Team USA off to strong start
at Wimbledon 2017
E.J. Crawford | July 3, 2017
If Day 1 is any indication, it’s going to be a good two weeks in London for Team USA.
Americans excelled on the opening day of Wimbledon 2017, posting seven victories in eight matches, with wins by five-time champion Venus Williams, 2016 quarterfinalist Sam Querrey, No. 17 women's seed Madison Keys and No. 26 men's seed Steve Johnson.
Also advancing on opening day were Madison Brengle, Jennifer Brady and Donald Young.
Perhaps the most encouraging result was by Keys. The 22-year-old, tabbed by many as a future Wimbledon champion, finished last season at No. 8 in the world. But she was sidelined by left wrist surgery to start this season and has experienced mixed results since her return.
Keys looked like her 2016 self on Monday, however. Playing on the slick lawns that reward her big serve and quick-strike ability, the 2015 Wimbledon quarterfinalist rolled to a 6-4, 6-2 victory over Japan’s Nao Hibino, stroking 20 winners to 14 unforced errors and controlling the action throughout.ADVERTISEMENT
In contrast, Williams flirted with an early exit against Elise Mertens, the Kim Clijsters Academy product from Belgium who was coming off a third-round showing at the French Open – a match in which Williams would eventually prevail, 7-6, 6-4.
Mertens bounced back from 0-3 down to force the first-set tiebreak, fighting off four set points in the breaker before Williams finally closed out the set courtesy a forehand error by her opponent. The second set was similarly taut, with Williams overcoming an early break by running off four consecutive games for a 4-2 lead. From there, the No. 10 seed held her serve to close out the match.
Venus is now 19-1 in first-round matches at Wimbledon, with her only setback coming in her maiden trip to the British capital, in 1997.
In other American women’s action, Brengle earned her first Wimbledon main-draw victory – she lost in the first round each of the last two years – with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Richel Hogenkamp of the Netherlands, and Australian Open breakout star and former UCLA All-American Jennifer Brady followed suit by taking out Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, 6-3, 6-1.
The only American woman to fall on Day 1 was the rising 18-year-old CiCi Bellis, who dropped a marquee match against former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1. The match was the first for the two-time US Open finalist since having a son in December.
Querrey (pictured) was the headline winner on the men’s side. A year ago, he snapped Novak Djokovic’s 30-match Grand Slam winning streak in the third round, advancing to the quarterfinals for his best-ever major result. The No. 24 seed picked up where he left off on Monday, taking out Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano, 7-6, 7-5, 6-2, to reach the second round for the fourth consecutive year.
Also advancing Monday were a pair of dangerous grass-court players in Johnson and Young. Johnson was impressive in ousting the talented Argentine Nicolas Kicker in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5, 6-3, while Young, the former Wimbledon boys’ champion who has enjoyed a solid grass-court season, moved into Round 2 when big-serving Denis Istomin retired trailing two sets to one and down a break in the fourth, 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 4-2. Young’s reward is a matchup against two-time Wimbledon champion, No. 4 seed and fellow lefty Rafael Nadal.
Among the Americans scheduled to play Tuesday at the All England Club are top U.S. men’s seed Jack Sock, as well as rising stars Frances Tiafoe, Jared Donaldson and Taylor Fritz, who will take on fellow American and No. 23 seed John Isner in a highly anticipated affair.
Women’s play on Day 2 features a trio of all-American matchups: Alison Riske vs. Sloane Stephens, No. 28 seed Lauren Davis vs. Varvara Lepchenko and Shelby Rogers vs. Julia Boserup. Also scheduled to take the courts are No. 25 seed CoCo Vandeweghe, Vandeweghe’s fellow Fed Cup standout Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Christina McHale.