Wimbledon, July 3
Serena Williams vs. Heather Watson
The No. 1 has lost one match this year and she has been able to squeeze it out when she is ill – hence winning Roland Garros. Now Williams is feeling much better, her first serve is huge on the grass and she knows that she must bend down during the groundstrokes.
The Britain Watson knows how to play the right shots at the All England Club, and she scored two fantastic wins, but she isn’t strong enough against Williams. The American will win is two fast sets.
No. 1 Court
John Isner vs. Marin Cilic
Can Big John actually upend Cilic, who has beaten them all four times, including the first time they met up when the Croatian outlasted the American 9-7 in the fifth set at the 2011 Aussie Open? Cilic has beaten him on hard courts and clay, but he has yet to face the 6-foot-10 Isner on grass, who has had trouble getting down real low and returning consistently. Yes, the 2014 US Open champion Cilic has been exceptional at the Slams and he is substantially better on his backhand, but Isner is ready to jump on his strokes and when he sees the second serves, he will go for it.
Both men can bomb away with their first serves. Both will nail it — oh who knows, maybe 50 aces each? — and go to four tiebreakers. Isner will grab three out of fours sets to win it. You don’t want Isner to go into the fifth set and play for a minimum 8 hours-plus, do you?
No. 2 Court
Sloane Stephens vs. Lucie Safarova
Really, Safarova is favored, having reached the 2014 Wimbledon semifinal and a few weeks ago, she reached the Roland Garros final, playing spectacularly well. However, over the past couple months, Stephens has been playing better and better. She pushed Serena hard at RG, and two year ago, she reached the Wimby quarterfinal, losing to Marion Bartoli, who eventually won the title. The American Stephens has to be very steady and when she gets a clean look she needs to rip it. The 22-year-old Stephens will upend Safarova in three dramatic sets.
Venus Williams vs. Aleksandra Krunic
The five-time Wimbledon champ was amazing over the years, but since 2011, Venus has come down a bit and at the age of 35, it is very difficult to run like the wind like she did when she was a teen and throughout the 20s.
However, she knows Wimbledon up and down and the young Serbian does not. Venus can struggle, but regardless she will win in straight sets.
No. 3 Court
CoCo Vandeweghe vs. Sam Stosur
Vandeweghe told me the other day that she thinks that some day she can become No. 1? Well, that’s gutsy considering that this is the first time she has reached the third round at a Slam. She has a huge first serve and she can be super aggressive, which is terrific, but she has to be in control against the former US Open champ Stosur, who doesn’t love the grass overall. However, Stosur can thrown in a bunch of aces and dictate with her forehand. The US Vandeweghe has more weapons, but she can grow wild. However, she will raise her game once again and win it in three sets.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. Belinda Bencic
Can the smart veteran out-thing the bright Bencic who is on fire on grass? Perhaps, but Mattek has to be extremely accurate. Mattek charged against Ana Ivanovic and became her uncomfortable, but against the Swiss Bencic, she will have to be a little more conservative. The Swiss likes to pass you, she is cagey and she can run wide. The teenage Bencic loves the grass and she should be in the top 10 by next year because she is very good and she is getting better every month. But Mattek is an excellent doubles player and now she is playing confident now on the singles once again. Mattek will win in three sets.
Denis Kudla vs. Santiago Giraldo
Kudla loves grass, so much so that he has only lost one match in the past three weeks. Yes, he played a couple of Challengers, which is not against the top-50 boys and much lower, but still, he says when he touched on the grass he began to feel comfortable. Now the young American grabbed two matches here at Wimbledon and he is super solid. Without a doubt, Kudla has a long way to go, but he has a great shot against Giraldo, who has never played fantastic on the slippery green stuff. Giraldo has more variety, but Kudla is more effective and he will win in five long sets.