Wimbledon draw 2019: Youngest-ever qualifier - 15-year-old Cori Gauff - to face Venus Williams, 39, in first round

Simon Briggs
The Telegraph
Gauff is the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon in the Open era - AP
Gauff is the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon in the Open era - AP

In a neat twist of fate, Cori “Coco” Gauff – who on Friday became the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon in the Open era – will play Venus Williams, the oldest woman in the draw at 39, in a fascinating first-round match on Monday.

Gauff, who turned 15 in March, was born at a time when Williams – herself a prodigy who played her first pro tournament at 14 – had already been on the circuit for ten years and won four majors. Gauff sees both Williams sisters as role models and was devastated to lose to Daria Kasatkina in Miami this year when she knew that she would have played Venus in the next round. This time, nothing but a last-minute injury can get in her way.

Meanwhile Andy Murray and his doubles partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert landed unseeded opponents in the first round of their event. They will play Marius Copil and Ugo Humbert in the first round, possibly on Wednesday, although this will depend on whether Herbert wins his opening singles match against last year’s runner-up Kevin Anderson on Monday.

Alarmingly for Murray’s mother Judy, he will find himself facing elder brother Jamie – whose partner is Liverpool’s Ken Skupski – if both teams reach the third round. “I’ll go to the pub,” Judy told Lorraine Kelly this week, when asked how she would react to that eventuality.

The mixed-doubles draw is not made until after the players have signed in to the competition on Wednesday, but in any case it now seems that Murray is unlikely to participate for fear that the workload of two different tournaments might prove overwhelming for a man who has only played five competitive matches in as many months.

Whatever happens to the British singles players at Wimbledon this year, they can hardly blame the draw, which has thrown up unseeded opponents in nine out of ten cases. James Ward, who will play 18th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili on Tuesday, breaks the pattern by being the only Briton to land a player ranked inside the world’s top 65 in the first round.

Johanna Konta – who remains our best chance of a deep run despite a couple of disappointing defeats in her build-up – will play Romanian qualifier Anna Bogdan, a player she beat in Morocco in late April, in the first round.

As for our top-ranked male player, 30th seed Kyle Edmund, he can look forward to a first-round meeting with 22-year-old Spaniard Jaume Munar, who has only played twice on grass and lost both times. The level of Edmund’s opponents is likely to ratchet up quickly from there, however. Fernando Verdasco is a possible second-round opponent, and he could be followed by the fast-rising seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

In the men’s draw, the most talked-about early match may not even happen. Nick Kyrgios could play Rafael Nadal – with whom he shares a testy relationship – in the second round, but only if he beats compatriot Jordan Thompson in the first. Meanwhile, the women’s draw has a ferociously tough top quarter that features world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, defending champion Angelique Kerber and the game’s most famous player Serena Williams.

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