The United Kingdom is not quite so united after Thursday’s vote to leave the European Union but Wimbledon is still Wimbledon and looked its finest on Friday bathed in sunshine.
In the picture above, Vasek Pospisil is practising – four to a court – with Jiri Vesely on the other side, and that’s Caroline Wozniacki on the court beside him.
Earlier, Milos Raonic hit with Marin Cilic and there was a confab during one of the breaks with new consultant coach John McEnroe holding court – left to right are Raonic, (Cilic behind Raonic), Carlos Moya, McEnroe and Cilic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic.
Watching McEnroe, a fidgety sort, on the court you get a strong sense that he would prefer to be the one out there hitting the ball instead of observing and offering advice.
The draw was done in the media interview room at 10 a.m. on Friday and was basically quite kind to the Canadians.
Raonic starts with No. 45-ranked Pablo Carreno Busta, a 24-year-old Spaniard who has never (0-4) won a match on grass but is 40-43 in his career on clay.
Hoping to at least equal his 2014 performance when he reached the semi-finals and lost to Roger Federer, Raonic is slated to face No. 27 seed Jack Sock in the third round, No. 11 David Goffin in the round-of-16 and top seed Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals. The 29-year-old Serb is the only one of the so-called Big Four that Raonic has not beaten (0-7), and that includes losses this year on hard courts in Indian Wells (6-2, 6-0) and clay in Madrid (6-3, 6-4.)
As they walked off the court after the practice Raonic asked McEnroe, sporting a New York Mets baseball cap, if there was any logical pattern to how he wears the hats. McEnroe’s answer was not clear but it just goes to show that all is not necessarily deep thinking when the legendary American is around.
Genie Bouchard was out first thing on Friday morning – after the dew had come off the grass – practising with Nao Hibino of Japan.
Bouchard’s opening round opponent will be No. 92-ranked Magdalena Rybarikova. The 27-year-old Slovak has been struggling with injury lately and has only played four matches (losing three) since reaching the quarter-finals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
Rybarikova is an aggressive player who is not afraid to serve-and-volley and can be dangerous. But her overall record at Wimbledon is 2-8 compared to Bouchard’s 8-3.
Should she advance, Bouchard would play the winner of Monica Puig of Puerto Rico and Johanna Konta, the British player who is seeded 16th at Wimbledon.
Bouchard enters Wimbledon with a 3-3 record on grass in 2016, winning two rounds this week in Eastbourne before losing 6-3, 6-3 to world No. 3 Agnieszka Radwanska.
A year ago, suffering from a grade two abdominal tear, Bouchard was ousted in the first round by unheralded Chinese Ying-Ying Duan.
Vasek Pospisil was the healthiest of the Canadians at Wimbledon ’15 and road a vein of fine play all the way to the quarter-finals. He has approximately 350 of his current 955 ATP ranking points to defend entering this year’s event.
He will face a opponent, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, who is just 1-3 in three previous visits to Wimbledon but who is solid enough a clay-courter to have beaten Raonic at Roland Garros earlier this month.
Ramos-Vinolas is ranked No. 36 while Pospisil is No. 44.
The picture above shows how crowded it can sometimes become on the Aorangi practice courts. Surrounding Pospisil are (left to right) his coach Fred Fontang, David Kotyza, Wozniacki’s coach who is picking up a ball, and Spanish player Inigo Cervantes who is sharing the practice court with Pospisil and Vesely.
If Pospisil is able to get past Ramos-Vivolas in the opening round, he could play No. 25 seed Viktor Troicki whom he defeated in five sets in a memorable round-of-16 match a year ago. It’s a first meeting for Pospisil, who turned 26 on Thursday, and the 26-year-old Ramos-Vinolas.
Pospisil, with American Jack Sock, is seeded No. 8 in the doubles and could be on a collision course with the ninth-seeded pairing of Daniel Nestor and Dominic Inglot of Britain. The teams could meet in the third round – Pospisil/Sock start out against qualifiers while Nestor and Inglot, playing in the ATP 250 final in Nottingham on Saturday, face Italians Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi in their opener.
There is a somewhat similar circumstance in the women’s draw. Gabriela Dabrowski and her partner Maria Jose Sanchez Martinez of Spain will play Genie Bouchard and Sabine Lisicki of Germany in the first round.
Roger Federer returns to Grand Slam action after missing his first Grand Slam event (Roland Garros) since the 1999 US Open. Above he is hitting with coaches Severin Luthi and Ivan Ljubicic watching. The 34-year-old, seven-time champion has a favourable early draw as he starts out with No. 51-ranked Guido Pella. The 26-year-old Argentine’s only other Wimbledon ended in agony in 2013 in the first round when he tore a hamstring in the fifth set while playing Jesse Levine of Ottawa and had to be carted off the court.
Andy Murray seems comfortably reunited with Ivan Lendl (on left above with Jaime Delgado on right) and will play British wild card Liam Broady in his first match.
The top seed and two-time defending champion, Novak Djokovic, appeared in a good mood yesterday as he yukked it up with compatriot Ana Ivanovic and Sorana Cirstea of Croatia when their paths crossed on court 14. Like Murray, Djokovic plays a British wild card – James Ward – in the traditional opening match on Centre Court on Monday.
Players warm up in all kinds of ways for their practices and here Caroline Wozniacki can be seen kicking around a soccer ball with her father Piotr, a very fine ‘football’ player in his day in Poland.
On his way back from the practice courts on Friday, Dutch doubles player Jean-Julien Rojer used this interesting configuration to carry his racquets while walking with partner Horia Tecau of Romania. They are the defending Wimbledon doubles champions.
This feline was sitting rather regally on the sidewalk on Newstead way – a street leading down to the Gate 16 entrance to Wimbledon. The No. 12 address on the street was where Rafael Nadal was staying when he won that magnificent 9-7 in the fifth set final over Roger Federer in 2008.