Wimbledon Preview of Day 4 (The Men)

24 Jun

Before I even begin to preview the most compelling matches of tomorrow, I must give kudos to both John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, or as the British fans call him, Nico.  I must say that while I did briefly preview this match yesterday on the blog, I had no idea that it was going to even be a close 5th set.  Obviously, I was mistaken and what transpired out on Court 18 was truly remarkable and we will never see something of this magnitude ever again.   But with that, this match is not over and it could go another 20 games before we finally close the door on this “epic” first round match.  I am a big fan of John Isner and his game, but I must say that in the decider he was clearly the more tired of the two and his game looked to be more shaky than the Frenchman’s.  And with that, I will preview the remainder of this match as the first of three featured men’s matches on the blog for tomorrow.

Nicolas Mahut (FRA) vs. (23) John Isner (USA)

As I said above, it was Mahut with the better play in the fifth set today and I expect that he will be able to keep up his high level of play in the match tomorrow, that is if he isn’t suffering too much physically.   The good news for him is that his opponent is just as tired and play just as long today so while both guys will be exhausted, they will have the same circumstances facing them tomorrow afternoon.  As a club player myself, I will be the first one to tell you that if your going to be sore, it usually isn’t right after the match, but when you wake up in the morning so we will hope that these two guys can get out of bed in the morning and continue, and hopefully finish this match that will not soon be forgotten.  With that, I think that Isner will try to serve bombs from the get go and hope that Mahut’s returns aren’t going in because if they are, then the end might come sooner than we may think.  On the other hand, Mahut must keep serving big and placing his shots well because if he doesn’t break the Isner serve and falls behind on his own, then the match is virtually on Isner’s racquet.

Pick: Isner at 64-62 in the fifth, but really, who knows?

How long will it go?

Jarkko Nieminen (FIN) vs. (4) Andy Murray (GBR)

First match up on Centre Court and the players will have the honor and privilege of playing for Queen Elizabeth II.  Nieminen, who is an accomplished opponent, should not be underestimated by the Scotsman, who might face some pressure whenever he looks up at the Royal Box.  Speaking of pressure, how will Andy Murray hold up tomorrow on Centre Court.  It’s a topic that I haven’t heard much about, but certainly does require attention.  I know that the Brits have been more interested in the World Cup of late, but now that England has moved onto the knockout stage, will their attention once again shift to Wimbledon.  While I do feel that Murray will feel the pressure of his Finish opponent and of the Queen’s presence, it shouldn’t be enough to derail his plans of making the next round.  But, Murray should be aware of Nieminen, who could push him around the court and make life pretty uneasy for Murray, but the most that should trouble Murray would be a lost set, particularly early in the match (first or second set?)

Pick: Murray in four

How will the Queen's presence affect the last British man standing?

Robin Haase (NED) vs. (2) Rafael Nadal (ESP)

Haase, the man who took out James Blake quite convincingly in the first round, has a big serve and will look to use that against Rafa.  But Nadal, who has one of the best return games in tennis, will capitalize on the Haase serve and on his own to make this a one-sided affair.  The only thing that could affect the Spaniard is if Haase comes into this match firing on all cylinders and playing with no pressure at all, which is a possiblilty, but not a strong one.

Pick: Nadal in 3

Is Rafael Nadal headed to the finals once again?

Other men’s matches to watch:

Fabio Fognini (ITA) vs. Michael Russell (USA): Interesting match up between the giant killer Fognini and a lesser-known American man who will give it his all in this match.  But I don’t think that the veteran American will have what it takes to beat the man from Italy.

Pick: Fognini in 4

(6) Robin Soderling (SWE) vs. Marcel Granollers (ESP): Playing the man who beat him in Australia, Soderling will look to overpower the clay courter out of Spain with his heavy serve and devastating groundstrokes.

Pick: Soderling in 3

Enjoy Day 4!


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