Sixteen men and 16 women still have dreams of being called Wimbledon singles champions in 2017. A traditional middle Sunday of no play at the All England Club means all remaining singles players will be in action on Monday for the best day in tennis to kick off the second week. Here is a look at three of the best matchups on “Manic Monday.”
(2) Simona Halep vs. Victoria Azarenka–
This is the match of the day. You have a player hunting the number one ranking against a former World No. 1 getting better and better in just her second event back from pregnancy. Azarenka leads the all-time series 2-1.
When playing well, these players each play a very balanced style in terms of offense and defense. Neither has played their best during this event, but these players know how to win while not playing their best.
If this is a physical battle, Halep has the edge. She has been in the game for the last 18 months. Azarenka’s fitness concerns are obvious and she has played two three setters to get here.
However, the second week of Grand Slams is usually about the mental game. Azarenka has two Grand Slam trophies on her mantle, Halep none. Particularly with Halep still dealing with the fallout of her epic meltdown in the French Open final, Azarenka is the one to trust if this is a close one. There is nothing to suggest it will not be.
As much as the Belarussian has tried to reign in expectations early in her comeback, the competitive juices are no doubt taking over for someone with Azarenka’s track record. Prediction: Azarenka in three sets
(5) Caroline Wozniacki vs. (24) CoCo Vandeweghe–
This is your classic puncher vs. counter-puncher matchup. The defensive-minded Dane is eyeing her first trip to the final eight of Wimbledon, the big hitting American her second.
This match is entirely on Vandeweghe’s racquet. She will either blast Wozniacki off the court or be worn down by Wozniacki’s ability to always get the ball back in play. Their previous two meetings have been examples of the latter.
Although she is much improved in recent months, Vandeweghe’s mid 20s ranking is not indicative of her talent. It is indicative of her inability to harness her immense power at times. Wozniacki is so comfortable against big hitters whose names are not Williams or Sharapova. It is tough to pick against her in a matchup like this. In a year or two, this may swing the other way, but the Dane is a tough out as long as she is moving well.
Prediction: Wozniacki in two close sets
(5) Milos Raonic vs. (10) Alexander Zverev–
With the “Big Four” coming off great first weeks, it is hard to imagine any of them under real threat on Monday. That leaves this matchup as the best on paper. Two younger players who many tout as future Grand Slam winners will face off here.
Raonic has cooled off a bit since reaching the final here last year, but the big serving Canadian seems to finding his form on the grass. Other than not quite growing into his body yet and not handling hype all that well in Paris, Zverev has no obvious weakness.
The 20 year old German defeated Raonic during his breakout event in Rome earlier this year. While Raonic’s 130-140 MPH serve always gives him a chance, Zverev has the more complete game and more recent confidence to draw on.
Prediction: Zverev in four sets
ESPN will have coverage of Monday’s Centre Court matches starting at 8 AM ET. ESPN2 will have coverage of all other courts starting an hour and a half earlier. Enjoy the best day in tennis everyone.