1. Rafael Nadal v Dustin Brown (Wimbledon, R2)
I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS MATCH-UP! Rafael Nadal and Dustin Brown will meet for the second time on the tour on Wednesday. In their first match, Brown beat Nadal on the grass courts of Halle last year, 6-4 6-1. While Nadal was probably not best placed to play the match, Brown produced some staggering shotmaking during that match. I was in hysterics most of the match. Brown is a real entertainer and personally, I love watching him on the tennis court so i’ll be watching this one for sure! Nadal enjoyed a routine opener against Thomaz Bellucci, 6-4 6-2 6-4 in his first round match while Brown had a great win over Yen-Hsun Lu, another accomplished grass courter, 3-6 6-3 7-5 6-4. Brown can be a real danger when he’s in the zone and a Centre Crowd court (surely a CC match?) will likely invigorate him… Can’t wait for this!
Prediction: Nadal d. Brown in 4 sets
2. Tomas Berdych v Nicolas Mahut (Wimbledon, R1)
As grass court specialists go, Nicolas Mahut is definitely one of them. For the second time in his career, Mahut won ‘s-Hertogenbosch this year, coming through qualifying to win a total of eight matches. His run saw him defeat three top 35 players in David Goffin, Roberto Bautista Agut and Adrian Mannarino, and all in straight sets. Apart from Roland Garros where he reached the third round, Mahut had not won a main draw match on the tour. In the first round of Wimbledon, Mahut defeated Filip Krajinovic in four sets, 7-6(4) 4-6 6-3 7-5. Berdych also lost a set in his first match of the tournament, eventually overcoming Jeremy Chardy, 6-2 6-7(8) 7-6(3) 7-6(5).
Chardy is tough going for a first round opponent, but winning these types of matches early on is likely to make Berdych more dangerous. In their head-to-head, Berdych has never lost a match to Mahut in five previous matches. Their last four encounters have all been decided in straight sets with Berdych beating Mahut in Rotterdam last year, 6-4 6-3. While he continues to falter against top ten players, Berdych has been very consistent at dispatching the rest of the field and in a best of five set match, I believe he will snap Mahut’s nine match winning streak.
Prediction: Berdych d. Mahut in 3 sets
3. Roger Federer v Sam Querrey (Wimbledon, R1)
Roger Federer danced through his first match at Wimbledon 2015 against Damir Dzumhur, 6-1 6-3 6-3. Dzumhur did produce a few delightful shots and it must have been an amazing experience to play on Centre Court for the first time. The Swiss man will likely face a much more potent test in the second round against Sam Querrey. The American player reached the final at the Aegon Open in Nottingham last week and has enjoyed his best results on the green stuff. However, Querrey’s mental frailties have held him back in recent years. For example, he was playing superb tennis against Grigor Dimitrov in the first round of Queens but wavered up a set and a break, eventually falling in three sets. The pair haven’t played since 2008 with Federer winning their two previous matches in straight sets. Querrey could easily nick a set on a tiebreak, but it would take a huge mental effort to take out the Fed.
Prediction: Federer d. Querrey in 3 tight sets
4. Alexandr Dolgopolov v Ivo Karlovic (Wimbledon, R2)
One of the match-ups that could be more competitive on Thursday features the number 23 seed, Ivo Karlovic up against Alexandr Dolgopolov. Currently ranked at number 70 in the world, Dolgopolov is coming back after requiring surgery on his knee last year. After a great start to 2014, Dolgopolov cracked the top 20 in June last year. His results haven’t quite come back round to that top 20 form. He had a good run after the Australian Open this year, reaching back-to-back quarter-finals at Delray Beach and Acapulco, and making the fourth round of Miami. He did nothing of note on the clay but produced an excellent performance to defeat Rafael Nadal at Queens.
Karlovic can be devilish on the grass as Tomas Berdych found out at Halle a few weeks ago; the 6’11” player served up a record 45 aces in a three set match to progress to the semi-finals with a 7-5 6-7(8) 6-2 win over Berdych before falling in two tiebreak sets to Roger Federer. Karlovic defeated Elias Ymer in his first round match at Wimbledon, prevailing 6-7(2) 6-2 6-4 7-6(2) in two hours and 50 minutes. Dolgopolov leads Karlovic in the head-to-head, 2-0. In their last match, Dolgopolov defeated Karlovic in Acapulco last year, 6-4 7-6(4). While much of this match comes down to how well Karlovic serves (and the heat will likely help), Dolgopolov can be a dicey player and I think the Ukranian player has a fair shot at the upset.
Prediction: Dolgopolov d. Karlovic in 4 sets