Radwanska v Jankovic, Azarenka v Bellis - Wimbledon women's first round matches not to be missed

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She's back: Ex-world No1 Victoria Azarenka.

The women’s draw revealed on Friday morning at Wimbledon has made way for some juicy match-ups right from the very first round.

Whether it’s veterans facing off, youngsters on the rise or two strugglers searching for form… there is something for everyone in this fascinating women’s draw.

Here are just a few of an endless list of blockbuster showdowns set to take place in the Wimbledon opening round…

Agnieszka Radwanska v Jelena Jankovic

A former Wimbledon runner-up against an ex-world No1 in the first round of a Slam? Both Radwanska and Jankovic will not be pleased with this draw.

Ashleigh Barty v Elina Svitolina

Barty loves playing on grass, won Wimbledon as a junior, and recently made the Birmingham final. Svitolina made the Wimbledon junior final but has never really wowed on the surface as a pro. Svitolina is seeded No4 though and is having an incredible 2017, while Barty is also putting together a strong season after quitting the sport and trying out cricket for a while.


Victoria Azarenka v Catherine ‘Cici’ Bellis

A real tricky one for the former world No1 with Bellis showing unbelievable poise this season despite being just 18 years old. Azarenka is still short on match play – she’s played just two matches in 11 months – and could find it tough to keep up with the ever-so-solid Bellis.

Dominika Cibulkova v Andrea Petkovic

Neither have been doing well recently but it’s still a tough opener for both that has lots of entertainment potential.

Monica Puig v Timea Bacsinszky

A contest between the reigning Olympic champion and the recent French Open semi-finalist. Tough one to call.

Carla Suarez Navarro v Eugenie Bouchard

Grass is not Suarez Navarro’s best surface at all wile Bouchard, despite her struggles, can decide to find her best form any day by flipping a switch.

Ana Konjuh v Sabine Lisicki

Konjuh recently destroyed Azarenka in Mallorca while 2013 runner-up Lisicki is back on tour after a lengthy absence. Could be a power-hitting contest.

Svetlana Kuznetsova v Ons Jabeur

Expect lots of variety, as both players attempt to outwit each other. Especially on grass, this could be really fun. Find out what Kuznetsova has said about Jabeur.

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Five things we learned from the Wimbledon women's draw

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Angelique Kerber during last year's Wimbledon final.

It’s impossible not to get excited about the women’s draw this Wimbledon.

Once again it’s an open field and once again a lot is on the line. The world No1 ranking is up for grabs, and many players have the chance to become first-time Grand Slam champions.

The return of Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova has spiced things up considerably, while people like Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova have legitimate chances of dethroning Angelique Kerber at the top.

A new champion was crowned in Jelena Ostapenko in Paris a few weeks and many will be waiting to see how the 20-year-old does at the All England Club.

Here are a few things we learned from the Wimbledon women’s draw that was revealed Friday morning…

PLISKOVA IN STRONG POSITION TO GET TO NO1

As of right now (before Saturday’s Eastbourne final), there are five players who can mathematically end Wimbledon as the world No1: Angelique Kerber, Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki. A lot will depend on who will win the Eastbourne final between Pliskova on Wozniacki but even before then, it’s fairly obvious that the former is in a solid position to dethrone Kerber.

The tall Czech is defending just 70 points from last year’s Wimbledon, where she lost in the second round, and is thus in pole position for the top spot. She also has a favorable draw which could see her comfortably reaching at least the quarter-finals.

Halep will need to at least reach the quarter-finals to have a chance of unseating Kerber while the German must match her final run from last year to have a chance of keeping her top ranking.

COMEBACK QUEENS LAND IN SAME QUARTER

Petra Kvitova, who will be playing just her third tournament back from being stabbed, and Victoria Azarenka, who will be playing just her second tournament since giving birth to a baby boy, have both landed in the same bottom quarter of the draw alongside second-seeded Simona Halep and sixth-seeded Johanna Konta.

Azarenka has played just two matches in 11 months, while Kvitova stunningly captured the Birmingham title in her second tournament back. Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, can prove a serious threat for Halep in the third round, while Azarenka will have her hands full with Catherine ‘Cici’ Bellis in the first round.

It’s fair to say all eyes will be on that loaded quarter.

OSTAPENKO HAS CHANCE TO BACK UP PARIS WIN

Reigning French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko has been handed a draw that is quite manageable and many will be following her closely to see whether she can back up her stunning Roland Garros success.

Ostapenko is a former Wimbledon junior champion and her game is perfectly-suited for grass. She has Madison Keys in her section but the American had been dealing with a wrist problem and is short on match play.

With her style of play, it’s hard to see Ostapenko performing on a consistent basis but she certainly has an opening to do well here this fortnight. She is seeded at a Slam for the first time and is looking to become just the eighth player in the Open Era to win Roland Garros and Wimbledon back-to-back.

THERE’S AN ARAB WOMAN IN THE DRAW FOR FIRST TIME IN 12 YEARS

Ons Jabeur backed up her historic Roland Garros third round appearance by qualifying for a first Wimbledon main draw. The young Tunisian is the first Arab woman since her compatriot Selima Sfar to feature in the Wimbledon main draw and faces a daunting opener against No7 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova.

THE FIRST ROUND IS LIT

Agnieszka Radwanska v Jelena Jankovic, Ashleigh Barty v Elina Svitolina, Dominika Cibulkova v Andrea Petkovic, Monica Puig v Timea Bacsinszky, Svetlana Kuznetsova v Ons Jabeur… the list goes on and on.

To those people who prefer to only tune into the Slams from the second week, we urge you to reconsider.

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Tunisian Ons Jabeur qualifies for first Wimbledon main draw

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History-maker: Ons Jabeur.

Just a few weeks after making a historic run to the third round at the French Open, Ons Jabeur has qualified for her first Wimbledon main draw thanks to an impressive victory over Asia Muhammad at Roehampton on Friday.

The 22-year-old Tunisian became the first Arab woman to reach the third round of a Grand Slam when she upset sixth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova at Roland Garros.

With her 6-4, 6-0 win over Muhammad in the final round of qualifying on Friday, Jabeur will become the first Arab woman to feature in a Wimbledon main draw since her compatriot Selima Sfar made the second round at the All England Club in 2005.

Jabeur had lost to Muhammad in Charleston qualifying a few months ago on clay, and had also lost in the final round of qualifying at two Slams this season, although she did make it into the Roland Garros main draw as a lucky loser.

The North African made sure she did not need to rely on luck this time around as she blasted through the qualifying draw in Roehampton without dropping a set.

“I played Asia before but I didn’t think about it much because it was on clay and today were on grass. I was more confident and I was relaxed. I tried to be focused during the whole match because I had lost a couple of qualifying third rounds at Grand Slams and this one I couldn’t miss it so I’m very happy with my performance,” Jabeur told Sport360.

“I think I played really good. I’m really happy to be in the main draw for the first time in Wimbledon. It’s been something I’ve been wanting for a long time and finally it happened. I think it happened in a good year, a year where I’m feeling confident and playing good tennis.

“So hopefully I will make a good impression at Wimbledon and go as far as I can, even better than the French Open.”

Jabeur will face No7 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round and the Russian two-time Grand Slam champion is quite familiar with the youngster’s game.

“I saw her play quite a bit. She plays a very different game, she mixes up the style, she feels the ball really well, she’s not a great mover… She hasn’t been doing so well but when she’s on, she’s really tough. She plays a very interesting game, different than other girls,” Kuznetsova had said of Jabeur after the Tunisian beat Cibulkova in Paris.

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