By Jake Davies

  • Serena Williams [25] vs Kristina Mladenovic
  • Sam Querrey [11] vs Gael Monfils
  • Karolina Pliskova [7] vs Mihaela Buzarnescu [29]
WIMBLEDON, UNITED KINGDOM – Serena Williams leads our three-to-see for Day Five of Wimbledon as she aims to return to the fourth round.

 

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Serena Williams [25] vs Kristina Mladenovic | H2H: Williams leads 1-0

Serena Williams, who made a dominant return to Wimbledon with two resounding victories, faces her first real challenge as she moves within one step of the Wimbledon fourth round. That first test is Kristina Mladenovic of France.

On her day, Mladenovic has the game and she has the court skills to really test any of the top players. The Frenchwoman rose to within the World’s Top 10, but her 2017 season, her best on tour to date, was a story of two halves. A beautiful first half to the season, which included a title run in St. Petersburg and finals in Madrid, Acapulco and Stuttgart, and she will be remembered for that inspired run to the Roland Garros quarter-finals.

Since then she lost fifteen matches in a row that crippled the second half to her season and now the Frenchwoman is trying to find her way back to a decent level and a win against Williams would definitely go a long way to restoring her confidence.

This is a true indicator of where Williams’ tennis is at. Williams was the heavy favourite even at this stage in her comeback in her first two matches, but even though the seven-time Wimbledon champion remains tipped to get through, Mladenovic has the baseline and net ability on a grass court to make this match interesting.

During Williams’ return to court, even when the movement has not always been as instinctive and more reactive, the serve is always there. That has never left her. And I think the serving qualities of Williams is something that will shine through against Mladenovic, who is susceptible at delivering one or two double faults.

Prediction: Williams in two sets.

 

Sam Querrey [11] vs Gael Monfils | H2H: Monfils leads 2-0

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Wimbledon semi-finalist Sam Querrey made quite a roar when he made his way into the final four last year and looked in the sort of form that was capable of maybe stealing a first major of his career. Backing up a career best Grand Slam run can be difficult, though, as the pressure obviously builds and your competitors start preparing for the strengths that Querrey can bring to a grass court.

The American has improved immensely at Grand Slam level, not only did he make the Wimbledon semi-finals but he also got to the quarter-finals at the US Open and that has largely been down to the improvements he has made to his big weaknesses. Querrey is mostly regarded as one of the players that likes to take advantage of his big serve and then to finish the point with the short ball forehand, but the American has made necessary improvements with his movement and has also tweaked the impact that his double-handed backhand has on his opponent.

The backhand is still problematic, but it is less problematic than say two years ago. He will need all of that movement when he takes on Gael Monfils in the third round. Monfils has picked up a very good grass-court win in the first round against Richard Gasquet and then came back from the jaws of defeat with a four set win over Paolo Lorenzi.

Monfils brings a little bit of everything to a tennis court and what Querrey has to be prepared for is to expect the unexpected in terms of Monfils’ mental concentration, his tennis and his shot-making.

Prediction: Querrey in four sets

 

Karolina Pliskova vs Mihaela Buzarnescu | H2H: Pliskova leads 1-0

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Karolina Pliskova, the former World No.1 and US Open finalist, finally got to the third round of Wimbledon for the first time this year. Her game matches up well against a hard court, but her results on the grass has been rather head-scratching at times. She has the aggressiveness behind her serve and groundstrokes to cause real damage, but has struggled enormously to adapt to the awkward, unpredictable and low ball-bounces that a grass-court really presents.

The third round opponent for Pliskova is Mihaela Buzarnescu. Buzarnescu’s rise to the World’s Top 30 is perhaps one of the most special in recent memory. Out of action with shoulder and knee injuries, Buzarnescu finally had a smooth run of no injuries and has not looked back ever since. Her exceptional timing off both wings and the angle she can generate off the forehand side is something she will look to execute against Pliskova, who hates being yanked around the court and much prefers being the player in control of the point.

 Prediction: Buzarnescu in three sets.

 

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