Former British number Annabel Croft picks her five players to watch at Wimbledon 2017…
Johanna Konta has been unbelievably impressive over the last two years. To have gone from being knocked out in qualifying in the majority of events to a grand slam contender is a remarkable transformation.
The fact is, women’s tennis is wide open at the moment. With Serena Williams out, Wimbledon is there for somebody to grab it with both hands.
Konta is very fit, she moves exceptionally well, her first serve is a major strength and she has a really good second serve. Many of the players on the tour have attackable second serves; Konta can’t be targeted there.
Having said all of that, she has in the past displayed more nerves at Wimbledon than at other tournaments. Things have changed this year, but much relies on how she will handle the pressure piled on her.
One player we cannot underestimate is Venus Williams. She will be 37 when Wimbledon starts, but has been playing some of best tennis of her career. With her pedigree on the grass courts and the fact that she’s a previous champion, it’s really difficult to rule her out. Even though she’s the veteran of the tour, she is definitely in with a shot of another Wimbledon title.
The one player that I think should do well is Karolina Pliskova. Last year’s US Open finalist is still relatively young but she has the most phenomenal serve. It’s right up there with the likes of Serena Williams in terms of aces, and grass is a great surface to make the most of that.
She doesn’t move as well as the others because she’s so tall, but she has such a laid back style to her shots – a smooth and effortless power from the back of the court. It’s taken her quite a while to get her act together for the Grand Slams, but I would expect her to do very well this year.
There’s a young 20-year-old Russian called Daria Kasatkina; in 2016 she took Venus Williams to three sets, eventually losing 10-8 in the third. It was an unbelievable match, as since then Kasatkina has only become stronger. She’s young, feisty, athletic, a great ball striker and a really gutsy competitor. Everyone took notice of her last year, and they’re certainly aware of her now.
She was last year’s finalist, and made it to world number one in 2016 – but she has almost disintegrated this year. Her lack of confidence is quite extraordinary. For somebody who has been on top of the world, you can never assume she won’t be able to flick a switch and return to form, but the jury is out at the moment.