23rd seed Barbora Strycova has drawn a tough second round matchup against world #34 Lesia Tsurenko. Tsurenko, from Ukraine, narrowly missed out on a seeding, leaving her as a dangerous floater in the draw, one that Strycova has been unlucky enough to draw. The result is what shapes up to be a tight match between two closely matched women, both of whom recently won through to the round of 16 at Roland Garros.
This will be the second time these two have played this fortnight, after they met in the quarterfinals in Birmingham. Strycova won that match, taking a tight first set 7-5 and racing out to a 3-0 second set lead before Tsurenko was forced to retire with injury. Prior to that, they had met just once, back in 2015. That time, it was in Newhaven on hard, and Tsurenko won with ease. She took the match 6-3 6-0, dominating every statistical category and winning nearly twice as many points as Strycova.
Path to the second round
Strycova hasn’t been handed a particularly easy draw to start off her Wimbledon tournament. Prior to this tricky second round match she faced Svetlana Kuznetsova, currently outside the top 60 but a two-time Grand Slam winner and once the world #2. Unsurprisingly, Strycova didn’t have things all her own way in that match, but in the big moments she played well enough to advance through with a 7-6 7-5 victory.
Tsurenko, who looks to have recovered from the injury that forced her to retire in Birmingham, also had a tough opening round, facing up against similarly ranked Hungarian Timea Babos. Babos, who won the Australian Open in doubles this year, is never an easy opponent, but Tsurenko played well throughout their match. After a tight first set which Tsurenko won 7-5, she quickly finished the Hungarian, winning the second set 6-2 to advance in just over an hour.
How do they match up?
Strycova is always a difficult match up, a result of her impressive variety and ability to push her opponents deep in the court. She is solid on both wings, and generally hits her groundstrokes with a lot of depth, something which allows her to come to the net and utilise her terrific volleying ability. As a result, Tsurenko will likely spend a lot of this match defending from beyond the baseline, rarely ideal on a grass court.
But fortunately for the Ukrainian, she is a good mover and an adept defender. Thus expect Strycova to be the main aggressor, with Tsurenko mostly on the defensive. When she is able to get on the front foot, however, look for her to utilise her powerful backhand, which is her best stroke. Neither woman is particularly known for their serving, but with the courts playing as quickly as they are, if either is able to summon a good performance in that area, it could pay dividends.
This will be a battle of attrition between two relatively similarly matched women. Both are capable defenders and have enough weapons in their arsenal to cause problems for the other. But Strycova perhaps has the slight edge in talent and is a former Wimbledon quarterfinalist, having made the last eight in 2014. As a result, expect her to be able to make her way through to the third round in what has been a tough opening to the tournament, winning this one in three sets.