Serena Williams will face her biggest test of the Championships so far against Sabine Lisicki. The former Wimbledon semi-finalist made a slow start to her third round match with Sam Stosur, but improved with each set to post a 4-6 6-2 6-1 win. Lisicki really struggled on return and could not deal with Stosur’s slice in the first set; however she seemed to almost flick a switch in the second set and the rest was history. Serena thrashed Kimiko Date-Krumm, 6-2 6-0, but it was still a fantastic effort from the 42-year-old, who got her wish to play under the roof again and played some stunning points in the first set.
Serena has won her two previous matches with Lisicki; one was a complete domination in Stanford and the other was via a retirement. Lisicki will go into this match with absolutely nothing to lose and she is one of the few players who I think has belief she can do this. She wears her heart on her sleeve and that will get the crowd involved and fully behind her. I genuinely believe this will be Serena’s toughest match of the week and that Sabine will get the world number one on the ropes, long enough at least to grab a set.
Prediction – Serena to beat Lisicki in 3 sets
2. Laura Robson v Kaia Kanepi
Prediction – Robson to beat Kanepi in 3 sets
3. Agnieszka Radwanska v Tsvetana Pironkova
Last year’s Wimbledon finalist, Agnieszka Radwanska had her hands full with Madison Keys on Saturday, dropping the middle set, but coming through in a fantastic third round match, 7-5 4-6 6-3. Keys showed that she has the talent and mentality to succeed on the tour and particularly on this surface too as she hit a whopping 67 winners. Radwanska now takes on the grass-court GOAT, Tsvetana Pironkova. The former Wimbledon semi-finalist has taken full advantage of a slack draw and she booked her place in the last 16 with an at-times shaky win over Petra Martic, 6-1 4-6 6-2. Pironkova loves the grass and always saves her best tennis at Wimbledon. Her game just fits on this surface and for that reason, she is a threat to anyone. Radwanska and Pironkova have similar games, which do not solely rely on baseline power, which will make this an intriguing affair. Pironkova won their most recent match-up on grass at Eastbourne last year, but this is a Grand Slam and I’m going Aga…
Prediction – Radwanska to beat Pironkova in 2 tight sets
4. Carla Suarez Navarro v Petra Kvitova
5. Sloane Stephens v Monica Puig
One of the reasons that the womens draw is much more promising than the mens draw is that there are some really talented up-and-comers still left in the draw and this match-up between Sloane Stephens and Monica Puig fits that bill. Sloane looked to be heading out of the tournament, but she took advantage of a minor meltdown from Petra Cetkovska to progress through a crazy encounter (and that’s not good crazy), 7-6(3) 0-6 6-4. Puig doesn’t seem to have the perfect game for grass, but she has bundles of fight and tenacity and she used that to her advantage to recover from a set and a break deficit to beat Eva Birnerova. This will be a first career match-up and I think all the different variables within this match favour Sloane…
Prediction – Stephens to beat Puig in 3 sets
6. Li Na v Roberta Vinci
The only womens match that has held form with the seeding is the one out on court 3 between Li Na and Roberta Vinci. Both have had their struggles as Vinci was taken into extra time by Jana Cepelova in the second round (9-7 in the third set), meanwhile Li has had two consecutive three setters including an epic with Klara Zakopalova in the third round, which she won 4-6 0-6 8-6. Contrary to popular belief that Vinci loves the clay, it’s the grass that suits her game the best. She has a great chance of making quarters here, but will have to overcome a 0-3 deficit in the head-to-head. I am still not convinced by Li this week, but she seems to be getting the job done. A tough one to call, but I am taking a risk…
Prediction – Vinci to beat Li in 3 sets
7. Kirsten Flipkens v Flavia Pennetta
A rematch of a first round match at this year’s Roland Garros will grace the last 16 of Wimbledon. Kirsten Flipkens has had three straight sets wins, meanwhile her 4th round opponent, Flavia Pennetta had a very dramatic third round match against Alize Cornet, recovering from a first set bagel and losing a huge second set lead to eventually win, 0-6 7-6 6-2. Flipkens beat Pennetta on her best surface of clay in Paris and I am confident that Flipkens will win this comfortably.
Prediction – Flipkens to beat Pennetta in 2 sets
8. Marion Bartoli v Karin Knapp
Prediction – Bartoli to beat Knapp in 2 sets