LONDON, Great Britain - The first round is in the books at Wimbledon, and 25 seeds made safe passage into the second round, including the three women battling for the No.1 ranking - Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep, and Karolina Pliskova - and the two former champions in the draw, in Petra Kvitova and Venus Williams.
Here's what filled my Notebook over the first two days:
The Kate and Petra Show
With the Duchess of Cambridge watching from the Royal Box, Petra Kvitova opened up Centre Court for the women's tournament and proceeded to amaze with the level she's been able to find so quickly on her return. She started the match with a double-fault and finished with an ace, firing 31 winners to 22 unforced errors to beat Johanna Larsson 6-3, 6-4.
One of the easily overlooked aspects of Kvitova's last 12 months is the impeccable form with which she finished the 2016 season. After a frustrating first six months of the season, Kvitova went on to win Olympic bronze, win Wuhan and Zhuhai, as well as tally solid results at the US Open (Round of 16, l. Kerber), Beijing (quarterfinals, l. Keys), New Haven (semifinal, l. Radwanska), and Luxembourg (final, l. Niculescu). In many ways, Kvitova has picked up right where she left off.
"I think it's connecting actually," Kvitova said after her win. "I feel that the end of the season stayed in my mind. Then when I started to hit a few balls, I was still over there. So for me, the time when I didn't really hit well, it was a difficult time for me to know that I needed time and to get there because I was still thinking as I'm in Zhuhai. It was really difficult.
"But then when I could play finally, I think the mind just stayed there. Then when I play the matches, I think that helps me as well, that I did finish the last season very well."
One ticket on the Styrcova Shinkansen, please.
Naomi Osaka, one of four teenagers in the main draw at the start of the tournament, earned her first main draw Wimbledon win, beating Sara Sorribes Tormo in straight sets. Osaka will now get a shot with occasional practice partner Barbora Strycova. As it turns out, Strycova has given Osaka pretty cool nickname:
Q. You play Strycova next. She's a player with a lot of variety.
NAOMI OSAKA: I actually just practiced with her yesterday. She's really nice. They call me the Shinkansen. I'm kind of looking forward to the match because I know she gives, like, 100% of her energy, and I do, too, so it will be interesting.
Q. What was that you said she called you?
NAOMI OSAKA: The Shinkansen, which is like a Japanese bullet train. I don't know why they do that.
Q. Barbora called you that?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yes.
Q. Do you know why she calls you that?
NAOMI OSAKA: I don't really know. But it sounds cool, so I'll take it (smiling).
Ashleigh Barty sets the record straight.
Many were tapping Barty to upset No.4 seed Elina Svitolina, but the Ukrainian played a gutsy two sets to take it 7-5, 7-6(8) to advance. Barty is of course still in the doubles with Casey Dellacqua, and the two are seeded 8th in the draw. Dellacqua has made seven Slam doubles finals, including four with Barty, and they're gunning to break their final hex here at Wimbledon.
Barty is a fantastic grass court player, but don't get it twisted:
Q. Do you think the grass is the best opportunity for you and Casey to win a doubles final?
ASHLEIGH BARTY: Without meaning to be arrogant, we have made a final in all four slams.
But Jelena Ostapenko goes to 11.
The French Open champion let out a huge roar after edging Aliaksandra Sasnovich in a very Ostopenkian scoreline of 6-0, 1-6, 6-3 in the first round. After the match the junior Wimbledon champion was asked about what adjustments she was making on the grass. Her answer was revealing. As it turns out, the Ostapenko that won in Paris was...the conservative version.
Q. What are the biggest adjustments you have made for switching surfaces?
JELENA OSTAPENKO: I mean, just maybe to stay more aggressive and serve and return better, because it's very important on grass.
Q. You were pretty aggressive in Paris, though.
JELENA OSTAPENKO: Yeah, I know, but still it's clay court and I was playing a little bit maybe less risky on clay. I mean, I was playing aggressive because it's my style. Sometimes I was just trying, like, to change the rhythm or something. But here you have to play aggressive because it's very hard to move on grass.
Madison Keys and Karolina Pliskova get low.
Sure, a surface can allow you to play your best tennis. But it can also force it out of you. Keys and Pliskova are two of the best grass court players, and believe one of the big reasons their games excel on the turf is the low bounces force them to actually get low and stay low through their shots.
"My coaches are really happy because I bend my knees on grass because I have to stay low," Keys told WTA Insider. "They're like, 'Wow you're so low!' I'm like 'Yeah, I know. I'm on grass. Don't expect it in like three weeks. Keep your expectations lower than what you're seeing here."
Said Pliskova: "Maybe it's like that because on clay and hard court sometimes I don't have to go down on my knees, so that's why I don't go. Here I really have to for almost every ball, especially on those courts. The ball doesn't jump that high. I really have to use my knees.
"I'm trying to improve it. It's not easy, not in a few days. We still working on it. I believe there's still been improvement."
Must Watch Second Round Matches:
Elina Svitolina vs. Francesca Schiavone
Madison Keys vs. Camila Giorgi
Victoria Azarenka vs. Elena Vesnina
Anastasija Sevastova vs. Heather Watson
Barbora Strycova vs. Naomi Osaka
Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Ekaterina Makarova
Karolina Pliskova vs. Magdalena Rybarikova
Daria Kasatkina vs. Anett Kontaveit
Caroline Wozniacki vs. Tsvetana Pironkova