The Grandstand’s Ricky Dimon and Steen Kirby of Tennis East Coast preview and pick the four men’s fourth-round showdowns on Monday at Wimbledon. Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are among those looking for spots in the quarterfinals.
(1) Novak Djokovic vs. (14) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Ricky: Don’t be fooled by Tsonga’s relatively decent 5-12 lifetime record in the head-to-head series; he was once 4-1 and 5-2 against Djokovic and the Frenchman has now lost 10 in a row. Djokovic has won 15 consecutive sets against Tsonga, including eight straight without even going to a tiebreaker. They just faced each other at the French Open, where the world No. 2 dominated 6-1, 6-4, 6-1. Things will be more competitive on grass, but not by much. Djokovic has cruised so far this fortnight, whereas Tsonga survived each of his first two Wimbledon matches in five sets. Djokovic 6-4, 7-6, 6-3.
Steen: I really don’t see too much to this match. Djokovic dismantled Tsonga at the French Open and he hasn’t been too troubled at Wimbledon besides a nasty fall against Gilles Simon in round three. Tsonga has been pushed a full five sets twice–against Jurgen Melzer and Sam Querrey–and has shown more holes in his game. Djokovic has been dominating the head-to-head and he is 2-0 against the Frenchman on grass, so the No. 1 seed in straight sets is my pick. Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.
Jeremy Chardy vs. (26) Marin Cilic
Ricky: Cilic has now reached the Wimbledon fourth round three times, he is also a two-time finalist (one-time champion) at Queen’s Club, and he is 33-12 this season. You could see his win over Tomas Berdych coming (well, at least some of us could!), and it came. Cilic showed more emotion than he ever does in what was his biggest win since a four-month suspension during the second half of last year. He is looking inspired and there is certainly no reason for anyone already on the bandwagon to get off of it now. That being said, Chardy cannot be entirely discounted; the Frenchman has a similarly big-hitting game that can work well on grass. Cilic 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4.
Steen: Chardy has reached the second week of a slam for the third time in his career, but he will now be an underdog against Cilic, who upset Berdych in the previous round and has had a strong season overall. Cilic hasn’t been perfect this fortnight and Chardy might be able to snatch a set, but the Croat is clearly a superior player and should power his way through to the quarterfinals. Cilic 7-5, 6-4, 7-6.
(3) Andy Murray vs. (20) Kevin Anderson
Ricky: Only Roger Federer rivaled Murray in first-week dominance. The defending champion beat David Goffin 6-1, 6-4, 7-5, Blaz Rola 6-1, 6-1, 6-0, and Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 6-3, 6-2. Anderson, on the other hand, is coming off a five-set defeat of Fabio Fognini. The South African has done well to reach the last 16, but going five with Fognini on grass is not particularly encouraging. At least Anderson does not have to go up against arch-nemesis Berdych, but he is still running into an opponent who is looking like a man on a mission. Murray 6-2, 6-4, 7-6.
Steen: The 2012 Olympic and 2013 Wimbledon champion has a long winning streak on the grass courts of the All-England Club and after not dropping a set in the first week and he looks poised to continue that streak against Anderson. The South African yet again has reached the second week of a slam, but he usually falters at this stage. Fognini and Edouard Roger-Vasselin gave Anderson decent tests. Given how comfortable Murray has looked, I like him to get through in straight sets. Murray 7-6, 6-4, 7-5.
(11) Grigor Dimitrov vs. Leonardo Mayer
Ricky: Heading into this season, the one real knock on Dimitrov was failing at Grand Slams. He lost early again at the French Open, but he can still take heart from a quarterfinal run at the Australian Open. The Bulgarian is now in the second week of a major once again, growing accustomed to such a situation. Additional confidence can be gained by the fact that he is an awesome 33-9 this year. Mayer is playing well, but his surprise appearance in the last 16 has to be attributed in part to David Ferrer’s unexpected ouster from that section of the draw. Dimitrov 7-5, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.
Steen: Mayer has to be shocked to have reached this stage at Wimbledon. The Argentine, normally at his best on clay, has posted three quality wins to reach the second week. Now, though, he runs into a much stronger opponent in Dimitrov, who survived a five-setter against Alexandr Dolgopolov in round three and appears to have a great chance at the quarterfinals or better. The Bulgarian has rebounded from his Roland Garros struggles and is playing this slam like he did in Australia. I don’t see Mayer having the kind of game to trouble Dimitrov, so the favorite should advance comfortably. Dimitrov 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.