Day 5 preview
Week 2 tickets are up for grabs Friday as the third-round play at Wimbledon kicks off with an exciting lineup featuring eight former or current world No. 1s. Among those in action: two-time defending champion Roger Federer will look to extend his 31-match grass win streak; 2002 champion Lleyton Hewitt continues his bid to return to Grand Slam glory; and Andy Roddick will try to finish off pesky Daniele Bracciali. On the ladies' side, Lindsay Davenport and Kim Clijsters stand just a win away from what would be a very sweet fourth-round clash and young Americans Shenay Perry and Mashona Washington will look to further their best Grand Slam achievement to date.
• Top-ranked Federer looks well on his way to title number three after two rounds of play. Friday, the Swiss star faces 25th-seeded German Nicolas Kiefer, who is enjoying his best Wimbledon since 2002. Kiefer, 27, has been ranked as high as No. 4, in 2000, and at one point had defeated Federer in three straight meetings. However, Federer has won the last three encounters without dropping a set and holds a 4-3 edge in the series.
• Hewitt has been all business this week at Wimbledon after three months of injuries. The 2002 champion figures to have a favorable matchup today against gutsy "lucky loser" Justin Gimelstob. These two competitors who play contrasting styles split their two prior meetings, back in 1998, when Hewitt was just a teenager and Gimelstob was playing the best tennis of his career. Now, Hewitt has established himself among the game's elite while the 28-year-old American has been battling a series of back problems. Last week in qualifying, energetic Gimelstob fought through two rounds until the final match when he retired after one game because of recurrent back problems. Luckily for Gimelstob, Andre Agassi withdrew with his own back problems, providing the New Jersey native a spot in the main draw.
• Fourth-seeded Marat Safin finally has found an affinity for the fast grass here at Wimbledon. The temperamental Safin has yet to drop a set in two matches on the turf, posting impressive wins over seasoned grass veterans Paradorn Srichaphan and Mark Philippoussis to reach the third round. Safin's draw doesn't get any easier Friday, when he'll face yet another tough test: Spanish lefty Feliciano Lopez. The big-serving Lopez has reached the third round here four straight years, and he has beaten the powerful Russian in two of three career meetings.
• Top-seeded Davenport has enjoyed an easy road thus far dropping just five games en route to the third round. Her opponent today Dinara Safina, younger sister of Safin also is playing well and hasn't been tested in this, the best Wimbledon of her career. Davenport and her teenage Russian opponent played this past fall, with the American veteran easily winning in straight sets. Lest we forget, Davenport won this title back in 1999 and finished as runner-up the next year.
• No. 3 seed Amelie Mauresmo is on track for her third straight Wimbledon semifinal appearance here. The Frenchwoman will face improving Floridian Shenay Perry. Perry, 20, is enjoying her best Grand Slam result, which is especially satisfying to her as she has been battling a bad knee most of the year. Perry plays a grass court style serve-and-volley game that could give Mauresmo problems.
Also in action
• Dangerous Swede Joachim Johansson faces Chilean Fernando Gonzalez in a big server-big ball striker matchup. Exciting French teen Gael Monfils will try to run his win streak here to nine straight, including a junior title last year against 2004 semifinalist Mario Ancic. Former No. 1 and French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero seeks a second fourth-round appearance in a match against funky Florian Mayer. On the women's ticket, rising 16-year-old Nicole Vaidisova takes on U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and popular dark horse pick Jelena Jankovic will look to pull the upset against Anastasia Myskina.
• No. 24 seed Taylor Dent will have his hands full with big-hitting Tomas Berdych. Dent survived a five-setter in his opener with Dick Norman, then cruised against fellow Southern Californian Kevin Kim. Against Berdych, Dent will have to continue to play well because the 6-foot-4 Czech possesses a big game that beat Federer at the Olympics last year and helped him to a personal Slam-best fourth round at the U.S. Open. This year, however, generally has been a downer for the 19-year-old until this week. As for the women, Mashona Washington will look to extend her best performance in a major as she faces two-time 2004 Slam runner-up Elena Dementieva.
Miki Singh is a tennis researcher for ESPN.
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