Three to See: Serena vs. Mladenovic; Querrey vs. Monfils—and Federer

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Serena Williams and Kristina Mladenovic have played once, at the French Open in 2016, and Serena won a close two-setter. (Getty Images)

Before each day's play at Wimbledon, we'll preview and predict three must-see matches.

1. Sam Querrey [11] vs. Gael Monfils

The 31-year-old Frenchman and the 30-year-old Californian have been on tour together for more than a decade, but they’ve met just twice, on clay in 2007 and on a hard court in Washington, D.C., in 2016. Monfils won both times, but grass could make this one a different story. Monfils has never been past the third round at Wimbledon, while Querrey has reached the semifinals and quarterfinals the last two years, upsetting Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic along the way. Monfils is the more varied, talented, and athletic of the two, a combination that usually pays dividends on turf. Judging by their history at this event, though, Querrey’s meat-and-potatoes, keep-it-simple, serve-forehand attack will prove the more reliable bet. Winner: Querrey

Wild Wimbledon—where we stand after two rounds of carnage:

2. Serena Williams [25] vs. Kristina Mladenovic

Like Querrey and Monfils, the French-American duo that will follow them onto Centre Court don’t have much history against each other. Williams and Mladenovic have played once, at the French Open in 2016, and Serena won a close two-setter. The match was most notable for its second-set tiebreaker, which went to 12-10. As that result indicates, Mladenovic is a strong and capable ball-striker who has the tools to take advantage of an off-form Serena. But will those tools work well enough on grass?  Mladenovic is just 3-6 at Wimbledon, and has never made it past the third round. Which is the round she’s in now. Winner: Williams

3. Roger Federer [1] vs. Jan-Lennard Struff

I was about to write that Struff is an “up and coming” ATPer, but that ship has obviously sailed: A trip to the tour’s website reveals that the 6’5” German, who once seemed like such a promisingly heavy hitter, is 28 years old and ranked No. 64. In his nine years on tour, Struff has played Federer once on grass, in Halle, in 2016; Federer won by the perhaps-surprisingly-close scores of 6-4, 7-6 (3). Struff has the size and serve to push Federer to one or two more breakers on Centre Court on Friday. But Federer can push back with a lot more. Winner: Federer 

Strokes of Genius is a world-class documentary capturing the historic 13-year rivalry between tennis icons Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. It is timed for release as the anticipation crests with Roger as returning champion, 10 years after their famed 2008 Wimbledon championship – an epic match so close and so reflective of their competitive balance that, in the end, the true winner was the sport itself.


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