Wimbledon R3 previews and picks: Gulbis vs. Verdasco, Murray vs. Robredo

Ernests Gulbis and Fernando Verdasco are set for an all-unseeded showdown when they take the Wimbledon court for third-round action on Friday. Andy Murray and Tommy Robredo are also looking for a place in the last 16.

Ernests Gulbis vs. Fernando Verdasco

Gulbis and Verdasco will be squaring off for the fourth time in their careers and for the second time this season when they collide in the Wimbledon third round on Friday. Verdasco leads the head-to-head series 2-1 despite falling to Gulbis 6-3, 6-4 two months ago on the clay courts of Barcelona. The Spaniard prevailed on clay in both 2010 (Barcelona) and 2012 (Umag).

Based on their respective 2013 campaigns, Gulbis will be favored to even his lifetime record against Verdasco. The 39th-ranked Latvian is 23-9 for the year, which features a title in Delray Beach and a run to the Indian Wells fourth round as a qualifier. Gulbis opened at the All-England Club by rolling over Edouard Roger-Vasselin in straight sets and he led Jo-Wilfried Tsonga two sets to one on Wednesday before the No. 6 seed retired. Verdasco beat Xavier Malisse in four sets then took out Julien Benneteau 7-6(1), 7-6(4), 6-4 in round two. The world No. 54 is still a modest 11-12 for the season, but a 4-1 mark on grass (he also reached the Eastbourne quarterfinals) suggests an emergence from a dismal slump that reached a low point in March and April.

Both men have showcased some potential on grass, so a high-quality encounter can be expected. Verdasco has reached the Wimbledon fourth round three times and Gulbis upset Tomas Berdych in a trio of tiebreakers during first-round action in 2012. Although Gulbis is a huge hitter who likes to keep points short, he prefers to have more time to set up for shots–one reason why he is often at his best on clay. Still, the surface will simply give a relatively out-of-form Verdasco a chance in this one. In the end, Gulbis’ confidence and firepower should lead him to victory.

Pick: Gulbis in 4

(32) Tommy Robredo vs. (2) Andy Murray

Robredo and Murray will be facing each other for the fifth time in their careers and for the first time in more than four years. The head-to-head series stands at two wins apiece. Robredo earned a pair of victories in 2006 and 2007 before Murray got revenge by winning twice in 2009. They have never met on grass (Robredo leads 2-1 on hard courts while Murray advanced through a clay-court encounter at the 2009 Madrid Masters).

The pressure is on Murray to triumph at Wimbledon for the first time, especially now that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have vacated a once-loaded bottom half of the draw. Murray has had no such trouble. The second-ranked Scot breezed through his first two matches against Benjamin Becker and Yen-Hsun Lu without dropping a set. Well-rested after missing the French Open, Murray is 29-5 for the season following a title at Queen’s Club and his two wins this week. A resurgent Robredo boasts a 23-12 record for his 2013 campaign after dismissing both Alex Bogomolov and Nicolas Mahut in straight sets. The 29th-ranked Spaniard won three five-set matches (all from two sets down) en route to the French Open quarterfinals before taking a few weeks off.

This will likely be a tougher test for Murray than Mahut would have presented. After all, the second seed generally thrives against big servers who like to play at net and give Murray pass opportunities left and right. Robredo, on the other hand, will turn this into a baseline battle even on grass. Still, the surface will be slick (more than it will be in week two) and Murray should be able to take away his opponent’s timing with big serves and flat groundstrokes. Robredo will make it interesting, but the British crowd will go home happy.

Pick: Murray in 3

1 Comment on Wimbledon R3 previews and picks: Gulbis vs. Verdasco, Murray vs. Robredo

  1. Can’t wait to see this Gulbis-Vco match up, and I also believe that Gulbis will win it, maybe even in 3 sets. Murray in 3 for sure (although nothing is “for sure” this year at W).

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