This could be a deeply analytical treatise on the draws that were done at Wimbledon on Friday – but instead this writer will leave that to others and just send a chatty post card from a lovely practice day at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
One of the first people I encountered was Milos Raonic, looking exactly like he does in the picture above. It was cool in the late morning but warmed up as the basically sunny day wore on.
In a brief conversation, Milos said he is feeling fine and looked to be in good spirits. He said it had been about three weeks to get over the right foot surgery (Morton’s Neuroma), which he had on May 13.
A few minutes earlier, Vasek Pospisil was on his way down onto to the Aorangi practice courts and we had a brief chat. He said he is feeling fine after pulling out a first-round match with Marcel Granollers in Nottingham earlier this week with a back issue. According to Vasek, it took him three days to deal with the problem and he’s okay now.
Walking up to Aorangi I passed Andy Murray hitting with Grigor Dimitrov on Court 19, the northerly most court which will disappear when the expansion work is done to put a roof on No. 1 Court.
Murray had both his coaches there – a very pregnant Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman, who seemed to be getting along very well as is obvious in the picture above.
I returned to the press centre for the draw ceremony just as the opponents for Raonic and Pospisil were being selected. Unlike the three other Grand Slams where player’s positions in the draw are at least partially computer-generated, Wimbledon does it all the old fashioned way with numbers individually being pulled out of a Wimbledon-logoed mauve pouch for all the seeded and unseeded players. More about the Canadian players’ draws further down.
When I went back up to Aorangi, I was quite surprised to see who Raonic was practicing with – none other than David Goffin of Belgium, who he could very likely be playing in three weeks when Canada faces the Belgians in a Davis Cup World Group quarter-final in Ostend.
The two seemed to get along well and since the tie will be played on clay, the time they spent on grass may not be that useful as a point of reference.
Just as players enter the practice courts area, they can see this obviously photo-shopped large picture of last year’s champions.
A little further on – actually on the courts – there was 2014 champion Petra Kvitova in person.
Her coach David Kotyza was standing behind her in a rather unusual T-shirt. When our paths crossed later in the day, he just laughed when I asked him about it. Even later, I spoke to Petra and she said that it was an old Nike T-shirt that David had had for a couple of years. He was wearing a different one when I spoke to him later in the day.
Hitting on the court beside Kvitova in the morning had been French Open runner-up and her Czech compatriot Lucie Safarova. Later in the afternoon, Safarova was on Court 9, one of the actual competition courts in front of the club house. So she had to wear proper white clothing for her second outing, as illustrated here in the juxtaposed pictures with her coach Rob Steckley of Toronto.
Heading back to the press centre in the early afternoon, Maria Sharapova was finishing off a practice session with her team on Court 14, the court that was out of play last year while ballkids, photographers and media facilities were expanded underground.
Sharapova seemed a little edgy and had quite a serious discussion with her coach Sven Groeneveld at the finish.
There are always people milling around in the staging area above the practice courts – some chatting, some film crews doing interviews and some players involved in activities such as the stretching Daniela Hantuchova is doing above.
Alexandra Dulgheru, who was involved in the non-handshake incident with Genie Bouchard during the Canada – Romania Fed Cup in Montreal in April happened to pass by at one point. Asked if she had had any subsequent interactions with Bouchard, Dulgheru smiled and responded, “just a shy smile, that’s it.”
Bouchard’s former fitness trainer, Scott Byrnes also was in the area and he confirmed, when asked, that he is now working with Madison Keys.
On one of the trips up to Aorangi, I came across this group working near the baseline on Court 18. They’ve added Hawk-Eye on Courts 12 and 18, bringing the total of Hawk-Eye Wimbledon courts to six. The chaps above are testing out the system on the new court, with co-workers checking the system on their computer.
Around 6 p.m., I ran into Daniel Nestor who is seeded 11th in the doubles with Leander Paes. They will play Dusan Lajovic and Viktor Troicki of Serbia in the first round.
Nestor was quite insistent that the courts are playing very slow this year.
Draws kind to Canadians
Milos Raonic, Vasek Pospisil and Genie Bouchard, who this writer did not see on the Wimbledon grounds today, though she undoubtedly was there because I did see her coach Sam Sumyk in the morning, have been given relatively benign draws for the 2015 Wimbledon singles .
Raonic will play Spanish veteran Daniel Gimeno-Traver, 29 and ranked No. 62, in the first round on Monday. The world No. 8 won his only previous meeting with the Spaniard, beating him 7-6(2), 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 in the opening round of the 2014 Australian Open – a match where he injured his left foot. It was a problem that persisted and eventually kept him out of action for about six weeks at the start of that season.
A win and Raonic, a semi-finalist a year ago, would play Tommy Haas or Dusan Lajovic with No. 26 seed Nick Kyrgios as a possible third-round opponent. Then it could be No. 21 Richard Gasquet or No. 11 Grigor Dimitrov in the round-of-16. Raonic is in the top half with No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic and he could play the defending champion in the semi-finals after a potential quarter-final versus No. 4 seed Stan Wawrinka, recent winner at Roland Garros.
As for Pospisil, he faces qualifier Vincent Millot on Tuesday. They have not met on the ATP tour but Pospisil has wins over the Frenchman at lower-level events in Canada in 2013 and 2009.
Millot, 29 and ranked No. 213, is married to a woman from Montreal and a French reporter told me that he has a new daughter and that he and his wife and child will be in Canada this summer playing a few events, including the Banque Nationale Challenger in Granby, Que.
Millot, a lefthander, is solidly built but only 5-foot-8 tall. The same reporter told me a story about this year’s Australian Open when Millot played Andy Murray in Rod Laver Arena. Apparently, as the players were about to go on court, Millot was standing around with is racquet bag on when a security guard told him to get out of the way because the players were coming. Millot had to inform him that he was one of the players.
If the No. 54-ranked Pospisil, who lost in the first round a year ago to Robin Haase, gets through, he would likely play No. 30 seed Fabio Fognini in the second round.
Seeded No. 3 in doubles with Jack Sock, Pospisil and the American will take on Aussie Sam Groth and Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine in the opening round.
Bouchard, seeded No. 12, will face Duan Ying-Ying of China on Tuesday. Duan is a qualifier who has only played two events outside of Asia this year – losing in the first round of qualifying at the Australian Open to Bethanie Mattek-Sands and to No. 326-ranked Victoria Kan of Russia in the opening round of French Open qualifying.
The 25-year-old is a big woman, 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds. (Note: could this be one of the rare occasions when a WTA player has correctly given her weight?)
The scuttlebutt is that Duan is a big hitter – and apparently is known as the “Chinese Davenport” for her powerful strokes and limited mobility.
If Bouchard, who has never played Duan, advances, she would play the winner of Tatjana Maria of Germany, who beat her at the Miami Open in March, and Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia.
Possibly waiting in the third round, would be a fascinating Canada-USA match-up against Madison Keys, who is seeded 21st.
Bouchard is also in the doubles with Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine and they play British wild cards Jocelyn Rae and Anna Smith in the first round.
This very polite admonition can be found on a slope leading down to the Aorangi practice courts.