By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday, July 1, 2022
A wonderful opening week at Wimbledon set the stage for a tantalizing weekend of marquee matches.
Saturday’s third-round match slate is to die for, and the stakes get even higher on Sunday, when the Round of 16 kicks off with a next generation of blockbusters no one will want to miss.
Here’s a look at four popcorn battles coming to SW19 this weekend:
Amanda Anisimova vs. Coco Gauff, third round, Saturday
Face-to-face: Gauff leads 2-1
Cocomania is back! But did it really go anywhere? Coco Gauff, the youngest player remaining in the singles draws at Wimbledon will face Amanda Anisimova in a rematch of the 2017 US Open women’s singles final.
Anisimova, then 16, beat Gauff 6-0, 6-2 in that game but needed 10 league points in the final game. It’s this challenge that has characterized pugilist Gauff as she climbed from the top of the junior rankings to her perch at world No. 12 over the past three seasons.
These days it’s Gauff who is considered to have the highest ceiling, and she lived up to the hype earlier this month when she reached her first major final at Roland Garros. But don’t sleep on the talented Anisimova, a former world No. 21 who boasts a blistering game.
Gauff is the most complete and in-form player, but Anisimova has gone 27-10 this season with six top-20 wins. This one should be a cracker.
I don’t know how much Gauff’s win over Anisimova on Palermo clay last season should come into play – a different surface, for one thing, and Anisimova is in a much better position as a player this year. compared to the last. That said, it counts for something.
Petra Kvitova vs. Paula Badosa, third round, Saturday
Face-to-face: Kvitova leads 1-0
Everyone expects the world from the two-time champion when she steps onto the grass at Wimbledon, but Petra Kvitova hasn’t really been a juggernaut since 2014, the last year she won the title at SW19.
She entered the season with a 7-6 record at Wimbledon from 2015 to 2021. What’s up with that? Add two wins to that tally as the Czech showed strong and determined tennis over two rounds as she prepares for a massive clash with world No. 4 Paula Badosa in the third round on Saturday.
Badosa isn’t known for her prowess on grass, but she’s only lost 8 games in two rounds – could this be the year she finds out?
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Nick Kyrgios, third round, Saturday
Face-to-face: Kyrgios leads 3-1
We had this one circled the minute the draw came out. A third-round clash between Tsitsipas and Kyrgios, for the right to enter week two with mega momentum. Tsitsipas has been keen to improve his lawn tennis in 2022, and he has cemented his game well, going 8-2 on the surface and advancing to the third round at Wimbledon for the first time since 2018.
Kyrgios, meanwhile, has attracted even more attention with his game – and his attitude.
Did Nick Kyrgios really say that after his second round win over Filip Krajinovic on Day 4?
“I’ve been working hard and you know, like I said, preparing for this tournament. It’s been circled on my schedule for most of the year and I’m so excited to be here again. C t really is a tournament where I think this is my best chance of winning a Grand Slam, out of the four,” the Australian told the crowd.
We know Kyrgios has a date with his girlfriend/muse on his calendar, but a tennis tournament? Pretty cool. The Aussie’s enthusiasm could work in his favor against the No.4 seed, as could the head-to-head.
Kyrgios dominated Tsitsipas a few weeks ago in three sets in Halle, and he is effectively 3-0 against the Greek. However, don’t let this head-to-head fool you: Tsitsipas’ only win over Kyrgios came at last year’s Laver Cup in Boston.
The Greek knows he’s going to have a big test against Kyrgios, and here’s how he described the task:
“Well, there are players who are really driven and driven and love playing with better players,” Tsitsipas said of the world No.40. “Especially top 10 guys, I mean his success rate against top 10 guys is higher than any other player on the tour. “That’s where he finds his motivation. This is where he finds all his inner powers to just come out, play against them. He has a very good success rate at Wimbledon. He is someone who uses his service very well, when he is on a good day.
We expect him to be close, and the difference will depend on how Kyrgios handles the ups and downs. He needs to keep his emotions in check if he really intends to make a difference every other week.
Carlos Alcaraz vs. Jannik Sinner, Round of 16, Sunday
Face-to-face: Alcaraz lead 1-0
How cool is that? Two top-10 seeds, both aged 20 or younger, and both playing as future Wimbledon champions in week one…
Alcaraz and Sinner will meet for the second time, and the first time in a major, and it certainly won’t be the last.
Both players are relatively inexperienced on grass, but each navigated the first week with aplomb, proving they can have what it takes to be a force for years to come at Wimbledon.
Alcaraz said on the court that he was improving so quickly on grass that he could be a completely different player against Sinner than he was in his third-round win over Oscar Otte. If he’s better, watch out. He hit 37 winners against 8 unforced errors in the third round, in an absolutely smoldering performance.
Here’s how Alcaraz sums up their current relationship with weed.
“Every game is a war, let’s say,” he said. “Any game you can play amazing, you can play your worst game. Obviously Monday was my first game on grass. It was really tough. Struff is playing amazing. I mean, in four, five days training, matches, you learn to play more on grass, to move more on grass.
Sinner strolled by John Isner in impressive fashion on Friday, and looks like he’s up for the challenge.
Regardless of who advances, it will be great to see two of the rising forces in men’s tennis face off for the first time on the lush lawns of SW19.