Dimitrov/Wawrinka Blockbuster, Federer To Get Wimbledon Started
If you were wondering whether The Championships would get off to a quick start, don’t. Fans are in for an immediate treat on Monday at Wimbledon.
The most widely anticipated match of the first round, between 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov and former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka, will be the third match on historic Centre Court. It is the first time in the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head series that the two stars are meeting in the first round.
The Bulgarian, who reached the semi-finals at SW19 in 2014, will take confidence knowing he has won four consecutive matches against the Swiss star to take a 4-2 lead in their rivalry, claiming eight of the past nine sets they have played. Their only meeting on grass came four years ago in the Fever-Tree Championships semi-finals, Dimitrov prevailing in straight sets en route to his lone title at the event. Wawrinka is making his 14th straight appearance at the grass-court Grand Slam, is playing a seeded opponent in the first round for the first time.
Traditionally, the defending champion is the first player to compete on Centre Court on Monday, so top-seeded Roger Federer will kick off play on the tournament's main attraction against Serbian Dusan Lajovic. It’ll be like déjà vu for the eight-time champion, who defeated Lajovic in the second round a year ago, winning 81 per cent of service points en route to a straight-sets victory. Federer is 91-11 at The Championships, and has only lost to players lower in the ATP Rankings than Lajovic (World No. 57) three times at the event.
Perhaps the match to watch outside of Centre Court is what promises to be an entertaining all-French battle between No. 23 seed Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils on No. 2 Court. While they have played 16 times (Monfils leads 9-6) and competed at three of the four Grand Slams, this will be their first meeting at Wimbledon. A year ago, they met twice on grass — their only two matches on the surface — splitting three-setters in Halle and Eastbourne.
Last year's runner-up, Marin Cilic, also gets his Wimbledon campaign started on No. 2 Court Monday. The third seed, who lifted his second trophy at the Fever-Tree Championships one week ago, defeating Novak Djokovic in the final, begins his tournament against left-handed Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka in what will be their first meeting.
Be sure to keep your eyes out for action around the grounds as well, as plenty of stars who could potentially make deep runs during the fortnight are taking to the Wimbledon lawns on Day One. Borna Coric, who shocked Federer to triumph at the Gerry Weber Open last week, faces Sydney champion Daniil Medvedev on Court 12. The pair played at last year’s inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan, with the No. 16-seeded Croatian winning in four sets. Immediately following that battle, No. 8 seed Kevin Anderson competes against Slovak qualifier Norbert Gombos.
American ninth seed John Isner and his compatriot, No. 11 seed Sam Querrey, will start their events on No. 3 Court against German Yannick Maden and Aussie Jordan Thompson, respectively. No. 17 seed Lucas Pouille faces a stiff test on Court 18 against American Denis Kudla, who made the semi-finals at the Gerry Weber Open before succumbing in a tight two-setter against Federer. Kudla advanced to the Round of 16 at SW19 in 2015.
Don’t forget to check out the two #NextGenATP players in action, too. Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who has soared from No. 91 to No. 35 in the ATP Rankings this year, will try to earn his first Wimbledon main draw victory against French qualifier Gregoire Barrere on Court 18. The 19 year-old has quickly made a name for himself of the ATP World Tour, earning 19 tour-level match wins so far in 2018 after previously owning just four. American Michael Mmoh faces a tough test, seeking his first Grand Slam match win against tricky left-hander Gilles Muller.
And finally, if you enjoy witnessing history, 39-year-old Ivo Karlovic's first-round match against 36-year-old Mikhail Youzhny on Court 17 is must-see action. It will be the oldest Grand Slam match since the 1978 Australian Open, when a 44-year-old Ken Rosewall played 32-year-old Sherwood Stewart in the second round. Youzhny is three wins from reaching the 500-victory milestone.