The Grandstand’s Ricky Dimon and Steen Kirby of Tennis East Coast preview and pick four of the best men’s singles matches on Thursday at Wimbledon. Included in the action is an All-England Club rematch between Rafael Nadal and Lukas Rosol.
Lukas Rosol vs. (2) Rafael Nadal
Ricky: Nadal has endured only one Grand Slam upset loss more famous than his 2012 Wimbledon ouster against Rosol. After losing to Robin Soderling at the 2009 French Open, Nadal avenged it one year later by taking Soderling to the absolute woodshed in the same event’s final. Now he gets another shot at Rosol, who may not have the same benefit of facing a hobbled opponent with a closed roof. The grass is not yet chewed up, which will help the Czech. Nadal, though, woke up to win thee sets in succession against Martin Klizan after dropping the opener. All too familiar with the danger in front of him, the world No. 1 will not start so slow on Thursday. Furthermore, as bad as Nadal has been on grass since 2012, we cannot forget that he once reached the title match in five consecutive trips to the All-England Club. Nadal 7-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Steen: The Wimbledon rematch is upon us. Nadal looked shaky against Klizan in round one. He won in four sets as the Slovak collapsed, but his movement and error count looked suspect and he especially struggled with the low ball. Rosol knows how to beat Nadal (he has done it before, of course) but I think his ball-bashing two years ago was a once-in-a-career performance in terms of how long he was able to keep up such a high level of play. I’m almost certain Rosol will take a set, but Nadal will find a way to win this match unless his body fails him. Nadal 3-6, 6-4, 7-6, 6-2.
(15) Jerzy Janowicz vs. Lleyton Hewitt
Ricky: People are actually taking Janowicz to win this? I don’t see it. The 2013 semifinalist has been in positively dreadful form this season. In fact, his only decent match win since Rotterdam in February is over Jarkko Niemonen at the French Open. Janowicz needed five sets on Tuesday to get past Somdev Devvarman, which is a borderline terrible result on grass. Meanwhile, there is life yet in Rusty. He has not played a whole lot this season, but Hewitt is well-rested and by all accounts healthy. The former Wimbledon champion is comfortable on grass and extremely comfortable against big servers. Count on him breaking down another one–especially one who double-faulted 19 times in round one. Hewitt 6-4, 7-6, 6-3.
Steen: The 2013 semifinalist slipped past a player he had lost to before (2009 U.S. Open qualies) in Devvarman, but he still showed weaknesses in his game. Hewitt beat another Pole, Michal Przysiezny, in four sets. The veteran Aussie knows this surface and he knows how to get into Janowicz’s fragile state of mind. The 15th seed might be able to outhit Hewitt at some points, but I don’t think he can keep it together right now to beat the 2002 champion, who makes you fight for every point. Consistency will win the day for Hewitt, even without being in the best of form. Hewitt 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.
(13) Richard Gasquet vs. (WC) Nick Kyrgios
Ricky: The first set of Gasquet vs. Kyrgios in their Davis Cup collision earlier this season was awesome. It was played on clay and in France, so Gasquet inevitably took complete control after surviving the opener in a tiebreaker. Kyrgios will have a better chance of sustaining success on grass by keeping points short and Gasquet has to still be somewhat rusty after missing almost all of the clay-court season with a back problem. That being said, the Frenchman gained confidence with a runner-up showing in Eastbourne and he tested his back even further by going five on Tuesday against James Duckworth, whom he completely dismantled in the last two sets. Gasquet 6-4, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4.
Steen: I have a feeling the young Kyrgios has a great chance to get a signature Grand Slam win in this match. Gasquet struggled for two sets against journeyman James Duckworth and may be fatigued, while Kyrgios looked fine in his round-one victory over Stephane Robert. The up-and-coming Aussie is capable on this surface and he has the mental fortitude to win this if he serves well and keeps Gasquet defensive the whole match. Kyrgios 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-3.
Adrian Mannarino vs. (23) Tommy Robredo
Ricky: I generally side with whichever player has the surface advantage when there is not a great discrepancy in talent, but it just too hard to pick against a veteran fighter like Robredo against a largely unproven opponent. Mannarino reached the fourth round last year, but holy cow he had favorable draw. Robredo has never advanced past the third round, but he reached the last 32 in 2013 while beating an accomplished grass-courter, Nicolas Mahut, in the process. Robredo 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 7-6.
Steen: Robredo has had a below-average season by his standards and he has never been a great grass-court player. Mannarino, meanwhile, gets a sizable part of his yearly points and prize money during the grass-court swing and his game is built for this surface. The Frenchman is rounding into form and Robredo dropped a set (with a breadstick) to Lukas Lacko in round one , so Mannarino in four is my pick as long as he keeps points short and finishes them quickly, avoiding rallies with the terrier Robredo. Mannarino 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5.