Wimbledon: Serena Williams handed Tan test as Raducanu draws Van Uytvanck

By Sports Desk June 24, 2022

Serena Williams will begin her Wimbledon challenge against French player Harmony Tan, who will be making her main-draw debut.

For 40-year-old American Williams, a seven-time Wimbledon singles champion, there will be relief at avoiding a seed in the first round.

That was a possibility given that Williams is in the draw on a wildcard, having not played singles since suffering an ankle injury in her Wimbledon opener 12 months ago.

Instead, the 23-time grand slam winner will face the world number 113, who lost in the first round of the recent French Open, perhaps as soft a landing as Williams could have had.

Wimbledon begins on Monday at the All England Club, with women's defending champion Ash Barty not involved after announcing a shock retirement in March.

Williams has returned to action this week at the Eastbourne International, winning through two rounds in doubles alongside Ons Jabeur, before the duo pulled out due to a knee worry for Jabeur.

Awaiting the winner of Williams versus Tan will be American Christina McHale or Spanish 32nd seed Sara Sorribes Tormo, while last year's runner-up Karolina Pliskova is a potential third-round obstacle.

Women's top seed Iga Swiatek starts against Croatian qualifier Jana Fett, while Britain's US Open champion Emma Raducanu was drawn to face the experienced Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck, a player who knocked out the then-defending champion Garbine Muguruza at Wimbledon four years ago.

Tunisian third seed Jabeur was paired with Swedish qualifier Mirjam Bjorklund, Pliskova faces fellow Czech Tereza Martincova, and American Coco Gauff, fresh from a first grand slam final in Paris, drew Romanian Elena-Gabriela Ruse.

Estonia's Anett Kontaveit, who may struggle to live up to her billing as the second seed having never previously gone past round three, plays American Bernarda Pera first up.

Among former champions, Angelique Kerber tackles Kristina Mladenovic in her opener, while Simona Halep was handed a tough assignment against Karolina Muchova.

Of all the players in the draw this year, Muchova is the woman with the highest winning percentage in Wimbledon main draw matches.

The Czech has an 80 per cent success record, winning eight matches and losing twice after reaching the quarter-finals in her both previous appearances, losing to Elina Svitolina in 2019 and Kerber last season.

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    Halep defeated 10th seed Gauff, who had beaten Naomi Osaka, Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka this week, in one hour and 47 minutes.

    The Romanian 15th seed was broken five times and sent down eight double faults, but found the edge with speed, finesse and power.

    The win means Halep has won the third most matches (36-10) on the WTA Tour this season, behind only top-ranked Iga Swiatek (49) and Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeir (37).

    Halep's improved form comes after she teamed up with Serena Williams' ex-coach Patrick Mouratoglou in April following a difficult 2021 season.

    "Before I met him I was super down with my motivation," Halep told reporters. "I couldn't really work, keep working. I was almost done with tennis. He brought this fire back and the motivation. He trusted that I still can play good tennis and he transferred this to me."

    The 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon champion added: "Physically I'm good. Mentally I'm good, so I think it's all positive."

    Halep, who won the Canadian Open in 2018, has reached the semi-finals for the fifth time in her career where she will take on seventh seed Jessica Pegula.

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    Haddad Maia became the first Brazilian to reach the semi-finals of a WTA 1000 tournament. She will face Karolina Pliskova in the semi-finals after the Czech 14th seed beat Qinwen Zheng 4-6 6-4 6-4.

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    The 23-time Grand Slam champion recorded her first singles win in more than a year at this week's Canadian Open, defeating Nuria Parrizas-Diaz on Monday, before losing in the second round to Belinda Bencic.

    In between the matches, Williams had signaled her retirement plans in an article in Vogue magazine.

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    Hurkacz ran away with victory, triumphing 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 in one hour and 46 minutes in Montreal.

    Wimbledon finalist Kyrgios had come into the encounter fresh from winning 15 of his past 16 matches, including lifting the title at last week's Washington Open. Kyrgios' run had fueled expectations around him at the upcoming US Open.

    "Nick has been playing some incredible tennis throughout the past weeks, so it is a pleasure playing against him," Hurkacz said post-match in his on-court interview.

    "I started really well. Nick was maybe a little bit injured, which might have hurt his serve. With both of us serving so well, that few per cent can make the difference."

    Kyrgios was quick on serve but the 25-year-old Pole eventually ground him down, prevailing in the third set aided by an early break.

    That break came after Kyrgios gave up two double faults, leading to the Australian to complain to the umpire about his opponent's mid-match break for a change of clothes.

    The Australian was unable to break Hurkacz's serve throughout the match, with the Pole edging the aces count 20-19, while he was also superior on return. Kyrgios had more winners (55-47), but more unforced errors (24-13).

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    The Norwegian's win marks his third ATP Masters 1000 semi-final of the season, with the Canadian plagued by 21 unforced errors compared to Ruud's eight.

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    Evans will face Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta after he defeated Jack Draper 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 in just under two hours.

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