After the day of rest comes one of the best days on the tennis calendar, that’s because Wimbledon plays the entire men’s and women’s fourth round (16 matches) on the second Monday per tradition. And not surprisingly, the schedule isn’t short on star power.
There’s Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and headlining the day is Chapter 26 in the Williams sisters rivalry.
But before Serena-Venus, I’ll start with the men’s matches.
No. 1 Novak Djokovic v No. 14 Kevin Anderson
Defending champion Novak looked arguably the best of anyone the first week, and he’s beaten Anderson four straight times winning nine sets in a row since the South African took him down in Miami way back in 2008 when Novak laid an egg!
“I think he is probably playing the tennis of his life all in all,” Djokovic said on Anderson. “He’s reached the highest ranking now in his career. He keeps on going forward. I think he improved his movement and his game from the baseline. He always had a very good serve. I think it’s going to be a game of very small margins that will be decided by a few points. So I need to be able to get as many returns back in play.:
I could see Kevin getting a set with that serve of his and with the form his is in, but little else. Novak’s been too tough this season against the lesser guys.
The pick: Djokovic in 4
No. 2 Roger Federer v No. 20 Roberto Bautista Agut
Maybe on hardcourts I’d consider this a danger match, not on grass. Bautista Agut does hit the ball flat, which can create problems for opponents on quicker surfaces, but the Spaniard just doesn’t have a real major weapon that Federer has to worry about. And Roger’s in too good a serving groove right now. Unless Roger’s shanks return, he should like this draw.
The pick: Federer in 3
No. 3 Andy Murray v No. 23 Ivo Karlovic
Both guys come into this one playing some of their best tennis. Murray, we know about. He’s won Wimbledon, won the gold, and since getting married he’s only lost once.
Ivo, though, has got his serve-and-volley game in rhythm. The big guy beat Tomas Berdcyh in Halle behind 45 aces and yesterday JW Tsonga cracked 41. Those are two very good wins on the grass and his ace count is extraordinary.
“Obviously he served extremely well this tournament,” Murray said. “A couple matches here where he served over 40 aces. In Halle, as well, he served I think the record for three sets with his match with Berdych. Extremely tough match. I’ll need to be very sharp on my returns and, you know, try and find a way to get as many of his serves back in play as possible and see what happens. But it’s obviously a very, very tricky match.”
Murray’s won all five with Ivo, but they’ve played a lot of breakers. Like they did in 2011, Murray’s return and wit gets him through the Karlovic gauntlet.
The pick: Murray in 4
No. 4 Stan Wawrinka v No. 16 David Goffin
Boy is Stan got the confidence. He ripped through the first week in a blink without dropping serve, and starts the second with a good draw in David Goffin.
“He is really talented player,” Wawrinka said Friday. “He love the grass. Has amazing backhand, returning well. He’s dangerous because he like to stay on the line, playing really fast. We’ll see how I’ll have to play my game to be aggressive, serving well, mix a lot, making him going back a little bit.”
The Belgian is indeed a talent, but just doesn’t have the weaponry in my mind to stop Stan. Not when the Swiss is in full flight like he is.
The pick: Stan in 3
No. 6 Tomas Berdych v No. 12 Gilles Simon
Somewhat surprisingly Simon has given Berdych ample trouble, leading 6-4. But most of those wins came last decade. These days Berdych seems to be a better, more consistent player. And on grass I like his firepower over the defensive, counterpunching play from the Frenchman.
That said, Simon knows how to beat him and Berdych doesn’t forget. But Simon’s never done it on grass.
The pick: Berdych in 5
No. 21 Richard Gasquet v No. 26 Nick Kyrgios
Last year Gasquet choked not one but NINE matchpoints losing in five sets to Nick Kyrgios. And a new star was born…
Now the Frenchman gets a shot to make it right. Can he do it? This is maybe the toughest match of the day to call.
“Of course it’s revenge,” Gasquet said Friday after whipping Grigor Dimitrov once again. “I played him this year in final in Estoril but it was on clay. It’s much different. Of course last year, even if I lost, it was a match we never forget, me and him. And for sure because it was his first match he won against a good player, I was top 10, and me, when you are losing with nine match points it’s very difficult.”
Nick is the new Mr. Excitement. The kid you either love or hate, like a new Andre Agassi. Very flamboyant, very raw and very unpredictable. He’s like an Australian Monfils.
Gasquet knows Monfils and he knows Kyrgios. And after a very tidy first week of play, I think Gasquet gets his revenge and puts out the Kyrgios flame.
The pick: Gasquet in four
No. 9 Marin Cilic v (WC) Denis Kudla
I really did think Marin Cilic was a flash in the pan when he won the US Open last year, but I’m starting to turn the corner on him. After a shoulder injury sidelined Cilic earlier this year, he’s been a decent player, and with his size he can be quite formidable when he catches fire like he did in New York.
The 105th-ranked Kudla should be a walkover but I think the American who’s really been playing well on grass scrapes out a set. Cilic, though, has too much game.
The pick: Cilic in four
No. 22 Viktor Troicki v Vasek Pospisil
Another tough match-up with two really good servers on the grass. The Canadian won the Wimbledon doubles title last year with Jack Sock and he’s got a lot of game. I think just Troicki has more, and he has more experience (albeit Viktor’s choked a lot of matches).
So I’ll go with the Serb here.
The pick: Troicki in five
Wrapping up the first week, when you take into account the season to date, there really weren’t many surprises. Rafael Nadal just hasn’t been the same guy, and based on his recent Wimbledon history I don’t think anyone was picking him to win the title.
Semifinalists from a year ago, Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic, both lost. Dimitrov has hit that “ceiling” while Raonic is coming off foot surgery.
And the guys who have been playing well like Federer, Karlovic, Djokovic, Murray, etc., are still around.
As for my picks, I think I’m still leaning Murray over Novak. I think Roger could very well get clipped by Berdych – Roger’s had a really nice draw to this point. And if it stays warm and dry, that should help Stan who also has a nice draw.
In the women’s draw, with all the upsets it would seem the winner of the Williams sisters match would have the inside track to the title.
Serena escaped – as she always does these days – on Friday against Heather Watson. Venus, who gave eventual winner Petra Kvitova all she could handle and more in a tough 3-setter last year – looked strong the first week.
But this is a strange dynamic. Does older sis really want to stop Serena’s bid for history? This isn’t Montreal or Dubai, either. There is some serious history on the line and I don’t think Venus will want to play spoiler here.
So Serena wins in three.
Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki, Agnieszka Radwanska and French Open finalist Lucie Safarova are also part of what should be a fun day of tennis.
ESPN will have full coverage in the U.S.
MONDAY WIMBLEDON SCHEDULE
CENTRE COURT – 1:00PM
Serena Williams (USA)  v Venus Williams (USA) 
Ivo Karlovic (CRO)  v Andy Murray (GBR) 
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP)  v Roger Federer (SUI) 
NO.1 COURT – 1:00PM
Maria Sharapova (RUS)  v Zarina Diyas (KAZ)
Stan Wawrinka (SUI)  v David Goffin (BEL) 
Novak Djokovic (SRB)  v Kevin Anderson (RSA) 
NO.2 COURT – 11:30AM
Richard Gasquet (FRA)  v Nick Kyrgios (AUS) 
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)  v Garbine Muguruza (ESP) 
Tomas Berdych (CZE)  v Gilles Simon (FRA) 
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