Wondering what players could pull off a couple upsets and end up staying for strawberries and cream for Week Two at Wimbledon? Keep an eye on Sofia Kenin, David Goffin and others.
The women’s game has a new world No.1. The men’s top five haven’t budged ranking spots in over a month. Wimbledon’s perennial ryegrass is about to receive its annual desecrators—fresh-faced rookies, dark horses and defending champions—as they step foot in London July 1. Top-ranked French Open champ, Ashleigh Barty, is looking to continue her run at Wimbledon which hasn’t been her best tournament result in the past. Last year’s champion, Novak Djokovic, is the clear favorite to win again at the All England Club. His path looks clear until the quarterfinals where he could meet seventh-seed, Stefanos Tsitsipas. Here are six other players with potential to stay for strawberries well into Week Two.
With aggressive groundstrokes, a big serve and return, and a dominant net game, Goerges’s style is favorable for grass, the fastest playing surface of the Grand Slams. The tall German stays close to the baseline, and powers balls on the rise that send her opponents stretching from side to side. She is merciless with weak balls and frequently closes off points at the net. Goerges has been on the women’s tour for nearly 15 years reaching the semis of Wimbledon last year, her best Grand Slam result to date. She’s got promising momentum coming into this year’s grass-court major after making a finals appearance at Birmingham last week where she lost to Barty. At 30-years-old with a mountain of experience, Goerges is determined to win a major before her time is up. If the stars align in England, Wimbledon could be the place for her breakthrough.
The 20-year-old rising star from Florida has pocketed some big wins this year including one over Serena Williams at the French Open. Most recently, Kenin won the grass-court tournament in Mallorca saving three match points to beat Belinda Bencic in three sets. She is quick, has good instincts for court positioning, and plays aggressive. Kenin’s groundstroke motions are difficult to read; sometimes she’ll load up for what looks like a crosscourt backhand and wait a split second longer to pound it down the line. She can generate power and run around the court all day if that’s what it takes. Kenin is on a rapid ascent both in confidence level and in the rankings. The fierce youngster was ranked outside the top 100 a year ago and has steadily picked up points winning a tournament in Australia and reaching the finals in Acapulco earlier this year. Kenin appears fearless in front of some of her older and more experienced opponents. Her first major hurdle will likely come in the third round against Naomi Osaka.
Garcia has a powerful, high percentage serve coupled with dominant volleys that will get her some easy points on the grass. She comes off a grass-court tournament victory in Nottingham where she fought back in three sets to beat Donna Vekic in the finals. The 25-year-old from France has rapturous groundstrokes and is equally efficient when forced on the defensive. She has one of the best returns in the women’s game and generates unpleasant spin off both wings that her opponents find difficult to adjust to. Garcia’s best Grand Slam result happened in 2017 when she reached the quarterfinals of the French Open. A year earlier, she won the French Open doubles title. It’s no secret that she’s comfortable at the net using every short ball to choke off points with her volleys. To beat top players at Wimbledon, Garcia will have to play a riskier game by going for more angles.
Berrettini, 23, from Italy has come seemingly out of nowhere this year winning two ATP titles on two different surfaces. His most recent trophy came on grass at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart where Berrettini went the entire tournament without dropping his serve. He ousted players like Nick Kyrgios, Karen Khachanov and Felix Auger-Aliassime. At 6’5” Berrettini easily generates pace and placement on his serve. His short forehand and backhand swings help him intercept balls early and afford less time for his opponents. Berrettini is fast on the court, produces a piercing slice and executes brilliantly at the net. He first broke into the top 100 last May winning a clay court tournament in Switzerland a couple of months later. Berrettini hasn’t had the best results at Grand Slams since turning pro in 2015. His best was the third round of the French Open last year. But jaunty demeanor and undeniable talent warrant reasons to keep him in close watch this tournament.
Goffin has recently shown signs of his 2017 self when he was at his career high ranking of world No. 7. He reached the finals in Halle last week, outlasting Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berrettini before falling to Roger Federer. Goffin is a heavy-hitting baseliner and suave mover capable of smart point construction. He had an injury-filled year in 2018 starting with an eye problem and later an elbow issue. His best Grand Slam result was at the French Open in 2016 and at the Australian Open in 2017 when he appeared in the quarterfinals. He made it to the fourth round of Wimbledon three years ago, losing to Milos Raonic. The Belgian has consistent and accurate groundstrokes. His two-handed backhand is one of his biggest weapons. At 5’11” he’s not the strongest or the tallest on the tour but he has outlasted his more physically gifted opponents with impeccable court coverage and smart shot selection. Goffin reunited earlier this year with his former coach, Thomas Johansson, the 2002 Australian Open champion. He could meet Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals.
Lopez jumped 60 positions in the ATP rankings this week to No. 53. after claiming a grass court title in London. He beat some top contenders on the way including Juan Martin del Potro, Milos Raonic, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Gilles Simon. The 37-year-old lefty is one of few serve-and-volleyers left in the men’s game. His strongest Grand Slam showing has come at Wimbledon with three quarterfinal runs. Four of his seven ATP singles titles have come on grass including Eastbourne International in 2013 and 2014, and Queens Club Championships in 2017 and 2019. It’s safe to say that the Spaniard likes grass. At a time in men’s tennis when the big three are all between the ages of 32 and 37 years old, Lopez is in good company to find his best game. His first obstacle will likely come in the second round against 10th-seed Karen Khachanov who reached the fourth round of last year’s Wimbledon.