Wimbledon R1 previews and predictions: Isner vs. Baghdatis, Wawrinka vs. Fritz

Fellow Americans John Isner and Taylor Fritz will kick off their fortnights at the All-England Club on Tuesday. Isner is hoping to maintain his mastery of Marcos Baghdatis, while Fritz is a significant underdog against Stan Wawrinka.

(18) John Isner vs. Marcos Baghdatis

Isner and Baghdatis will be squaring off for the seventh time in their careers when they clash in round one at Wimbledon on Tuesday. The head-to-head series is being swept 6-0 by Isner, who last beat Baghdatis 6-3, 6-3 in the 2015 Atlanta final when the Cypriot was compromised by a leg injury. All six of their previous meetings have come on outdoor hard courts, perhaps the most entertaining of which took place in round one of the 2011 U.S. Open–Isner prevailed 7-6(2), 7-6(11), 2-6, 6-4.

Even though Isner is one of the biggest servers on tour, grass has never been and never will be his best surface. The 6’10” American’s spin serve does not get as much kick as it does on other surfaces and he is often hitting balls too low for his ideal strike zone. That being said, he did–of course–once hold 84 consecutive service games against Nicolas Mahut at the All-England Club in their famous 2010 marathon. Isner is coming off a fourth-round finish at the French Open, while Baghdatis advanced to the last 64 before squandering a two-set lead over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Ranked 23 spots below his opponent at 40th in the world, Baghdatis went 2-2 in his grass-court warmup events with defeats of Tomas Berdych and Dustin Brown plus losses to Jan-Lennard Struff and Alexander Zverev. The 31-year-old is playing well enough to make this competitive, but maybe not to the extent that he will completely erase the demons of his 0-6 lifetime mark against Isner.

Pick: Isner in 4

Taylor Fritz vs. (4) Stan Wawrinka

Wawrinka is a two-time Grand Slam champion (Australian Open in 2014, French Open in 2015) and has triumphed on two different surfaces. The grass of Wimbledon has so far proven to be too tricky for the Swiss, who has never even reached the semifinals at the All-England Club. Wawrinka, has, however, advanced to the quarters in each of the past two seasons; he came painfully close to going one step farther in 2015 but succumbed to Richard Gasquet 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 11-9. The world No. 4’s title defense at Roland Garros ended with a four-set loss to Andy Murray in the semis, which preceded a grass-court setback in the Queen’s Club opening round to Fernando Verdasco.
Up first for Wawrinka on Tuesday is Fritz, whose rise to relevancy has been nothing short of meteoric. As recently as this past October, the 18-year-old American registered as low as No. 694 in the world. Fast forward eight months and he is heading into Wimbledon at 63rd in the rankings. In fact, it took Fritz only six months to soar from 694th into the top 70, thanks in part to a runner-up performance in Memphis and a quarterfinal run in Acapulco as a qualifier. On grass this summer, he lost to Roger Federer 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 in the Stuttgart second round before a more disappointing setback at the hands of Yuichia Sugita during first-round action in Halle. Fritz has never won a main-draw match at a Grand Slam and getting his first at Wawrinka’s expense looks like too difficult of a task.

Pick: Wawrinka in 4

8 Comments on Wimbledon R1 previews and predictions: Isner vs. Baghdatis, Wawrinka vs. Fritz

  1. Isner and Stan in 3 and 4.
    Have some questions-I get the feeling Isner may retire soon, any feedback?
    What’s with Raonic? he’s okay, I’m just not seeing it. Nick and Thiem in my opinion are better athletes and have a better chance at a Slam. Nick of course would have to keep his head on straight, but all this hype about Raonic, it’s like watching a robot play.

  2. Isner in 4 and Wawrinka in 4. Surprised at how poorly Fritz has played on grass, should be fitting his style of play well but I suppose it takes most young players to adjust a while on the surface.

  3. Well he didn’t play that poorly. Of course his loss to Sugita was suprising and disappointing. But he had a great match against possibly the best grass courter ever. Dunno if you’ve seen that one but he was playing really well against Fed and losing 4-6 7-5 4-6 against Roger is certainly not a bad thing for a tennis player of Fritz’s status.

  4. yeah I saw the match against Fed and that was pretty good stuff, but also the losses to Sugjta and Mannarino (altho Mannarino is alright on grass) were both a bit shocking to me. But I love the kids ability and hope he can quickly show how good he is on all surfaces

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