We’re just a matter of days into Wimbledon 2012 and already the opening round has provided its fair share of action and drama.
On the men’s side, it has been smooth sailing for the big four names, with first Djokovic and then Federer, Nadal and Murray all easing through tricky looking openers without the loss of a set.
Novak Djokovic was broken early in the opening set of his title defence but soon proved he had more than enough in his locker to handle the former world no.1, Jaun Carols Ferrero.
Nadal gave the SW19 crowd a scare when he lost the opening four games of his first round tie with Thomaz Bellucci but came storming back to take the match in straight sets.
Meanwhile Murray and Federer looked like they were on the exhibition courts with simple victories over Davydenko and Ramos respectively.
But while it’s all gone according to plan for the biggest names, the men’s draw has had no shortage of first round upsets. The biggest shock of the tournament so far came on Monday when 2010 finalist and strong looking contender this time round, Tomas Berdych fell in straight sets to Latvia’s Ernest Gulbis. Berdych had been many pundits’ dark horse to win the event, but despite some consistent serving, the Czech found himself on the wrong side of three tie-breakers and exits in the first round for the first time in nine years.
Meanwhile, big serving American, and star of the 70-68, Wimbledon 2010 epic, John Isner, also fell at the first hurdle. Isner had shown some good form this year in reaching the final at Indian Wells and defeating Roger Federer on clay in the Davis Cup. He may not have been anybody’s choice to win Wimbledon but as the highest ranking American, it was certainly a shock to see him go out in five sets to Colombian, Alejandro Falla.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was amongst the possible names, outside of the top four, who could win this event and he came through a tricky looking tie with 2002 Champion, Lleyton Hewitt, with flying colours. Victory in straight sets saw the Frenchman comfortably through to the second round and he remains on a collision course to meet Rafa Nadal in the quarter-finals.
On the women’s side it perhaps wasn’t as much of a shock as it may have seemed to see Venus Williams dropping out on the opening day, for the first time since 1997. Venus has been struggling with severe illness and whilst it would have been a fairytale story to see her back on Centre Court, gunning for another title, the odds were always very much against it.
Serena and Sharapova both powered through to the second round with convincing displays and could well be destined for a climactic final in 11 days’ time.
2011 Champion, Petra Kvitova looked decidedly shaky when getting her title defence underway against Uzbekistan heavy hitter, Akgul Amanmuradova. The Czech 22-year-old found herself 4-1 down in the opening set before digging in impressively and ultimately coming through in two closely fought sets.
We’ve already seen some great performances by the British women here too. Elena Baltacha and Anne Keothavong have both made it safely through to the second round, whilst youngster Laura Robson pushed experienced Italian , Francesca Schiavone all the way, before eventually missing out 6-4 in the deciding set.
Round Two gets underway on Wednesday and there are some intriguing match-ups to look out for in both the men’s and women’s events.
Novak Djokovic faces a tricky challenge in the shape of American, Ryan Harrison. Harrison’s powerful serve should be enough to keep things close for a while, but it would be a massive shock if the Serb didn’t find a way through without too much drama.
Ivo Karlovic looks well on course to meet Andy Murray on Thursday afternoon and after a somewhat easy victory over Davydenko on Tuesday, Murray may well find it tough to get past the large Croatian frame. Karlovic is probably past his best and has never really made a big impact at Wimbledon, but if his serve clicks into gear, it could certainly be an uncomfortable afternoon for the British no.1.
American, Sam Querrey’s match-up with Canadian, Milos Raonic should be a high quality encounter, as both men battle it out for the chance to maybe play Andy Murray a little further down the line.
Over in the women’s draw, Elena Baltacha v Petra Kvitova is a standout match if you’re British and after defeating no.18 seed, Jelena Jankovic in her opening match, it will be interesting to monitor the form of Kim Clijsters as she takes on Andrea Hlavakova.
Pick of Round Two Matches
Andy Murray v Ivo Karlovic
Novak Djokovic v Ryan Harrison
Sam Querrey v Milos Raonic
Kim Clijsters v Andrea Hlavakova
Maria Sharapova v Tsvetana Pironkova
Elena Baltacha v Petra Kvitova