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Wimbledon Day 1 Preview

Venus is back, but Francesca Schiavone will command the Centre Court spotlight on the first day of the 2011 Championships.

Published June 19, 2011 05:40

Wimbledon Day 1 Preview
Anne Keothavong

Monday, First Round (Bottom Half)

Centre Court
[6] Francesca Schiavone (ITA #7) vs. Jelena Dokic (AUS #45)
Head-to-Head: Dokic leads 3-0
By virtue of reaching the final on grass at 's-Hertogenbosch last week, Dokic is back in the Top 50 for the first time since October 2004. It's been a long haul for the former world No.4 but several factors could play in the 2000 Wimbledon semifinalist's favor today. Amazingly, her first two defeats of Schiavone were a decade ago, but the third came during her title run at Kuala Lumpur earlier this year. Assuming she's recovered from her Dutch exploits, she should also benefit from having played more matches on the green stuff than Schiavone, whose first round win at Eastbourne was her sole victory on the surface since a run to the quarters here in 2009. That said, many aspects of the Italian's game translate well from clay to grass and it might be notable that Roberta Vinci, who edged Dokic in the Den Bosch final, plays a similar game. Schiavone, of course, has added power and panache to draw upon.

Court 3
[15] Jelena Jankovic (SRB #15) vs. María José Martínez Sánchez (ESP #76)
Head-to-Head: Martínez Sánchez leads 2-1
While Martínez Sánchez hasn't won back-to-back WTA matches this season (Fed Cup, where she has gone 4-0, has been another matter), she remains one of the most intriguing players on the tour, with a skill set that should be impactful on grass (lefty serve, a commitment to serve and volley, great drop shots). And the biggest win of her career happened to come at the expense of Jankovic in the final at Rome last year. Meantime, Jankovic has been through her own rocky patch: between the US Open and Dubai, where she reached the semis, she didn't put two wins together either. Things have picked up considerably since then, but not enough to stop the former world No.1 from falling out of the Top 10 for the first time in four years. Wimbledon remains the only Slam she hasn't attained at least the semis, and if she is to change that this fortnight she'll have to hit the ground running.

Court 12
[WC] Naomi Broady (GBR #213) vs. Anne Keothavong (GBR #111)
Head-to-Head: Keothavong leads 2-0
The good news for the home fans is that Great Britain is guaranteed at least one woman through to the second round. The bad news is that this local derby will produce a very disappointed loser, because both players will view this draw as a tremendous opportunity. In 2009 Keothavong was riding high as the British No.1 , and indeed the first Brit to crack the Top 50 since 1993. But a left knee injury wrecked her trajectory, and now the 27-year-old is trying to break back into the Top 100. For her part, 21-year-old Grand Slam debutante Broady is at a career high No.213 this week, buoyed by a good second round finish as a qualifier at Birmingham, where her big serving game pushed in-form Peng Shuai to the absolute limit. While Keothavong edged her young compatriot 7-5 in the third at the recent ITF event in Nottingham, it will be interesting to see how the pressure of playing The Championships pans out.

More to watch…
Last year's runner-up, No.2 seed Vera Zvonareva opens her account against Alison Riske on Court 1. Five-time champion Venus Williams, the No.23 seed, plays Akgul Amanmuradova first on Court 2; fourth seed Victoria Azarenka plays Magdalena Rybarikova on the same court later in the day. British wildcard Katie O'Biren plays Kimiko Date-Krumm on Court 3 and No.12 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova plays Zhang Shuai on Court 4. Later, No.11 seed Andrea Petkovic plays lucky loser Stephanie Foretz Gacon last on Court 18 while new Den Bosch champion Vinci, seeded No.29, plays Vera Dushevina on Court 14. Daniela Hantuchova, the No.25 seed, closes the program on Court 17 against Russian qualifier Vitalia Diatchenko.

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