Ricky Dimon of The Grandstand and Jared Pine of the Second Serb preview and pick the four best men’s singles matches on Monday at Wimbledon. Arguably the best tennis day of the year features Richard Gasquet vs. Nick Kyrgios and Andy Murray vs. Ivo Karlovic.
(21) Richard Gasquet vs. (26) Nick Kyrgios
Ricky: The head-to-head history (three matches) between Gasquet and Kyrgios, which has been contested entirely since the start of 2014, should come as no surprise. Gasquet has won each of two previous meetings on clay, whereas Kyrgios got the job done on grass–albeit after saving a ridiculous nine match points last year at Wimbledon. The show-stopping Aussie can simply hit Gasquet off the court on this surface–something he obviously cannot do on the slow stuff. Although that didn’t happen in 2014, Kyrgios is much-improved 12 months later and should have an easier time of things.The 26th seed has fired 62 aces through three rounds and has put in at least 66 percent of his first serves in each of his last two matches. A similar serving performance will be too much for Gasquet. Kyrgios 7-6(4), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2.
Jared: Kyrgios will be playing his 50th career tour-level match, and it will be the fourth time in that short period that he has played against Gasquet. The Australian’s one win at the Frenchman’s expense came at Wimbledon last year, when he had to save nine match points in the second round in order to advance. In the other two matches, Gasquet was dominant, winning in straight sets both times. If Kyrgios prevails, he will be into a major quarterfinal for the third time in his young career and it is hard to see how Gasquet will be able to stop him. Big servers have been dominant at Wimbledon so far, and Kyrgios is serving as well as he has at any point in his career, having out-aced Milos Raonic 34-18 to reach the second week. Gasquet may have the advantage in extended rallies, but Kyrgios should be able to keep most of the points short. Kyrgios 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.
(23) Ivo Karlovic vs. (3) Andy Murray
Ricky: One of the best returners on tour, Murray never has had and never will have any fear of huge servers. Just one example of many is that he is a combined 9-0 lifetime against Karlovic (5-0) and John Isner (4-0). Those past experiences against the 6’11” Croat will only help Murray, who has been in cruise control this fortnight aside from a five-game hiccup on Saturday following Andreas Seppi’s injury timeout. Obviously there will be times against Karlovic–especially on grass–when it won’t matter how well Murray is returning. But in the end, being under pressure more often than he accustomed to will be Karlovic’s undoing. Murray 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3.
Jared: Of these two players, Karlovic has certainly had to work a lot harder to get to this point. In his three matches, Murray has played a total of 525 points, while Karlovic has needed 898 points to reach the second week of Wimbledon for the third time in his career. Murray is one of the best defensive players on tour, but defending against Karlovic is a nearly impossible task. For the Brit, though, breaking just one should be good enough to guarantee him a set. Murray successfully solved the Karlovic puzzle at Wimbledon in 2012; he should be able to do it again against the Croat, who is now 36 years old. Murray 6-7(6), 6-4, 7-6(5), 7-5.
(4) Stan Wawrinka vs. (16) David Goffin
Ricky: Well-respected on all surfaces, Goffin reached the Wimbledon third round in 2012 and is now through to the second week for the first time in his career. The underdog Belgian seems to be getting a lot of love from the public heading into this showdown. Although I’m certainly on the Goffin bandwagon in general, I’m not on Monday (despite witnessing first-hand Goffin’s coming-out party vs. Wawrinka four years ago in Chennai, albeit in a loss). This is simply a heavyweight vs. a bantamweight. Granted the heavyweight doesn’t always win, and Goffin would have a real chance against the Wawrinka of earlier this season. But coming off a French Open title and having dominated three rounds this fortnight, this Swiss is too confident right now. Wawrinka 6-2, 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.
Jared: Goffin has been on a tear for the better part of the last 12 months, which is why he is looking at likely landing a career-high mark of 13th when the new rankings come out. But at no point during this run has he become someone the top-10 players are worried about. He has a very solid game, which is great for building a ranking, but certainly doesn’t worry top-10 opposition–against whom Goffin has a career record of 1-17. Both players have benefitted from easy draws, but they have also been dominant, winning all three matches in straight sets each. Wawrinka is a player who gets more dangerous as a tournament goes on. He is capable of suffering some early-round upsets, but once he gets into the second week of a tournament, he suddenly becomes a much bigger hassle to take out. The task is simply going to be too big for the Belgian. Wawrinka 6-4, 7-6(4), 7-5.
(6) Tomas Berdych vs. (12) Gilles Simon
Ricky: Simon has compiled a solid record for himself against Berdych, having won six of their previous 10 encounters. Unsurprisingly, none of Simon’s victories has come on grass. The Frenchman is obviously more than capable on the green stuff, but this is just his second time into the Wimbledon fourth round (and he has never been to the quarters). Berdych, on the other hand, finished runner-up at this event in 2010 and has advanced to the quarterfinals on two other occasions. The Czech’s huge, flat hitting will be too much for the Frenchman on this surface. It won’t help that Simon played five sets, for more than three hours, and on two different courts against Gael Monfils on Saturday. Berdych 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.
Jared: This pair first met at the 2006 Australian Open and this is now the first time since then that they have met again in a major despite both having success regularly at the slams. Simon leads the series history 6-4, but they have never previously squared off on grass. It’s Simon’s consistency from the baseline that makes him so tough to defeat for the Czech, who hits much flatter and generally goes for more on his groundstrokes. However, on this surface that style of play will be ideal for Berdych, who has been playing the best tennis of his career in 2015. He reached the quarterfinals or better in his first nine events this year and he did so again a couple of weeks ago in Halle. Simon’s counter-punching won’t be enough to hold off Berdych this time. Berdych 6-4, 7-5, 6-3.