Wimbledon R2 previews and picks: Tomic vs. Blake, Berdych vs. Brands

Former Wimbledon quarterfinalist Bernard Tomic will contest his second-round match on Thursday against James Blake. Tomas Berdych and Daniel Brands are also in action.

James Blake vs. Bernard Tomic

Blake and Tomic will be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers when they clash in the Wimbledon second round on Thursday. Tomic had been in dismal form ever since the Australian summer, but he may be back on track thanks to a surface that has always helped his game. The 59th-ranked Aussie reached the quarterfinals in Eastbourne earlier this month and on Tuesday he held off No. 21 seed Sam Querrey 7-6(6), 7-6(3), 3-6, 2-6, 6-3. Tomic is a respectable 17-12 for his 2013 campaign, which includes a title in Sydney.

Speaking of slumps that are showing signs of coming to an end, Blake had not won a main-draw match since Miami until he clobbered Thiemo De Bakker 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 in his opener at the All-England Club. The 33-year-old American qualified in Eastbourne last week but he promptly lost in straight sets to Albert Ramos. Blake had lost in the first round of his previous four Wimbledon appearances and had won only a single match in his last five trips. Even after rolling over De Bakker, the former world No. 4 admitted that he feels less comfortable on grass than on any other surface. An on-fire Blake can win this one, but those bouts of greatness are too few and far between. Tomic should benefit from the surface and have too much consistency from the back of the court for his opponent.

Pick: Tomic in 4

Daniel Brands vs. (7) Tomas Berdych

Berdych and Brands will be squaring off for the second time in their careers on Thursday. Their only previous encounter came at this same event in 2010, when the best Grand Slam of Brands’ career was halted in the fourth round with a 4-6, 7-6(1), 7-5, 6-3 loss to Berdych. Brands recently made headlines by testing eventual champion Rafael Nadal in four competitive sets in the French Open first round. The 57th-ranked German struggled on grass thereafter (first-round defeat in Halle, second-round setback in ‘s-Hertogenbosch), but he got past Daniel Gimeno-Traver 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-4 on Tuesday.

This is not saying a lot, but Berdych has already bested his 2012 Wimbledon result (not to mention his 2013 French Open result, as well). The sixth-ranked Czech lost right off the bat in a trio of tiebreakers to Ernests Gulbis, but this time around he had a more favorable draw and took care of Martin Klizan 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Berdych, coming off a French Open first-round ouster at the hands of Gael Monfils and a Queen’s Club quarterfinal loss to Marin Cilic, is a stellar 32-12 for the season. Brands has the firepower to do some damage on grass, but this is not necessarily a great matchup for the underdog because Berdych has all of the same tools and all of them are superior to those of Brands.

Pick: Berdych in 3

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