Now that a time honored rainless Wimbledon tradition has passed in the 2010 championships–the no play middle Sunday–we can all look ahead to today’s round of 16 matchups. On Monday, all men’s and women’s round of 16 matches will be played–almost too much tennis–even for Wimbledon junkies like us.
(1) Roger Federer vs. (16) Jurgen Melzer….the top dog leads off the day on CC in a very favorable matchup. At least, we think it’s favorable for Federer, though it’s hard to be certain considering he has never met the surprising Austrian, who has made the better part of his living on clay. Melzer doesn’t seem to have the weapons for grass or to hurt federer, but we thought the same thing of Federer’s opponent last Monday, Alejandro Falla, who took the first 2 sets. Federer, heavily taxed in the first two rounds, looked considerably better against Arnaud Clement, who is another guy we feel can’t hurt Roger. At this stage. As for Melzer, he has played excellent all court tennis in the last year, and has made himself a seed from a journeyman. Anything’s possible, but a Melzer win would represent one of the hugest upsets in Wimbledon history. We’ll take Roger, and we hope it’s a quickie, so that he can rest up for who we think will be Tomas Berdych in the quarters.
(1) Serena vs. (17) Sharapova…good luck, Maria. She’lll need it. Serena is in fine form, and has pitched bagels in the first set of all 3 of her matches so far, an interesting major tournament immeasurable. Sharapova, right now, has the champion’s heart, but her game lacks the pop that once blew Serena of this court in the final 6 years ago. All Serena, all day. Sharapova will be lucky to hold on to her serve for a few games.
(18) Sam Querrey vs. (4) Andy Murray…Samurai Sam has really impressed us. Last year, he had a very hard luck loss to Marin Cilic, who was then beaten in one of the better matches of the tournament by Tommy Haas, who knew he couldn’t win by staying in the backcourt, so he rushed the net with fury. For Querrey, this is a super tough matchup because Murray will control the backcourt, and Sam doesn’t have the ability to get to net, unless he rips a really solid forehand approach. The game plan worked well at Queen’s but has shown chinks in the armor versus Dodig and Malisse. Murray is good enough,, and has enough variety, to keep the ball away from Sam’s forehand. Sam has the better serve, but Murray can hit the 130s on the gun as well. Sam has an outside chance at best, whch could improve if Murray struggles on his first serve. Murray, the pride of Britain, doesn’t get near 100 MPH usually on his 2nd serve, and the 22 year old American will need to capitalize on those 2nd balls. Still, we see this as an immensely difficult spot for Querrey, who can go home and already have people say he had a successful grass court season. We will root for Sam, but we like Murray tomorrow.
(8) Clijsters vs. (17) Henin…for us, Henin is the natural grass courter, despite her lack of a Wimbledon championship. Henin has had trouble in her career with Clijsters power and steady game–on hardcourts. The two Belgian saviors have been at this rivalry for a while and both have twelve wins in the head to head. Henin holds a 3-1 lead on grass, though all of the matches were close. The two will play an exhibition in the fall in their home country that is expected to be the most well attended tennis match in history, with about 43,000 spectators expected. Henin is not as rock solid as she used to be, and while we have her as the favorite, we would not be surprised if Clijsters won this round of 16 match.
(3) Djokovic vs. (15) Hewitt…Hewitt, a Wimbledon champion and well established grass courter, gets the extra offense he needs on grass that his small body can’t manufacture on clay and sometimes on hards. The ball moves through the grass quickly, and adds pop to his serve. Frankly, we like him here. He’s healthy, has had a good grass season, and we’ve seen very little from Djokovic since his only major victory in Australia in 2008. Plus, Hewitt is a better fighter than the Djoker, and his fighting spirit should help him in a close match.
Paul-Henri Matthieu vs. (2) Rafael Nadal…the four hour matches have taken a toll on Rafa. Playing 4 hours against Istomin at Queen’s Club, and then two straight 5 setters here, where he was back to usual tricks, with trainers and tennis elbow and the balky knee. But tomorrow, we don’t see much to prevent Rafa from moving on to the quarters, where he could possibly be in trouble, if Soderling makes it through. Even banged up, Nadal has too much game for guys like Matthieu, who hovers around world # 50. Top ten guys will expose his injury problems in ways that lesser opponents can not. Matthieu has a slim chance if he serves big and hits a lot of lines. Hopefully he can make it interesting, though I am not banking on it.
(2) Venus vs. Jarmila Groth…we love Venus, and are blinded sometimes by that love. Even though we’ve been very impressed with Groth, this is the real big time, and she’s already playing with house money by being in this round. The best grass courter in the game is a tall order for Groth, and we doubt she’ll be up to it. But from what we’ve seen, Groth is going to put a decent career together, and the Aussies do have grass in their blood. Venus should win easily, unless she comes out flat, like she did against Petrova in Paris. Can’t remember the last time she turned out flat at The All England Club though.
(3) Caroline Wozniacki vs. Petra Kvitova…neither player is suited to grass, but Wozniacki is too good and too steady. A loss here would be a major upset.
Yen-Hsun Lu vs. (5) Dandy Andy…Is Lu going to be getting a lot of 140 MPH bombs back in play? Tall order. We could see Roddick going far in this tournament, who has played excellent tennis–aggressive, but with a low error count. Look for it to continue to tomorrow.
Pironkova vs. (11) Bartoli…Bartoli has been a finalist here, but we don’t like her conditioning. Her movement needs to be the key for her on grass, giving her time ti set up her awkward 2 handers off both sides. Bartoli won her 3rd round match in a walkover, and should be rested, but we wouldn’t be too shocked if Pironkova pulled the upset.
Klara Zakopalova vs. Kaia Kanepi…both players have a great opportunity here and are playing with house money. We’re not leaning any particular way, and have no rooting interest yet.
(21) Zvonareva vs. (4) Jankovic…we may be biased by our disdain for Jankovic, but she’s no grass courter, and Zvonareva has some pop that JJ should be worried about. Jankovic will be scrambling all match, and she’ll give VZ some break chances. We like the Russian.
(32) Bennetau vs. (10) Tsonga…two proud Frenchman duel, and Tsonga is the clear favorite, and came through his last match in straights. But we aren’t in love with him tomorrow. Bennetau is hot, and these guys have practiced and played doubles together, so there’s no element of surprise. I look for Bennetau to get a lot of balls back, and I would favor JB in a longer match than a shorter one.
(6) Soderling vs. (9) Ferrer…The Spaniard is a warrior but the Swede is a viking. We don’t see Soderling having much trouble with Ferrer, but in fairness, David has shocked us before.
(9) Na Li vs. (7) Agnieska Radwanska…Li’s a great player, and more accomplished than Radwanska, whose game is tailor made for clay. But we like Agnieska, though that might be foolish. both ladies have played very well this month.
(12) Tomas Berdych vs. Daniel Brands…Berdych is a huge favorite, but at 6’5, if Brands can keep the ball low, and make Berdy bend his knees, shot after shot, he could have a chance. But I doubt it. i favor Berdyh as well, in a big way, and think he will be really tough for Roger in that potential quarter-final.
Enjoy your grass court tennis, the way the Gods intended…