Wimbledon R3 previews and picks: Nadal vs. Kukushkin, Federer vs. Giraldo

Nadal 2 Cincy9Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will continue their Wimbledon campaigns on Saturday. Next up for Nadal is Mikhail Kukushkin, while Federer is going up against Santiago Giraldo.

Mikhail Kukushkin vs. (2) Rafael Nadal

With the early-round Wimbledon draw having suddenly opened up for Nadal, fans of the world No. 1 will not be quite as on edge as they were for opening tests against Martin Klizan and Lukas Rosol. Kukushkin–not Ivo Karlovic–awaits Nadal on Saturday and either Nick Kyrgios or Jiri Vesely–not Richard Gasquet or Gael Monfils–is a possible fourth-round opponent. Still, the two-time champion of this event will not have any kind of dip in focus after dropping first sets to both Klizan and Rosol. Nadal recovered both times and he is now 43-7 for the season, which includes a ninth career French Open title just a few weeks ago.

This will be the third career meeting between these to players. Both of their previous encounters have gone Nadal’s way in routine fashion; he prevailed 6-2, 6-3 four years ago in Bangkok and 6-1, 6-1 on the clay courts of Monte-Carlo in 2012. Kukushkin earned his place in the last 32 by taking out both Dudi Sela and Frank Dancevic in easy straight sets. Still, the 63rd-ranked Kazakh is a mere 8-18 at the ATP level this season. This is obviously a massive step up in competition and Kukushkin does not have the huge-hitting game like, for example, Rosol that has been known to trouble Nadal.

Pick: Nadal in 3 losing 11-14 games

Santiago Giraldo vs. (4) Roger Federer

Federer and Giraldo will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers on Saturday. Their only previous meeting came in the first round of the 2011 U.S. Open, with Federer dominating 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. The Swiss is not quite in his prime three years later, but he is at least healthier and playing far better than he had been in 2011. With a 36-7 record this season, Federer suffered a tough fourth-round French Open loss to Ernests Gulbis but he won the Halle title and so far at the All-England Club has cruised past Paolo Lorenzi and Gilles Muller.

Giraldo crushed Daniel Gimeno-Traver in his opener then had a five-setter with Marcel Granollers carry over into Friday. The 35th-ranked Colombian finished off that match by winning the final set 7-5 to book his spot in the Wimbledon third round for the first time in five appearances (he previously had a 1-4 record at this event). With Giraldo likely fatigued and also playing on the worst possible surface for this matchup, Federer should have an especially routine day at the office.

Pick: Federer in 3 losing 8-10 games

8 Comments on Wimbledon R3 previews and picks: Nadal vs. Kukushkin, Federer vs. Giraldo

  1. I think those Serbian commentators are making a mistake in thinking that Rafa’s early round matches are an indication of how he will play in the second week. I also think it’s patently absurd for them or anyone else to be predicting Rafa losing to Raonic. That is not going to happen. If Raonic gets there.

    These challenging early round matches have helped Rafa get match play and confidence as he moves into the second week. I don’t care how Rafa wins, as long as he keeps on doing it!

    • yeah…kyrgiois is going to come and shorten the rallies as much as possible. This is what Rosol said . They want to keep rallies as short as possible. Kyrgios on average does not hit that hard but he has all the fire power to do that if needed ! His serve is his biggest weapon

      • “His serve is his biggest weapon”………………….that’s good, but that can also be very bad! Re; Isner! It took Kyrgios five sets to get through to Gasquest, though Gasquest had it in the bag, but he blew it. Cant see him troubling Rafa too much!

    • @Sanju,

      Talk is cheap. I always say that because it’s true. This guy can blab on all he wants, but playing Rafa in a slam in a best three out of five set match is a whole other thing. Young guys can be brimming with arrogance and cockiness, but actually doing it on the court is something else entirely.

      Rafa has had three challenging matches in which he has found the answers, raised his level of play when necessary and has some real confidence. He will be ready. I never like seeing him play big serving guys, but Rafa will know how to neutralize this kid.

      • He frankly does not appear as cocky on couurt. I found his disposition balanced. Ofcourse compared to Rosol, everyone behaves like a saint. That guy is the height of arrogance and cockiness. I hope Rafa cuts him to size once and for all, he needs a monmental thrashing on court from Rafa. He strangely reminds me on Robin Soderlings arrogance after he beat Rafa and the cold behaviour from Soderling always towards Rafa post that eve after his losses in 2010, 2011.

        Kyrgios feeds on crowd support and there are many loud boisterous Aussie fans in the stadium. Thank God the match is not played in Australia

      • NNY has a very valid point. The most recent example is that of that serbian guy lajovic claiming he can beat nadal at the french open !

        Kyrgios will hit the ground hard… he does not have a clue what it’s like facing Rafa in a slam.

        kyrgios has one of the biggest 2nd serves in the game. he will test rafa’s return and prepare him well for Raonic (if Raonic makes it there)

  2. @vamosrafa “he will test rafa’s return and prepare him well for Raonic (if Raonic makes it there)”……you put things in great perspective there!

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