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Three to See, Wimbledon Day 2: Halep vs. Muchova; Auger-Aliassime vs. Cressy; Williams vs. Tan
In the final match on Centre Court, Serena Williams will return to the place where her 2021 season ended—but the must-see action will be on tap all day on Tuesday at The Championships.
Published Jun 27, 2022
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Simona Halep vs. Karolina Muchova
This match could have been assigned to Centre Court. With defending champion Ashleigh Barty in retirement, Halep, the 2019 winner, might have expected that she would lead off Tuesday’s schedule on Centre. But that honor went to No. 1 seed Iga Swiatek instead, and Halep and Muchova were sent to No. 1 Court.
That isn’t exactly the hinterlands; of course. No. 1 has a roof now, too, so there’s no chance of being delayed by rain. But will the snub give the Romanian just a little more motivation in her first meeting with Muchova? It wouldn’t hurt. The Czech is a quality opponent, and potentially much more dangerous opponent, especially on grass, than her current ranking of No. 81 would indicate. She made the quarterfinals here and the semifinals at the Australian Open last year, and has been ranked as high as No. 19. She brings a deceptively effective variety to her all-court game.
The question with Muchova, as always, is her fitness. Most recently, this oft-injured player was forced to retire with an ankle issue at Roland Garros. Since then, she has played, and lost, one match on grass. Halep, meanwhile, looked pretty sharp in reaching the semifinals in Birmingham and Bad Homburg. Muchova certainly has the game to beat Halep, on the right day. This might not be it. Winner: Halep
Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Maxime Cressy
Auger-Aliassime may have cringed a little when he saw his draw. Cressy is ranked a career-high 45th, but the bigger issue is that he’s a prototypical “guy no one wants to face in the first round at Wimbledon.” He’s 6’6”, he serves and volleys, and he’s coming off one of the best weeks of his career, in which he knocked off two Top 20 players, Reilly Opelka and Cameron Norrie, on his way to the Eastbourne final.
How will Auger-Aliassime hold up under the pressure that Cressy will inevitably apply? The Canadian has had an up-and-down 2022, and an OK grass season so far, losing a quarterfinal to Hubert Hurkacz and a semifinal to Tim van Rijthoven. But he’ll still have big ambitions at Wimbledon, where he reached the quarters in 2021.
Defusing Cressy won’t be easy, and it will surely take a few tiebreakers and maybe five sets, but Auger-Aliassime should find a way. Winner: Auger-Aliassime
Serena Williams vs. Harmony Tan
In the final match on Centre Court, Williams will return to the place where her 2021 season ended. A year ago, she tore a hamstring after slipping on the grass and had to retire from her first-round match. Let’s hope the turf is a little less slick this time around, now that Wimbledon officials have allowed the players to use Centre Court for their pre-tournament practices for the first time.
Serena, 40, is a seven-time champion here and is looking for her 24th major title. But in her first meeting with Tan, she’ll be the lower-ranked player—Tan is No. 114, Williams No. 276.
While the Frenchwoman has never been ranked higher than 90th, she did record three wins on grass in Gaiba two weeks ago. But it’s Serena’s form that matters more, and is impossible to predict right now. Her only activity in the last 12 months came in doubles with Ons Jabeur last week. What we do know is that she doesn’t lose many first-round matches at majors. Winner: Williams