Thursday, December 25
Potential showdowns brewing

Special to ESPN.com

When play begins at Wimbledon on Monday, most of the top seeds should have little trouble advancing. On the men's side, the excitement picks up in round two, with a potential thriller between Andy Roddick and Greg Rusedski in a rematch of last year's straight sets third-round victory for Rusedski.

Picking the best first-round matches at this year's Wimbledon is not easy. There isn't as much name value, but there's potential for good competition.

MEN
Paradorn Srichaphan (12), Thailand, vs. Dominik Hrbaty, Slovakia
What a showdown! Srichaphan has had a rough stretch and finally won a first-round match in a Wimbledon warm-up! There is no way he should be seeded this high based on his recent results. He faces an opponent with a lifetime record of 1-6 at Wimbledon. This makes for a battle.

Sebastian Grosjean (13), France, vs. Thomas Enqvist, Switzerland
Enqvist made the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2001. Can he turn back the clock? Grosjean made the finals at Queen's Club last week.

Arnaud Clement (15), France, vs. Robby Ginepri, United States
Ginepri, 20, made the quarterfinals of Indian Wells and Miami (losing to Hewitt and Carlos Moya, respectively). This could be a tougher test since Clement has made the Wimbledon round of 16 each of the past two years.

Gaston Gaudio (29), Argentina, vs. Mardy Fish, United States
The American has a shot at an upset; this is not Gaudio's surface. The Argentinian is 1-4 lifetime at Wimbledon.

Vince Spadea (31), United States vs. Max Mirnyi, Belarus
Neither player has had great success at Wimbledon, making this an even matchup.

Taylor Dent, United States, vs. Ivan Ljubicic
Dent wants to outserve the Croatian foe. Last year Dent lost in the third round at Wimbledon in four tiebreaker sets against Australian Wayne Arthurs. Look for the radar gun to get a workout during this match.

WOMEN
Chanda Rubin (7), United States, vs. Iva Majoli, Croatia
Rubin made the round of 16 last year before losing to Serena Williams. Majoli has had mixed results at Wimbledon, making the quarterfinals in 1997.

Magdalena Maleeva (12), Bulgaria, vs. Anca Barna, Germany
The German could make this a test. Maleeva played well in a warm-up.

Vera Zvonareva (16), Russia, vs. Evie Dominikovic, Australia
Dominikovic has improved and has wins in her first round matches at the Australian and French. Can she make it three for three this year?

Patty Schnyder (20), Switzerland, vs. Petra Mandula, Hungary
The Hungarian made the round of 16 at the French Open. She has momentum to make this interesting.

Magui Serna (24), Spain vs. Virginia Ruano Pascual, Spain
Ruano Pascual is more known for her doubles, but she will be very competitive in this singles match.

Denisa Chladkova (30), Czech Republic, vs. Klara Kloukalova, Czech Republic
Chladakova is 1-5 in her past six Wimbledon matches. These Czech mates could go to the wire.

Ashley Harkleroad, United States vs. Maria Sharapova, Russia
Clip and save ... this matchup will be a prelude of a future quarterfinal or greater. These are two stars in the horizon.

Howie Schwab is a coordinating producer for ESPN.