Ubha: Expert Predictions For Monday
Published June 30, 2014 12:12
LONDON, England - It's supposed to be the best day of the tennis year. But, unfortunately, the English weather prevented all eight women's fourth round matches from being played at Wimbledon on Monday.
Let's not be too harsh on the weather gods in these parts, since recent Wimbledons have been pretty good.
We're not going to let the change of plans, though, stop us from forecasting the seven match-ups already decided.
(3) Simona Halep (ROU) vs Zarina Diyas (KAZ)
If looking for an example of just how international a game tennis is, take the case of Zarina Diyas. She was born in Kazakhstan, trained in Prague for a dozen years - so, another player in the last 16 with ties to the Czech Republic - and currently trains in China.
The 20-year-old has made strides in 2014, up to 72nd in the rankings after ending last year at 163rd. She's sure to eclipse her career-high when the new rankings are released Monday.
Halep won't be taking Diyas lightly and she'll know about the right-hander with the hefty serve, since they faced off in the third round at the Australian Open (6-1, 6-4 to Halep).
Aside from a second set blip against the big-hitting Lesia Tsurenko in the second round, Halep has been untroubled so far.
As in Paris, Halep enters the second week as the highest seed remaining. She did just fine at Roland Garros, now didn't she?
Prediction: Halep in two.
(4) Agnieszka Radwanska (ROU) vs (22) Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)
Makarova hardly gets much attention. Maybe it's about time that changes. Known for being streaky early in her career, the Russian lefty has now made it to at least the third round in five consecutive Grand Slams. And guess what? Makarova beat Radwanska in their last encounter at the 2013 US Open.
Radwanska will thus be on full alert.
Crucially for the Pole, she hasn't expended much energy in dispatching Andreea Mitu, Casey Dellacqua and Michelle Larcher de Brito - dropping a combined nine games. Makarova is a step up in level, so expect a much closer contest.
Prediction: Radwanska in three.
(5) Maria Sharapova (RUS) vs (9) Angelique Kerber (GER)
When Serena Williams lost to Garbiñe Muguruza at the French Open, Sharapova became the substantial favorite. With Williams gone at Wimbledon, Sharapova again finds herself in that position.
Thus, has there ever been a better chance for Sharapova to land a second title at Wimbledon - 10 years after the first?
Sharapova sports a 4-1 record against Kerber, and their three matches not on clay didn't present the former with too many problems.
Prediction: Sharapova in two.
(6) Petra Kvitova (CZE) vs Peng Shuai (CHN)
Kvitova edged Venus Williams in a battle of Wimbledon champions on Friday. The way she won - in three tight sets - coupled with the opponent led Kvitova to say it was her best match on grass since winning the title at SW19 in 2011. She probably wouldn't have wanted two days off, eager to get back onto the court as soon as possible.
But it'll please Kvitova that she's 4-0 against Peng.
Now known for being the doubles No.1 given her singles ranking sits at 61st, it's Peng's first time in the fourth round of a major since Wimbledon two years ago.
Prediction: Kvitova in two.
(13) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) vs (25) Alizé Cornet (FRA)
Cornet made it two straight wins against Serena Williams. How many players can say that? And this after she lost the first set in thumping fashion.
Her ability to recover speaks of her progress, but truth be told, also of Williams' newfound vulnerability at majors.
The last time Cornet downed Williams, in Dubai, she couldn't recover quick enough and lost to Venus Williams the next day. Now, however, she benefits from a day off before her tilt versus the tough-as-nails Bouchard.
Bouchard beat Andrea Petkovic in the third round after 'Petko' got the better of her on clay in Charleston. The Canadian will be hoping the quicker surface helps here, too, since she lost to Cornet on clay last year in Strasbourg.
Cornet into a maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal?
Prediction: Bouchard in three.
(16) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) vs Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE)
Wozniacki says she's fully focused after a turbulent month of May, and the results prove just that. A run to the semifinals in Eastbourne has been followed by comfortably reaching the round of 16 at the All England Club. She's one victory away from making a first Slam quarterfinal since the 2012 Australian Open.
She must have been delighted that Zahlavova Strycova upset Li Na in the third round, since Wozniacki has had more success against the Czech (3-0) than the two-time Grand Slam champion (2-4).
But Zahlavova Strycova shouldn't be discounted. Not by any means. She reached the final in Birmingham and owns a game that works on grass.
Prediction: Wozniacki in three.
(23) Lucie Safarova (CZE) vs (Q) Tereza Smitkova (CZE)
OK, raise your hands if you thought Smitkova, a 19-year-old qualifier from the Czech Republic, would reach the fourth round. Without question she's the unlikeliest player in the round of 16.
Looking at her record prior to Wimbledon, her odds of emerging even from Roehampton weren't good. Smitkova, ranked 175th, had lost three straight, all in qualifying, including a defeat to the World No.1003 at an ITF stop in Nottingham.
Among her victims last week, though, were big-serving American CoCo Vandeweghe - fresh off her maiden title in the Netherlands - and Bojana Jovanovski, who had ousted Victoria Azarenka. Jovanovski lost 10-8 in third, having held a match point in the second set.
Smitkova has been practicing with Kvitova, so she's used to dealing with lefties, but surely this is an opportunity Safarova, her countrywoman, can't miss.
Prediction: Safarova in three.