Pretty nice line-up we have at Wimbledon on Monday with the entire fourth round – men’s and women’s – scheduled. If you could have only one single ticket in tennis you could make a case this is the day to have it. I’d take it. Of course this year with the upsets to Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Gael Monfils, Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic, some of the star power is clearly gone, but Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Lleyton Hewitt and the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena are still hanging around and the matches we are left with do offer some promise.
The best match of the day for me is the Richard Gasquet v. Andy Murray tussle. With Tim Henman long retired, the weight of Britain falls entirely on Murray. Meanwhile for Gasquet, given the horrendous year he’s had, expectations couldn’t have been that high for a deep Wimbledon run. But surprisingly the Frenchman’s played really well last week and he’s beaten Murray in both of their previous meetings, and I think he’ll do it again here. The guy is simply more talented than Murray and even though he’s defending a ton of ranking points from last year I think he’s playing much more freely at the moment.
Nadal has no such luxury of playing freely, especially not against Mikhail Youzhny who led him by two sets at Wimbledon a year ago. And Youzhny does have four wins over Rafa including a thrashing in January, but tomorrow though I think Nadal feeds off Spain’s Euro Cup win and cruises here. Plus, Nadal really started to get his game into gear those last two sets against Nicolas Kiefer on Saturday, so I expect him to continue that form Monday.
Marcos Baghdatis is a much better all-around player than Feliciano Lopez, but Baggy hasn’t beaten anyone worth a lick this event. Then again, neither has Lopez. This is a real though pick and the match really could go either way. Lopez has a huge lefty serve. Marcos plays well at The W. The courts seem to be playing slower and I think that should help Marcos get through in the end.
As for the rest day, I think Federer wins three tight sets to get his 12th straight victory over Hewitt. I think Lleyton will put up a strong fight and may even get a set, but Roger’s too tough in the end. I’ll also take youngster Marin Cilic over Arnaud Clement and Janko Tipsarevic to beat Rainer Schuettler. (boy, what an opportunity for someone, an unseeded someone, in that Roddick quarter!)
Stan Wawrinka seems to have Marat Safin’s number (he’s 2-0 against Russian), so I’ll pick the Swiss and the Euro Cup win by Spain doesn’t help Fernando Verdasco, at least not against Mario Ancic.
All in all, I think we should be in for a great day of tennis with some really tight matches I hope. It’s interesting to see guys I thought were basically washed up like Schuettler, Clement and even a Safin have another real good look at getting back to a Slam Final Four. And even though I didn’t pick them to win I think I may very well root for them come Monday.
As for the women, with Jelena Jankovic hurt (what’s new?), like it or not it’s really looking like another Venus-Serena final. I think Venus gets there, but Serena could still get bounced by someone along the way. But I don’t think Bethanie Mattek is that someone.
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