponents no time to breathe. Her name was unfamiliar to the vast majority of observers, but having moved from number 47 in the world before the Paris tournament to inside the top 15, she will now have her cards marked. She will also compete alongside Raquel Atawo in the doubles competition as the 11th seeds.
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