Sweet 16 predictions
WIMBLEDON, England -- For the tennis fan, the second Monday at Wimbledon has to be the day of the year. All 32 players remaining in the singles draw see action, making for a veritable smorgasbord.
Here are the Sweet 16 matchups, due to be played in glorious sunshine -- again.
These two have known each other since juniors. Bizarrely, they've never squared off in the pros.
Federer needed an easy win Friday and got it against Arnaud Clement. Melzer said the pressure's off after reaching the second week and thus backing up his French Open showing.
When on, Melzer's game can be lethal -- taking the ball early, hitting flat and moving forward. Furthermore, he's a lefty.
Prediction: Federer in five.
Rafa had us all fooled. We thought his knees were fine.
Even if he's not 100 percent, however, Nadal should have more than enough against the Frenchman. He's a perfect 9-0 against Mathieu, and Mathieu doesn't have what Rafa fears most -- a huge serve.
The problems start thereafter.
Credit the world No. 66 for getting this far. Coming off a lengthy groin injury, once-promising Mathieu lost six straight at one point this season.
Prediction: Nadal in three.
Picking this one on Monday would have been easy, since Djokovic toiled for five sets against pint-size talent Olivier Rochus.
Hewitt, still plugging away after two hip surgeries, won the Gerry Weber Open on June 13, snapping a 15-match losing streak against Federer.
But Djokovic seems to have sorted out his serve, not facing a break point against Albert Montanes. Although Montanes is no Hewitt on grass, the boost in confidence could be telling.
Maybe Hewitt's win over Federer was the apex.
Prediction: Djokovic in four.
Who would have thought Murray would be in the best shape of any of the top four seeds after the first week?
Well, maybe a few, given his draw. Still, the Scot hasn't dropped a set, conserving his energy for the bigger guns.
Querrey won Queen's, and he has bounced back at the Slams this week after losing in the first round at the Australian Open and French Open.
Prediction: Murray in five.
Lu became the first Taiwanese man to reach the fourth round of a major when he advanced against unorthodox German Florian Mayer.
He topped Murray at the 2008 Olympics and sent David Nalbandian packing at last year's Australian Open.
Lu should enjoy his week because he has no chance against Roddick. In three matches against Roddick, the 26-year-old hasn't won a set.
Prediction: Roddick in three.
The bulldog that is Ferrer said it wasn't easy to play his grinding baseline game on grass -- despite the courts being slower than ever.
Good luck trying to break the Soderling serve, even if Ferrer remains a great returner.
Soderling hasn't been broken in three matches and is winning a ton of free points behind the first serve.
Prediction: Soderling in three.
Benneteau shouldn't be underestimated. On his day, he can test any of the top players.
Keep in mind, too, that when one Frenchman challenges another, the rankings don't mean much. Benneteau beat Tsonga in Marseille this year.
However, Tsonga has overcome Benneteau in their three Grand Slam meetings, dropping one set -- no coincidence. He's a big-game player.
Prediction: Tsonga in four.
We like the new Tomas Berdych, the Berdych who looks ticked when he misses a shot (rather than indifferent) and digs in when down two sets to one, as he did against improving Uzbek Denis Istomin in the third round.
Credit has to go to coach Tomas Krupa for finally waking the Czech up.
Brands, the German with a big serve, rallied from two sets down against an agitated Victor Hanescu on Friday to reach the fourth round in his Wimbledon debut.
Prediction: Berdych in four.
Williams had a chat with her serve, and it paid off. The world No. 1 hit 19 aces against unfortunate Dominika Cibulkova on Saturday, not conceding a break point.
If Williams can serve like that again, the Russian will be in trouble in the women's marquee matchup.
The positive for Sharapova is that she's one of the few players on tour who thinks she can beat the Williams sisters on grass; she upended Serena in the 2004 final.
Prediction: Serena in three.
If their head-to-head this year is any indication, expect a battle. Clijsters won in a third-set tiebreaker in Brisbane and did the same in Miami.
Henin knows what she needs to do to reverse the trend.
"I have to move forward," said Henin, who has beaten Clijsters five straight in majors. "I have to be very aggressive if I want to have a chance."
No trash-talking here. The Belgian comeback duo have kissed and made up, now even becoming texting buddies.
Prediction: Clijsters in three.
So, Venus, what do you know about Groth?
"I played her before when she had a different last name," the five-time Wimbledon champ said.
Yes, Groth, who went from Slovak to Aussie, married men's pro Samuel Groth in February 2009. Groth has made the fourth round for the second straight major, which means progress.
But Venus' third-round foe, Alisa Kleybanova, was more dangerous, and the American still advanced in two.
Prediction: Venus in two.
Jankovic said she had a bit of a knee problem after downing Alona Bondarenko in the third round. Has the Serb ever been healthy?
Zvonareva has more reason to discuss injuries, given that a problem to her ankle ruined 2009. She's back, claims to be in good shape and has won two in a row against Jankovic.
Prediction: Zvonareva in three.
Li is finally having an injury-free season. That's the most important thing. But she's been inconsistent, as usual -- great in Australia, a swoon, then picking it up in the clay-court season and winning a grass-court title in Birmingham.
Clever Radwanska has won both their grass-court head-to-heads and is a two-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist, one-upping Li.
Prediction: Radwanska in two.
Kvitova took advantage of a fragile Victoria Azarenka on Saturday, winning the final 10 games to advance 7-5, 6-0. So much for Azarenka's mini-resurgence. Former Wimbledon semifinalist Zheng Jie was Kvitova's second-round victim.
Wozniacki, albeit with a nice draw, hasn't dropped a set in three rounds and beat the 62nd-ranked Czech on clay in Madrid less than two months ago.
Prediction: Wozniacki in two.
When Bartoli reached the Wimbledon final in 2007, was it a fluke?
Not if you ask the Frenchwoman.
"I think I will pretty much have a chance every year I will play [Wimbledon]" to make the final, Bartoli said Friday.
Pironkova strikes the ball as hard as almost anyone on the tour, although there are too many dips. The 82nd-ranked Bulgarian is 0-3 against Bartoli.
Prediction: Bartoli in two.
Kanepi's better days seemed behind her.
Since early May, though, her ranking has climbed 60 spots to 80th. Kanepi reached the quarterfinals in Birmingham, qualified for Wimbledon and upset French Open finalist Sam Stosur in the first round.
Prediction: Zakopalova in three.
Ravi Ubha is a frequent contributor to ESPN.com.
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