Week two at Wimbledon begins with an absolute banger of a schedule. The greatest day of tennis, as it’s known, features the best of the best including Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and in the main event it’s Rafael Nadal against Juan Martin Del Potro.
Up first on Center is Brit hero Murray. I said at the start that if Murray was going to stumble it would happen here to Richard Gasquet. On paper from results last week, the Frenchman has been the better player. Gasquet hasn’t dropped a set while Murray has had some minor niggles and tense moments, which does give his backers further cause for concern.
With Murray already having reached the finals in Australia and the semifinals in Paris, the expectations to do well at Wimbledon have increased exponentially, and Gasquet is no easy out. These two talented Europeans have split their four meetings with there most recent two going Murray’s way in five sets, both 0-2 comebacks including an epic at Wimbledon in 2008.
Still, I think Murray will get the job done against Gasquet in four sets. But an upset here wouldn’t surprise me. Gasquet has the game and talent but I wonder if he’s completely shaken off those two blown leads to Murray. I think he hasn’t.
Federer continues his bid for a seventh Wimbledon against another 29-year-old, Mikhail Youhzny. Part in thanks to a great draw, Federer hasn’t dropped a set and he’s looked great, and I think he keeps it that way against the Russian. Youhzny has been a well-above average player in Slams but I don’t think he has enough to get past Federer at this stage and at Wimbledon. Federer has won all 10 against Youhzny who has managed just two sets in those meetings. On Monday, Yiuhzny will need three, a rather doubtful proposition.
As for the big showdown, I picked Nadal at the start of the tournament to win it and I’ll stick with him here. Nadal hasn’t dropped a set but I think that changes today against Juan Martin Del Potro. Nadal beat Delpo in straights at Indian Wells however at the 2009 US Open, in their last Slam meeting, it was the Argentine crushing Rafa. Nadal was injured in that match while Delpo still wasn’t fully back at Indian Wells. So it’s somewhat even. This time, both players should be at or near full strength – I do note Nadal complained of a leg ailment on Saturday which I hope will not be an issue.
If this were hardcourt, I’d give the edge to Del Potro – he’s hitting the ball great while Nadal has looked off his game a little despite his recent success. But on grass I think Nadal can and will expose Delpo’s lack of speed and experience on the surface. Delpo will get his share of aces and ground stroke winners, however mentally on the big points I feel Nadal will come up big and make the difference to take it in four, maybe five sets. It’s also suppose to be hot on Monday, and that could be a problem for Del Potro.
In the other matches, I think Novak Djokovic should roll past Michael Llodra, Feliciano Lopez over Lukas Kubot. I like Tomas Berdych to end Mardy Fish’s best Wimbledon. After Milos Roanic broke out at the Australian Open, 18-year-old Bernard Tomic has nicely snapped up the “future star spotlight” this week. But I think Malisse, a former Wimbledon semifinalist, takes out the Australian. The 30-year-old Belgian should have enough experience for the youngster who was aided by a sick Robin Soderling in the last round.
David Ferrer and JW Tsonga tangle in a good one. Both guys have been playing pretty well and on grass Tsonga with his aggressive game should pull through. Ferrer does have a grass court title, Tsonga does not. Something not to be overlooked.
As for the women, the Williams sisters are coming on at just the right time. Do they have enough in the reserves for three more big wins to meet in the final? I’m still not convinced. Serena plays a tough, underrated Marion Bartoli. Venus meets 2010 semifinalist Tsvetana Pironkova who seems to be a bit of a women’s grass expert. Both are tough matches, I think. However, if the sisters roll through than watch out.
ESPN2 has live TV coverage with NBC also airing a few matches.
MONDAY WIMBLEDON SCHEDULE
Centre Court 13:00 Start Time
Andy Murray (GBR) v. Richard Gasquet (FRA)
Venus Williams (USA) v. Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL)
Rafael Nadal (ESP) v. Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG)
No. 1 Court 13:00 Start Time
Marion Bartoli (FRA) v. Serena Williams (USA)
Michael Llodra (FRA) v. Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) v. Roger Federer (SUI)
No. 2 Court 12:00 Start Time
Shuai Peng (CHN) v. Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) v. Dominika Cibulkova (SVK)
Mardy Fish (USA) v. Tomas Berdych (CZE)
No. 3 Court 12:00 Start Time
Nadia Petrova (RUS) v. Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Lukasz Kubot (POL) v. Feliciano Lopez (ESP)
David Ferrer (ESP) v. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA)
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