The SI Tennis crew weighs in on Week 1, Manic Monday and makes picks to win the men's and women's title.
With Week One in the books and Manic Monday up next, the SI Tennis crew takes stock of all the biggest storylines and looks ahead to the action still to come at Wimbledon.
Which fourth-round men's and women's match are you most looking forward to?
Jon Wertheim: Simona Halep/Coco Gauff to start. Because A) Gauff is the toast of the tournament so far and B) it will be interesting to see Gauff against a seed, which she has yet to face, the next step in this crash course and C) if Gauff somehow wins, beating a former No.1, it will save her from wild card grovelings, which impact her age eligibility restrictions.
Sam Querrey and Tennys Sandgren, a pair of unseeded Americans, play a high stakes match. Serena should roll Carla Suarez Navarro —she’s played here six times and hasn’t dropped a set—but then gets Barty. And Petra Kvitova and Jo Konta has great potential.
Stanley Kay: I'm tempted to say Petra Kvitova against home favorite Johanna Konta, who came back to beat Sloane Stephens in the third round. But as much as I want to be a contrarian, I can't bring myself to pick something other than Gauff's match against Halep. I think Halep likely wins in straight sets, but I'll be fascinated to see how Gauff fares against her best opponent to date, especially after the hype around the 15-year-old exploded after she stunned Polona Hercog on Friday. Most of the men's fourth-round matchups are lackluster in comparison, but in the spirit of Independence Day I'll say Tennys Sandgren vs. Sam Querrey.
Jamie Lisanti: Give me all the popcorn for Simona Halep vs. Coco Gauff and save some for Petra Kvitova vs. Jo Konta, too. It will also be interesting to see how 23-year-old Italian Matteo Berrettini fares against Federer—he’s playing well and believes he has the “weapons to win that match.”
Daniel Rapaport: Gauff/Halep—a former world No. 1 and Grand Slam champion against a 15-year-old, who is the darling of the tournament. Also intrigued by Berretini vs. Federer. Few are playing better tennis this summer than Berrettini, and he most certainlly will not be overwhelme by the notion of playing Roger on Centre Court.
Who was the most disappointing player in Week One?
JW: A lot to chose from. The obvious choice might be Bernard Tomic whose effort was (worryingly) deemed so lacking that he was called upon to forfeit his prize money. You might be inclined to pick Naomi Osaka, who lost her first match in straight sets and seems like a woman in need of a rest. (Or a spell playing cricket.) But I will take Stefanos Tstisipas, generally thought of as the player most capable of breaking the Big Three cluster. He lost in round one to 5'8" Thomas Fabbiano.
SK: Nearly every man heralded as A future conquerer of the Big 3 disappointed: Alexander Zverev (again), Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas. Even Marin Cilic and John Isner, to a lesser extent.
Meanwhile, after winning Wimbledon in 2017, Garbine Muguruza lost in the second round in '18 and the first round this year. Her inconsistency at Grand Slams continues to perplex. But the biggest disappointment on the women's side has to be Naomi Osaka, who lost in the first round and hasn't won a tournament since the Australian Open. It's clear she's struggling to find the right mentality.
JL: I was hopeful that Felix Auger-Aliassime would make it to the second week, so it was disappointing to see him fall to 21-year-old Frenchman Ugo Humbert. In the battle of the Next Gen’s, FAA had the advantage but didn’t follow through against a player making his Wimbledon debut. And all the credit to lucky loser and World No. 95 Lauren Davis for storming back after losing the first set, but that loss has got to sting for defending champion Angelique Kerber.
DR: Tstsipas and Osaka. Really thought Tsitsi was ready to make a deep, deep run and firmly establish himself as TBPOTBG (The Best Player Outside The Big Three). Instead, he loses to a player outside the top 80 with few weapons. And Osaka—it's not just the loss, it's how she handled herself. Devoid of energy. Emotional. She's a better player and competitor than she's shown in recent week.
How surprised are you by Coco Gauff? Does she have a chance vs. Halep?
JW: Wildly. Even though the salon has known about her for years, this is a revelation. Some of this is the ball striking, the court coverage and the second serves over 100 mph. But more than that, it’s been dispositional. She won three matches just to qualify and then seamlessly transitioned to winning three matches in the main draw. She’s played well and won. She’s played less well and found a way to win. She’s played Centre Court. She’s staved off matched points. She’s done the media drill. Not a false note yet.
I wouldn’t predict her beating Halep, a former No.1 who looked terrific picking apart Victoria Azarenka on Friday. But then again I wouldn’t have picked her to get to round four either.
SK: For more than a year, she has looked like a future star. We just didn't know she would arrive this quickly. Certainly any time a 15-year-old reaches the fourth round at a major it's surprising, even if her talent wasn't up for debate. But even though she didn't play her best tennis against Polona Hercog, in my view it was her most impressive performance this tournament: She didn't panic after losing the first set, and she handled the pressure of two Hercog match points and a tight second-set tiebreaker to force a decider. Her mental strength is remarkable, especially considering her age. I expect Halep will make too formidable an opponent—I think the the former world No. 1 wins in straight sets—but I wouldn't be surprised if Gauff holds her own.
JL: In talking with folks at the USTA in the past few months, I am not completely surprised by Coco Gauff’s incredible results at Wimbledon this year—those close with American tennis have seen the potential in this 15-year-old for quite some time. What am I surprised by is how Gauff has composed herself this tournament. Down 2-5? Facing two match points? A pivotal 32-shot rally? These are the moments that players make or break their careers on and Gauff did not shudder or slip-up. The weight of the occasion will certainly be even greater on Monday and Simona Halep will be a significant challenge. Gauff will put up a strong effort, but I think Halep will close the book on this fairytale—for now. No matter the result, there’s no doubt that a new WTA star has arrived.
DR: After watching her in the first couple points against Serena, I'm not at all surprised that she's still playing. There's nothing 15-year-old about her game. She's a force.
Give us one sleeper on both the men's and women's side who could make the semis.
JW: Apart from Gauff, keep an eye on Alison Riske, a terrific grasscourter who gets Ash Barty next. As for the men, it’s really hard to see any of the Big Three losing. Between their level and the best-of-five format, their monopoly is hard to penetrate. In the fourth quadrant, I’d take Milos Raonic, former finalist.
SK: After upsetting Karen Khachanov, Roberto Bautista Agut is in good position to make his first Grand Slam semifinal, mostly by virtue of avoiding the Big 3. He has a winnable fourth-round match against Benoit Paire, and then he'll face either Guido Pella or Milos Raonic. On the women's side, Shuai Zhang needs to beat Dayana Yastremska to set up a likely quarterfinal matchup against Simona Halep, against whom she's 2–1 over her career.
JL: With the way she is playing, Gauff has a good a chance as any to continue through the second week, though she’ll face a tough test in Halep. Can Petra Martic surprise us all again and make another deep run for the second major in a row? She’s my pick for a sleeper in the women’s draw as of Middle Sunday. On the men’s side, I’m going with Sam Querrey, given his fourth round opponent (Tennys Sandgren) and history at the AELTC (semifinalist in 2017).
DR: Not sure if the biggest story of the tournament can be classified as a sleeper, but few are giving Gauff much of a chance to get past Halep. I think she has a good shot, and if she does that, she faces the winner of Zhang and Yastremska, both unseeded players...
If you had a chance to re-do your pick to win, who would you take?
JW: I picked Ash Barty and I have no reason to reconsider. She has dropped 12 games in three matches andis comporting herself like an absolute champion.
If you’re giving me a chance at a do-over on the men's side, I might be inclined to take Nadal, who got passed Kyrgios in rare grudge match and then simply tuned Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. But that would seem cheap. So I’ll stick with the defending champ, Djokovic.
SK: Going with both No. 1 seeds, Barty and Djokovic.
JL: Novak Djokovic is looking awfully in-form....but I’ll stick with my two original picks: 37-year-olds Roger Federer and Serena Williams.
DR: Well, I picked Kerber, so I have to re-do on that front...going to go with Pliskova. On the men's side, it's still Djokovic. Given the way the draw has played out, I feel even more confident in it.