By Ros Satar, at Wimbledon

  • Simona Halep [7] v Victoria Azarenka
  • Karolina Pliskova [3] v Hsieh Su-Wei [28]
  • Karen Khachanov [10] v Roberto Bautista Agut [23]
WIMBLEDON, UK – With seeds a-plenty falling before the third round, we take a run at three-to-see for Day Five.

 

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Simona Halep [7] v Victoria Azarenka | H2H tied at 2-2

Victoria Azarenka in the first round of Wimbledon 2019

Victoria Azarenka in the first round of Wimbledon 2019 | Jimmi348 Tennis Photography

If there was a lingering definition of a ‘dangerous floater’ in the draw, then Victoria Azarenka is it. She will face Simona Halep, who still seems to be finding her feet with the grass, first tweaking her foot, then being taken to three sets by compatriot Mihaela Buzarnescu.

Azarenka’s game is built around aggressive counter-punching, and she has relentless ground strokes which move her opponents all around the court at her will. Add to that her pervious doubles prowess which makes her effective at the net.

Halep has had to come in a lot more on the grass, admitting that but her gritty determination to chase every kind of ball down will match Azarenka’s game well. The fact that they are tied in their head to head at 2-2 says it all, although it ought to be noted that Halep has won the last two – including a couple of years ago at Wimbledon.

The first two encounters were pretty one-sided in favour of Azarenka but their last two encounters since Halep’s later breakthrough have been a lot tougher, and Friday’s encounter looks to be more of the same.

Azarenka is getting more and more of the match sharpness that she needs to be a factor in the tour and at the Slams going forward, but Halep just seems to be a little more consistent, despite maybe still learning to love the grass.

Prediction: Halep in three sets.

 

Karolina Pliskova [3] v Hsieh Su-Wei [28] | H2H tied at 1-1

Karolina Pliskova in the first round of Wimbledon 2019

Karolina Pliskova in the first round of Wimbledon 2019 | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Su-Wei Hsieh’s quirky style on and off the court is often a talking point, but when it comes to on the court, it is that area of unpredictability that has upended many a player. So much so, to the point that Karolina Pliskova has never really wanted to practice with Hsieh, as she explained after her second-round win.

“I think she’s far away from everybody (smiling). The style is just, I don’t know, nobody has it. Nobody really practice the way she does. Yeah, but that’s why maybe she’s so good. That’s why nobody really likes to play her, because it’s just different. It’s not unbeatable.

“We played couple matches. I don’t feel like practicing with her. I don’t know. You want to go and play normal tennis and not this tennis in practice, so…”

However, the Czech will not underestimate the problems that Hsieh can pose, especially on the bigger stages.

She continued: “For sure tricky. We played couple times. Both matches were strange. But it was hard court. Let’s see what it’s going to be on grass.

“I don’t think it’s going to be any difference in her game. Maybe she’s going to use more her slices and this kind of stuff because on grass it’s quite effective. But let’s see. I mean, she beat good players here last year, too. I remember she beat Simona. She can be tough. I think if I play fast enough, she’s not going to have enough time to do these things as she’s doing always. On serve I should be better. But of course, it’s tricky opponent.”

Hsieh came into Wimbledon without any back to back wins, although last year she hit a groove to reach the round of 16 for the first time at Wimbledon. Their matches have always gone the distance, and this is likely to be more of the same.

Prediction: Pliskova in three sets.

 

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Karen Khachanov [10] v Roberto Bautista Agut [23]

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With the absence of Alexander Zverev, this section of the draw has opened up nicely. Having missed out on Wimbledon last year, Roberto Bautista Agut will be looking to reach the round of 16 again, he is up against Karen Khachanov, also chasing to reach the fourth round for the second time in a row.

The Spaniard is pretty consistent at everything and does not make that many mistakes and will take any opportunities that come up from his opponents, but he will be coming up against the Russian with a powerful forehand, solid ground-strokes in general, and he is quite adept at fishing his shots off at the net. Add to that the fact that Khachanov can move quite well.

Khachanov snapped his three-match losing streak with Bautista Agut in Rome this year and could well score his first match win over the Spaniard in grass, having lost to him at Halle last year.

Prediction: Khachanov in four sets.

 

How to Watch/Follow Wimbledon 2019

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