Zheng won't be easy for Serena
After all the craziness of the French Open upsets (did you really have Gaston Gaudio in your bracket pool?), what can Wimbledon do for an encore?
Not much in terms of first-round potential surprises. There are a few interesting matches that could last a while. Here's a look at some of the intriguing showdowns and why:
Lleyton Hewitt (7), Australia, vs. Jurgen Melzer, Austria
Imagine what the Austrian felt when he drew Hewitt in the first round! Melzer lost to him in four sets at the French Open, and in straight sets in the quarterfinals at Hamburg ... he has to be sick of seeing this guy! Will three times be a charm? Probably not, since Hewitt has been tough on grass this year, making the semifinals at Queen's Club.
Paradorn Srichaphan (13), Thailand, vs. Ivo Karlovic, Croatia
Do you remember the 6-foot-10 Croat from last year? Yes, the same guy who sent shockwaves through the tennis world by stunning No. 1 Hewitt in the first round at Wimbledon. He gets another shot at scoring a stunner. It won't be easy as his Thai opponent made the round of 16 last year.
Jiri Novak (16), Czech Republic, vs. Xavier Malisse, Belgium
Malisse fared well at the French Open recently, and he's had some success at Wimbledon in the past (made the 2002 semifinals).
Novak was beaten in round three last year by Alexander Popp. The Czech Republic star is 4-0 lifetime vs. Malisse, including one earlier this year at Auckland, New Zealand.
Mikhail Youzhny (31), Russia, vs. Goran Ivanisevic, Croatia
Can you say Goran, Goran, gone? The 2001 champion is giving it likely his last shot at Wimbledon. Youzhny has made the round of 16 in two of his three prior appearances. Not a good draw for fans of the Croatian.
Serena Williams (1), United States vs. Jie Zheng, China
Serena deserves the No. 1 rating based on her past performances at Wimbledon. She didn't get an easy first-round match as Zheng is ranked 48th in the world and has confidence after making the round of 16 at the French (lost to Paola Suarez).
Jennifer Capriati (7), United States, vs. Claudine Schaul, Luxembourg
Capriati cannot take her opponent from Luxembourg too lightly. Schaul, in her first Wimbledon, blew away top-seed Lindsay Davenport in the finals at Strasbourg. The nerves will be present as this is 20-year-old Schaul's first Wimbledon.
Anna Smashnova-Pistolesi (16), Israel, vs. Katerina Srebotnik, Slovakia
You know Vanna White would be dishing out vowels for a while on this one. Something has to give here as Smashnova-Pistolesi is 2-8, in her last 10 singles matches in the All-England Lawn and Tennis clubs. Srebotnik isn't much better at 1-4 in her last five matches.
Jelena Dokic (23), Yugoslavia, vs. Gisela Dulko, Argentina
Dulko showed some muscle in Paris, so Dokic has to be ready for almost anything.
The winner of this match will likely face Ted Williams (head's up ... just kidding), oops, Martina Navratilova. Dulko defeated Martina in the first round at the French.
Mary Pierce (24), France, vs. Virginia Ruano-Pascual, Spain
l Pierce made the round of 16 last year at Wimbledon before losing to Justine Henin-Hardenne. Pierce also played well at the tuneup referred to as the Ordina Open. Both players made the third round at Wimbledon a year ago.
Lisa Raymond (26), United States, vs. Shinobu Asagoe, Japan
The American has made the third round or better for five straight years, but that could change this season.
Asagoe made the round of 16 at last year's Wimbledon before falling to Lindsay Davenport
Amy Frazier (31), United States vs. Maria Kirilenko, Russian
Kirilenko gave Serena Williams fits in the second round of the French, leading 4-2 in the final set before folding. This time out, she will dispatch her American opponent.
Howie Schwab is a coordinating producer at ESPN.
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