Wimbledon Day 7 preview: Manic Monday at All England
WIMBLEDON, England — Here are the storylines and matches to watch on Day 7 of Wimbledon. Play begins on the outer courts at 6:30 a.m. ET. ESPN2 starts its coverage at 7 a.m, with ESPN showing Centre Court action beginning at 8 a.m. Click here for the order of play.
Manic Monday a little less manic this year: With all 16 men's and women's fourth round matches set to be played, there's simply no better day than the second Monday at Wimbledon. However, the line-up lacks a little star-power this year with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, and Victoria Azarenka all tumbling out in the first week. Their absence will pave the way for a a slew of surprise names in the second week, ones even tennis insiders would struggle to pick out of a line-up. Karin Knapp? Adrian Mannarino? Kenny de Schepper? They could all make a Wimbledon quarterfinal. Let the Wimbleweirdness continue.
Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic face tough tests: Neither has dropped a set through the first week and neither has broken a sweat through three matches. They'll finally get their first real test on Monday against two players primed to pull an upset. Serena will open play on Centre Court against No. 23 Sabine Lisicki -- the only woman on tour who can regularly match Williams' powerful serve. Lisicki's ranking goes out the window when she enters the gates of the All England Club, as she's regularly summoned her best tennis on grass. A semifinalist in 2011, she knocked off Maria Sharapova last year, Li Na the year before and she's made the quarterfinals or better three of the four times she's played Wimbledon.
Though she has never played Serena on grass, Lisicki is relishing the opportunity to knock off the woman everyone considers the overwhelming favorite for the title. "I was in that situation last year when everybody was saying that Sharapova was the favorite," Lisicki said after beating Sam Stosur in the third round. "I'm probably going into that match being the underdog, but I like that. [I] have nothing to lose."
"I feel like she's serving massive," Serena said after defeating Kimiko Date Krumm on Saturday night. "I feel like she plays some of her best tennis on grass. She always pulls an upset. It will be a really tough match for me. I have to get serious to play it."
Novak Djokovic has the toughest fourth round match on the slate. He plays No. 13 Tommy Haas (third match, Centre Court), who he beat just last month in the quarterfinals of the French Open. Haas' best result at Wimbledon came in 2009 when he beat Djokovic 7-5, 7-6(6), 4-6, 6-3 to make the semifinals. Djokovic has been in devastating form through the first week and is coming off a near-perfect match in the third round where he didn't hit a single unforced error until the third set of his win over Jeremy Chardy.
Sloane Stephens marching towards a Serena rematch: Don't look now, but a Wimbledon final featuring Serena and Sloane is as likely a possibility as any other. While Serena is the odds-on favorite to make it out of the top half of the draw, Stephens has a winnable path to the finals out of the wide-open bottom half. If Stephens can get past the feisty Monica Puig, who upset Sara Errani in the first round, she would face either Marion Bartoli or Carla Suarez Navarro in the quarterfinals. Win that, and her semifinal opponent would be either 2011 champion Petra Kvitova, No. 19 Carla Suarez Navarro, No. 20 Kirsten Flipkens, or unseeded Flavia Pennetta. A winnable path to the final for Stephens, but she'll have to raise her game. Aside from a good win over Jamie Hampton in the first round, Stephens has not played anything close to her best tennis this tournament and was very lucky to get past Petra Cetkovska in the third round.
Murray Mound? Robson Ridge? Britain's Bluff?: A British man a British woman are into the second week of Wimbledon for the first time since Tim Henman and Sam Smith made the fourth round in 1998. Murray will face No. 20 Mikhail Youzhny (second match, Centre Court). Murray has never lost to Youzhny, who pushed Federer to three sets in the final of Halle two weeks ago, but the pair have not faced each other since 2009. Robson, meanwhile, will take on her third unseeded player since ousting No. 10 Maria Kirilenko in the first round. She'll face the dangerous Kaia Kanepi, who reached a career-high ranking of No. 15 last year and has made three Slam quarterfinals, including here at Wimbledon in 2010. That match, which will open play on No. 1 Court, will feature some big hitting and, if the two get nervy, a whole lot of unforced errors. Robson did well to handle the pressure of being the higher-ranked player in the last two rounds. If she wins she'll become the first British woman since 1984 to make the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, where she'll probably face Serena. No pressure.
13 unseeded players progress through a decimated draw: Lukasz Kubot vs. Adrian Mannarino? Yes, that's a fourth round match at Wimbledon. Six unseeded women and seven unseeded men have made it to the second week, meaning we should expect the unexpected when the tournament reaches its business end. Three players ranked outside the Top 100 -- Italy's Flavia Pennetta (166), Knapp (104) and France's Mannarino (111) -- are all into the fourth round in large part due to the upsets and injuries that marred the first week. Other unseeded but dangerous youngsters like Bernard Tomic, Robson, and Puig pulled off Top 10 wins to give the second week a youthful flair.
More matches to watch
No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro vs. No. 23 Andreas Seppi (second match, No. 1 Court): Del Potro took a nasty spill in the third set of his easy win over Grega Zemlja on Saturday and the word is that his left knee is bothering him as a result. He should get past Seppi easily (he's never lost a set to him in three matches) but it's something to keep an eye on.
Bernard Tomic vs. No. 7 Tomas Berdych (third match, No. 1 Court): It's great to see Tomic playing at a top level again. His form through the first week was the best we've seen since January and the grit he showed in his 7-6 (7), 5-7, 7-5, 7-6 (5) win over No. 9 Richard Gasquet showed maturity and focus. The 20-year old Aussie has never played Berdych, but the Czech's firepower might be too much for Tomic here. No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Tsvetana Pironkova (second match, No. 2 Court): If you love classic grass court tennis, this is the match for you. Pironkova's slicing and dicing can cause people fits on the surface, where she's made a name for herself by ousting Venus Williams here at Wimbledon not once but twice on her way to the semifinals in 2010 and the quarterfinals in 2011. Radwanska, who prefers to play players who hit with pace, will have to use her tennis IQ in this one. She leads the head-to-head 7-2 but Pironkova won their last match on grass in Eastbourne last year.