Djokovic, Federer The Favorites As Week Two At Wimbledon Begins; Sweet 16 Picks And Pans
After an absolutely crazy first week, what will Wimbledon do for an encore? Will it be more of the same exhilarating upsets or will things settle back down to form? At the mid-way point of the third Slam of the calendar it’s really hard to gauge.
One thing is for sure if the rains that have plagued Wimbledon the last 4-5 days stay away, it should be another manic Monday. Of course Wimbledon plays all 16 fourth rounders on one day – men and women – giving us fans one of the best days of tennis of the year.
Returning to the business end of Wimbledon are some familiar names like Roger Federer, defending champion Novak Djokovic, Richard Gasquet, Mardy Fish, David Ferrer, JW Tsonga and Juan Martin Del Potro.
Wimbledon often is home to the upset and that’s something Cinderella Brian Baker is hoping for more of. Denis Istomin? Xavier Malisse? Viktor Troicki? As we have seen on the lush lawns anything is possible, just ask Rafael Nadal who’ll be watching the action same way just about everyone else will, on television.
Part two of Wimbledon begins…
Here are my picks for the fourth round tomorrow:
Roger Federer vs. Xavier Malisse
Federer pulled a bit of a Houdini act outlasting Julien Benneteau Friday night. He shouldn’t need to conjure up any similar magic against Xavier Malisse. Federer’s beaten the Belgian nine straight times going on ten. Malisse has the game and talent to keep it close for a couple of sets but after a sloppy match against the Frenchman last week I think Roger gets back to right.
The pick: Federer in three
Novak Djokovic vs. Viktor Troicki
With his big serve Troicki should be a tough foe for anyone grass including top ranked Djokovic. But Novak has won 11 straight over his buddy and that haplessness is too hard to ignore. Of the top players, Djokovic has been the most comfortable on the court thus far. Novak may not have been playing that well leading up to Wimbledon as he did a year ago however the first week at Wimbledon I thought he looked quite sharp.
The pick: Djokovic in three
Andy Murray vs. Marin Cilic
We saw Murray struggle Saturday with the external pressure and the game of Marcos Baghdatis. Now in week two and with Rafael Nadal sent off, the expectations, the weight only mount. Fortunately for Murray on Monday he plays a guy coming off a 5-hour, 31-minute marathon. Cilic is as fit as they come and he got a day off Sunday, however I just don’t think it’s enough for the 23-year-old to be at full strength against the home favorite. Murray won’t make it easy by any means in beating Cilic, who stunned him for his only win in five tries against the Scot at the US Open in 2009, but he’ll get the job done.
The pick: Murray in four
David Ferrer vs. Juan Martin Del Potro
In the toughest, most even match of the day, it’s two guys who perhaps play their worst tennis on the grass. Ferrer is best suited to the clay, Del Potro the hardcourt. But here they are in the second week of Wimbledon. Ferrer just beat 3-time finalist Andy Roddick and he won a grass tune-up last week, so the Spaniard isn’t allergic by any means to the surface. Plus he’s beaten the Argentine four of six times including their lone clash on grass at 2008 Netherlands. Del Potro played well at the French beating Berdych before a knee injury crushed his chances against Federer. Is the knee better? It seems to be. But as much as iIlike and root for Delpo I just don’t think grass is his surface. The power is there but he’s too tall, too fragile and too inflexible. So I’ll go with experience.
The pick: Ferrer in five
JW Tsonga vs. Mardy Fish
Tsonga’s injured finger seems to be fine and that’s bad news for the opposition, especially with Nadal out. Fish, who’s playing his first event since April because of a heart condition, has enjoyed about as good of a draw as you can get. Well, that ends Monday against JW. Tsonga has taken care of business while I think Fish, having been through so much, is just happy to have reached the second week. Tsonga beat Mardy both times last year including a tough five set win at the US Open. I think he does it again tomorrow.
The pick: Tsonga in four
Richard Gasquet vs. Florian Mayer
Hardly anyone is paying attention to Gasquet. The Frenchman is the only player who hasn’t surrendered a set in the 16s and in the past grass has produced some of his finest moments – he made the SFs years ago beating Roddick, and he’s had a few close calls with Murray. Mayer’s a tricky player who also plays well on grass. Still, Gasquet’s got the game, the talent and right now he’s been better thus far.
The pick: Gasquet in three
Mikhail Youzhny vs. Denis Istomin
In a mild upset I’m picking Istomin here. The Uzbek has a big serve and a big enough game to upend Youzhny. And he’s been battle tested. Mikhail certainly has the grass experience and he’s done well in Slams – semifinals twice at the US Open. But just on gut I think Istomin gets through to his first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
The pick: Istomin in five
Phil Kohlschreiber vs. Brian Baker
The comeback story this summer has been Brian Baker, and rightly so. A year ago Baker, a coach at a college in Tennessee, didn’t even have a single point on the ATP computer. Now, the 27-year-old is in the second week of Wimbledon with a ranking closing in on the Top 75! He won eight of ten matches this year on the main tour and countless others in the lower levels. But Monday he’s in for a big, big step up in terms of class against Kohlschreiber who on the lawn has won a title, beaten Nadal and taken a set off Federer. That said, Phil has never been to a Slam quarterfinal and with Baker’s momentum, I think the American marches on over a nervy German.
The pick: Baker in four
Overall, I still think Djokovic beats Federer in the semifinals. Murray should pull through to face Tsonga and in the finale I got Djokovic beating JW.
As for the women, former champions Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams both dodged early bullets while Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka have been in strong form.
I think for me Kvitova is my pick to repeat. Sharapova has been the undisputed No. 1 this year and Serena is Serena, but Kvitova has looked the best at Wimbledon so far and she’s already proven she knows how to win on the grass.
ESPN and ESPN2 have coverage tomorrow starting at 7am ET.
MONDAY WIMBLEDON SCHEDULE
Centre Court 1:00 PM Start Time
Roger Federer (SUI) v. Xavier Malisse (BEL)
Ana Ivanovic (SRB) v. Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
Novak Djokovic (SRB) v. Viktor Troicki (SRB)
No. 1 Court 1:00 PM Start Time
Maria Sharapova (RUS) v. Sabine Lisicki (GER)
Marin Cilic (CRO) v. Andy Murray (GBR)
David Ferrer (ESP) v. Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG)
No. 2 Court 11:30 AM Start Time
Serena Williams (USA) v. Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ)
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) v. Camila Giorgi (ITA)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) v. Mardy Fish (USA)
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