A look at three matches on Wednesday’s slate at Wimbledon with the little twist on the Three Little Pigs houses of course.
Straw House: Denis Kudla (WC)
It’s a battle of young guns looking to make their stamp on Wimbledon with American Denis Kudla meeting German Alexander Zverev. Both head into what is expected to be Wimbledon’s hottest day so far (estimated 94 degrees farenheit) coming off of five set matches. Kudla rallied from an 0-2 hole against Pablo Cuevas to sweep three straight sets for a 6-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win. For Kudla it was his 10th win in 11 matches on grass this season with most of those coming at the Challenger level. This will mark the third straight year that Kudla Khan (patent pending) has made the 2nd round at the All-England Club.
For Zverev, his first Wimbledon is already a memorable one after gutting out a 9-7 5th set over Temuraz Gabashvili to end a three hour, 46 minute match. Zverev is now 5-3 on grass this season with all those wins coming at the ATP level. Double faults have been a little problem point for him lately with eleven in that last match, something he needs to improve on if he hopes to go another round.
Kudla has the experience edge in this one, but this may come down to fitness after the five setters. Kudla was on-court around 50 minutes less than Zverev. Sascha Zverev though has some big confidence right now after beating World #1 Novak Djokovic at the Boodles Exhibition in straight sets prior to Wimbledon. This one is tough to call, but I think the talent is there for Zverev to edge a tight one if his body is willing.
Sticks House: Grigor Dimitrov
The 11th seed had little issue in his opener as Dimitrov rolled in straight sets over a fatigue Federico Delbonis 6-3, 6-0, 6-4. That match won’t tell much about Dimitrov this tournament as Delbonis was playing back-to-back days after winning a Clay Challenger title on Sunday. He will face American Steve Johnson who crushed 33 aces in a five set win over Lukas Lacko. The win was his first at Wimbledon.
Dimitrov headed into Wimbledon with one win and one loss at Queen’s Club. Both matches came againt similar styles that he’ll see with Johnson as he rallied to beat heavy hitting Sam Querrey in three and then lost in straights to Gilles Muller. The key on Wednesday will be Johnson’s serve. He was only broken once against Lacko, but did double fault ten times to go with the 33 aces. That serve though can keep him deep into sets against Dimitrov which will put the pressure on the seeded player.
Dimitrov has the better over-all game, but the power serve of Johnson is one of those that is conducive to providing an upset if it’s hitting on all cylinders and Johnson can paint the lines with his forehand.
Brick House: Richard Gasquet
It’s an all-French affair in R2 with Gasquet meeting Kenny De Schepper. Gasquet is unseeded this year at Wimbledon and looks to be a dangerous floater in his quarter. He had no problems with qualifier Luke Savile whom he beat 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. De Schepper meanwhile needed a full rally from down two sets against John Patrick Smith for a 4-6, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 win. De Schepper was on court just shy of three hours in a match that was big on serves and not necessarily on rallies. He shouldn’t be too gassed from that match. The two have met just once and that came on clay earlier this year with Gasquet winning in routine straight sets. On grass, De Schepper’s serve makes him much more dangerous. He did make the 4th round here in 2013, so this is not a stage that is too bright for him.
Gasquet figures to be in for a dog fight if all things are equal. Milos Raonic’s serve overpowered him at Queen’s Club for 28 aces in grass preps and last year at Wimbledon, he had a tough time cracking Nick Kyrgios as he lost in five sets, 10-8 in the decider. That came despite seeing 16 break points as he only converted two. That figures to be key on Wednesday. If De Schepper’s serve leaves some openings. Gasquet must pounce on them with regularity. The longer he leaves De Schepper in this match, the more likely that his countryman will start feeling a sense of belief. Gasquet will probably feel fortunate that this match starts earlier in the day when the temperature might not be quite as hot as it will be later in the day. He has at-times during his career, been prone to fatigue in the heat.
As long as Gasquet can get his racquet on some returns to get rallies started, he should come through in this spot. De Schepper’s ground strokes will likely not hold up to extended rallies where Gasquet can use that beautiful backhand to set up winning points. I can see this one going at least four sets though and being tight throughout, but Gasquet should get by in the end.