The 126th edition of The Championships at Wimbledon kicks off Monday with a slew of interesting match-ups, including three former No. 1s who are unseeded, Kim Clijsters’ last Wimbledon, and world No. 1s Novak Djokovic and Maria Sharapova in action.
Here are some of the matches to look for Monday at the All England Club:
(1) Novak Djokovic vs. Juan Carlos Ferrero
The defending champion kicks off against the former No. 1-ranked Spaniard, who like in the Shawshank Redemption should come out from changeovers with pockets full of clay and a hole in the bottom of his pockets. By the third set he could turn it into a legit claycourt.
“I’m playing with more self-belief on this surface,” Djokovic said Sunday. “I realized my dreams last year. I played a perfect tournament. I like the conditions here. I’ve been in several locations in semifinals, so I’m confident before the start of 2012.
Djokovic just lost to a more famous Spaniard, Rafael Nadal, in his last match, ending a bid for a Career/Djoker Slam.
“It’s behind me now,” Djokovic said reflecting on the loss in the French Open final. “Yes, I was so close. But the day after I felt good about my tournament, about my achievement in Paris. It was the first time I ever have been in the finals of Roland Garros. That’s a step further from all these years that I’ve been playing in Paris. That’s something that made me satisfied.”
(1) Maria Sharapova vs. Anastasia Rodionova
No. 1 with a bullet, and favorite to meet Serena in the final. Let the road begin.
(3) Roger Federer vs. Albert Ramos
The 24-year-old Ramos is making his debut at Wimbledon. Enough said.
(3) Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Magdalena Rybarikova
Radwanska is No. 3 in the world? Wow. That’s about all the excitement here.
(5) Sam Stosur vs. Carla Suarez Navarro
Is Navarro’s sweet one-hander consistent enough to give Sam the yips? Probably not.
(6) Tomas Berdych vs. Ernests Gulbis
If the 2011-version confident Gulbis showed up, this would be a popcorn match, Otherwise not.
(8) Janko Tipsarevic vs. David Nalbandian
Bad draw for Janko — linesman, protect your legs, Angry Dave is in town.
(11) John Isner vs. Alejandro Falla
This is the kind of potentially tough match that Isner needs to resolve in straight sets if he is going to save his energy to go deep. Or, go for another plaque on the wall and make it an eight-hour five-setter. Whichever.
(13) Gilles Simon vs. Paul-Henri Mathieu
Too many Frenchmen, not enough strawberries and cream — this could be a very watchable, good match. Coaching advice: Paul-Henri, mix in a good amount of serve and volley.
(18) Jelena Jankovic vs. Kim Clijsters
Kimmy kicks off what she says will be her last Wimbledon — bad luck draw for Jelena, check the Monday flights out of London.
“Too old to play the game that I want to play physically,” the 29-year-old Clijsters said about her impending retirement. “I’ve put my body through enough strain and everything.
“I’m not going to be the type of player that’s going to change the way I play or the way that I move.”
(26) Mikhail Youzhny vs. Donald Young
Not if Donald will lose, but will he roll over after going two sets down, or have a meltdown? Then rip the USTA via Twitter for not getting him a bye into the second round?
(29) Julien Benneteau vs. Gilles Muller
Muller could serve his way to a win here, watch out if the Luxembourg Laser is firing.
(31) Florian Mayer vs. Dmitry Tursunov
Tursunov can Tursunov-it-on on grass, this is an upset alert.
Venus Williams vs. Elena Vesnina
A tester for the unseeded former No. 1 early against the Russian backboard.
James Blake vs. Benjamin Becker
Two players looking to become relevant again; a good opportunity for James to let it fly.
Ryan Harrison vs. Yen-Hsun Lu
Ryan could get two wins in a month over the tough Taipei out.
Centre Court 1:00 PM Start Time
Novak Djokovic (SRB) v. Juan Carlos Ferrero (ESP)
Maria Sharapova (RUS) v. Anastasia Rodionova (AUS)
Ernests Gulbis (LAT) v. Tomas Berdych (CZE)
No. 1 Court 1:00 PM Start Time
David Nalbandian (ARG) v. Janko Tipsarevic (SRB)
Roger Federer (SUI) v. Albert Ramos (ESP)
Kim Clijsters (BEL) v. Jelena Jankovic (SRB)
No. 2 Court 11:30 AM Start Time
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) v. Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK)
Venus Williams (USA) v. Elena Vesnina (RUS)
Sergiy Stakhovsky (UKR) v. Radek Stepanek (CZE)
Igor Andreev (RUS) v. Oliver Golding (GBR)
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