Second seeded Caroline Wozniacki begins her campaign for a maiden Wimbledon title when she takes on America’s Varvara Lepchenko for a place in the second round. Wozniacki has never enjoyed particular success at Wimbledon and is yet to progress beyond the fourth round, a feat she has achieved at all the other Slams. Lepchenko has enjoyed most of her success in doubles, but will doubtless be eager to pull off the upset. Who will come out on top?
Wozniacki and Lepchenko have clashed seven times in a head-to-head that Wozniacki leads six matches to one. Their first match came nearly a decade ago in Madrid in 2009, with Wozniacki dominating Lepchenko to win 6-1 6-3 in the round of 32. She backed that win up with another in Brussels two years later, with Wozniacki again winning in straight sets, although rather less comfortably as she advanced 6-4 7-6.
When their rivalry was renewed in 2012 in Montreal at the Rogers Cup it was Lepchenko who won the first set, but Wozniacki rallied to win 4-6 6-3 6-4. Wozniacki then dismissed Lepchenko in 2014 in Miami, losing just one game in a lopsided victory. But in 2015 in Stanford Lepchenko had her revenge, defeating the Dane 6-4 6-2 in the second round. They met twice last year, with Wozniacki winning in Auckland 6-3 6-3 and Miami 6-1 6-2.
Last time out
Wozniacki’s struggles at Wimbledon are reflected in her comparative lack of success on grass away from the All England Club. At the beginning of this grass court season, of her 28 career-titles, just one had come on grass. That title was won in Eastbourne in 2009, and Wozniacki managed to repeat her victory at Devonshire Park this year, defeating British #1 Johanna Konta, eighth seed Ashleigh Barty, two-time Slam champion Angelique Kerber and Aryna Sabalenka in the final.
When Lepchenko steps on to Centre Court it will be her first grass court match of the year having elected not to play a warm up tournament ahead of Wimbledon. The last time she was in competitive action was at the French Open where she lost in first round action to the 16th seed Elise Mertens. Although Lepchenko won a tight first set tiebreak 11-9, she could not get across the line in the second, losing another tiebreak 4-7. Mertens then comfortably wrapped up the match in the decider.
How do they match up?
Wozniacki is one of the best defenders on the WTA Tour, and as evidenced by the two heavy defeats she inflicted on Lepchenko in Miami, is at her best on a slow, gritty hard court. Lepchenko, the bigger hitter of the two, prefers fast courts, which will aid her in this match, the pair’s first on a grass court. The American is also a fine volleyer, but will need to be at her best at the net against a player of Wozniacki’s calibre, with the Dane able to hit some fine passing shots.
This is a fairly difficult first round match for Wozniacki, but the world #2 should be in good spirits after her impressive win in Eastbourne. That Lepchenko has not yet played a competitive grass court match should also count in Wozniacki’s favour. Although Lepchenko has the weapons to make Wozniacki work, she has generally been able to blunt those attacks and should do so again at Wimbledon. Wozniacki in two tight sets.