Wimbledon 2019 got underway in dramatic style as some huge names were eliminated on the first day of both the Men’s and Ladies Singles Championship.
American legend Venus Williams was not expected to be able to claim her sixth Wimbledon championship, but was expected to get past 15 year old Cori Gauff in her first round match. Gauff was making her Grand Slam debut but stunned Williams with her speed, strength and technique – taking the first set 6-4, hammering down many first serves that were 110mph plus – reminiscent of a young Venus herself.
Gauff served for the match at 5-4 in the second set and, though Williams created a break point, showed maturity and level headedness beyond her tender years to fight back and claim a victory that will long be remembered.
Gauff had only qualified for Wimbledon on the Friday before the event, with the draw then handing her a dream first round match against the person who inspired her to take up tennis. Indeed, in 2004, the year of Gauff’s birth, Venus had already won two Wimbledon titles and went on to claim three more. Its almost mind numbing to think that just fifteen years later, Gauff would be playing – and beating – this modern day great of the game.
Speaking after the game, Gauff (above) said : “It’s the first time I have ever cried after winning a match, I don’t know how to explain how I feel. I definitely had to tell myself to stay calm, I had to remind myself that the lines are the same lines, the courts are the same size and after every point I told myself ‘stay calm’.”
More drama was to follow as Ladies championship second seed and many peoples favourite to win Wimbledon 2019 Naomi Osaka also crashed out on the opening day and first round, going down 6-7, 2-6 to unseeded and unheralded Kazakhstani Yulia Putintseva.
The draw would have brought a groan from Osaka, as only a week or two before Wimbledon, it was Putintseva (above) who had beaten Osaka in the Nature Valley Classic – and this brief history repeated itself, as, on the Centre Court, Putintseva simply had all the answers to the questions Osaka could hit at her. The first set went to a tiebreak, which Putintseva claimed 7-4, but Osaka was dominated in the second, winning only two from eight games and having the ignominy of being the first seed to crash out of Wimbledon 2019.
Later 10th seed Aryna Sabalenka was also sent packing, beaten in straight sets by Magdelena Rybarikova from Slovakia.
In the Mens Singles Championship, top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic beat Phillipp Kohlschreiber with the minimum of fuss; a straight sets win easing Djokovic into Round 2. But another much fancied name also crashed out here; Greek star and seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas going down in five sets to unseeded Italian Thomas Fabbiano.
It got worse for the seeds and rising superstars as sixth seed and German sensation Alexander Zverev won the opening set in his first round game against Czech Jiri Vasely, but went on to lose the next three and the match.
Speaking after the game, Zverev (above) hinted at off court issues affecting his game : “I’m down one break point myself and he takes it immediately, where I miss an easy volley. I didn’t lose this match on tennis. It’s just my confidence is below zero right now. The last two days, I would say (were) very rough for me personally. I’m not going to get into details, but I’m just saying. I have to fix that to play well on the court.”
If this is how the rest of Wimbledon 2019 is going to go, it will be well worth watching!