Wimbledon 2018 draw preview and tips: Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova drawn into same quarter

Hannah Wilks in Wimbledon 29 Jun 2018
  • Wimbledon 2018 women's draw analysis and predictions
  • Serena and Venus Williams look poised to dominate the bottom half of the draw
  • Simona Halep, Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova in the same quarter
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Petra Kvitova has been handed a tough draw at Wimbledon 2018

Tough draws for Garbine Muguruza and Petra Kvitova but Serena Williams could be poised for an eighth title: Wimbledon 2018 women’s draw analysis and predictions!

The draws for Wimbledon 2018 have been released and the women’s singles promises to be packed with thrills from start to finish. 

Top seed Simona Halep, fresh from winning her maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open, could have to contend with 2017 semifinalist Johanna Konta and former champions Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova just to make the semifinals – and she could face defending champion Garbine Muguruza there. 

In the bottom half of the draw, 25th seed Serena Williams looks likely to carve her way through Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki if she is to pursue an eighth Wimbledon title, while 2017 runner-up Venus Williams and French Open finalist Sloane Stephens are in the same quarter as Karolina Pliskova.

We break down the draw and predict the semifinalists. 

Top quarter

Projected quarterfinal: Simona Halep (1) vs Petra Kvitova (8) (3-1)

Also in this quarter: 2004 champion Maria Sharapova (24); 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko (12); 2017 semifinalist Johanna Konta (22); Dominika Cibulkova (unseeded)

The top seed and the title favourite in the same quarter with Maria Sharapova, playing her first Wimbledon for three years? Sign me up.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova was almost everybody’s pick for the title coming in after five titles won by the Czech already in 2018, including Bimingham on grass in the run-up, and a second-round pull-out in Eastbourne by the Czech due to a hamstring injury didn’t cause too much concern. 

What is a concern, though, is Kvitova’s draw. The eighth seed opens against the rapidly-improving Aliaksandra Sasnovich, and while Pauline Parmentier/Taylor Townsend in the second round and Daria Gavrilova in the third shouldn’t be too much of a problem, she could face either Jelena Ostapenko or Sharapova in the round of 16. 

While Sharapova’s Wimbledon title came 14 years ago, she was a semifinalist on her last appearance in 2015 and Greece’s Maria Sakkari is the biggest (distant) threat to her in the early rounds. She beat Ostapenko in Rome and the Latvian’s underwhelming serve could make her vulnerable in a potential round of 16 clash (if the erratic Ostapenko gets that far), so a Sharapova-Kvitova round of 16 clash looks extremely possible. Sharapova leads the head-to-head 7-3, but they haven’t played for three years; moreover, Kvitova won their only previous grass-court match – the Wimbledon final in 2011.

Halep has the bad luck of having to try to deal with the victor in the quarterfinals, but the top seed’s path to the second week looks much smoother. Halep pulled out of scheduled warm-up events with an Achilles problem, but if that’s sufficiently healed, she should be fine, opening against Kurumi Nara and facing Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the third round. Projected fourth-round opponent Elise Mertens has been absolutely flattened by Halep in their previous meetings, but it would be no surprise if someone else came through: 2017 semifinalist Johanna Konta beat Halep in the quarterfinals 12 months ago, but might not make it past the hard-hitting if raw Russian Natalia Vikhlyantseva in the first round, and is likely to face Dominika Cibulkova in the second. Cibulkova, unseeded and furious about it after the All-England Club decided to seed Serena Williams, is a two-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist and also has a winning record against Halep, so could well be the first big check for the Romanian.

Kvitova has under-performed in Slams so far this year, and does come in with injury concerns. I could see Halep taking advantage of her smoother route through the first week and surprising the Czech, potentially exhausted from taking on Sharapova (and there is no rest day between the fourth round and quarterfinals for the women, remember) in the quarterfinals. But it’s so difficult to pick against Kvitova at Wimbledon, even with her tough draw, even with all the reasons to think she might not perform.

Semifinalist: Kvitova

Second quarter

Projected quarterfinal: Garbine Muguruza (3) vs Caroline Garcia (6) (3-0)

Also in this quarter: 2016 runner-up Angelique Kerber (11); Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka (18); Indian Wells runner-up Daria Kasatkina (14); Australian talent Ashleigh Barty (17); rising Estonian powerhouse Anett Kontaveit (28); 2014 runner-up Eugenie Bouchard (Q)

Defending champion Garbine Muguruza isn’t in the toughest quarter at Wimbledon 2018 – but it’s far from the easiest.

The Spanish player, who has featured in the final two of the past three years, could be set for a rematch with Simona Halep, who knocked her out of the French Open in surprisingly one-sided fashion, if she gets as far as the final four. But first she has plenty to contend with – and she did not impress in her sole warm-up event in Birmingham, going out easily to Barbora Strycova.
Muguruza starts against Great Britain’s Naomi Broady and likely faces Belgium’s Alison van Uytvanck in the second round – two players you would expect her to beat – but in the third round things could get very tough fast for her against Anett Kontaveit, who has gone 0-2 on grass in the run-up but knocked Petra Kvitova out of the French Open and is one of the most dangerous, powerful young players on tour. Should Muguruza get through that, she could be in for another tough one; her projected opponent according to seeding is Daria Kasatkina, who knocked her out of Madrid, but is more likely to be the crafty Ashleigh Barty, Nottingham champion in the run-up. Former runner-up Eugenie Bouchard, match-tough after playing her way through qualifying, is also in this mini-section.

Caroline Garcia is Muguruza’s projected opponent due to seeding, but the real threat in the bottom section of this quarter is Angelique Kerber, the 2016 Wimbledon runner-up who plays some phenomenal tennis on grass. In the Eastbourne semifinals at the time of writing, Kerber opens against another former finalist Vera Zvonareva, with two extremely powerful and dangerous opponents waiting in the second and third rounds – Ana Konjuh and Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka. It takes a hell of a lot to hit through Kerber on this surface, though, and you’d expect her to come through to the fourth round – and beyond, whether she faces Garcia in the round of 16 or perhaps Kaia Kanepi or Alison Riske.

Clashes between Kerber and Muguruza are always matches not to miss, and both times they have faced off at Wimbledon it’s been a three-set classic – won by Muguruza, who has gone on to reach the final both times. I think the defending champion is going out early, though, and I think it’s the winner of that third-round clash between Kerber and Osaka who is making the semifinals. Good as Osaka is, I know who I’m backing.

Semifinalist: Kerber

Third quarter

Projected quarterfinal: Karolina Pliskova (7) vs Sloane Stephens (4) (1-2)

Also in this quarter: Five-time champion and 2017 runner-up Venus Williams (9); former quarterfinalist Barbora Strycova (23); Eastbourne finalist Aryna Sabalenka (unseeded); former world no. 1 Victoria Azarenka (unseeded)

If there is a soft quarter of this year’s Wimbledon ladies’ singles draw – it’s this one.

Former world no. 1 Karolina Pliskova’s failure to get past the second round of Wimbledon is one of the more puzzling streaks in tennis, with her latest defeat coming to Magdalena Rybarikova last year in the second round despite Pliskova coming in as a hot favourite having won the Eastbourne title. After a strong clay season, Pliskova was dismantled in the third round of the French Open by Maria Sharapova and grass-court warm-ups haven’t gone to plan – she lost to Rybarikova in Birmingham and Aryna Sabalenka in the quarterfinals in Eastbourne.

The seventh-seeded Czech looks vulnerable, in other words, and although Great Britain’s Harriet Dart shouldn’t pose her any problems in the first round, former world no. 1 Victoria Azarenka – unseeded after motherhood and custody complications have decimated her career in the past couple of years – should be a different story. Azarenka is a two-time Wimbledon semifinalist and although her recent results haven’t been great, she’s a formidable opponent – and there are more potential challenges in the third round: The rising Mihaela Buzarnescu, a semifinalist in Birmingham who stunned Elina Svitolina in Paris, or her first-round opponent, powerful Aryna Sabalenka who is having a huge breakthrough week in Eastbourne where she just made the final.

And the challenges don’t stop there for Pliskova, because in the section that will provide her fourth-round opponent lurks Venus Williams, the five-time champion who has regained former glories in the past couple of seasons, making the semifinal in 2016 and the final last year. Williams has had a sub-par season but she has the chance to play herself into this draw, starting with Johanna Larsson and projected to face clay-court specialist Kiki Bertens in the third round, and you would back Venus against any of the players who come out of the top section.

You would also back her against most of the remaining players in the quarter. Sloane Stephens proved that her US Open win was no fluke when she won Miami and made the French Open final, and she’s made the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in the past, but she’s streaky and has a tough opener against big-serving Donna Vekic, a very good grass-court player. Another former quarterfinalist, Barbora Strycova, has a tough opener against Svetlana Kuznetsova, as does 11th seed Julia Goerges, not really a grass-court lover who opens against Monica Puig. If Stephens gets past Vekic, she should make the quarterfinals and a clash against Williams would be interesting indeed, but don’t bet against Venus making yet another deep run at Wimbledon.

Semifinalist: Venus Williams

Fourth quarter

Projected quarterfinal: Elina Svitolina (4) vs Caroline Wozniacki (2) (3-1)

Also in this quarter: Seven-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams (25); 2017 semifinalist and Birmingham runner-up Magdalena Rybarikova (19); Madison Keys (10); Coco Vandeweghe (16); 2012 finalist Agnieszka Radwanska (32)

The big question coming into this draw: Where would Serena Williams, the seven-time Wimbledon champion, land? And the consensus view is that Williams couldn’t have landed in a better place if she is to make a serious bid for an amazing eighth title at the All-England Club.

After the committee’s decision to seed her 25th, the earliest Williams could face a top-eight seed was the third round and it’s Elina Svitolina who has drawn that particular microscopically-short straw. Playing for the first time since a pectoral injury took her out of the French Open, Williams opens against Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands (no threat) and could face Tereza Smitkova or Viktoriya Tomova in the second round – that’s two matches to play herself into form before she has to face Svitolina.

Not only has Svitolina never made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon (and only that far once), the Ukrainian opens against Mallorca Open champion Tatjana Maria and could have to face Kristina Mladenovic – slumping but never not dangerous with her forehand and athleticism – in the second round. Svitolina did actually win her last match against Williams at the Olympics in 2016, and is a much-improved player since then, but has not particularly excelled on grass so far and certainly doesn’t have the kind of explosive power on serve or off the ground to match Williams – although she can force the American to hit an awful lot of balls, which is traditionally a big part of the playbook of beating her. Ultimately, though, the fifth seed looks more like a good potential test for Williams than someone you would expect to end the American’s run.

Another powerful American, Madison Keys, looks likely to await in the fourth round, although crafty Magdalena Rybarikova – superb on this surface, as she showed with her semifinal run at Wimbledon in 2017 and reminded us when she made the Birmingham final – is also in the section. Keys, a French Open semifinalist, comes in having not played any warm-up events and her Wimbledon record (a solitary quarterfinal appearance in 2015) is a little underwhelming, but this is a good draw to make the second week although one would expect Williams to win that particular clash, too.

In the bottom section of this quarter, second seed Caroline Wozniacki is not to be underestimated, but her Wimbledon record has never been particularly good – she’s rarely failed to reach the second week, but never gone beyond the fourth round. The Dane, into the semifinals of Eastbourne at the time of writing, could face a bump against Ekaterina Makarova or Petra Martic in the second round and Agnieszka Radwanska, a former Wimbledon finalist (also into the Eastbourne semifinals), in the third in what would be their first grass-court meeting. But her biggest challenge should be Coco Vandeweghe, twice a Wimbledon quarterfinalist in the last three years, who beat her in last year’s fourth round. A Williams-Vandeweghe quarterfinal looks distinctly indicated – and I know who I’m backing in that serving duel.

Semifinalist: Serena Williams

Semifinals: Kvitova d. Kerber
Serena d. Venus

Final: Serena d. Kvitova

Wimbledon tennis is live from Wimbledon from 2-15 July 2018. Click here to find out how to watch live tennis action online. 

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Wimbledon 2018 draw preview and tips: Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova and Maria Sharapova drawn into same quarter

Serena and Venus Williams look poised to dominate the bottom half of the draw while defending champion Garbine Muguruza is handed a tough road: Wimbledon 2018 women’s draw analysis and tips

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