Wimbledon R3 previews and predictions: Nadal vs. Khachanov, Paire vs. Janowicz

Karen Khachanov will be trying to ride his serve-forehand combination to a Wimbledon upset of Rafael Nadal on Friday. Benoit Paire and Jerzy Janowicz are also aiming for a place in the second week.

(4) Rafael Nadal vs. (30) Karen Khachanov

Nadal and Khachanov will be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers when they collide in the Wimbledon third round on Friday. A lot of “firsts” have been coming for Khachanov of late, who is really starting to announce himself as a force to be reckoned with on the ATP Tour. The 21-year-old Russian is into the top 40 for the first time (broke in last month, currently at a career-high 34th), reached the French Open fourth round in his first main-draw appearance at that slam, and now finds himself in the last 32 of his first main-draw showing at the All-England Club. Khachanov fought hard to hold off Andrey Kuznetsov in five sets and Thiago Monteiro in four earlier in the week.

It’s safe to say the competition level ratchets up dramatically in the form of Nadal, who is 45-6 this season with four titles–including his 10th French Open triumph. The second-ranked Spaniard did not play any grass-court warmup events, but it’s also safe to say he knew what he was doing while making that schedule decision. Showing no grass-court rust, Nadal hammered John Millman 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 on Monday before beating Donald Young 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 in round two. Khachanov is more of the prototypical big hitter who can trouble the 15-time major champion on this surface, but grass may be his least favorite court right now because he has less time to set up for his forehand and is frequently forced to hit it out of his strike zone. This is an intriguing matchup on paper, but in reality it should be one-way traffic.

Pick: Nadal in 3 losing 11 games or fewer

Benoit Paire vs. Jerzy Janowicz

Speaking of intriguing matchups, Paire vs. Janowicz pits two of the game’s most colorful characters against each other–and that is not where the similarities end. When healthy, they unofficially lead the tour in drop-shots attempted. They also possess some of the most ferocious weapons in the game, highlighted by Paire’s backhand and Janowicz’s serve and forehand.

Unfortunately for Janowicz and for tennis, he basically disappeared from the main tour after reaching the Wimbledon semifinals in 2013 and climbing to No. 14 in the world. The 6’8” Pole is finally making his way back from various problems and will be well inside the top 100 if he wins on Friday (currently 141st). So far this fortnight he has picked up four-set victories over Denis Shapovalov and 2016 quarterfinalist Lucas Pouille. Paire punched his ticket to the last 32 by beating Rogerio Dutra Silva in four and fellow Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert in straights. These two veterans recently faced each other in last month’s Stuttgart quarterfinals, with Paire prevailing 6-1, 7-6(4) for his first ATP-level win over Janowicz compared to two losses. The world No. 46 is a decent 8-6 lifetime at this event, but he has only one victory over an opponent ranked better than 52nd in the world. On this surface, a confident Janowicz is arguably a top-10 talent. He just avenged a recent grass-court loss to Shapovalov and may do the same against Paire.

Pick: Janowicz in 4

12 Comments on Wimbledon R3 previews and predictions: Nadal vs. Khachanov, Paire vs. Janowicz

    • I am worried abouf Muller. This is going to be the first big test for Rafa.

      I Fed not think Khachanov had the ability to hang with Rafa. He’s got raw power, but no finesse and discipline. He tends to over hit the ball. I do think he gave a good account of himself in the third set. He really hung in there and fought off break points to stay with Rafa. He even had a set point.

      I think Rafa needed to be pushed a little. A tight third set with no breaks and then Rafa almost losing the set, was a pressure situation and Rafa come up with the shots when it counted. He took control in the TB and was doing his vamos thing!

      Muller is going to be tough. But Rafa is playing well and seems to be confident.

      • I did not think Khachanov could hang with Rafa! I don’t know how autocorrect got the word “Fed” in there!

  1. I think we will see a big four showdown here in the semifinals. What a treat that will be!!

    Last time it happened was way back in 2012 AO, if I am not wrong.

    • Rafa could not stop smiling in that interview! Happy Rafa! He knows that he’s playing well.

      Thanks for posting this!

    • I love Rafa’s clear-eyed, no fluff post match analyses of his games, so on point. The match unfolded exactly as he described from his vantage point.

      He has 2 days to prepare for Muller….

      Vamos Rafa!

  2. Murray is in trouble in set no 2 after winning the first pretty comfortably. Fognini will serve for the set. Murray’s level has dropped.

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