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A few of us have been discussing this for a good few weeks now on the Strawberries & Cream section, but with just over 3 weeks to go until qualifying starts and a couple of weeks until the initial WC picks, it would be good to get some widespread discussion and opinions.

No reciprocal wildcards as usual or no official race, but the previous junior winner and grass ITF winners will have a great chance as in previous years. I think the below 5 are extremely likely:

Boulter - If fit. Got herself comfortably into the cut off position, but no tour match since the start of March has seen her slide out of the top 100. Won a match last year and an instrumental part of the successful GB Fed Cup team, so if she is able to play, there's no doubt she'll be included.

Swiatek - even before this great run it was pretty much nailed she would get one as last years jr champ, huge potential, being just 4 places off getting in directly and they've never not given a jr champ some reward for over 10 years. Zhuk was injured and a couple were already in the main draw, but everyone else were rewarded.

Watson - Had a largely terrible year, but managed to win a few recent matches in Japanese ITFs, and a title, to come within one win of securing her place directly. She's 3 withdrawals from getting in and there will be some doubts like Sharapova, Andreescu, Gavrilova etc., but if the latter 2 couldn't feature, they'll likely delay withdrawal as late as possible opening up LL spots, rather than alts getting in.

Dart - Started the year very well, but has struggled since coming back from injury. Still, reasonably young, still in and around the top 150 and performed really well against Pliskova last year. Part of the Fed Cup team.

Swan - Very poor year and she recently opened up about her mental health struggles. Has fallen outside the top 200, but is still young and had a couple of encouraging top 150 wins in FO quals last week. Also won a Wimbledon match last year and was part of the Fed Cup team, so has sacrificed weeks where she could have picked up more points.

If they are all required (bar injury / sneaking in directly), I can't see any reason why they would be overlooked and I personally think those 5 are nailed on.

I'd imagine the Surbiton (starts next week), Manchester and Ilkley W100 winners would be prioritised for the final 3 MDWCs. Surbiton may experience a few French Open withdrawals like Zhang, but it is still very strong and there'll probably be 8 or 9 Wimbledon entrants (including defending champ Riske) as well as some Brits (Watson), so there's a good chance that winner won't need a MDWC, likewise Ilkley which will also have a high number of those already in the Wimbledon draw. However, there's only Linette, Diyas and Brengle (Kumkhum could yet sneak in) already at Wimbledon in the Manchester field, so there's far more chance that one will be won by someone requiring a MDWC.

The likes of Burrage, Dunne and maybe young Raducanu will probably be relying on the ITFs being won by someone already at Wimbledon (or themselves in the former 2's case), Boulter being injured and/or Watson/Swiatek sneaking in, as will any other Brit not mentioned yet who have a couple of good weeks at Surbiton and Nottingham/Manchester. Naiktha Bains will also be an interesting situation having recent ly switched allegiances from Australia to GB and finding herself on the periphery of the qualifying cut off.

Any alternative views?
 

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Locks

Watson
Boulter
Dart
Swan
Raducanu
Swiatek

If Watson and Boulter both use their WCs that leaves quite a battle between Bains/Burrage/Dunne plus potentially Bolsova, the ITF winners and anyone who makes a big run in Nottingham.
 

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Burrage has just hit top 250 ( goes around 235 on Monday ) with her itf wins so may get a MDWC, Swiatek hopefully bag one
 

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I don’t see it for Bolsova. She has never played on grass as Pro, only 3 tournaments an a Junior and she won one match only.
She isn’t scheduled to play any grass tournaments either.
Maybe she can change her mind and ask for a Mallorca WC, given that Arruabarrena is injured and CSN and Muguruza are going to Birmingham.

They see grass pedigree before allocating WCs.
 

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I don’t see it for Bolsova. She has never played on grass as Pro, only 3 tournaments an a Junior and she won one match only.
She isn’t scheduled to play any grass tournaments either.
Maybe she can change her mind and ask for a Mallorca WC, given that Arruabarrena is injured and CSN and Muguruza are going to Birmingham.

They see grass pedigree before allocating WCs.
They would probably find it hard to deny a slam QF if she makes it there, but not playing Nottingham/Manchester will definitely hurt her chances.
 

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They would probably find it hard to deny a slam QF if she makes it there, but not playing Nottingham/Manchester will definitely hurt her chances.
They denied it for Marta Marrero though. She was also coming from Q and reached QF in Roland Garros.
OTOH Carla Suárez Navarro received a WC also after making QF coming from Q.

I think she needs to beat Anisimova to have a slight chance but I wouldn’t bet for her to get it. Probably they’ll save it for someone going deep in the big grass ITFs
 

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I'd agree that Bolsova's lack of grass pedigree will hurt her. I think she needs to win one more round to be in the conversation.

Raducanu has been focusing on school exams recently, and I think is not match-tough enough for a MDWC, unless she gets WCs into the warm-up events and kicks some ass.

Of the Brits on the edge (below Swan), Burrage seems best placed due to youth and recency of her best results. But that could easily be shaken up if she goes winless in the ITFs, and Dunne / Bains / Lumsden / Raducanu beat some notable players.

Like last year, I think Wimbledon will use its full allocation of 8 MDWCs this year.

Boulter (and possibly Dart and Swan) is injured, Watson and Swiatek may squeak in directly, 3 ITF winners may need one. I think those uncertainties will need to be ironed out before deciding on the more borderline cases.
 

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Lots of uncertainty with two WC locks so close to the cut-off, and impossible to say at this stage whether Swiatek and Watson will squeak in. Also, Boulter's injury sounded like it might keep her out of Wimbledon, and Dart's still out injured as well.

Swan doesn't deserve a WC based on her recent results but the optics of denying a top 200 player who's opened up about mental health struggles wouldn't be good.

Raducanu is a properly good prospect and I imagine the AELTC will have observed her peer Diane Parry's success at RG in the past two years - would not be surprised if she's considered ahead of the likes of Burrage and Lumsden based on her junior and limited pro success. Burrage and Lumsden are also below the grass ITF winners and any WTA grass deep runs from outside the cutoff, imo.

Bolsova should be a lock in a fair world but I don't think R4 at RG is quite enough (even though it should be). QF would boost her chances a lot but Wimbledon don't really have a set pattern about their approach to RG deep runs - sometimes they reward them (CSN, arguably even Townsend's R3 run combined with her junior final), sometimes they don't (Marrero).

If Wimbledon will give someone like Melnikova a WC based on winning a grass ITF then I'd say those champions, whoever they are, are 100% locks.

If Swiatek squeaks in it's possible that the RU, Kung, will get a QWC. When Bencic made the MD directly the following year, the RU Townsend got a MDWC (albeit with way more pro success than Kung has had so far).

Way too early to be definitive though given how much depends on injuries, cutoffs and grass results.
 

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Lots of uncertainty with two WC locks so close to the cut-off, and impossible to say at this stage whether Swiatek and Watson will squeak in.
That would have been the case some years ago, but now with the amount of money at stake for a R1 loss and the 50% check for the medical last minute withdrawal I wouldn't expect too much. Players will withdraw on site and get the money, favouring LL instead of next-in players.
 

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That would have been the case some years ago, but now with the amount of money at stake for a R1 loss and the 50% check for the medical last minute withdrawal I wouldn't expect too much. Players will withdraw on site and get the money, favouring LL instead of next-in players.
Not always. Makarova withdrew from RG way ahead of time. A top player who gets injured won't hang around to scrounge half a R1 paycheque.
 

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Not always. Makarova withdrew from RG way ahead of time. A top player who gets injured won't hang around to scrounge half a R1 paycheque.
I think it's pretty clear that Makarova is out for a while and probably waiting to get a PR. A breadline player with a small 4-8 week injury is probably going to go and get the 50% prize money.

My 2 cents on wildcards

Swiatek, Watson, Boulter, Dart & Swan are locks I suppose.
For the other 3 Bolsova is coming into the conversation but I don't know if her lack of grass pedigree will haunt her, but her story is interesting so that could help her.
The other drama is that of the first 5: 4 could end up not being used. Boulter and Dart are injured plus Watson and Swiatek could scrape in. That then giving more opportunity to those listed below.
Three 100k ITF's could in theory all have winners from the Maindraw. But they have kind of set a precedent of offering wildcards to those if needed

Last year the top 250 rule was heavily respected for the British girls and all 6 British girls who were contenders got them. But of the other British girls worth considering.

Bains - Gifted a WC to AO, so I think that may hamper her chances as a recent convert. She is likely to make the qualifying draw so maybe she should be getting one. And she won a Grass its in Aus earlier this year.

Dunne: Just outside top 250 but held her own against Ostapenko last year and has won a 60k. But all her other results have really lacked.

Burrage: Had some decent results including a 25k win plus other finals. Biggest improver this year.

Lumsden: I don't think her year has been that good but it is in the 'consideration' range.

Taylor: I think she's probably more talented than Dart and Swan, but seems to be really struggling to stay fit. So she is unlikely for anything more than a QWC.

Raducanu: Best prospect for British tennis although I think slightly too young for this year.


Qualifying I expect all 8 to go to Brits (Leonie Kung could be a consideration as the junior runner up in 2018)
Those rejected above obviously included here. But also considered

Jones - A great story considering her adversity that she has overcome so should be guaranteed.

Broady/Moore - Their games are very suited to grass but they have had ALOT of opportunities. Time might be over now since they look to be on the downer. Although Moore's epic comeback got her some relevance this year.

Webley-Smith - Also had a few chances before but she's actually made some inroads this year to climb the rankings.

Carreras- Her injury return has been good. Obviously, doesn't actually like grass but I think it would be a nice bit of support to offer her the Qualies pay check to help her continue to climb to the top 300.

Murray- also on the return former top 200 and very very likeable.

Allen - Another prospect of the juniors has received a QWC to Surbiton so must be on the radar somewhere at LTA.

Robson- If she declares herself fit I am certain she will get a QWC.

Silva/Barnett/Grey - all worthy of discussion but they seem to have stagnated. I think they struggled to get into ITF's early season. I assume there will be another play off and we will see them there.

College players. Since Paul Jubb won mens NCAA. Maybe they will start looking at the girls doing well over there like Arburthnott and Richardson and offer them a place in the play-off and see if they can covert that to something.


I've realised that I've now named nearly every british pro player but just went for it and kind of did an overview I suppose. Right now (assuming no withdrawals and all are fit)

Main Draw
1) Boulter
2) Watson
3) Dart
4) Swan
5) Dunne
6) Burrage
7) Swiatek
8) 1 winner from the 100k series

Qualies
1) Bains (although probably not needed)
2) Gabi Taylor
3) Lumsden
4) Raducanu
5) Jones
6) Webley Smith
7) Play off winners (probably Broady)
8) Play off winners (probably Murray)
 

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They usually give the wild cards in waves. My guess is Wave 1 will be Boulter, Watson, Dart and Swan and maybe Swiatek - partly because this assists in what wild cards are given in Nottingham, Birmingham and especially Eastbourne. The other three, I think, will be in Wave 2, just before the Champs, will depend on other results:

1. Bolsova, I think, will only get one if she reaches a round later than Swiatek at RG eg she reaches qf RG and Swiatek loses last 16. Swiatek is higher ranked and also is the 2018 junior champion. It is possible that both could get one.

2. ITF winner. At least one wild card will probably go to the winner of Surbiton, Ilkley or Manchester $100k ITFs and maybe more. It depends whether they are already in the draw and if the same players win more than one. I don't see three WCs going to these grass winners if they are all different and in the qualifying list.

3. Performance in Nottingham, Birmingham. This would need to be a semi at N'ham and a qf at B'ham. The second would be very tough as it would need someone to do that as a qualifier and beat top 20/30 players en route.

4. Other Brits - Burrage, Dunne, Bains, Raducanu. If any of these make the top 250 then I would have thought they have a good chance of getting one. Bains live ranking 227, Burrage 235, so I think these two have a good chance. Maybe final decisions will depend on how they do on grass. I am thinking these ones will come later than the first group.

5. Some years, they go to 'next in' when they run out of ideas but I doubt this will happen this year as there seem to be a lot of potential WC candidates, not a shortage.
 
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