First Ball In, 6/29: Mulling Monday on Middle Sunday
WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND—Manic Monday will be a little less crazed this year. Normally it's the busiest day in any second week at a Grand Slam, with all 16 fourth-round singles matches going off around the grounds. Because of the rain on Saturday, the schedule has been shifted this time—most notably, Rafael Nadal’s and Roger Federer’s fourth-rounders have been pushed to Tuesday, while a few third-round matches left over from the weekend, including the possible extravaganza between John Isner and Feliciano Lopez, will open the proceedings.
Whatever round it is, this will still be one of the best days of the tennis season. Here’s a look ahead at a few of the highlights.
Eugenie Bouchard vs. Alizé Cornet
The Serena-killer and the can't-miss girl take their turn on Centre Court. Cornet won their only meeting, in three sets, last year on clay. Will she be able to maintain her level, or will she come crashing to earth the way Serena predicts? While Cornet kissed the grass after that upset, I think Bouchard has a better game for this surface. Winner: Bouchard
The South African once routed Murray, on U.S. hard courts, but this is a different time and a very different place. Murray typically cuts tall men—Anderson is 6’8”—down to size with his return, and he’s been sharpening his game up for a week now. Winner: Murray
Once upon a time, in a different decade, Jo had Novak's number, but things have turned around drastically in the last few years. Still, Tsonga likes grass, likes Wimbledon, nearly beat Djokovic at another Slam, the French Open, in 2013, and played with unusual efficiency in his last round. I can’t pick the Frenchman, but part of me thinks he could pull this one off. Winner: Djokovic
Sharapova leads 4-1 in their head to head, though none of those matches came on grass. Both can play on this surface; Sharapova is a former Wimbledon champion, while Kerber reached the semis here two years ago. Maria has been getting off to slow starts so far—as in, losing three games in the first set—and Kerber will test her consistency. But Maria is the favorite in this tournament until proven otherwise. Winner: Sharapova
John Isner vs. Feliciano Lopez
This one could go on for a while. Or longer. Serves will dominate, and the result will likely be decided in tiebreakers. There’s something to recommend each man: Isner is higher ranked and has a 2-1 career record against the Spaniard; Lopez has reached the final in two straight events on grass. Winner: Isner
The former has built some momentum this grass season, while the latter is coming off perhaps the best two sets of her life. BZS likes grass; CW is steadier. Winner: Zahlavova Strycova
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