One of the wildest first weeks in Wimbledon history comes to an end with the conclusion of the third round. With no one seemingly safe from the upset bug, here are five of today’s matches that will provide great entertainment:
Ashleigh Barty vs Daria Kasatkina
This is about as even a matchup as you will get. Barty just won in Nottingham and has a game that suits the grass perfectly. She’s playing with a lot of confidence and is seeking her first Round of 16 at a major. Kasatkina lost in the quarterfinals of Eastbourne to Angelique Kerber and is starting to utilize her power more as she realizes that pushing the ball back to her opponent is not the way to play. She’s actually had more experience in this spot and will look to use that to her advantage. If you want a good, long battle, then this is the match for you.
Angelique Kerber vs Naomi Osaka
Not a good sign that 17 year old Claire Liu pushed Kerber to 6-4 in the third set in the last round and the hot, heavy conditions favor a power player like Osaka more. Still, the German is very comfortable on the grass and will hope to play long rallies to force the Japanese into errors and test her patience. Osaka will want short rallies with quick-strike tennis. What might be most astonishing is that these are two seeded players who actually made it this far. All of their previous matchups were straight-setters (Kerber leads 3-1). Don’t expect that to be the case here.
Dominika Cibulkova vs Elise Mertens
Hell hath no fury like a player scorned. Cibulkova has been on a mission ever since Wimbledon chose to seed Serena Williams which bumped the Slovak out of the seedings (she would have been 32nd). With wins over Alize Cornet and Johanna Konta, it’s evident she’s intent on making a statement to the All-England Club. This is a matchup she’ll feel comfortable in as she can overpower Mertens, but the Belgian will take advantage of any slip with her steady, increasingly improving all-around game. The Belgian has quietly rolled through her first two matches and should feel confident. This will be a fascinating watch.
Nick Kyrgios vs Kei Nishikori
Say what you want about Kyrgios: he’s controversial, he’s outspoken and his behavior on court is sometimes out of line, but he’s also supremely talented. The Aussie is serving exceptionally well so far, blasting 42 aces against Denis Istomin in the first round. He has the ability to take the racket out of Nishikori’s hands, but the Japanese will pick him apart with his laser-like groundstrokes, especially on the backhand wing. It’s been a brilliant comeback for the 24th seed, although grass is not his favorite surface. If he can pull Kyrgios into long rallies and stay away from the forehand side, Nishikori will win. Regardless, this is one match that is not to be missed.
Kyle Edmund vs Novak Djokovic
Now we’ll see how far both Edmund and Djokovic have come. For the Brit, he’s playing his first ever Wimbledon with expectations of a deep run as his country’s top-ranked player. His forehand and/or serve will be the biggest shot on the court and he can and will look to bully Djokovic around Center Court. For the Serb, this will be a good test to see how far he has progressed as he tries to regain the form of old. His backhand and his movement will be keys in to how this match will go. Edmund won their prior meeting in Madrid on clay, supposedly his best surface. I’m not convinced Djokovic is or ever will be all the way back, so I expect Edmund to win here, but it will likely be at least a four-setter.
Ladies’ seed likeliest to lose: Mertens to Cibulkova
Gentlemen’s seed likeliest to lose: Fabio Fognini to Jiri Vesely