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Friday, June 29, 2018

Wimbledon 2018 Draw: Andy Murray to face Benoit Paire in stiff first round

Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray has decided to play at the grass court major after return to court following a hip injury. The 31-year-old Britain, who has played only three matches in the past year, had not yet announced publicly if he would play at SW19 but his name featured in Friday’s draw. Unseeded Murray, ranked 156th in the world, will play France’s Benoit Paire in the first round. Paire was also Murray’s last opponent at Wimbledon, beating him in the fourth round last year before losing to Sam Querrey in the quarter-finals.
Defending champion Roger Federer faces Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic in his opening round while World No 1 Rafael Nadal starts off against Dudi Sela. Nadal hasn’t progressed past the fourth round since 2011.
In three of the most interesting looking first round matchups, Stan Wawrinka takes on Grigor Dimitrov, Gael Monfils takes on Richard Gasquet in all-French contest and seventh seed Dominic Thiem faces veteran Marcos Baghdatis, Bornca Coric, who beat Federer in Halle, will face fellow NextGen player Daniil Medvedev and an in-form Jeremy Chardy faces Denis Shapovalov.
Federer and last year’s finalist Marin Cilic are placed in have been drawn in the same half while Nadal, three-time champion Novak Djokovic, Murray and Juan Martin del Potro are in the same half of the draw that was made on Friday.
For Nadal to win his third title at Wimbledon, he would have to get past Murray or Del Potro in the quarterfinals, followed by one of Alexander Zverev, Djokovic or Nick Kyrgios in the semifinals.
Federer, eyeing a record ninth Wimbledon title, could play Coric in the fourth round before a potential face off against Kevin Anderson or last year’s semifinalist Sam Querrey in the quarterfinals.
Other notable first round matches include Zverev against Australia’s James Duckworth; Kyrgios against Denis Istomin and Kei Nishikori against qualifier Christian Harrison.
Yuki Bhambri to face Thomas Fabbiano
India’s sole singles representative at Wimbledon, Yuki Bhambri will take on Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano in the first round. Placed in the top half of the draw featuring Federer and bottom quarter, Bhambri would face the winner of Dimitrov and Wawrinka should he progress to the second round. This is Bhambri’s first appearance at Wimbledon having made his maiden showing at Roland Garros earlier – where he went out in the opening round.
US Open champion Stephens gets tough opener
The big guns in the women’s section got easy draws but same cannot be said for US Open champion and French Open finalist Sloane Stephens who will take on Donna Vekic. In other key matches, top seed and World No 1 Simona Halep faces Japan’s Kurumi Nara; seven-time champion Serena Williams, seeded 25th, opens against Arantxa Rus; defending champion Garbine Muguruza begins against British wildcard Naomi Broady. Last year’s finalist and five-time champion Venus Williams faces Sweden’s Johanna Larsson.
Two-time champion Petra Kvitova begins against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, while Australian Open winner Caroline Wozniacki, the second seed, faces Varvara Lepchenko. In a clash of former finalists, Angelique Kerber takes on Vera Zvonareva. World No.32 Dominika Cibulkova, who missed out on a seed due to Serena’s addition, faces a tough prospect in World No.42 AlizĂ© Cornet.
Wimbledon gets underway on July 2 with the finals to take place on July 14 (women’s) and July 15 (men’s).