2016 Wimbledon Men’s Week 2 Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
It’s been a thrilling and topsy turvy week at Wimbledon, the top seed Novak Djokovic was defeated by American underdog Sam Querrey, and with the loss his hopes of a grand slam this year have once again vanished. Rain also forced play on the middle Sunday for the first time since 2004, as almost every player had to deal with some length of rain delays with their matches. Now we’re down to 16 players in the men’s draw, and with Djokovic out, a host of players have an even better chance at Grand Slam glory. Here is a preview and predictions for the week ahead at Wimbledon.
Men’s round of 16 matches
(28)Sam Querrey vs. Nicolas Mahut
The unlikely American to be alive at this stage, and a giant killer, Sam Querrey has shown great form to stun world #1 Novak Djokovic, snapping the Serbian’s streak of reaching at least the Grand Slam quarterfinals of every slam this decade. Djokovic played an abysmally poor match, going two sets to love down on Friday, and then on Saturday losing a 4th set tiebreak where his play was nervy and unfocused. Rain couldn’t save Djokovic, as Querrey served well, cranked the ball, and proved he was cool under pressure. Querrey also beat Lukas Rosol 12-10 in the 5th set in round 1, and Thomaz Bellucci in round 2. All of this winning has resulted in his best and most memorable slam.
Now Querrey has a chance to do even better, and he only has to defeat the unseeded serve and volleying veteran Nicolas Mahut to do it. Mahut upset David Ferrer after a win over Brydan Klein, and then beat his doubles partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert to reach the fourth round. Ferrer is rapidly fading from the tour, and Herbert upset Philipp Kohlschreiber in round 1. Mahut is still a great grass court player and he beat Querrey in Den Bosch. Both players have a tremendous opportunity for a career result in this match, and if Querrey plays as well as he did against Djokovic, he will win, however I expect a bit of a hangover, and Mahut to prevail.
(11)David Goffin vs. (6)Milos Raonic
The player most likely to benefit from Djokovic’s exit is Milos Raonic, who is set to make the semifinals if he continues his good form. Raonic has been dominant through three matches, particularly on his serve. The Canadian #1 defeated Pablo Carreno Busta, Andreas Seppi, and Jack Sock over the past week while rarely facing even a break point, much less dropping a set. Goffin lost to Raonic this year in Indian Wells and also enters this match in good form. He dominated Alex Ward and Edouard Roger-Vasselin before getting past Denis Istomin. Goffin is a good player, but Raonic has had a tougher path and he’s been playing better, giving the Canadian a clear advantage.
(3)Roger Federer vs. Steve Johnson
Federer has to have dreams of another Grand Slam title dancing in his head after Djokovic’s exit. He entered the tournament in poor form, and unlikely to survive his section, with Djokovic looming. Now he need only worry about Milos Raonic in the semifinals. The Swiss champion was able to play his matches indoors on center court at Wimbledon, and he got past Guido Pella, home hero Marcus Willis, and Dan Evans without dropping a set. Pella tested him a bit, and Willis, a journeyman ranked below 700 in the world, made the second round with a huge win over top 100 player Ricardas Berankis. He played Federer in RF clothes, and gave it his all, but he simply didn’t have the skill or experience to match Federer.
Steve Johnson is into the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time in his career. the American posted a career best result after wins over Malek Jaziri, Jeremy Chardy, and Grigor Dimitrov. Dimitrov showed improved play in his win over Gilles Simon, but then returned to earth against Johnson, who is on a long winning streak on grass, and perhaps playing the best tennis of his career. Johnson would love to win here, but Federer should be too strong on grass, it would be an accomplishment for Johnson to capture a set.
(9)Marin Cilic vs. (5)Kei Nishikori
A rematch of the 2014 US Open final, Cilic is playing great on grass and showing signs of the same form that helped him win that Grand Slam title. He has defeated Brian Baker, Sergiy Stakhovsky, and Lukas Lacko thus far. Nishikori hasn’t dominated any of his opponents, but he’s had a comfortable tournament thus far. Kei defeated Sam Groth in round 1, Julien Benneteau in round 2, and Andrey Kuznetsov in round 3 to setting another second week showing in a slam for him. This should be an extremely close match, and Cilic is perhaps better on grass. I’m going to pick the consistent Nishikori in my own bracket though.
Jiri Vesely vs. (10)Tomas Berdych
The young Vesely posted his best showing since an upset of Novak Djokovic earlier this year as he reached the fourth round with wins over Igor Sijsling, Dominic Thiem, and Joao Sousa. The win over Thiem was a confident showing over his fellow young gun who has matured at a far faster rate than the Czech has, although he was once the highest ranked ATP teenager.
Vesely’s countryman Berdych is a strong favorite in this match, both due to his experience, and his solid form in wins over Ivan Dodig, Benjamin Becker, and another young gun, Alexander Zverev. Berdych is hitting the ball well enough to still be a threat in this draw, and he should prevail in this match.
(19)Bernard Tomic vs. (32)Lucas Pouille
In a week of upsets, the erratic Bernard Tomic somehow managed to avoid being upset, as he lived up to his seeding and defeated Fernando Verdasco, Radu Albot, and Roberto Bautista Agut to reach the second week. He was pushed by Verdasco, and by contrast RBA was poor in his third round match. Tomic has a shot at another Wimbledon quarterfinal years after his first as a young gun. The Aussie hasn’t gotten much attention this Wimbledon, but it’s likely helped him to perform well.
Lucas Pouille posted a breakthrough win over Juan Martin Del Potro, after wins over Marius Copil and Donald Young. the Frenchman wasn’t known his play on grass but he’s matured on the surface as a young gun and has a great result on his resume now. Del Potro did the great job of dispatching Stan Wawrinka in round 2, as Wawrinka was one of the big casualties early in the week. Pouille could win, but Tomic should be superior on grass.
(7)Richard Gasquet vs. (12)Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
An evenly matched battle between French veterans, Gasquet is playing some great tennis and posted another consistent opening week slam performance after reaching the quarterfinals of the French Open. Richard defeated Aljaz Bedene, Marcel Granollers, and Albert Ramos to reach the second week. Tsonga defeated Inigo Cervantes, Juan Monaco, and John Isner. He served well against Isner but was forced into a long and grueling fifth setter that ended 19-17 in the final set. This is another match that could go either way, but I favor a fresher Gasquet to get the job done.
(15)Nick Kyrgios vs. (2)Andy Murray
Murray is the new tournament favorite, and has the entire UK behind him. The British #1 has looked confident in quality wins over Liam Broady, Rendy Lu, and John Millman. He’s been serving and returning well, and now faces his first big test against the young Australian Kyrgios. Kyrgios has never defeated Murray (0-4), however he survived a tough draw and earned wins over Radek Stepanek, Dustin Brown, and Feliciano Lopez to reach the second week. All of those players are serve and volleyers however, and Murray’s return game should be able to fend off Kyrgios’ powerful serve. Murray is my pick to advance.
Raonic d. Mahut
Federer d. Nishikori
Berdych d. Tomic
Murray d. Gasquet
Raonic, Federer, Berdych and Murray are the stronger players in their quarterfinals. Nishikori could upset Federer, but otherwise this looks like your final four.
Raonic d. Federer
Murray d. Berdych
I’m going to pick Raonic, if he plays as well as he has so far, to upset Federer, and Murray to continue his march against Berdych. Federer would love another slam, but Raonic is a really tough opponent right now.
Murray d. Raonic
At Wimbledon, with Murray’s returning abilities, he has to be the favorite to take home a third slam, and second Wimbledon title.