Tennis - Wimbledon Update
The first people’s Sunday in 12 years at Wimbledon took place yesterday due to the many rain delays last week causing a congested schedule that left 12 third round matches to complete. There were six men’s matches, including the four that were carried over from Saturday. 12th seed Tsonga finally won an epic five set encounter against marathon man John Isner and it was no surprise to see the fifth set go way past 12 games, eventually finishing 19-17 to Tsonga.
After sending fourth seed Wawrinka crashing out many would have thought Del Potro would have little trouble seeing off the talented young Frenchman Lucas Pouille seeded 32, mainly due to his limited experience on grass. However, Pouille justified his seeding and world ranking and handled the delays to their match better, eventually coming through to win in four sets, which included a fourth set 6-1 drubbing.
Pouille earned himself a shot at reaching his first Grand Slam quarter-final against 19th seed Bernard Tomic, which should be a highly entertaining encounter as both players seem to be in good form. Seventh seed Gasquet and 15th seed Kyrgios finished off their respective delayed matches comfortably in four sets against Spaniards Ramos-Vinolas and Lopez respectively.
Gasquet will now face compatriot Tsonga for a place in the quarter-finals and Kyrgios earned himself a shot at second seed Murray on Centre Court, a stage he will no doubt relish and the crowd are sure to be highly entertained.
However, Murray has the advantage of a day’s rest and leads the head-to-head 4-0, which includes straight sets wins at the US and Australian Open’s last year. Murray does have the added pressure of favouritism since defending champion Djokovic crashed out but it’s unlikely we will see a crisis of confidence with Lendl back in his camp and the worst case scenario I can imagine is he drops a set.
The other fourth round matches today are between Djokovic’s conquerer, Querrey (seeded 28) and veteran grass court specialist Mahut and I expect Querrey to suffer a giant killer’s hangover and lose to the wily Frenchman, who also leads the head-to-head 2-0. Milos Raonic (6) faces a tricky one against the talented Belgian Goffin (11) and Federer (3), who is now second favourite to win this year’s title, faces the inform Steve Johnson who is on an eight match winning streak on grass.
Tomas Berdych (10) proved too strong for teenager Zverev (24) winning in four sets, extending his winning streak against the young German to 4-0, while compatriot Vesely breezed past Sousa in straight sets to set up an interesting fourth round clash against Berdych.
The one other fourth round match today could be the match of the day between fifth seed Nishikori and ninth seed Cilic, who was advised to win Second Quarter at 9/1. They’ve met ten times previously and Nishikori leads the head-to-head 7-3. They’ve met three times at Grand Slams, all at the US Open, and Cilic won the last two, including the last one which was a straight sets win back in 2014 when he went on to win the title.
Nishikori won the last two encounters on the ATP Tour at Washington and Tokyo, both in three sets. Cilic is the more accomplished grass court player having won a title on the surface at Queens in 2012. He also made the semi-finals at Queen’s this year narrowly losing to eventual winner Murray and he’s a former semi-finalist at Wimbledon. If he can produce that level of form today he should progress, but I expect it won’t be plain sailing as Nishikori is a renowned fighter.
The women’s fourth round will also take place today after all of the delayed matches were completed yesterday. There are a handful of potential epic encounters as well today with the likes of top seed Serena facing fellow veteran Kuznetsova (13), Radwanska (3) facing the in-form Cibulkova (19), Halep (5) against 9th seed Keys (Keys advised to Win Wimbledon @ 12/1 down to 6/1 now) and Pavlyuchenkova (21) against the in-form Vandeweghe (27).
Of these matches I think Serena might be pushed close but come out on top as Kuznetsova on her day can match her power from the baseline. Radwanska against Cibulkova will be extremely close, just like their three encounters this year, which all went to three sets and Cibulkova won the last two, including recently at Eastbourne on grass. Halep against Keys is a tough one to call but, if Keys can serve near her best and keep the ratio of winners above unforced errors, I think she will have the edge on a faster surface.
Veteran Venus Williams has had two very tough matches so far and faces arguably her sternest test today against Suarez-Navarro. The head-to-head currently stands at 3-3 and I see Suarez Navarro grinding a tired Venus down today. Vandewhege and Pavlyuchenkova both looked ominously good beating Vinci and Bacsinszky respectively yesterday and, with both players possessing big power games, this should be an exciting encounter. I imagine the winner will be the one who can serve best and produce the best ratio of winners to unforced errors and, on current form, Vandewhege has to be the call.
Finally, fourth Seed Kerber should prove too strong for the diminutive Doi, while 28th seed Safarova may be in for another long, drawn out epic against the experienced Shvedova, who has been in great form at Wimbledon so far and leads the head-to-head against her 3-0.