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Ubha: Wimbledon Expert Predictions

The Wimbledon draw was made at the All-England Club on Friday morning, with some very intriguing match-ups looming from the start - Ravi Ubha takes a look at what's to come for wtatennis.com.

Published June 21, 2014 12:14

Ubha: Wimbledon Expert Predictions
Garbiñe Muguruza, Maria Sharapova

LONDON, England - What sort of form is the defending champion at Wimbledon in? Oh, wait, that doesn't really matter, does it?

Yes, with Marion Bartoli retired, a repeat for the Frenchwoman is most certainly out of the question.

The de facto defending champion, then, you could say, is last year's finalist, Sabine Lisicki, but the German has had a tough season blighted by - again - injuries and illness.

Serena Williams hopes to bounce back after being upset at the French Open, while Maria Sharapova returns to the Slam where she truly introduced herself to the world 10 years ago.

Here's a look at the draw, with predictions in hand.

First Quarter: Serena Leads Tough Section
For a champ like Williams, success is measured in Grand Slam titles, so this year she's slumping: Two majors played, and two exits prior to the quarterfinals.

This, though, is the Slam that suits her game the most, little wonder with that serve. Williams vowed to work "five times" as hard following her second round exit at Roland Garros and she'll be even more pumped at Wimbledon than usual. Last year, fatigue was a factor in her premature defeat to Lisicki.

Positively for Williams - with her first two rounds appearing comfortable - she can work herself into the tournament.

Sharapova, Eugenie Bouchard and Andrea Petkovic - three of the four semifinalists in Paris - make this a difficult quarter.

Would neutrals not want to see Williams tangle with the feisty, aggressive Bouchard in the fourth round? And deprived of a Serena-Maria quarterfinal on dirt at Roland Garros, we'd take one at Wimbledon.

Angelique Kerber, the 2012 Wimbledon semifinalist, found form at Eastbourne, and the German could face Sharapova in the fourth round.

One of the top first round matches pits last year's semifinalist, Kirsten Flipkens, against grass court threat Tamira Paszek.

Can anyone really go against Serena?

Prediction: Williams

Second Quarter: Another Deep Run For Simona?
Simona Halep acquitted herself brilliantly at the French Open, going toe to toe with Sharapova - one of the game's best competitors in recent decades - in the final.

Halep entered the French under an injury cloud, pulling out of Rome mid-tourney with an abdominal injury. Ultimately it was a precaution.

Her fans - and they're growing in number - will hope her withdrawal from the Topshelf Open this week because of an upper back injury was also nothing serious.

If she's in good health, Halep has a wonderful chance to back up her French Open and reach the quarterfinals, since the seeds she could confront prior to the last eight are: Sorana Cirstea (having a poor 2014) and one of Roberta Vinci (ditto) or Carla Suárez Navarro (grass is not her surface).

The Romanian's most dangerous foe before the quarterfinals could be Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko, potentially in the second round.

If it materializes, Ana Ivanovic versus Lisicki would be the top third round match of the tournament. Ivanovic is having a super season, fresh off a maiden grass court title in Birmingham.

Ivanovic versus Halep is the most likely quarterfinal, and on grass, Ivanovic's bigger weapons give her the edge.

Prediction: Ivanovic

Third Quarter: Radwanska A Sure Thing?
Thankfully for Agnieszka Radwanska, her troubles in Eastbourne haven't affected her recent performances at Wimbledon. Despite losing four straight on the South Coast - she was toppled by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova this week - the Pole landed in the semifinals and final at the All-England Club in her two previous appearances.

Having Victoria Azarenka in her quarter would normally be problematic for Radwanska but Azarenka, in her comeback from a foot injury, was downed by Camila Giorgi in the first round in Eastbourne. Two matches since the Australian Open mean Azarenka is far from battle tested.

But that's not to say Radwanska has it easy. Just look at who she might play in the third round: Svetlana Kuznetsova. Kuznetsova lasted longer than Radwanska in Paris and more importantly, owns a 10-4 record against the World No.4. Radwanska did, mind you, win their last match.

In the fourth round, grass court specialists Ekaterina Makarova or Tsvetana Pironkova loom.

Coco Vandeweghe and Garbiñe Muguruza meet for the second straight week, the American triumphing at the Topshelf Open en route to a second career final. Vandeweghe's serve is impressive but will she sufficiently recover, mentally and physically, from her exertions in the Netherlands?

Muguruza is already turning into a player for the big stage.

Prediction: Muguruza

Fourth quarter: Li Hoping To Bounce Back
Even though she lost in the Eastbourne semifinals to Angelique Kerber, it was a good week for Caroline Wozniacki. Her body held up and her battling qualities shone, making it the almost perfect preparation for Wimbledon.

The former No.1 figures to ease into the third round, where Samantha Stosur or Yanina Wickmayer may await. Wozniacki got the better of Stosur in Eastbourne and the Dane would relish getting another crack at Wickmayer, who beat her in Paris.

Speaking of the French capital, Li Na's stay was one to forget, taken out in the first round by Kristina Mladenovic. Li's Wimbledon draw doesn't hold as much danger in the opening two rounds, but Barbora Zahlavova Strycova - the Birmingham finalist - and 2013 Eastbourne champion Elena Vesnina would be tricky in the third round ahead of a possible showdown with Wozniacki.

In the top portion of the quarter sits 2011 winner Petra Kvitova, who won two rounds in Eastbourne before pulling out with a thigh strain; it's been that type of year for the Czech.

Sloane Stephens' streak, meanwhile, of reaching at least the fourth round in six consecutive majors is under threat since she faces Maria Kirilenko in the round of 128.

Kirilenko has lost three straight, finding it hard to recover from her knee woes. Yet this is Wimbledon and the tough Russian won't be lacking in motivation, especially since overcoming Stephens could get her season going.

Prediction: Li

Winner: Williams

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