Williams sisters could meet early
There are a number of intriguing potential matchups in the later rounds at Wimbledon this year. Serena and Venus Williams could meet in the round of 16 if form holds true. Andy Roddick could meet Tim Henman in the quarterfinals.
While the opening round doesn't have a compelling showdown like those two, there are a number of matches worth watching.
Roger Federer (1) vs. Paul-Henri Mathieu
Mathieu did not play Wimbledon last year due to a wrist injury. Now the Frenchman has a difficult draw, facing the favorite in this event. Federer wishes he had an easier opponent, as Mathieu has made the third round in two of his last three Grand Slams. The top seed will advance.
Rafael Nadal (4) vs. Vince Spadea
How well will Nadal play on grass? The 19 year old dominated the French, but this is a different story. His American opponent reached the round of 16 last year before falling to Sjeng Schalken. Not an easy opener (Spadea won the lone prior meeting, on hard court in Spain last year) and Nadal probably won't get to the round of 16 at Wimbledon.
Marat Safin (5) vs. Paradorn Srichaphan
The star from Thailand would love to return to his 2003 form, when he made the round of 16 at Wimbledon. Safin was stunned by Dmitri Tursunov in the first round last year. Despite tremendous talent, you never know which Safin will show up at a given match; one is capable of doing serious damage in this event, and the other disappears and loses too early. Safin won their last meeting easily, on clay last year.
Tim Henman (6) vs. Jarkko Nieminen
Isn't it funny the Nieminen, after facing and beating Andre Agassi in round one of the French Open, draws another popular star in this event? Will Henman ever win Wimbledon? Time is running out and last year he fared better at the French and U. S. Opens (semifinalist in both) than at Wimbledon (quarterfinalist).
Radek Stepanek (14) vs. Robby Ginepri
The American made the round of 16 at last year's Wimbledon, and he took Henman to three sets at Queen's Club. Stepanek is 3-0 in his first round matches at Wimbledon.
Filippo Volandri (32) vs. Wayne Arthurs
The Australian will fire up plenty of aces, making this an intriguing match. Arthurs has made the round of 16 at Wimbledon twice. Volandri has won one match in his prior two trips to the All-England club.
Mark Philippoussis vs. Karel Beck
Can the Scud stud make some more noise at one of his best venues? The Aussie has made the round of 16 or better six straight years at Wimbledon, including runner-up honors in 2003 (lost to Federer). He also lost to Henman last year. Beck, from Slovakia, is currently ranked 45th in the world.
Max Mirnyi vs. Rainer Schuettler
Schuettler seems to like Wimbledon, reaching the third round or better three straight years. Mirnyi suffered a straight set loss to Jan-Michael Gambill at Wimbledon last year (Gambill competed in the qualifier this year). This should be an exciting, competitive battle between two solid players who are not ranked in this field.
Serena Williams (4) vs. Angela Haynes
For fans of American women's tennis, this is a matchup between the present against the future. How healthy is Serena? Is she concerned about meeting sister Venus in the round of 16? First both of them have to get there!
Justine Henin-Hardenne (7) vs. Eleni Daniilidou
Henin-Hardenne is very dangerous here and her No. 7 seed is a bit low considering how well she is playing. Remember, while she sat out last year's Wimbledon, she made the semifinals in 2002 and 2003, and the finals in 2001.
Nadia Petrova (8) vs. Virginia Ruano Pascual
Petrova doesn't get enough credit; she's a solid, steady player. Ruano Pascual is Suarez's doubles partner so both would love to pull off first round shockers. History doesn't tell much, but in their lone meeting in Toronto in 2003, Petrova won 7-6 in the third set.
Elena Likhovtseva (13) vs. Anna Smashnova
Their head-to-head results dictate a good match (tied 3-3, including 1-1 this year). Smashnova's problem is getting past the first round (she has lost her Wimbledon opener four straight years).
Ana Ivanovic (19) vs. Vera Douchevina
Douchevina had a solid week at Eastbourne in the Wimbledon tuneup. Can she carry that over to an upset here? The 17-year-old Ivanovic has never played in the singles draw at Wimbledon before. She did make the quarterfinals at this year's French Open.
Shinobu Asagoe (24) vs. Magdalena Maleeva
You may remember Asagoe made the quarterfinals at last year's U. S. Open. This is a battle of veterans as Maleeva is 30, and Asagoe turns 29 later this month.
Karolina Sprem (25) vs. Tamarine Tanasugarn
Sprem is back at Wimbledon, where she won that controversial match against Venus Williams last year when the score was messed up. Tanasugarn upset Alicia Molik en route to a trip to the round of 16 last year.
Amy Frazier (28) vs. Mashona Washington
Pride in the state of Michigan is on the line; Frazier lives in Rochester Hills; Washington was born in Flint. At 32, Frazier is still seeded, showing her dedication pays dividends.
Howie Schwab is a coordinating producer at ESPN.
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