Watch out Sam, warns Bollettieri
BLACK Caviar's historic win has buoyed Aussies in England but as the focus turns from Ascot to Wimbledon; will anyone fly the flag in south-west London?
One thing is for certain, it won't be a sprint. For the nine Australians (five women and four men), just getting through the first round could be a photo finish.
Australia's highest seed, men or women, No.5 Sam Stosur begins her campaign against Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro on Court 3 tonight at 8.30pm.
The Gold Coast star has a woeful 5-9 record at Wimbledon with five first-round exits, including the past two years. The 2011 US Open champion has struggled on grass mainly because of the low bounce which nullifies her kick serve, used as a weapon on other surfaces to set up her powerful forehand.
Fortunately grass is just as foreign to her opponent. Suarez Navarro failed to qualify for last year's Wimbledon and did not advance past the third round in her previous two main draw attempts at the All England Club.
Stosur won their lone meeting on the Miami hardcourts in 2010 but the 4-6 7-5 6-2 scoreline indicates the 162cm crafty Spaniard will put up a fight.
At least famed tennis coach Nick Bollettieri thinks the world No.38 poses a real threat, despite tipping the more fancied Stosur.
"Suarez Navarro is a tough out," Bollettieri wrote in his Nick's Picks blog. "She moves really well and has a superb one-handed backhand. She is crafty on the court and she will make Stosur work."
Bollettieri believes the match is in Stosur's hands but a repeat of the error-riddled French Open semi-final loss to Sara Errani (21 of 48 unforced errors in the third set) could be her downfall.
"She made a ton (of errors against Errani) and it cost her the match," he wrote. "If she plays sloppy, watch out."
The 133-ranked Anastasia Rodionova has received the toughest first round opponent of the Australian contingent, drawing French Open champion and world No.1 Maria Sharapova.
The 2004 Wimbledon champion is looking to establish herself as a dominant No.1 by becoming the first woman in a decade to do the Roland Garros-Wimbledon double.
"I think it's the toughest back-to-back Grand Slam-wise, no doubt," Sharapova said. "As much as you want to celebrate and enjoy (French Open title), you come here and it's like a whole new ballgame."
Other featured matches tonight include defending champion Novak Djokovic, as per tradition starting first on centre court at 10pm, against Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer, who has a chance to reclaim top spot by winning the title, faces Spaniard Albert Ramos, second on Court 1. The former No.1 is followed by two former women No.1s with Serbian No.18 seed Jelena Jankovic taking on Belgium Kim Clijsters, playing her final Wimbledon with second retirement plans set for after the US Open.
Also in action tonight, Melbourne's Jarmilla Gajdosova begins her campaign against Japan's Ayumi Morita. Gajdosova leads 2-0 in tour-level matches but just 3-2 when including challenger events.
In the men's singles, Melbourne's Marinko Matosevic makes his All England Club debut against 2002 Wimbledon semi-finalist Xavier Malisse of Belgium.
Day two action will include Australians Ashleigh Barty, Casey Dellacqua, Lleyton Hewitt, Bernard Tomic and Matthew Ebden.