Wimbledon Day 7 preview
The second Monday at Wimbledon is dubbed one of the "greatest days in tennis" for good reason as all 16 men's and women's fourth-round matches are contested. The jam-packed lineup features current world No. 1's Roger Federer and Lindsay Davenport battling former top-ranked players Juan Carlos Ferrero and Kim Clijsters on Centre Court. Defending champion Maria Sharapova is also back in action along with former Wimbledon winners Lleyton Hewitt and Venus Williams and two players thirsty for their first title on the famous lawns, Andy Roddick and Amelie Mauresmo.
• 2002 Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt played just well enough to get through three relatively easy first-week opponents. Monday, the former No. 1 will have to step up his game against 24th-seeded Taylor Dent. Following a first-round five-set gut check against Dick Norman, Dent's formidable serve-and-volley game has been on a roll as the American has won his last seven sets. The 24-year-old Dent will also have the confidence in knowing that he's playing better now than when he did in January at Adelaide, where he defeated Hewitt in front of the Australian's hometown fans. Hewitt, however, has won three of four career meetings including a five-set win in the second round here in 2001. A victory for Dent would put him into his first Grand Slam quarterfinal, equaling the result of his father, Phil, in 1977.
• Following a second-round scare against "lucky loser" Daniele Bracciali, second-seeded Andy Roddick revved up his powerful game to record a straight-set blowout win over Igor Andreev on Saturday. Roddick figures to have just an easy time of it against No. 15 seed Guillermo Coria, who by reaching his first Wimbledon fourth round has now advanced to the final 16 at all four Slams. Unfortunately for Coria, though, further progress appears limited as Roddick has won all four prior meetings between the two and, of course, grass is the least favorite surface for the Argentine. Further, Roddick has never lost a fourth-round match at a Grand Slam in his career.
• Top-seeded Roger Federer wasn't too pleased in having to overcome a fourth-set break to Nicolas Kiefer in the third round on Saturday. Federer will try to get his game back on track and raise his current grass win streak to 33 against former world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain. Ferrero has given Federer problems in the past, most recently holding two match points before an eventual loss to the Swiss in a second-round meeting at Dubai in February. Interestingly enough in this series, which Federer leads 5-3 having won three straight, the winner of their last four meetings has gone on to win the title of the event. Ferrero and his countryman Feliciano Lopez are trying to become the first Spaniards to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals since Manuel Orantes in 1972.
• In the best match of the day, top-ranked Lindsay Davenport faces nemesis and No. 15 seed Kim Clijsters. This Centre Court showdown is a rematch of their fourth-round meeting at the French Open, where Davenport overcame a 6-1, 3-1 deficit to win in three sets and snap a six-match losing skid to the Belgian. Davenport enters this match playing much better than in Paris, surrendering a tournament-low eight games in three matches. Clijsters is playing well, too, steamrolling through the first three rounds to set up this collision, with the winner earning the inside track to the final. Clijsters still leads the series 9-7 having won eight of their last 10.
• No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova's path toward a successful title defense continues to improve. With first-week upsets of Justine Henin-Hardenne and Serena Williams, Sharapova has few legitimate obstacles in her road toward a second straight final here. The Russian puts an impressive 20-match grass win streak on the line against No. 16 seed and Australian Open semifinalist Nathalie Dechy. Then ranked No. 125, Sharapova beat Dechy in straight sets in their only prior meeting on the grass at Birmingham two years ago. Sharapova is one of a record six Russian women to reach the "Sweet 16" this week.
• The much-anticipated all-sister showdown between Venus and Serena Williams was put on ice when American journeywoman Jill Craybas shockingly ousted Serena on Saturday night. With the win, Craybas became the lowest-ranked player to ever defeat Serena, and now she gets elder sister Venus as the former Florida Gator tries to become just the sixth woman ever to defeat both Williams sisters in the same event. Venus, who has never played Craybas before, is bidding for her 400th career match win and her seventh Wimbledon quarterfinal appearance.
Also in action
In a battle of two of the sweetest ball strikers on the circuit, French 19-year-old Richard Gasquet, the youngest player left on the men's side, takes an eight-match win streak against 2002 Wimbledon runner-up David Nalbandian. Also, Russian Dmitry Tursunov will try to continue his Cinderella run against two-time Wimbledon semifinalist Sebastien Grosjean. Mario Ancic, the last player to beat Roger Federer on this surface, meets big-serving lefty Feliciano Lopez. On the ladies' side, third-seeded Amelie Mauresmo will face 2005 French Open semifinalist Elena Likhovtseva and Mary Pierce will look to continue her improved Grand Slam play against Italian Flavia Pennetta, who has yet to drop a set in this, her best Slam ever. Also, U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova celebrates her 20th birthday against Magdalena Maleeva.
Miki Singh is a tennis researcher for ESPN.
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