Wimbledon 2019

'Easier' semi but tougher start

Swiss legend Roger Federer congratulating Spanish clay king Rafael Nadal after he lost their French Open semi-final on June 7. The pair are tipped to meet in the final four in a fortnight at Wimbledon.
Swiss legend Roger Federer congratulating Spanish clay king Rafael Nadal after he lost their French Open semi-final on June 7. The pair are tipped to meet in the final four in a fortnight at Wimbledon.PHOTO: REUTERS

Though Nadal avoids Djokovic in last four, he may have to get past Kyrgios and Shapovalov

LONDON • Already riled by Wimbledon's seeding policy, two-time champion Rafael Nadal's mood would not have improved after yesterday's draw handed him a potential second-round clash with nemesis Nick Kyrgios.

The Spaniard, bidding for his first title at the All England Club since 2010, is world No. 2 but seeded third under the Grand Slam's seeding formula, which tweaks the order to take into account form on grass.

He was placed in the same half as eight-time champion Roger Federer of Switzerland, his potential semi-final opponent but first, he must negotiate a potentially tricky first week which could include a third-round clash against rising Canadian talent Denis Shapovalov.

All eyes will, however, be on a collision course with Kyrgios, should they both get past their first-round opponents.

Nadal opens against Japan's Yuichi Sugita while Kyrgios takes on fellow Australian Jordan Thompson on Tuesday.

There is no love lost between Kyrgios and Nadal, after the world No. 43 accused the 18-time Grand Slam winner of being "super salty" and a bad loser in a fiery interview last month. In February, Kyrgios also wound Nadal up with his "disrespectful" play after serving underarm at the Acapulco Open in Mexico.

World No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic will face German Philipp Kohlschreiber in his opener, while Federer appears to have been given a relatively comfortable opening week with South African Lloyd Harris first up.

In the women's draw, Angelique Kerber begins her title defence against fellow German Tatjana Maria, while top seed Ashleigh Barty will meet Zheng Saisai of China.

Australia's new world No. 1 could potentially square off in the third round against former Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain, and is also in the same quarter as Kerber and American Serena Williams.

Japanese Naomi Osaka, who was dislodged from tennis' summit on Monday, has a tricky opening test against Kazakhstan's Yulia Putinseva, who beat her in Birmingham last week.

Former world No. 1 Williams, who is seeking an eighth Wimbledon crown and a 24th Grand Slam singles title to equal Australian Margaret Court's record, will play Giulia Gatto-Monticone of Italy.

The most intriguing first-round encounter pits five-time champion Venus Williams, 39, against a qualifier 24 years her junior in fellow American Cori Gauff.

The former had already lifted the trophy on Centre Court before the youngest player to get through qualifying in the Open era was born.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE


WIMBLEDON

Day 1: Singtel TV Ch114/115 & StarHub Ch208/209, Monday, 6pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 29, 2019, with the headline ''Easier' semi but tougher start'. Print Edition | Subscribe