Wimbledon Day 5 preview: Andy Murray, Laura Robson on Centre Court
The British No. 1s hold court: Rain is in the forecast until late afternoon, but that won't bother Great Britain's Andy Murray and Laura Robson because both are scheduled to play on Centre Court, which has a roof. After upsetting No. 10 Maria Kirilenko in the first round, Robson will try to forget about pressure and expectations when she takes on Mariana Duque-Marino, a Colombian qualifier ranked outside the top 100. Duque-Marino, a three-set winner over Julia Goerges in the first round, could be a tricky opponent for the big-hitting Robson, who has struggled to bring her best when she plays a lesser opponent.
Murray, who has gone through his first two rounds without any concern, will meet No. 32 Tommy Robredo, his first seeded opponent. The 31-year-old Spaniard, who's 2-2 against Murray, made the quarterfinals of the French Open just three weeks ago, but he's never made it past the third round at Wimbledon. With Murray on a 13-match winning streak on grass, he should have no problems with Robredo. Then again, we've seen some pretty lengthy streaks broken this week.
Opportunity knocks for Sloane Stephens: With the bottom half of the women's draw ravaged by upsets, Stephens has a huge opportunity to make her first Grand Slam final. The only players ranked ahead of her are No. 8 Petra Kvitova, who needed three sets to get past Coco Vandeweghe in the first round and received a walkover in the second, and Marion Bartoli, who is coming off a foot injury and is not fully fit. Stephens wasn't at her best against Andrea Petkovic in the second round, surviving 7-6 (2), 2-6, 8-6. Now in the third round, Stephens will take on Petra Cetkovska (third match, No. 3 Court), who knocked out Caroline Wozniacki. Cetkovska is ranked No. 196, but she's scored some big wins at on grass, including victories over Agnieszka Radwanska and Ana Ivanovic two years ago. Stephens beat Cetkovska 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-3 in the second round of Wimbledon last year.
Grigor Dimitrov resumes a five-setter: Maria Sharapova was in the crowd shouting her patented come-ons on Thursday when Dimitrov found himself in a five-set battle with Grega Zemlja, a 26-year-old Slovenian ranked No. 55. The match was suspended for rain with Zemlja leading 3-6, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-4, 9-8 on the No. 3 Court. It will resume as the first match on that same court.
Rain threatens the day: After rain washed out a handful of matches Thursday, the schedule is already backed up on the outer courts. With more rain expected Friday, organizers could have trouble getting things back on track.
Matches to watch
No. 8 Petra Kvitova vs. No. 25 Ekaterina Makarova (second match, No. 1 Court): Kvitova, the highest-ranked player remaining in the bottom half of the draw, will have a tough third-round test against another lefty, Makarova, who beat her on grass in Eastbourne, England, last year. This is big opportunity for Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion, to make her second final at the All England Club. She clearly has the game to do so. The only question, as always, is whether she can summon her best on any given day.
Adrian Mannarino vs. Dustin Brown (third match, Court 14): Can Brown, a German-born Jamaican qualifier ranked No. 189, really make the second week of Wimbledon? Brown, who used to drive from tournament to tournament in a camper van and now wears his Twitter handle on his shirt, is the most electric player this side of Gael Monfils. He knocked out Lleyton Hewitt in the second round and now he gets Mannarino, a clay-court specialist who benefited from John Isner's retirement in the second round. Mannarino leads the head-to-head 2-1, winning both matches on hard courts. This is their first meeting not just on grass, but also in a tour-level event.
Kaia Kanepi vs. No. 7 Angelique Kerber (first match, No. 2 Court): Kanepi, a former quarterfinalist, needed three sets to get past British wild card Tara Moore in the first round. Kerber should beat the hard-hitting Estonian in this second-rounder, but knowing Kanepi's ability to bring her best at the Slams, it's a match to keep an eye on.
Alison Riske vs. Urszula Radwanska (first match, Court 17): Riske is the closest thing to a true grass-court specialist among the American women. She entered Wimbledon with 11 career WTA main-draw victories, and they were all on the grass in Birmingham, England. She finally got a win away from Birmingham in the first round, upsetting No. 31 Romina Oprandi. Riske leads the head-to-head 2-1.Ernests Gulbis vs. Fernando Verdasco (third match, No. 2 Court): Both men have a real opportunity in the decimated bottom half of the draw. Verdasco is 2-1 against Gulbis, with all three matches on clay. Gulbis is coming off a win by retirement over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, while Verdasco beat Julian Benneteau in the second round.