2008 Wimbledon – Nick’s Picks – Men’s Singles Round 3
Nick’s Picks will have complete coverage of Wimbledon 2008, and we are teaming with Tennis Week and The Independent Newspaper in London to provide in-depth analysis throughout the tournament! Also, be sure to listen for Nick on Radio Wimbledon each day at 4pm EST!
Tomas Berdych (CZE) vs. Fernando Verdasco (ESP)
Berdych picked up a four set victory over Victor Hanescu in the second round. The first two sets were very close, as Hanescu won the opener in a tie-breaker and then lost the second in the tie-breaker 8-6. This hasn’t been the best year for Berdych, and it is time he starts putting together some big wins. A deep run here would help him move back up the rankings.
Verdasco won his second round match in four sets over the Belgian cockroach Olivier Rochus. He comes into Wimbledon ranked a career high of #18 in the world, and is sporting a 22-15 record on the year. He just reached the finals of a grass court tournament at Nottingham, and did reach the fourth round at Wimbledon back in 2006.
Berdych is 3-1 against Verdasco, but this will be the first meeting on grass. If you look at the rankings, Verdasco is higher, but if you look at the seedings, Berdych is higher. Go figure. Both players have big groundstrokes and huge serve. Verdasco is a lefty and knows how to use that to his advantage. If Berdych comes out with the right mindset and focuses on nothing but the match, I give him the edge. If he starts spraying his shots and hitting wild unforced errors Verdasco will not look back. This is going to be tight, but I am going to go with the Berdych.
Nick’s Pick – Berdych in 4 sets
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI) vs. Mischa Zverev (GER)
Wawrinka beat young Juan Martin Del Potro in straight sets in the second round to reach the third round for only the second time in his career. He comes into Wimbledon ranked a career high of #9 in the world and reaching the fourth round here would give a clear sign that he belongs in the top 10.
Zverev is a 20-year old German who is making only his second appearance at Wimbledon. He notched a win over Alexander Peya in the first round, and then advanced to the third round when Juan Carlos Ferrero retired (although Zverev was winning 6-4, 6-4, 2-1).
This will be the first career meeting between these two talented young men. All of Germany will have their eyes on this young prospect. Zverev is quick, feisty, and doesn’t give up easily. He has a good lefty serve and uses it wisely throughout matches. In his match against Ferrero he had 12 aces and got 70% of his first serves in. He is going to need a similar performance against Wawrinka to stay in this match, because of how physical Wawrinka can be. The Swiss star has a monster backhand and his game is really starting to round into form. Look for Wawrinka to use his bruising style and very solid foundation to move Zverev around and keep him off balance. Watch out for Wawrinka as the tournament progresses, he is big and strong and won’t back off from any challenge.
Nick’s Pick – Wawrinka in 4 sets
Mikhail Youzhny (RUS) vs. Radek Stepanek (CZE)
Youzhny comes in ranked #17 in the world, and he needed five sets to beat Stefano Galvani in the second round. He has been to the fourth round four times in his career, including last year. He did play at the warm-up tournament in Halle, and lost in the second round to Nicolas Kiefer.
Stepanek, like Youzhny, needed five sets to advance to the third round. He comes in slightly injured, but the guy is a workhorse. He never stops, and can play on any surface. He did reach the quarterfinals back in 2006, which is his best result in any Grand Slam.
Stepanek and Youzhny have played four times previously, with each player winning two matches (but they haven’t met since 2004). No matter how you cut it, this is setting up to be a long match. Youzhny is excellent from the baseline, and has a great one-handed backhand down-the-line passing shot. Stepanek loves to come into the net, and will do it on just about every point. I feel this will be the difference in the match. The grass has always been a place for serve and volleyers, and Stepanek knows it. This is going to be close, but in the end I’m going with Stepanek.
Nick’s Pick – Stepanek in 4 or 5 sets
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Nicolas Kiefer (GER)
It might have taken Nadal four sets to win his second round match, but I don’t think you would see very many players beat Gulbis like that. In my eyes, that was an excellent second rounder for Nadal, because it gave him a good test and got him ready for the upcoming challenges.
Kiefer only lost four games to Martin Vassallo Arguello in the second round, playing an excellent match. He won 89% of the points on his first serve, and broke Vassallo Arguello seven times. Something tells me this match will not be as easy for him!
Nadal is 2-0 against Kiefer, with both of those wins coming this year. Kiefer is a very good baseliner, but he is also not afraid to come in. His all-court game is solid, but it is going to take more than that to beat the Spaniard. Nadal’s serve wasn’t as good in the second round as it was in the first, but he was able to make up for it by only committing 14 unforced errors in the entire match. He is going to need a better serve and a stronger forehand as the tournament advances. Nadal’s serve to the ad court gives just about everyone problems, and I am sure he will use it over and over it again during this match. Kiefer will probably hang in there for a while against Nadal, but look for Nadal to eventually wear him down.
Nick’s Pick – Nadal in 4 sets
Tommy Haas (GER) vs. Andy Murray (GBR)
This is the match to watch on Saturday! Murray has seen all types of weather in 2008, from sunny skies to rainy days. Regardless of that, he is still a contender to win a Grand Slam. He has an excellent serve, returns the serve as well as anyone, his movement is top-notch, and has the groundstrokes to back up his game (and his talk). With the British fans behind him, he is going to be tough to beat.
Haas has been at the Academy since he was 13 years old, and has developed one of the best one-handed backhands in the game. I would put it right up there with Federer. I look for Haas to use his biting and jabbing slice to keep Murray out of his comfort zone. He likes to stand a couple of feet behind the baseline, and Haas will try to bring him in inside the baseline. His problem in this match may be a lack of play. His shoulder has kept him out for a while this year, and because of that he comes into Wimbledon having played only 14 matches. The longer this one goes, the more it favors Murray.
Nick’s Pick – Going to be tight, who do you like?