The third major of tennis’s season will get underway on Monday from the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. As the singles matches for Wimbledon are set to begin, there are five interesting first round matchups.
5) Kevin Anderson–RSA vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert–FRA–Fourth-ranked Kevin Anderson of South Africa will try to redevelop his 2018 Wimbledon magic where he got to the final before losing to Novak Djokovic of Serbia. However, he will have a tough first round opponent as he faces Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who reached the semifinals of the Halle Open in Germany just two weeks ago. Along the way, Herbert upset seeded players Gael Monfils (Herbert’s countryman) and Borna Coric of Croatia. Head-to-head, Anderson won their only previous meeting 6-4, 7-5 in the finals of Winston-Salem, NC in 2015.
4) Sloane Stephens–USA vs. Timea Bacsinszky–SUI–In the most intriguing first round women’s matchup on paper, American Sloane Stephens, the ninth seed, will try to improve on her career Wimbledon results. In an interesting statistic, Wimbledon is the only major in Stephens’s career where she has not reached the semifinals. In fact, over the last two years, Stephens has lost in the first round each time at Wimbledon. In 2017, Stephens was upset 6-2, 7-5 by fellow American Alison Riske of Pittsburgh, PA and in 2018, Stephens lost convincingly to Donna Vekic of Croatia 6-1, 6-3. Bacsinszky meanwhile, has reached the semifinals of the French Open twice in the past and has reached the quarterfinals of a major on two other occasions. Head-to-head, Stephens has beaten Bacsinszky in the first round of Luxembourg in 2013, 6-3, 6-3, and in a Fed Cup qualifier in San Antonio, TX this past April, 6-4, 6-3.
3) Dominic Thiem–AUT vs. Sam Querrey–USA–There is no doubt that the fifth ranked Dominic Thiem of Austria will have his hands full with Sam Querrey of San Francisco, CA. Just two years ago, Querrey was the talk of Wimbledon as he reached the semifinals before losing to the seventh seed, Marin Cilic of Croatia. Along the way, Querrey beat formidable opponents such as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in the third round and Anderson in the fourth round, before shocking the British supporters by beating Andy Murray of Great Britain in five sets in the quarterfinals, 3-6, 6-4, 6-7, 6-1, 6-1. Thiem, who has made the French Open final the last two years, lost in the first round at Wimbledon last year to the 2006 Australian Open finalist, Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus. Head to head, Thiem has the 3-1 advantage.
2) Fabio Fognini–ITA vs. Frances Tiafoe–USA–The chances of an upset are all over this match. Fognini, the 12th seed, has had a solid 2019 season as he won Monte Carlo. However it will be interesting to see if his outstanding season on clay will move over to grass. Tiafoe meanwhile had a great Australian Open back in January as he reached the quarterfinals before losing to Rafael Nadal of Spain. Tiafoe had impressive wins over Anderson and Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria to reach Melbourne’s final eight. Their only other matchup also took place at a major, with Fognini beating Tiafoe in five sets at the 2017 French Open, 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 1-6, 6-0.
1) Novak Djokovic–SRB vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber–GER–Novak Djokovic of Serbia, the world number one, saw his streak of three consecutive men’s singles titles come to an end in the semifinals of the 2019 French Open when he lost to Thiem, 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5. It will be interesting to see how Djokovic, a four-time Wimbledon champion, performs in the early rounds of Wimbledon after electing not to participate in a Wimbledon tuneup tournament. Kohlschreiber is no slouch as he reached the fourth round of the 2018 US Open and reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon back in 2012. Head to head, Djokovic is 10-2 against Kohlschreiber all-time.