By Ros Satar, at Wimbledon
- Simona Halep  v Coco Gauff [Q] | First meeting
- Ashleigh Barty  v Alison Riske | Riske leads H2H 1-0
- Kei Nishikori v Mikhail Kukushkin | Nishikori leads H2H 8-0
WIMBLEDON, UK – Manic Monday throws up one of the most intriguing match-ups as teen sensation Coco Gauff takes on Simona Halep.
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Simona Halep  v Coco Gauff [Q] | First meeting
The 15-year-old with the sunny disposition has caught the imagination of everyone this tournament. Coco Gauff came back from match-point brink in a captivating match that not only had a capacity crowd and people on the hill completely invested in the result, she held off the spectacle of Serena Williams and Andy Murray in mixed doubles!
Simona Halep knows a thing or two about playing a talented youngster on a bit of a roll – the then defending Roland Garros champion went out to the 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova in straight sets. Her toughest match to date has been against her compatriot Mihaela Buzarnescu, and the highly anticipated match between Victoria Azarenka just seemed to fizzle out as Azarenka could not make good on any chances to get int Halep’s game.
Gauff is a sensation in every sense of the word but comes from a very grounded family. However, fatigue may start to be a factor. She has played three rounds of qualifying and now the first three rounds of Wimbledon, dropping her first set.
In Halep she will find someone who will run everything down all day long, and that powerful easy game of Gauff will get a decent work out. Her slices and deftness of touch, though, have been a delight to watch.
Halep has all the experience in the world to win this, but Gauff has nothing at all to lose at this point. But this does feel like a match too far.
Prediction: Halep in three sets.
Ashleigh Barty  v Alison Riske | Riske leads H2H 1-0
World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty has been breezing through the tournament and yet surprisingly she is in the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time in her career. Having wisely dropped Nottingham from her schedule, and also Eastbourne after winning Birmingham and snaffling the World No. 1 ranking en route, Barty is now on a 15-match winning streak.
For Alison Riske, she started the grass season well with the Den Bosch title, beating home favourite Kiki Bertens, but then fell in the first round of Mallorca, also coming off a winless clay court season.
It is Riske’s second time at this stage and she should not be underestimated as she has a pretty decent 10-8 record at SW19 and she has had quite the journey, coming from 1-4 in the final set to roast Donna Vekic, and indeed 0-3 down in the decider against Belinda Bencic, so her Houdini stats are not in question.
Barty excels on this surface, with a tricky range of serves, and her ability to craft all kinds of angles, pace and spin from anywhere in the court. Riske always appears to be determined, and will look to take the ball early and has a pretty good balance of variety at her disposal.
Barty still looks the most likely to close in on a Channel Slam though.
Prediction: Barty in straight sets.
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Kei Nishikori v Mikhail Kukushkin | Nishikori leads H2H 8-0
In some kind of mysterious universe, we have arrived at the second week of a Slam with Kei Nishikori having come through in straight sets! He will be bidding to equal his best result of reaching the quarter-finals here, and faces Mikhail Kukushkin for the second time at SW19.
He beat Kukushkin in 2012 here in the first round, although he arrives here with no warm up event. The man from Kazakhstan is looking to reach the quarter-final for the first time, and it would be first Kazakh man to reach the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam, in what has been a good year for him, reaching a career high ranking of No. 39 in February.
His toughest match was getting past last year’s semi-finalist John Isner in five sets.
This could be intriguing – both are consistent and will look to keep the ball in play forever. Nishikori might not have much power but he makes up for that with being quick about the court, and precision, and this could be the start of a decent run for him.
Prediction: Nishikori in straight sets.
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