Wimbledon, Draw and Quartered: Serena vs Venus could happen in 4th round. Can Kvitova win again?

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Is Venus ready to reclaim her magic on grass? Ron Cioffi/TennisReporters.net

FIRST QUARTER

Serena Williams is hands down the favorite at Wimbledon and while she was stunned by Alize Cornet in the third round last year, this time she won’t be nervous, which is why she has won three majors in a row: the 2014 US Open, the 2015 Australian Open and Roland Garros.

However, this fortnight could be very tricky. She opens up against the young Russian Margarita Gasparyan who qualified and who has won a ton of matches this year. However Serena will batter her with some massive strokes. She could face the veteran Czech Petra Cetkovska who can also swing away, but she cannot put together ace after ace. The third round will be on the Centre Court for sure, when Serena could face Carolina Garcia (who can move quickly), Heather Watson (the Brit knows how to bend low), Daniela Hantuchova (who reached No. 4 ages ago) and Dominica Cibulkova (who is back and reached the 2014 Aussie Open final). Any one of those four could beat each other, but not over Serena, who will understand how exactly how to play any of those foes.

Interestingly, the entire world is talking about the 33-year-old Roger Federer who still has a real chance at Wimby, but what about Venus Williams, who won five titles in the All-England Club? The 35-year-old won here for the last time in 2008, when she stopped Serena. She does has a small shot this year. She is not as fast as she used to, nor can she dominate with her serves as she can’t smoke her first serve over 120 MPH. But she loves the grass, which means she will try as hard as she can because she almost disappeared on the clay. She has a pretty good draw early when Venus will overpower the American Madison Brengle, and she could face one of the Italian veterans in the third round – Errani, Schiavone and Vinci – but none of them have ever figured out the grass.

So then Venus will take on Serena, the only time they have played each other in the Round of 16 in a major. In 2005, at the US Open, Venus hit the lines and won. Serena is 14-11 head to head, but Venus did manage to overcome Serena in three long sets in 2014 Montreal. Yes, Venus knows exactly how to play her sister as they hit with each other for ages, but since around 2012 Serena had become substantially better while Venus has dropped off. While Venus will be close, Serena will be able to out-hit her with a more accurate forehand and these days, a better first serve and a much better second serve.

Who will face Serena at the quarters? Three will pop up: Ana Ivanovic, Belinda Bencic or Victoria Azarenka. We know that Azarenka can push Serena to the wall, but Williams always seems to figure her out. Ivanovic and Bencic have played over the past five weeks but it is the young Swiss who is ready to jump out in front. Bencic will reach the quarters and, while she can mix it beautifully, she is not quite there. Serena will reach the quarters once again.

SECOND QUARTER

Maria Sharapova hasn’t been able to win a second Slam at Wimbledon. She was a baby when she shocked the world in 2004 at the age of 17 and it looked like she would grab a few more. While she can crush the ball, she can fall down while sliding on the turf. But she has come close so perhaps she is ready to shine. She should be able to reach the quarters as she should be able to out-think Irina Begu in third, hit the lines over the very tough Flavia Pennetta or Andrea Petkovic in the fourth round. But, in the quarters, then she would have real trouble. He could face Lucie Safarova, who knocked him out in Paris and reached the final, or another Czech, Karolina Pliskova, who strikes viciously. And how about the rising Sloane Stephens, who reached the semifinal at Eastbourne? All three could upend Sharapova if she is off, but not yet because she was less than 100 percent when she was sick in Paris. Pliskova is ready to enter the top 10, and she looks very similar to Sharapova, but she isn’t mentally there yet. This time, Sharapova will go further and reach the semifinal.

THIRD QUARTER

This is a toss-up, with Angie Kerber slightly favored because she looked very solid two weeks ago and now she feels like she’s isn’t in her head. She will likely play Garbiné Muguruza, who is terrific on clay, but she is not on grass. In the fourth round she will likely face Carolina Wozniacki, whose body is stiff and admittedly she has said that she isn’t very comfortable at All-England. Kerber will be just fine, who will dig low and bounce Sabine Lisicki in the quarterfinal, who could upset Simon Halep. The Romanian just fired her coach and she is very troubled. Lisicki is super- aggressive and has already thrown in some huge aces, but her so-called friend bothers Kerber to the point where she caves in. Kerber will reach the semifinals, fairly easy.

FOURTH QUARTER

The defending champion Petra Kvitova could grab Wimbledon again, but she is ill once again which means she is vulnerable. Yes the big lefty can dictate from the word go, but when she’s not 100 percent she doubts herself. That’s exactly what will recur. Yes, she should be able to reach the second week because she has sweet draw in the first three matches – like crushing Jelena Jankovic who doesn’t like the grass – but in the fourth round she is ready to be had. The will have to face Aga Radwanska, who has played quite badly this year (except at Eastbourne), but once she came on the grass she began to turn it around. She was all over the place this season, but she knows which way to go, and she can be very creative.

Even though Radwanska is fragile, she will school Genie Bouchard/Madison Keys/Alize Cornet/ Ekaterina Makarova in the quarters. On hard courts, you would have to think that Makarova would out-punch the other ones, but she is erratic on the grass, so find another who will settle down and lock in. It should be Keys, who is a terrific serve and pretty darn good with her big strokes. The 2014 finalist Bouchard is completely out of it, so Keys will bang her head with Radwanska, but the Pole has too much experience and will reach the semis for the third time.

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