Barty’s ‘nasty’ Wimbledon surprise
Ashleigh Barty's first tournament as the world No. 1 ranked women's tennis player could not get much tougher, as the Aussie was handed a horror Wimbledon draw.
Much like her former juniors travelling partner, Nick Kyrgios, Australia's new world No. 1 and French Open champion Barty has not been issued with a great draw by the tennis Gods.
In fact New York Times tennis writer Christopher Clarey called the top of the women's draw "one of the craziest, nastiest grand slam quarters in the Open era".
And he's not wrong the quarter contains defending champion Angelique Kerber, 2017 champ Garbine Muguruza and seven-time winner Serena Williams.
One of the craziest, nastiest Grand Slam quarters in the Open Era— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) June 28, 2019
5 No. 1s. 7 major singles champs. 4 former Wimbledon singles champs: Serena. Sharapova. Kerber. Muguruza.#Wimbledon pic.twitter.com/PaMTEFUvkv
Barty should get through her first round but by the third round is seeded to tough it out against unpredictable 2017 champion Muguruza.
The Spaniard has not been in great form this season but has the reputation of being able to beat anyone on any day.
Should Barty get through that she is seeded to meet Swiss 13th seed Belinda Bencic in the fourth round and potentially either Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova or Kerber in the quarter-finals.
Barty might even be hoping for some Aussie intervention against Sharapova, as veteran Samantha Stosur could well face the former world No. 1 Russian in the second round, if she gets past Spain's Carla Suarez-Navarro.
If Barty's draw was bad, Daria Gavrilova's is worse.
Gavrilova will face eighth seed Elina Svitolina in the opening round, while Alja Tomljanovic has 29th seed Daria Kasatkina in her opener and young Aussie Astra Sharma faces rising American star Sofia Kenin.
KYRGIOS, NADAL SET FOR EXPLOSION
Stoke the fires because Nick Kyrgios probably "smells blood".
The enigmatic Australian is one of the most dangerous floaters in the Wimbledon draw and is set to face verbal and on court sparring partner Rafael Nadal in the second round of the grass court grand slam.
If the pair get through their respective opening round encounters then they will face off for the first time since their bad blood spilt over as Kyrgios went on to take the Acapulco Masters title earlier this year.
After the match Nadal accused Kyrgios of "lacking respect" and the Aussie fired back several times, firstly during the tournament, when he loudly asked the crowd "where all the Rafa fans at" during the match.
Then in Rome, before he was defaulted for smashing racquets and chucking a chair onto the court in an epic tantrum, the Australian firebrand unloaded on Nadal and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in an explosive interview with American tennis scribe Ben Rothenberg.
"He's my polar opposite, like literally my polar opposite. And he's super salty," Kyrgios said of Nadal.
"Every time I've beaten him ... when he wins, it's fine. He won't say anything bad, he'll credit the opponent, 'He was a great player'.
"But as soon as I beat him, it's just like, 'He has no respect for me, my fans and no respect to the game'."
The Nadal camp would again fire back at the Australian after that as Nadal's former coach and uncle Toni labelled Kyrgios "bad for tennis".
To play Nadal, Kyrgios will have to get past fellow Australian Jordan Thompson in what looms as a tough first round encounter, especially with Thompson in stunning grass court form.
The world No. 45 made the final in s-Hertogenbosch and is currently in the semi-finals of the Antalya grass court tournament in Turkey.
Kyrgios won't be the only one to provide plenty of spice with fellow bad boy Bernard Tomic copping a shocking draw.
The Australian has drawn Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for his opener and the winner of that battle could end up facing either Kyrgios or Nadal in the third round - their section of the draw also includes young Canadian star Denis Shapovalov.
Australian qualifier Alexei Popyrin has done quite well and will face Spain's Pablo Carreno- Busta, who has never won a match at The Championships in four attempts.
And while top-seeded Serbian and defending champion Novak Djokovic has a dangerous first round match against wily German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber, the greatest of all-time at the All England Club, Roger Federer has a cushy draw.
The eight-time Wimbledon champion has South Africa's Lloyd Harris in the first round and is seeded to cruise through to the fourth round before a likely match with Croatia's Borna Coric, which could lead to a quarter-final against either Kei Nishikori or John Isner.
Alex de Minaur, the only seeded Australian in the men's draw at 25 has Italian Marco Cecchinato for his opener and is seeded to face Nishikori in the third round.
AUSSIES IN ACTION MEN'S SINGLES
25 Alex de Minaur v Marco Cecchinato (ITA)
Nick Kyrgios v Jordan Thompson (AUS)
John Millman v Hugo Dellien (BOL)
Matthew Ebden v 24 Diego Schwartzman (ARG)
Bernard Tomic v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)
Alexei Popyrin v Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP)
AUSSIES IN ACTION WOMEN'S SINGLES
1 Ashleigh Barty v Shuai Zhang (CHN)
Ajla Tomljanovic v 29 Daria Kasatkina (RUS)
Daria Gavrilova v 8 Elina Svitolina (UKR)
Astra Sharma v 27 Sofia Kenin (USA)
Samantha Stosur v 30 Carla Suarez Navaroo (ESP
Arina Rodionova v Taylor Townsend (USA)
MAJOR NAMES AND BIG MATCH UPS MEN'S
1 Novak Djokovic (SRB) v Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)
2 Roger Federer (SUI) v Lloyd Harris (RSA)
3 Rafael Nadal (ESP) v Yuichi Sugita (JPN)
5 Dominic Thiem (AUT) v Sam Querrey (USA)
15 Milos Raonic (CAN) v Prajnesh Gunneswaran (IND)
19 Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) v Vasek Pospisil (CAN)
22 Stan Wawrinka (SUI) v Ruben Bemelmans (BEL)
MAJOR NAMES AND BIG MATCH UPS WOMEN'S
2 Naomi Osaka (JPN) v Yulia Putintseva (UZB)
5 Angelique Kerber (GER) v Tatjana Maria (GER)
6 Petra Kvitova (CZE) v Ons Jabeur (TUN)
7 Simona Halep (ROU) v Aliaksandra Sasnovich (BLR)
11 Serena Williams (USA) v Giulia Gatto-Monticone (ITA)
14 Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) v Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP)
26 Garbine Muguruza (ESP) v Beatriz Haddad Maia (BRA)