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Three To See, Wimbledon: Day 2

Monday, June 24, 2013 /by

Bernard Tomic vs. (21) Sam Querrey
Head-to-head: Tomic leads 1-0

A stylistic clash of tall baseliners will favor the man who can impose his preferred pattern at crucial moments. Querrey will want to dictate with his favored forehand, while the flatter-hitting Tomic will try to engage the American in backhand exchanges.

Tomic's versatile backhand is his best shot. Look for him to use his devious slice to make his 6'5" opponent hit low shots off his shoelaces, then bang his two-handed backhand up the line when he creates space.

Both are dangerous when tuned into the muse: Querrey won Queen's Club in 2010 and Tomic reached the 2011 Wimbledon quarterfinals as an 18-year-old qualifier, becoming the youngest man since Boris Becker in 1985 to make the last eight here.

Querrey pounded 23 aces in a four-set loss to Tomic at the 2012 Australian Open, but the lanky Aussie with the elastic reach won 60 percent of second-serve points in that match. Querrey must defend his second serve better this time.

Seven of Tomic's 16 wins this year have come on home soil; given the controversy generated by his father and coach, John Tomic, concentration is a concern. Still, I think Tomic's game is better suited for grass, and if he's fully engaged, I give him the edge.

The Pick: Tomic in four sets

(10) Maria Kirilenko vs. Laura Robson
Head-to-head: First meeting

Kirilenko cracked the Top 10 for the first time with her run to the Roland Garros quarterfinals; Robson is the 2008 Wimbledon girls' champion with Top 10 potential in front of her and a nation behind her.

Kirilenko can play all-court tennis and usually isn't fazed by major pressure. She hasn't lost in the first round of a Grand Slam since the 2009 French Open, and she's won 20 more matches than Robson this season, reinforcing her reputation as a sound problem solver willing to mix it up.

The left-handed Robson is an explosive player who should be energized by the home crowd after partnering Andy Murray to the mixed doubles silver medal at Wimbledon last summer. She's brought her best against seeds in Grand Slams—beating Petra Kvitova at the Australian Open in January after dispatching Grand Slam champions Kim Clijsters and Li Na at the 2012 U.S. Open—and you need only to reflect on the deep runs young power players ranging from Mirjana Lucic to Jelena Dokic to Alexandra Stevenson have made at SW19 to know that if Robson is ripping the ball with accuracy, she can hit through the Russian.

I started writing this intent on picking Robson in the upset, but the more I think about Kirilenko's competitiveness and consistency, the more I believe I've got to go with her.

The Pick: Kirilenko in three sets

Feliciano Lopez vs. (19) Gilles Simon
Head-to-head: Tied, 1-1

They squared off Saturday in the Eastbourne final and meet again for what could be a compelling rematch. In gusty conditions, Lopez slammed 16 aces and erased five of six break points to beat Simon and collect his first grass-court title, though its tough to read too much into that result, as the blustery conditions made rallies rare. 

Simon is a clever on the counter-strike and a firm front-runner. He can change direction off both wings and is 19-1 when winning the first set this season. The slender Frenchman, who has not lost a Wimbledon first-rounder since his 2006 debut, likes a target and will get one when Lopez attacks.

Three-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist Lopez loves the lawn—he's 7-1 on grass this year and owns a .629 career winning percentage on turf—but he's failed to survive the opening round in three of his last seven SW19 appearances, including a four-set loss to 44th-ranked Jarkko Nieminen last June.

The left-handed Spaniard's service motion is so fluid it should be silk screened on t-shirts as a model for hackers and elites alike. If he's landing his first serve, particularly that lethal slice out wide, I think Lopez can extend his winning streak.

The Pick: Lopez in four sets


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