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Three to See, Wimbledon Day 6: Kyrgios vs. Tsitsipas; Kvitova vs. Badosa; Nadal vs. Sonego
As Kyrgios bids to extend his perfect record against Tsitsipas, former champions Kvitova and Nadal target grass-court excellence on Saturday at The Championships.
Published Jul 01, 2022
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Nick Kyrgios vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas
“I am definitely thrilled to be facing him,” Tsitsipas says of his third-round matchup with Kyrgios. Do you believe him? I can think of other players he might rather face in the third round at Wimbledon. Any match with the Australian, even one where he’s not playing well, is something of a mental ordeal for his opponent.
Maybe Tsitsipas is happy to have a chance to turn the tables on his lower-ranked opponent. They’ve played three times in ATP matches; all three have been close; and Kyrgios has come out on top each time—twice 7-6 in the third, and once 6-4 in the third. The last of those came on grass in Halle two weeks ago.
If you want to go by Kyrgios’s form in his last match, a 90-minute, 24-ace demolition of Filip Krajinovic, it’s going to be exceedingly hard for Tsitsipas to get revenge on Saturday. The Greek won a tournament on grass last week in Mallorca, but his game on the surface is still a work in progress, and his one-handed backhand a liability. Expect Kyrgios to force Tsitsipas to beat him from that side with his return.
The question is, can Kyrgios keep his focus, the way he did against Krajinovic, if he faces adversity in this match? Anything can happen if he loses his cool, and you can throw his form from his last round out the window. But the combination of his serve, Tsitsipas’s backhand, and their head-to-head record make Kyrgios the favorite. Winner: Kyrgios
Paula Badosa vs. Petra Kvitova
The Spaniard and the Czech will make their first appearances in Centre Court this year. For good reason: This should be a hard-hitting and competitive contest between one former champion (Kvitova), and a player who seems destined, once she breaks out of her current doldrums, to challenge for major titles in the future (Badosa)
They’ve played once, at the 2020 Australian Open, and Kvitova won 7-5, 7-5. Since then, though, the 24-year-old Badosa has passed the 32-year-old Kvitova in the rankings—Badosa is currently No. 4, Kvitova No. 26. Kvitova also hasn’t been past the fourth round at Wimbledon since she won the tournament in 2014, but she’s the one who comes in with more momentum. She just won a title in Eastbourne, while Badosa has been muddling along with second- and third-round losses for most of 2022
Kvitova loves Centre Court, and Centre Court and its fans love her back. With the draw as open as it is, this could be a chance at a swan song Slam title. A win over the world No. 4 would be a good way to launch that campaign. Winner: Kvitova
Rafael Nadal vs. Lorenzo Sonego
When you watch Sonego casually shred a forehand for a winner into the corner, you may wonder why he’s ranked just 54th in the world. The loose-limbed Italian is a shot-maker who has been as high as No. 21, made the fourth round of Wimbledon and the final of Eastbourne last year, and pushed Novak Djokovic through three superb sets in Rome. He also nearly beat Casper Ruud on the Norwegian’s way to the Roland Garros final last month.
All of which should make Sonego’s first career meeting with Nadal an intriguing one. It may not be the best matchup for Sonego, who will likely be forced to hit a lot of backhands. Ultimately, the result will be decided on Rafa’s racquet. For much of his first two matches, he has been off, dropping sets to Francisco Cerundolo and Ricardas Berankis. But he began to look like himself again in the fourth set against Berankis.
Does that mean Nadal has found his groove for the rest of the tournament? Or can Sonego rush him, and rattle him, with the pace of his serve and forehand? Winner: Nadal