Monday July 2nd, 2012

WIMBLEDON, England -- It's Manic Monday here at the All England Club, where after a day of rest, the entire Round of 16 for both the men and the women is on tap. Also on tap? Rain. Lots of it, if one were to believe the less than confident Voice of Wimbledon, who announced that the wet weather was expected to continue well into the afternoon. We could sit here and wring our hands over whether all the matches will get done today, or rip up the order of play angrily at the sight of some curious court scheduling (Serena Williams on No. 2 Court? Again? Really?) but let's get straight to the tennis. If the weather cooperates, there will be lots of it.

Here are the matches I'm most interested in:

Maria Sharapova vs. Sabine Lisicki (first match, No. 1 Court): Rematch, rematch, rematch. This is the third time in five Slams these two have played and Lisicki hasn't been able to solve Sharapova yet. Still trying to find her form since injuring her ankle in Charleston, Lisicki's done well to make the second week, a slightly unexpected result given her sub-par lead-up. Sabine will need a very good serving day to put the pressure on Sharapova and that means getting her first serve in. As good as the German's cannon of a serve is, her second serve is pure batting practice at best and Double-Fault City at its worst.

Kim Clijsters vs. Angelique Kerber (second match, No. 3 Court): Clijsters has sailed through the first three rounds but she faces her toughest test today against the winningest player on tour this year, Angelique Kerber. She's won a tour-leading 43 matches this year, an amazing feat considering she won a total of 40 main draw matches in her previous two seasons. Kim has played well this week but nothing about her game has looked particularly impressive. In other words, she's been solid but not great, and Kerber will relish the opportunity to notch yet another big win this year.

Andy Murray vs. Marin Cilic (second match, No. 1 Court): Cilic handed Murray one of his worst Slam losses in recent years, ousting him in the Round of 16 in the 2009 U.S. Open. Murray barely showed up in that match and it still lives on as one of his most curious Slam performances, which is saying something considering... it's Andy Murray. After all the drama of their last matches (Cilic beating Sam Querrey 17-15 in the fifth set in the second longest men's singles match in Wimbledon history, while Murray raced against the clock to get his win over Marcos Baghdatis in before the weird 11:00pm curfew), how will these two rebound? I suspect that these difficult early matches will actually help Murray, forcing him to focus and keep his intensity level up. He's only lost to Cilic once in six matches and he beat him in their only grass court match back in 2007.

Ana Ivanovic vs. Victoria Azarenka (second match, Centre Court): I still don't buy into the idea that this match should be on Centre Court on Manic Monday, but it's good that Azarenka gets her due. She hasn't dropped a set all tournament and she's quietly (ahem) made her way through without anyone really paying attention. She'll face her stiffest competition yet against Ivanovic, who conversely, has needed three sets in all three of her matches to progress to the second week. A win here would put Ivanovic into her first Slam quarterfinal since the French Open in 2008, which she won.

Juan Martin del Potro vs. David Ferrer (third match, No. 1 Court): Ferrer has a way of getting into other players' heads and that seems to be the case for Del Potro. He gives away nothing, battles for every shot and every point, and that alone can wear down any hard-hitting opponent before he even steps on the court. Ferrer has beaten the Argentine on all three surfaces, he's won their last two meetings, and he's riding an eight-match win streak on grass. I'm giving the Spaniard the edge here, especially after the way he played in coming back to beat Andy Roddick in the third round. Courtney's Pet Picks: Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Camila Giorgie (second match, No. 2 Court), Petra Kvitova vs. Francesca Schiavone (first match, No. 3 Court), Brian Baker vs. Philipp Kohlschreiber (third match, Court No. 12), Juniors: Taylor Townsend vs. Maria Constanza De Las Me Vega (first match, Court 8).

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