Wimbledon Day 7 Preview: Six Must-See Matches On Manic Monday
Today is the best day of the year on the tennis calendar.
It’s Manic Monday at The Championships. Tradition dictates the middle Sunday is a day of rest at Wimbledon, which means all 16 fourth round singles matches are presented on the same day, the only Major where this happens. On Centre Court alone, 60 Major singles titles will be represented by Serena, Roger, and Rafa. With so many big matchups throughout the day, here’s your guide to which matches deserve your focus from morning until evening.
Karolina Pliskova vs. Kiki Bertens
This will open play at 11:30am local time on No.2 Court. No one could have predicted Karolina Pliskova would be the only top 10 seed in the ladies’ singles draw to advance to the second week of Wimbledon. Prior to last week, Pliskova had a losing record at The All England Club, and had never been farther than the second round. Karolina has openly spoke about her discomfort on the grass of SW19. Her opponent on Monday can relate. Kiki Bertens told the press last week, “Grass isn’t my friend.” Bertens has been one of the best clay court players in the world over the past few years, but she’s just as surprised as anyone to find herself in the round of 16 at Wimbledon. Both women survived intense third round matches to get here. Pliskova was down a set and 4-1 to Michaela Buzarnescu, before the Romanian had an emotional meltdown on court and allowed Karolina back into the match. Bertens upset the five-time champion, Venus Williams, 8-6 in the third. Pliskova leads their head-to-head 2-1, though their first two meetings happened over five years. They did just meet on clay in Stuttgart earlier this year, with Pliskova dropping just four games in victory. Kiki may be a bit emotionally drained following her dramatic upset of Venus on Friday, whereas Karolina may play more freely on Monday knowing she was lucky to escape her last match. And while Pliskova has no previous success at Wimbledon, she does have two grass court titles to her name. I like Pliskova’s chances to reach her sixth quarterfinal out of the last eight Grand Slam events.
Dominika Cibulkova vs. Su-Wei Hsieh
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Concurrently over on Court 18, two of my favorite players to watch on tour will square off. Both are coming off impressive upset victories in week one: Cibulkova took out British Number One Johanna Konta, while Hsieh saved a match point and eliminated World Number One Simona Halep in the best match of the first week. Much like Bertens, I am concerned how much Hsieh will have left emotionally and physically, especially playing less than 48 hours after the biggest singles win of her career. Su-Wei has also never been farther than this stage of a singles draw at a Major, while Cibulkova has reached the quarterfinals or better at a Major seven times, including twice at Wimbledon. Dominika has appeared like a woman on a mission during this fortnight. She came into this tournament with almost as many losses as wins on the year, but is yet to drop a set through three rounds. As some have suggested, perhaps she found motivation is being bumped from her seeding due to the awarding of a seed to Serena Williams. Cibulkova won both previous meetings against Hsieh. While all signs point to a Diminika victory, we’ve seen how unpredictable the ladies’ draw has been. We’ve also seen how effective Hsieh’s slicing and dicing can be in frustrating opponents. Regardless of the result, the contrast in styles should provide plenty of entertainment here.
Angelique Kerber vs. Belinda Bencic
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This will be the opening match on No.1 Court at 1:00pm local time. Kerber has recaptured much of the swagger that brought her two Major championships in 2016, and is a legitimate contender for this title. She played outstandingly against Naomi Osaka on Saturday, serving well and making very few errors. However, this may be her stiffest test yet at this year’s Wimbledon. Just two years ago, Bencic was ranked sixth in the world at the age of 18. But then multiple injuries derailed her career, and she was forced to rebuild her ranking on the IFT circuit. In the last three months of the 2017 season, Bencic won 28 matches and four titles on the ITF level. She started 2018 with an upset win over Venus Williams in Melbourne, though shortly after she was hit with another setback, as she again missed a few more months of action due to injury. Much like the Australian Open, she upset a top seed in her opening round here, ousting Caroline Garcia. This time though she was able to follow-up on that result, and is into her first round of 16 at a Major since the 2016 Australian Open. Surprisingly, Belinda is 3-0 lifetime against Angelique, with all victories coming on hard courts, and prior to Belinda’s injury issues. Is she ready to defeat a red-hot Kerber? I’m not convinced she’s far enough into her comeback to do so. In an open section of the draw, both players will know a huge opportunity lies in front of the winner.
Kevin Anderson vs. Gael Monfils
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Next up on No.1 Court, we have a battle of power against speed. For Gael Monfils, this is actually his first time in the second week of The Championships in ten appearances. He’s coming off an upset off Sam Querrey, a man who’s found a lot of success on the lawns of The All England Club in recent years. Querrey also plays a very similar style to Kevin Anderson. Monfils was able to absorb Sam’s power and dictate the rallies. He’s also done the same thing to Anderson every time they’ve met. Gael holds a 5-0 record over Kevin, winning 10 of the 11 sets they’ve played. That being said, they haven’t met in nearly two years, and Anderson has been a different player over the past year. Kevin’s also had more success at Wimbledon, as this is the fourth year out of the last five in which he’s made the fourth round. The problem is he’s yet to advance any farther. In fact, Anderson is only 2-10 in the fourth round of Majors. Kevin has faced a similar road block at Masters 1,000 events, where he was 0-10 in quarterfinals until her finally won at that stage in Madrid this year. Anderson has admirably been open regarding his mental struggles. As much as he’s worked to battle through them, they still persist. We just saw him choke away a two set lead to Diego Schwartzman in the fourth round of Roland Garros last month. At the same time, I don’t trust Monfils to rise to the occasion in two consecutive big-time matches. I have no idea how this match will play out, but I’m sure it will be compelling.
John Isner vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas
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This will be the third match of Day 7 on No.3 Court. Just like Monfils, this is Isner’s first Wimbledon round of 16 appearance in 10 tries. The 6’10” big man has never liked the low-bouncing balls the grass courts supply, so he’s happy to find the balls are bouncing a bit higher this year. Meanwhile the 19-year-old from Greece has reached the fourth round in just his second Wimbledon. His athleticism and tenacity were on full display during the first week of The Championships, most notably surviving a five-set thriller against Jared Donaldson. Isner also escaped a tight five-setter in his second round, saving match points against Ruben Bemelmans. Their only meeting was in Shanghai last fall, and to no one’s surprise, it was decided in two tiebreaks, which Isner won. If John is ever going to make a run at Wimbledon, this is likely his best chance. His big serve and experience edge should get him through, though I don’t discount the fighting Greek’s chances either, in a match that will likely be decided by a few pivotal points.
Rafael Nadal vs. Jiri Vesely
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The final match on the day’s Centre Court schedule will be Nadal’s opportunity to get passed the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time in seven years. His opposition is eerily similar to the man who defeated him on this day last year, Gilles Muller: a big-serving lefty. The 6’6” Vesely has already eliminated two top 20 seeds from this tournament, though Fabio Fognini and Diego Schwartzman are not their best on grass. This is Jiri’s second appearance in the Wimbledon round of 16, the only Major where he has achieved that feat. Jiri was ranked inside the top 40 a few years ago, but came into Wimbledon barely ranked inside the top 100, and with a losing record of the year. While Vesely fits the prototype of the players Nadal has lost to at Wimbledon in recent years, this year the conditions are more in Rafa’s favor. Nadal won their only previous meeting, though that was on clay. An upset here is not unfathomable, but with Rafa eager to make a run at The Championships, I suspect he’ll advance.
Order of play
Play starts at 11.30am unless otherwise stated
Centre Court (play starts at 1pm)
1-Roger Federer (Switzerland) v 22-Adrian Mannarino (France)
25-Serena Williams (U.S.) v Evgeniya Rodina (Russia)
Jiri Vesely (Czech Republic) v 2-Rafa Nadal (Spain)
11-Angelique Kerber (Germany) v Belinda Bencic (Switzerland)
Gael Monfils (France) v 8-Kevin Anderson (South Africa)
Karen Khachanov (Russia) v 12-Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
7-Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) v 20-Kiki Bertens (Netherlands)
24-Kei Nishikori (Japan) v Ernests Gulbis (Latvia)
5-Juan Martin del Potro (Argentina) v Gilles Simon (France)
12-Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia) v Aliaksandra Sasnovich (Belarus)
13-Julia Goerges (Germany) v Donna Vekic (Croatia)
9-John Isner (U.S.) v 31-Stefanos Tsitsipas (Greece)
Camila Giorgi (Italy) v Ekaterina Makarova (Russia)
Mackenzie McDonald (U.S.) v 13-Milos Raonic (Canada)
Su-Wei Hsieh (Taipei) v Dominika Cibulkova (Slovakia)
Alison van Uytvanck (Belgium) v Daria Kasatkina (Russia