In this battle for a place in the last 16 at the All England Club, Germany’s 13th seed Julia Goerges takes on Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic, seeded 23rd. Goerges has never before gone beyond the third round at Wimbledon, but has played some fine tennis this year and reached a career-high ranking of world #10 in February. Strycova reached the quarterfinals at the All England Club four years ago and put together a good run in Paris last month. But who will come out on top?
As befits two veterans of over a decade on the Tour, Goerges and Strycova have a long and storied rivalry and have met 11 times over the course of their careers. Strycova leads their head-to-head narrowly, having won six matches to Goerges five, although it was the German who won their first clash back in 2010 in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, on clay. Strycova returned the favour two years later in the quarterfinals in Palermo, finishing strongly to win 7-6 6-7 6-1.
They met three-times last year, with Strycova winning three on the bounce in the quarterfinals in Biel and in first round action in Prague and Beijing, winning in straight sets at the latter two events. However, in their most recent meeting which came earlier this season in Doha, it was Goerges who got the win. She downed Strycova in the round of 32 in Qatar in three sets, winning 6-2 3-6 6-1, helped by five aces.
Path to the third round
After reaching the quarterfinals in Birmingham, but falling to a first round defeat in Eastbourne, Goerges grass court form was decidedly mixed coming into Wimbledon. But she delivered a good performance to win through a difficult first round match against Rio gold medallist Monica Puig in straight sets 6-4 7-6. She then battled past Belarus’ Vera Lapko 6-2 3-6 6-2, with her cause aided no end by the teenager’s 12 double faults.
Strycova paired a run to the last four in Birmingham with a second round loss to Pliskova in Eastbourne, leaving her in a broadly similar position to Goerges coming into Wimbledon. She too faced a difficult first round draw which pitted her against two-time Grand Slam champion and former world #2 Svetlana Kuznetsova. But the 23rd seed had enough to scrape past the Russian in straight sets 7-6 7-5. She was more comfortable in beating Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko 6-4 6-1 in the second round.
How do they match up?
Both Goerges and Strycova are naturally aggressive. Whilst the German prefers to play the majority of her tennis from the baseline, relying on powerful groundstrokes to control and win rallies, Strycova is more of an all-court player. Alongside partner Andrea Sestini Hlavackova, she is seeded second in the doubles and that is a reflection of her considerable ability in the forecourt. Expect her to try and get to the net as often as possible against Goerges and to be capable when she does so.
There is little to separate these two, and they have had a number of close contests down the years, although never on grass. What would appear to count in Strycova’s favour in their first clash on the surface, is that she is the more comfortable of the two playing on a grass court. Her net-rushing will only be aided by the slickness of the Wimbledon courts and if she is able to control the net, it will be hard for Goerges to find a path to victory. Strycova will have to work, but will get it done in three.