We are down to just eight men at the 2013 Wimbledon Championships. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are long gone and far away but top ranked Novak Djokovic and 2012 finalist Andy Murray remain as the men still to beat. And really, who’s to bet against them at this stage?
Also alive are a pack of supporting characters including David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco, Juan Martin Del Potro and two new name Poles who’ll look to play spoiler in the biggest grass court event of the year.
So let’s get right to my picks.
Jerzy Janowicz v Lukasz Kubot
The Poles are a coming and the leader of the pack is the young, fiery Jerzy Janowicz. The 6-foot-8 drop-shoting freak who is ranked No. 22 is having a breakout Grand Slam this fortnight. It hasn’t been all easy, though. In his last round Janowicz showed his inexperience struggling with the veteran Jurgen Melzer in a five set win. But overall it’s been a good ride for the 22-year-old with the Marat Safin-like game.
Across the net will be his friend and countryman Lukasz Kubot. The 31-year-old has probably maxed out his potential this event reaching his first and likely his only career Grand Slam quarterfinal. Wednesday, though, will be a big step up from Adrian Mannarino to the monster that is Mr. Janowicz.
“We haven’t played yet,” Kubot said about his friend herzy. “I think it’s big moment for Polish tennis, two players in the quarterfinal of Wimbledon. I think at the moment I have no words. Just have to be honest. I’m very surprised. I’m looking forward for this match. Whatever happens, one ever us will be in semifinal, which makes already history for Polish tennis. Let’s see what’s going to happen. We both will have a big fight.”
And fight they will. But the 130th-ranked Kubot doesn’t have any major weapons like the towering Janowicz who on grass just has too much in the arsenal.
The pick: Janowicz in four
David Ferrer v Juan Martin Del Potro
If Del Potro’s knee is okay this is virtually a 50/50 match. If it isn’t then it’s going to be a blowout. I’m guessing it’s somewhere in between and unfortunately for fans of the Argentine like myself, this won’t end well. Ferrer whipped a healthy Del Potro last year at Wimbledon in straight sets losing just eight total games. And overall Ferrer has won six of eight. So what’s he going to do to an injured Del Potro?
Del Potro, though, hasn’t dropped a set and has hardly lost serve. But to me the knee is just too big a question mark and Ferrer is going to make him work. And like a boxer he’ll go to work on that suspect knee eventually wearing down a wary Delpo.
I wish it wasn’t the case, but…
The pick: Ferrer in three
Andy Murray v Fernando Verdasco
I really like the way Fernando Verdasco has turned his year around. A few months ago I had thought the former Top 10 had all but retired. Suddenly, after a decent French Open he’s now into his first Wimbledon quarterfinal. And he’s won his last 12 sets to get there. That’s impressive stuff regardless of the level competition, which really hasn’t been that formidable.
Unfortunately for the Spaniard he now gets a red hot Andy Murray. The second-seeded Scot has won his last 15 on grass and he’s dominated Verdasco winning eight of nine meetings.
“I lost to him at the Aussie Open a few years ago in the fourth round,” cautioned Murray. “He went on to have that great match with Rafa there. He was playing unbelievable tennis. Then, yeah, I think he made the Masters Cup. I played him in the Masters Cup, as well. He can play well on all the surfaces. It’s just the consistency hasn’t been there.
“He’s had a few injuries. He’s changed racquets quite a few times. That will have had something to do with it.”
Fernando has some game but I just don’t like his second serve, I don’t like his return of serve and I don;t like his nerves. So in front of a raucous home crowd on Centre Court, Murray should get through this one without much sweat.
The pick: Murray in three
Novak Djokovic v Tomas Berdych
In the match of the day Novak Djokovic gets kicked out to Court 1 to face Tomas Berdych. The Berd man won their most recent clash at Rome back in May and also beat him at Wimbledon in 2010 during his improbable final run. But otherwise, Djokovic has won 13 meetings against the Czech and on Wednesday I think he’ll make that 14.
“I haven’t played great at that match against Tomas, but credit to him because he played finals that year, and he beat Roger and myself, played a good match against Rafa,” Djokovic said of that 2010 Wimbledon. “So he knows how to play on grass. That’s the only time we played on this surface. I’m expecting a difficult match. It’s the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam. He’s an established top 5, top 10 player in the world. We’re going to go for the win, both of us.”
I’ve never been much of a Berdych fan but I give him credit, he’s been able to pull off the random upset here and there. Known mostly as a choker early in his career, he’s beaten Federer at the US Open and at Wimbledon in addition to a few other wins including those over Novak.
But Djokovic hasn’t lost a set so far and has looked sharp of anyone. And for some reason I believe him when he says last year was a blip because he wasn’t mentally fresh after the Rafa loss in the French final (didn’t the same happen against last month?). So based on what I’ve seen between the line thus far…
The pick: Djokovic in three
ESPN and ESPN2 will once again have simultaneous coverage from 8am ET.
WEDNESDAY WIMBLEDON SCHEDULE
Centre Court 1.00pm Start Time
David Ferrer (ESP) v. Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG)
Fernando Verdasco (ESP) v. Andy Murray (GBR)
No.1 Court 1.00pm Start Time
Novak Djokovic (SRB) v. Tomas Berdych (CZE)
Lukasz Kubot (POL) v. Jerzy Janowicz (POL)
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