Wimbledon Day 5 Preview
Published June 28, 2012 09:17
LONDON, England - Third round action gets underway at the All-England Club on Friday, with several intriguing matches, including ones involving Britain's last remaining singles representative, a former finalist and one of the WTA's most prodigious young talents.
Friday, Third Round
 Agnieszka Radwanska (POL #3) vs. Heather Watson (GBR #103)
Head-to-head: first meeting
The last time Britain had a woman in the fourth round at Wimbledon, Heather Watson was six years old and had yet to even pick up a tennis racquet. On Friday, Watson looks to put an end to this barren run by defeating former quarterfinalist Agnieszka Radwanska on Centre Court. However, to do so she will require the performance of her fledgling career.
In the opening two rounds, the Brit's tidy groundstrokes and superb on-court athleticism have proved far too much for both Iveta Benesova and Jamie Hampton, but Radwanska will pose an altogether tougher test. The Pole is currently ranked No.3 in the world after a memorable year, featuring 40 wins and three titles, and the disparity in experience at this level - she is appearing in the third round of a major for the 16th time - sees her start as clear favorite.
 Vera Zvonareva (RUS # 12) vs. Kim Clijsters (BEL #47)
Head-to-head: Clijsters leads 7-3
If Kim Clijsters is going to mark her final Wimbledon appearance with a first title, then she is going to do it the hard way. After taking out former World No.1 Jelena Jankovic in the first round, she now faces 2010 finalist Vera Zvonareva.
Both players have had injury-hit years, coming into The Championships with just a handful of matches between them over the past month or so. However, it is Clijsters that has proven the better at shaking off any lingering ring rust, cruising past first Jankovic and then big-serving Andrea Hlavackova, while Zvonareva has labored against Mona Barthel and Sílvia Soler-Espinosa. The two have met on 10 occasions and while Clijsters holds the edge here, Zvonareva has won three of the last five, one of which came during her run to the final here two years ago.
Sloane Stephens (USA #59) vs.  Sabine Lisicki (GER #15)
Head-to-head: Stephens leads 1-0
Twelve months ago Sabine Lisicki chose the All-England Club as the venue for her coming out party, announcing herself as a future contender for the game's biggest prizes with a run all the way to the semifinals. Since then the big-hitting German has enjoyed mixed fortunes, though, as a promising late 2011 and early 2012 has been undermined by niggling injury concerns in recent months.
The ankle problem that blighted much of Lisicki's clay court season has left her short of match practice, and she almost paid the price in the last round, scraping past Bojana Jovanovski in a tense final set. Another shaky performance against Sloane Stephens and the German may not survive to see the second week; Stephens' superb movement and shotmaking make her a real danger on the grass and, as seen during last month's run to the last 16 at Roland Garros, she also relishes tennis' biggest stages.
Around the grounds…
World No.1 Maria Sharapova continues her bid to finally recapture the Venus Rosewater Dish against Hsieh Su-Wei, while other seeds in action include Angelique Kerber, Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova.